If Mountain Rose Herbs is known for one thing, it is their commitment to organic, sustainable business practices. They carry certified organic products, use sustainable packaging, purchase from fair-trade suppliers, and take part in watershed conservation. On paper, that’s all pretty appealing! But not everyone finds these kinds of labels convincing. Over time, we’ve learned that some labels are often more about marketing than they are about business practices. You can find food on the shelves labelled as organic, but was raised with pesticides. You can purchase coffee that’s labelled fair trade, but was grown in deplorable working conditions for unlivable wages. Even with essential oils you’ll find “therapeutic grade” products claiming to be better than the competition, when in reality the label is virtually meaningless.
Labels and certifications give a produce a sense of legitimacy. As consumers, we have to ask ourselves “what does this mean? Is this actually better?” This is a question we strive to answer for every brand featured in our guide to the best essential oil manufacturers (which you can read here). With Mountain Rose Herbs, we're going to take a deep dive to find out if they're up to snuff.
MRH has one thing going for them: their size. The reality is that it is very difficult for large companies to adhere to truly ethical, sustainable, organic practices and still make a profit. With all this distrust around large corporations, consumers increasingly value transparency in a company. So with all the hype around MRH and their seemingly endless list of positive business practices and ideals, are these genuine claims or just a corporate loophole? Are their oils as good as they say? We decided to find out for ourselves.
Mountain Rose Herbs produces many oils that we find much better quality, more potent, more pleasant than their competitors. The one that seems so stand out for us though, is their Rosemary Oil. It's one of the strongest, most potent rosemary oils we've come across, which is great for diffusing and blending since a little goes a long way. They use steam distillation to extract the oil from the tops of the flower to get the most premium product possible. We often blend it with cedarwood, pine and tea tree for a nice earthy, foresty aroma.
Speaking of Tea Tree oil, this is another oil from Mountain Rose we swear by and our second favourite oil they produce. This oil is produced by steam distillation, harvested directly from the leaves of the maleleuca tree Mountain Rose sources from Kenya. Tea Tree has a reputation for being extremely therapeutic, great for skin, anti-aging and anti-fungal. The bright, camphorous aroma is spicy and warm and while it's great in small amounts in blends, we often use it on its own too.
As you read on in this article, you'll learn that Mountain Rose produces USDA Certified Organic, Non-GMO, Fair Trade products, and with all these certifications comes an extremely high quality oil. That's why their Lavender oil is our go-to choice. The oil is processed via steam distillation from the flowering tops. The aroma is warm, floral, sweet and herbaceous, and much more potent than other brands. This is another oil we often just use on its own, though it lends itself nicely to blends too.
There are numerous factors that contribute to the purity of an essential oil, including the botanicals used and the extraction methods employed. Generally speaking, high quality, organic botanicals combined with the correct extraction methods will produce a pure oil. Solvents and additives can be used to extract a greater quantity of oil from the plant, but this tends to leave impurities in the oil. Depending on the type of oil you buy, it’s not always possible to get a 100% pure version. Additionally, some oils are downright expensive to produce at a high level of purity, so you’ll often see them diluted with carrier oils or blended with less expensive options. Fortunately, we found that the vast majority of MRH’s oils are the highest possible purity. All products are clearly labelled so you know exactly what you’re getting. In fact, they boast one of the largest inventories of 100% pure aromatic distillates.
Mountain Rose Herbs (MRH) is committed to high quality extraction methods, which directly impact the quality of their essential oils. Generally speaking, steam distilled and cold pressed oils are the most pure and aromatic. Not only does MRH primarily use these methods for almost all of their oils, they also clearly indicate the extraction method of every single oil on their website. MRH has, by a large margin, become one of the most informationally translucent websites we’ve seen, which is great as a consumer. You can click on any essential oil and see everything from its extraction method to the part of the botanical used to obtain the oils.
The problem with steam distillation and cold press as extraction methods is that can be impractical for certain products, such as jasmine, rose and vanilla. Certain plants are too fragile to withstand other extraction methods. Or, the plant is rare and therefore expensive and wasteful to produce essential oils with steam distillation or cold press. In these cases, solvent extraction is typically used. Solvents, in general, can be regarded as an inferior method. But this isn’t the case with every oil, and while MRH does practice solvent extraction on some of their oils, but each is labelled clearly as such so there’s no confusion.
How extracts are made at Mountain Rose Herbs.
If you visit their website, it’s no surprise that MRH scores an A+ on their labelling. This is a company that clearly values transparency, and they fit a lot of useful information onto their labels, including your general warnings and ingredients. But we have to give an extra thumbs up to their website, which is a wealth of knowledge for any information you might be seeking. They even provide useful tips on how to label your own products, demonstrating a clear value on details such as alcohol percentage, ratios, and the plant parts used. This kind of information is important to conscious consumers who want to know exactly what they’re getting. It is especially important if you are buying essential oils for topical use or if you plan on making your own blends. MRH even provides information on which oils blend well together.
The testing done at MRH is extensive to say the least. They were one of the first herbal product companies to have full microbial and analytical labs on site, which they themselves run. In the labs, they identify and analyze their botanicals for contaminants, and rejected those that don’t meet specification. This is key when working with organic, natural products. There will always be some variances between samples of botanicals, and it can be really challenging to produce a final product with a high level of consistency. Fortunately, Mountain Rose Herbs has the lab equipment that enables them to do so.
