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Material review: Kashmir Lavender Oil

By: Robert Adams and Tonya Yanke
Posted: June 20, 2007, from the July 2007 issue of P&F magazine.

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  • July 2007 issue, pg 40—5 pages
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Eight of the 11 oils met the European Pharmacopoeia 5.0 (EP5) standard. All of the oils contained 1.1–2.9 % (+)-(S)-linalool, well below the EP5 12.0% maximum. The oils, except for the Hungarian oil, contained from trace to 0.7% (+)-(S)-linalyl acetate, which is below the EP5 maximum of ≤ 1.0%. The oil from Hungary contained 12.9% of (+)-(S)-linalyl acetate, exceeding the EP5 standard. The Kashmir lavender oils (‘Karlovo’ and ‘B-18’) were found to be comparable to other commercial oils. The Kashmir grown ‘Karlovo’ oil appeared to be a little better than the ‘B-18’ oil.

Lawrence and Tucker, in an excellent review of the production and uses of lavender oils, noted that the production of true lavender oil (Lavandula augustifolia Mill.) is declining in favor of the production of lavandin (L. xintermedia Emeric xe Loisel.—a hybrid between L. angustifolia and L. latifolia Medik.). In France, true lavender oil production has declined from 130 metric tons (mt) (1930, 1960) to only 35 mt in 1990 and 40–60 mt per year from 1992–2002. The shift to lavandin is seen in the French production starting with 2 mt in 1924 and increasing to 1,290 mt in 2002.1 There are several lavandin hybrids, of which Gosso and Provence are the most widely cultivated.

“Agri-tourism” and “entertainment farming” are terms being used to describe farms in the United States that offer tourists opportunities to pick fruits and bouquets of flowers, taste honey and jellies, ride horses and shop for gifts. Several agri-tourism farms feature fields of lavender, or more commonly lavandin, as well as on-farm small unit lavender distillation. Lavandin is gaining favor due to its larger, showier flowers that are very attractive for photography and drying. A few of these lavender farms are marketing oils for aromatherapy and fragrances directly via the Web. Young Living Farms in Mona, Utah, has 2,000 acres (809 hectares) of L. angustifolia ‘Munstead’ and eight large stills for distillation, as well as another lavender farm in Idaho. Almost all of their lavender oil is sold for aromatherapy.

True lavender oil is now becoming commercially available from Kashmir. It is possible that due to favorable climate and low labor costs, Kashmiri lavender oil may become a significant competitor with historical sources of lavender oil. With this increase in both small farm production and new commercially-available Kashmiri oil, it seems appropriate to compare several traditional sources with newer sources.

This is only an excerpt of the full article that appeared in P&F Magazine, but you can purchase the full-text version.