SOiL was born in 2000 from a passion to bring the health and balancing benefits of essential oils to homes and families across the globe. The fertile soils and high rainfall of the family farm in Zululand, South Africa, combined with the rich local heritage of therapeutic plants formed the perfect foundation from which to develop and refine their oils. From their small agricultural project, the brand has been built into an internationally recognized brand, known for its integrity, purity and traceability of all our products.
For SOiL, organic is not just a certification that is required — it is a way of life, of farming and of doing business. The team ensure their 100% organic status through the entire growth cycle – from cultivating root stock to harvest. While some of our oils are still produced on the family farms, we have extended our search for good quality, certified organic essential oils from around the globe. We consistently strive to bring our customers certified organic essential oils from ethical, sustainable sources and we are committed to being a company that values the environment, our customers, our employees, and the rural community in which we operate. Our products are certified by ECOCERT Greenlife and ECOCERT COSMOS. We are proud of our pioneering approach to organic farming, which has formed the foundation of our success in developing this eco-ethical aromatherapy range.
Distilling quality oil, is a blend of art and science. We have spent years identifying the perfect varieties to grow, the perfect time to harvest where the qualities are the most concentrated and the perfect extraction process to ensure that oils retain all of their qualities. We take our responsibility to our customers seriously, and will always provide the highest quality products at the best value we can offer. Importantly, what we say on our labels is exactly what they contain – no more and no less.
By manufacturing, packaging and distributing directly from our farm, we can control the whole process, this means that we are able to manage the quality, purity and price of each product effectively. We believe in offering our customers high quality certified organic products that meet their needs for an ethically produced, farm-to-shelf approach that supports sustainable growth and development.
SOiL believes in organic
SOiL promotes natural and abstains from harmful
SOiL supports local growers and producers
SOiL cares about the quality, efficacy and purity of its products
SOiL products are endorsed by Beauty Without Cruelty
Our brand has integrity. We believe in organic certification as your guarantee that a product is truly organic and free from harmful chemical residues. Every year we submit our farm and products to rigorous inspections, in order to renew certification. SOiL products respect the environment, are sustainably produced, packaged in recyclable glass and sourced from traceable growers and producers.
SOiL FAIR TRADE PRACTICES
SOiL Organic Shea Butter is certified by the ECOCERT Fair For Life Programme, Our Ugandan Shea Butter, Lavender Scented Shea Butter and Citrus scented Shea butter all carry the Fair For Life Logo. To SOiL, fair trade means paying a fair price or wage in the local context, providing equal employment opportunities, engaging in environmental sustainable practices, providing healthy and safe working conditions and reducing the number of middlemen between producers & consumers. We believe fair trade should be environmentally, economically, and culturally sustainable and give local communities the opportunity to self-empower.
WHAT DOES FAIR TRADE MEAN?
Fair trade certification is an independent, neutral third-party certification verifying that a company upholds fair trade, social, and environmental standards in their operations. SOiL is certified Fair for Life through ECOCERT, an international inspection & certification agency for organic and social (fair trade) accountability. This Fair for Life certification combines strict social and fair-trade standards with adaptability to local conditions. You can read more about ECOCERT Fair for life at www.fairforlife.org. For more information on the Certification programme for Fair Trade and responsible supply chains click here.
Fair for Life promotes an approach of Fair Trade that allows all producers and workers who are at a socio-economic disadvantage to access a wider range of social and economic benefits. Fair Trade is part of a broader context of sustainable development that safeguards and supports the local social fabric, particularly in rural areas.
Companies are held to an international agreed Fair for Life Standard to ensure global recognition of this label. The Fair For Life standard applies throughout the whole supply chain covering producers, traders, manufacturers and brand holders.
While there are several definitions of fair trade, they all include:
- Fair Trade Price: base price for raw ingredients or goods is adjusted higher than the open market price.
- Price Premium: a percentage above the base fair trade price is paid into a separate account for development projects in producer communities.
- Working Conditions: fair trade operators must adhere to basic human & labor rights, including the right to organize, no child labor, access to health care, and so on.
- Environmental Stewardship: fair trade organizations must minimize environmental impact.
ECO AND PEOPLE FRIENDLY
From the plant to the shelf, we minimize environmental impact. We also support self- sustained community initiatives. We are also actively involved in establishment and support of various projects which seek to uplift impoverished communities. Our brand provides a route to market for the products made by these communities.
