CATEGORIES OF ESSENTIAL OILS & THEIR BENEFITS CATEGORIES OF ESSENTIAL OILS & THEIR BENEFITS


CATEGORIES OF ESSENTIAL OILS & THEIR BENEFITS

July 15, 2019    
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Whether they’re being used to unwind for improved sleep quality, to uplift the mood, or to create the precise ambience, Essential Oil aromas have the potential to enhance the mind, body, and atmosphere. While it can be confusing to make a selection when faced with the vast number of Essential Oil options due to their limitless benefits, it can be easier to make a choice by narrowing down the options based on the characteristics of their "aroma families." Each Essential Oil aroma family exhibits a primary aromatic trait by which it is easily recognized (citrusy, floral, minty, etc.) and a corresponding effect (calming, grounding, cooling, energizing, clarifying, etc), which can help to readily identify the ideal application for it.

This article mainly highlights the core aroma families, as families also have offshoots or sub-groupings in which several categories of Essential Oils overlap. One example is the “Balsamic” aroma family. Essential Oils in this group can be described as having soft, sweet, warm, earthy aromas with spicy and floral undertones. They are reminiscent of resins and exude the scent of a forest and especially of Balsam trees. Inhaling the scent of balsamic essential oils can produce a peaceful, soothing, and grounding effect. Another example of a complex aroma family is “Coniferous” oils, which exude a woody and earthy pine scent, as they are generally distilled from cone-bearing trees. Their scents are characterized as sharp, biting, camphoraceous, and energizing, reminiscent of fresh outdoor air. Based on these descriptions, Essential Oils in these sub-groupings can fall into several of the eight main aroma families. The sub-group of “lemony” oils, too, can encompass not only oils with “Lemon” in their names – Lemongrass, Lemon Balm, Lemon Eucalyptus – but also oils like Ginger, Citronella, and Palmarosa.

An oil’s aroma can also change from one batch to another, often for reasons based in nature, such as the source botanical’s growing conditions. Thus, due to the complexity and subjectivity of scent profiles, this article focuses on the commonly-accepted and widely-recognized classes of aromas or “aroma families.”



 

3 ESSENTIAL OIL AROMA NOTES

Aroma families can also be distinguished by their primary “notes.” An Essential Oil’s aroma “note” is the feature that distinguishes how long its scent will last. Notes are categorized as Top, Middle, or Base notes. Some oils can have multiple notes, which can give them a deep, full-bodied, and seemingly luxurious quality; however, oils are largely characterized by a sole defining note that overrides the others.

The reason that an oil blend changes over time, sometimes even over a short period of time, such as from the morning to the afternoon, is because the Essential Oils that it comprises each have varying degrees of volatility, meaning they all have diverse rates of evaporation, and it is the evaporation of each oil in its own time that causes a fluctuation in the strength of the scent…

In an Essential Oil blend, the oils with the smallest molecules – the essential oils that are the most volatile – are the first to evaporate. These are the Top notes. They are the first scent to be detected and the first to dissipate.

The oils with the largest and thus the heaviest molecules are the slowest or last to evaporate, thus they impart the longer-lasting scents. These are Base notes.

Other Essential Oils – the majority – reveal their scents gradually and help to integrate the Top and Base notes for a harmonious fragrance, which is what makes them Middle notes.

The following chart may help to further illustrate:

NOTES & CHARACTERISTICS NDA OILS IN THIS CATEGORY

Top

This is the initial perceptible scent in an aroma blend and is usually the one fragrance that stands out to give the scent its distinctive essence. Despite the powerful and intense quality that makes it the first detected smell, it is also the first to quickly fade.

  • Bright
  • Refreshing
  • Cheery
  • Clarifying
  • Inspiring and heartening
  • Energizing

Bay

Cardamom

Citrus oils

Cypress

Eucalyptus

Hyssop

Mint oils

Petitgrain

Pine

Ravensara

Rosemary

Sage

Tagetes

Vanilla Oleoresin (10 Fold)

Yarrow

Middle
(aka “Body,” “Heart,” or “Bouquet”)


These notes become noticeable just as Top notes fade. Smooth and soft, Middle notes unify the Top and Base notes, helping to reduce the intensity of any disagreeable or piercing scents and to promote a roundedness to aromas, making them softer. These notes are generally more enduring than Top notes, lasting up to an hour after the blend has been applied.