It is clear in the organization of their website that MRH prioritizes transparency and quality. They ensure that the exact species of each herb and spice is confirmed, using methods such as High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography (HPTLC) and good old fashioned visual/smell tests. They also measure moisture count to make sure the botanicals are not prone to bacterial/fungal outbreaks. They also do macroscopic testing for extraneous material, which can affect the purity of an extract.MRH also test all their materials for pesticides, herbicides, sulfites, and heavy metals to ensure their oils are uncontaminated and safe. They also test their purchased material for sulfites - a common contaminant used by unscrupulous suppliers. Their quality assurance program is one of the most in-depth we’ve seen, and you can learn about it on their website if you want to know more.
MRH clearly prides themselves on the quality of their products, which is reflected in their long list of certifications. Beyond the extensive testing and quality control done on site, MRH also has a truly extensive lists of third party certifications. Their mantra, “people before planet,” is clearly reflected in their efforts as a company, and extends to each and every one of their products. What really stands out about MRH is their commitment to ethical, sustainable, green business practices. If these things are a priority of yours, you’ll be hard pressed to find a company more decorated with credentials and programs than MRH. Below is a list of only a handful of admirable certifications obtained by MRH.
MRH has one of the largest collections of certified organic essential oils on the market. If you browse their website’s essential oil collection, you can easily see for yourself what we mean. They use organically sourced materials from trusted sources, and maintain their certifications through vigorous and persistent in-house practices. There are a lot of organic certifications out there, some with a higher standard than others. But USDA is the one you can trust.
The Non-GMO Projects works to increase the number of companies committed to limiting the use of GMO products sold to consumers. This means that MRH’s sources are entirely vegan and GMO-free, making them all the more appealing to the conscious consumer.
MRH became the first Zero-Waste Certified business in Oregon in 2016. And this isn’t just a certification they hand out to anybody. Mountain Rose Herbs clearly put a lot of effort into developing a manufacturing process that didn’t harm the environment, and this certification backs up their claims.
With the popular “fair trade” label coming under fire, Fair For Life was developed to help companies look at the bigger picture. Like fair trade, this certification means that Mountain Rose Herbs is paying more for their botanicals in order to support economically sustainable farming. But it goes well beyond just money. Fair For Life does extensive checks on things such as working conditions, social benefits and company transparency. So if you value ethical practices top-to-bottom in a company, MRH sets a high bar.
Mountain Rose Herbs offers an impressive variety of essential oils and other essential oil based products. These include singles, blends, organics, roll ons, a full lineup of body/skin/hair care and aromatherapy diffusers. They also provide one of the largest selections aromas, with literally hundreds of different choices. So whether you like to stick to more common oils and make your own blends, or if you’re looking for more exotic and rare aromas, there’s a very good chance they will carry it. MRH also has great kits at competitive prices. Their popular starter kit is perfect for first-timers, and it includes some of their most popular blends which are peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree and lavender.
With their extensive selection, the cost of MRH essential oils varies quite a bit. This is generally true of most companies that sell essential oils. Factors such as rarity, purity, and whether or not a product is organic can all affect the price. Since the majority of MRH’s oils are certified organic, you are going to pay a bit more than you would for non-organic oils. That being said, their prices are actually quite competitive compared to other organic oils on the market. They also offer essential oil kits at great prices for what you get. The essential oil kits give you 8 varieties of oils included, and you can save a few bucks too! What we really love about MRH is that despite their extensive quality control and certifications, they are still able to provide competitive and totally affordable prices on their awesome oils. It’s not cheap to run a business they way that they do, but it really demonstrates their genuine commitment to “people and planet before profits!”
If you aren’t overly concerned with the kind of planet-friendly, organic products they strive for, you might find MRH a tad expensive. But if you genuinely care about supporting an ethically, environmentally, and naturally sustainable company, there is no better place. Larger companies generally aren’t held to the same standard as MRH, but smaller companies don’t have the selection that MRH does. Overall, you get the best of both worlds. A lot of companies with this level of quality are able to do so only in small batches, but MRH has somehow managed to achieve all of this and apply it to a huge supply of essential oils.
You can’t learn everything about a product form the label. Here are some common questions we get asked about different essential oils brands, and the answers as they apply to this one:
An absolute is an oil that has been extracted through the use of a solvent. This method is typically used for rare or delicate botanicals that can’t be extracted with steam or press methods, or if such methods would be too costly. They are known for being less pure and less aromatic than essential oils.
The part of a botanical from which oil is extracted can have a significant impact on the resulting oil. It can affect everything from the constituents, the aroma and the therapeutic effects of the essential oil. For example, oils can be extracted from roots, petals, rinds and even seeds. It largely depends where the particular botanical stores its essential oils. In some cases, a plant may not produce enough oil to justify extracting it for commercial use. In other cases, the oils extracted from a certain part of the plant could bare no therapeutic benefit or even be toxic. Some botanicals, such as cinnamon, can yield essential oils from multiple parts (in cinnamon’s case, both the tree bark and tree leaves).
One thing that really stands out about Mountain Rose Herbs (MRH) is their transparency as a company. There is tons of information on each and every one of their products, from sourcing to extraction methods to use. Not only is this a refreshing break from many common business practices that prioritize profits, it is also a reflection of the forward thinking philosophy held by MRH. This is a company that truly cares about ethical, sustainable business practices and doesn’t appear to cut corners in order to achieve that. Not to mention their products are top quality in both purity and aroma. Finally, MRH offers one of the widest selections of organic essential oils available. Options always seem to be more limited when you prefer organic, but not with MRH.
Mountain Rose Herbs is one of our favourite brands to get our oils from for two main reasons: the superior quality of their products, and their impressive commitment to sustainable, organic, fair trade business practices. But, there are some other great companies out there with comparable quality to check out as well. If you're thinking you want to shop around some more, have a read of our article ranking the most trusted essential oil companies by clicking here.