GCMS and why is it so important?

For essential oils, purity starts at the source; the planting, harvesting, and extraction processes take place before an essential oil ever reaches a lab.

Yet, there is still the potential for adulteration and contamination to occur before an essential oil reaches the consumer. To ensure that not only are your oils pure, but of the highest quality available, testing, such as GCMS, is a critical and important process.

What is GCMS?

GCMS is the standard for essential oil quality testing, GCMS stands for chromatography or mass spectrometry. They are two separate analytical tests that work together to analyze and give you accurate data regarding the chemistry of your essential oils.

Gas Chromatography

  • The goal of gas chromatography is to separate, identify, and measure the amount of the individual chemical constituents contained within an essential oil sample. This test is conducted by a machine (gas chromatograph), beginning by heating the oil and pushing it through a column within a passive carrier gas such as helium, hydrogen, or nitrogen.
  • The individual compounds of the oil move through the column at different rates because of their molecular weight and size. A detector at the end of the column measures when each constituent passes through.
  • This creates a report, known as a chromatogram, that presents a graph separating detector response (on the y-axis) and retention time (on the x-axis). Scientists compare the resulting peaks on the chromatogram with accepted standards to verify that the correct chemical constituents are present and in the right amounts.

Mass Spectrometry

  • Once the oil is broken down into its constituents in the GC, the pieces are run through a mass spectrometer, a machine that analyzes the mass-to-charge ratio of ions.
  • A mass spectrometer is composed of three separate components: an ion source, a mass detector, and an analyzer.
  • The individual constituents are exposed to a stream of electrons that break apart and provide a charge to the neutral ions. The ionized molecules then travel through a series of magnetic fields, responding in distinct ways because of their mass and charge.
  • The mass spectrum report details the quantity, mass, and charge of each constituent on a plot. Scientists analyze the peaks on the mass spectrum and compare them to accepted standards for additional verification of purity.

Why does GCMS matters for you?

  • GCMS is basically the benchmark test to make sure essential oils content are pure and function to do what it is supposed to do, and the special and unique terpene compound that makes each essential oils stand out as an individual. The purity and quality of each essential oil are very important. Suppose the essential oil does not contain the correct constituents in the correct amounts. It might not support your body functions based on researches that suggest what you are hoping for with the essential oils. 

Qualis Nutri Essential Oil GCMS Testing

Not only are Qualis Nutri oils tested through an independent, third-party lab, but Qualis Nutri also makes its GC/MS results (known as chromatograms) available for batches of its single essential oils.

Quality testing is key to pure essential oils, ensuring that these oils are safe for you and your family.

The only way to check for purity is GC/MS, anyone who tells you differently is simply uneducated in this field, blotter test is never as accurate as GC/MS when it comes to checking the quality and purity of the essential oils.

Gas-Liquid Chromatography 

Essential oils can be inspected using several techniques. Another most common method is gas-liquid chromatography (GLC). 

A small amount of essential oil is injected into a very fine spiral flat column with temperature control in this device. The time it takes for each component to appear at the other end of the column (so-called retention time) depends on the size of the molecule. The amount released is logged and peaks on the track (proportional to the amount). 

This is a comparative test, not a definitive test, as the retention times for known components have already been determined to be useful for analysis. Because each batch of oils has a different composition ratio, the measurements for each oil are kept as “standard.” This standard can be compared directly with the standards for various essential oils of the same plant. 

This technique shows that the added adulterant has a retention time that is not apparent by the standard. However, it is possible to mix oils that are low in certain ingredients by simply removing them from another usually cheap essential oil and “correcting” the reading. 

Synthetic replicas of the component may be used, or if high concentrations of the element are required, oils with a high proportion of terpenes, such as peppermint oil, may be removed.

Aromatherapists “concentrate” the active ingredients, so care must be taken with such oils. Alternatively, the ingredients can be fortified, as in the case of eucalyptus added to eucalyptus oil. 

GLC, infrared, optical rotation, density, mass spectrometry (GCMS) (very expensive but excellent), solubility in alcohol, and ester content of all tests performed on the most common essential oils. 

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