  • Balancing
  • Warming
  • Grounding

Black Pepper

Cajeput
Cedarwood

Chamomile

Cinnamon

Clove Bud

Geranium

Ho Wood

Jasmine

Juniper Berry

Marjoram

Myrtle

Myrrh

Niaouli

Nutmeg

Palmarosa

Rose Absolute

Base
(aka “Fixative”)

 

Not to be mistaken for a Base Oil, which is meant to dilute an Essential Oil, a Base note emerges after the Heart note and is the longest lasting scent in a blend. Base notes often have strong, provocative aromas with earthy nuances and ascend gradually, remaining for a longer time than the other notes, all the while helping to reduce the rate of the other oils’ evaporation and subsequently enabling the fragrance of the blend to persist.

 

  • Calming
  • Emotionally grounding and soothing
  • Relaxing
  • Lend a richer aroma to blends

Copaiba Balsam

Frankincense

Patchouli (Light & Organic)

Sandalwood

Spikenard

Valerian

Vetiver



 

8 ESSENTIAL OIL AROMA FAMILIES

The chart below depicts the most popular groupings of Essential Oils; however, keep in mind that many oils have more than one prevailing aroma and note.

AROMA FAMILY ESSENTIAL OILS NOTE REPUTED BENEFITS

CITRUS

These light oils often have fruity scents that are characteristic of the rinds from which they are extracted. They can be described as tangy or tart, fresh, clean, vibrant, invigorating, exciting, energizing, and uplifting.

Lemon

Orange

Grapefruit Bergamot

Lime

Tangerine

Citronella

Lemongrass

Mandarin

Litsea Cubeba

Tagetes

Most often top notes

  • Energizing
  • Uplifting
  • Emotionally balancing to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety
  • Deodorizing
  • Cleansing; popular addition to antibacterial oil blends
  • Refreshing
  • Stimulating for mental and spiritual vigor

FLORAL

These scents are often reminiscent of the flowers from which they are extracted and can be described as being feminine, powdery, subtle, modest, romantic, and even poetic. They are often sweet-smelling and create a feeling of cheerfulness. Floral scents are considered to be classic and timeless.

Chamomile

Geranium

Jasmine

Lavender

Neroli

Rose

Rosewood

Ylang-Ylang

Petitgrain

Most often middle notes

  • Comforting
  • Promotes rest
  • Sometimes sleep-inducing
  • Mood balancing

HERBACEOUS

Essential Oils that have herbaceous scents can be further described as smelling green or grassy. These Essential Oils often have mild floral yet invigorating spring-like scents that are associated with lush, wet foliage. They are reminiscent of the aroma of fresh leaves, moss, mown grass, herbs, and trees.

Chamomile

Angelica Root

Clary Sage

Eucalyptus Radiata

Fennel

Hyssop

Marjoram 

Melissa

Rosemary

Thyme

Oregano

Bay Laurel

Catnip

Sage Dalmatian

Parsley

Tea Tree

Yarrow

Most often middle notes

  • Calming
  • Promotes positivity
  • Encouraging
  • Emotionally balancing
  • Grounding

CAMPHORACEOUS

These Essential Oils have strong scents and are known to be beneficial for clearing the respiratory system due to their clarifying, penetrating, energizing, purifying, and almost medicinal aromas.

Camphor

Cajeput

Eucalyptus

Pennyroyal

Laurel Leaf

Lavandin

Most often middle notes

  • Stimulating
  • Refreshing
  • Focus-enhancing

MINTY

Essential Oils with a minty scent are strong-scented and are distinctly known for their bracing, fresh fragrances. They are reputed to be clearing and cooling when used in aromatherapy and topical applications.

Spearmint

Wintergreen

Peppermint

Can be top, middle, or base Notes

  • Motivating
  • Cooling
  • Invigorating
  • Mentally clarifying

SPICY

These Essential Oils have exotic, warm, intense aromas that are often reminiscent of baking and other warm memories. With strong scents, they are commonly used to stimulate energy and focus.

Aniseed

Basil

Black Pepper

Cardamom

Cinnamon

Coriander

Cumin

Ginger

Nutmeg

Allspice

Cassia

Clove Bud

Middle or base notes

  • Bracing
  • Rousing
  • Crisp and penetrating
  • Lively

RESINOUS/MUSKY

These Essential Oils exude deep, rich scents that are smoky, woody, earthy, sweet, leather-like, and warm. Their mellow, alluring, and long-lasting fragrances lend a reassuring quality that makes them ideal for use in spiritual practices.

Benzoin 

Elemi

Frankincense

Myrrh

Peru Balsam

Middle or base notes

  • Grounding  
  • Promotes relaxation and sense of inner calm
  • Emotionally balancing
  • Uplifting
  • Known to be commonly used for intimacy enhancement
  • Tend to be associated with a casual feeling

WOODY/EARTHY

These Essential Oils have deep, warm, lingering scents.