The distillation of essential oils is a relatively small industry in South Africa. There are also very few nurseries which grow seedlings using organic methods. As a result we have had to build our own nursery to ensure that we have high quality organic seedlings for our fields. The seedlings are made by taking cuttings from the tips of mother stock plants. These are inserted into an organic growing medium. The cuttings are watered by automated mist sprayers, and are kept in the nursery for an average of six weeks. Once the cuttings have rooted they are planted out into the fields.
FIELDS OF AROMATIC PLANTS
In order for a field to be certified organic it must have been free from chemical fertilizers and poisons for at least three years. We are fortunate that the fields where our oils are grown have been free from chemicals for much longer than that! The seedlings from the nursery are planted out into the fields by hand. Each hectare of field requires tens of thousands of plants which makes this labor intensive work. Added to this any weeds that grow up cannot simply be killed with chemicals; they too must be removed by hand. However, this type of labor intensive agriculture is just what is needed in rural Zululand where unemployment pressures persist. When ready, the plants are harvested by a tractor drawn cutter. The plants are then gathered by hand and loaded into bags to be taken to the distillery.
WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?
Essential oils are at the center of everything we do. We only use organic grade oils, we never compromise on quality and source where possible direct from growers around the globe.
Essential oils are the aromatic essence of the plant and they are usually prepared by fragrance extraction techniques (such as distillation, cold pressing, or solvent extraction). A true essential oil is the volatile (readily vaporized) liquid component of aromatic plants and trees. They occur in different parts of the plant depending on the species of plant; leaves, flowers, seeds, bark, rind etc. These precious essences are commonly collected by a process of steam distillation of the plant material. Expression (pressing) of the fruit’s rind is the method that is used for citrus oils and certain fragile scented flower oils or resinoids must be solvent extracted in order to capture their fragrances.
SOiL’s essential oils are sold mostly for their aromatherapy use. However essential oils are often also used as food flavorants, in perfumery, cleaning materials and mostly in cosmetic applications
QUALITY OF ESSENTIAL OILS
Our organic grade essential oils are either produced on our farm or sourced from other certified organic distillers. By knowing the exact source of our oils, we can be confident that they are 100% pure, certified organic and unadulterated.
We distill our own essential oils on site, on the farm, to ensure that the fresh plant material retains a high level of its natural aromatic oils. Our modern distillation facility is constructed of food grade stainless steel. This helps prevent contamination and ensures the volatile organic essential oils maintain their therapeutic qualities by not reacting with the distillation equipment itself. We package our essential oils and aromatherapy products in amber glass bottles to protect them from UV light, which can degrade the oils.
SELECTING ESSENTIAL OILS FOR QUALITY
There are many producers of essential oils and many synthetic aromatic oils posing as essential oils. The word Lavender, when written on a product label, can mean a smell or a color. The scent of lavender can be recreated in a laboratory and it is this synthetic lavender smell that is used in perfumery and many commercial skin care and household products. The scent may be similar, but the oil does not contain the therapeutic properties that the species lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) contains. This is why we always write the plant species on our essential oil bottles. When we grow a species for its oil or select an essential oil from a distiller, we look at many aspects of the oil to ensure its quality and adherence to international standards in organic grade essential oils.
BIO-TYPE: An essential oil must come from a defined botanical species as well as a particular genetic strain. e.g. M. alternifolia.
CHEMO-TYPE: The same botanical species can often produce completely different chemical constituents in its essential oil depending on where the plant is grown. For example, there are 6 different chemo-types of Thymus Vulgaris. The two most common chemo-types, c.t. Thymol, are located close to the Mediterranean Sea at a low altitude, whereas Thymus Vulgaris c.t. linalool, prefers the sun and south exposed slopes. SOiL’s organically grown thyme c.t linalool essential oil is steam distilled from the flowers and leaves of the thyme herb. We often use this essential oil when looking to reduce the presence of unwanted bacterial, fungal, or viral activity.
GEO-TYPE: As a result of environmental factors, sometimes a particular area will produce a superior quality of oil. The oil is then known by the area it comes from. e.g. Lavender oil, Bulgarian.
COMPLETE OR WHOLE: The oil should be from a single distillation and should not be rectified (the distilling of an oil a second time to remove unwanted constituents). In some cases, this is acceptable. e.g. Bergamot is rectified to remove its bergaptene and make it non-phototoxic. We ensure that we indicate this on the product.
ANALYSIS: We ensure all of our oils have been tested using gas chromatography to analyse its chemical constituents. This way, we can ensure that an oil conforms to the agreed international standards in therapeutic grade essential oils.