Often described as smelling “brown,” these oils are reminiscent of the scents of a forest floor or damp soil. Their fragrances are soft, masculine, musky, and sensual. Their alluring, seductive, and hypnotic qualities create an atmosphere of mystery.

Cypress

Juniper Berry

Pine

Sandalwood

Fir

Cedarwood

(Atlas & Virginian)

Palo Santo

Rosewood

Patchouli

Vetiver

Valerian

Carrot Seed

Most often middle or base notes

  • Grounding
  • Uplifting
  • Emotionally balancing  
  • Promote feelings of comfort, security, and well-being
  • Often considered to be aphrodisiacs


 

WHICH ESSENTIAL OILS SMELL GOOD TOGETHER?

Any Essential Oils can smell good together depending on the individual’s preferences! While oils in the same aroma family largely combine well, this is not a rule for how all blends should be made. The simplest way to select oils for a blend is to consider the individual oils that are preferred, the person it is for, the purpose, the method of application, and the ideal outcome. Generally, the best results are often from combinations of oils that have all 3 notes, which create balanced and harmonious aromas.

AROMA FAMILY BLENDS WELL WITH…

CITRUS

Most other aroma families

Floral

Minty

Spicy

Woody

FLORAL

Citrus

Spicy

Woody

HERBACEOUS

Minty

Woody

CAMPHORACEOUS

Citrus

Spicy

Woody/Earthy

Herbaceous

MINTY

Citrus

Woody

Herbaceous

Earthy

SPICY

Floral

Woody

Citrus

RESINOUS/MUSKY

Citrus

Floral

WOODY

Floral

Herbaceous

Minty

Spicy

Citrus

EARTHY

Woody

Minty



 

HOW TO MAKE A BALANCED ESSENTIAL OIL BLEND

The easiest way to create a well-rounded oil blend is to narrow down a list of preferred Essential Oils to a maximum of 5 Essential Oils:

  • 2 Top note oils
  • 2 Middle note oils
  • 1 Base note oil

When it comes to creating Essential Oil blends, there are no strict guidelines for oils that should or should not be combined, but the following standard can act as a guiding principle to help encourage a congruous blend, especially for a beginning strategy:

 

For 1 drop of a Base note,

add 2 drops of Middle note(s)

and

3 drops of Top note(s)

 

Alternatively, and more simply, combine each Essential Oil 1 drop at a time until the blend emits the preferred scent. When formulating new blends, the least wasteful approach to mixing is to limit the total amount of all combined Essential Oils to a minimum of 5 drops and a maximum of 25 drops. Begin by blending the Base and Middle notes. When the ideal scent is achieved with this mixture, add in the Top note. Continue to add 1 drop at a time of each type of oil until either the maximum number of drops is reached or until the ideal blend is attained.

To keep track of the oils and their amounts, it is helpful to make notes with each addition. Before using the final blend, it is recommended that they be allowed to sit or “rest” for 24 hours in order for the scent to develop, as it can potentially change within this time. Before creating or using any blends, ensure that all safety protocols are followed. When applying the blend topically, dilute first with a Carrier Oil.



 

ESSENTIAL OILS SIDE EFFECTS

As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, Essential Oils are for external use only. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using these oils for therapeutic purposes. Pregnant and nursing women are especially advised not to use Essential Oils without the medical advice of a physician, as they may have effects on certain hormone secretions and it is unclear whether these effects are transferable to babies at these stages of development. These oils should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, especially those under the age of 7.

Those with the following health conditions are especially recommended to be advised by a physician: cancer, heart-related ailments, skin disorders or allergies, hormone-related ailments, or epilepsy. Individuals that are taking prescription drugs, undergoing major surgery, or who are at a greater risk of experiencing strokes, heart attacks, or atherosclerosis are also advised to seek medical consultation prior to use.

Prior to using any Essential Oil, a skin test is recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop of the Essential Oil in 4 drops of a Carrier Oil and applying a dime-size amount of this blend to a small area of skin that is not sensitive. Essential Oils must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. Potential side effects of Essential Oils include redness, rash, hives, burning, bleeding disorders, decreased speed of healing, low blood pressure, dizziness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, convulsions, and rapid heartbeat. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the products and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.



IMPORTANT: All New Directions Aromatics (NDA) products are for external use only unless otherwise indicated. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and it should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or under the care of a medical practitioner. Please refer to our policies for further details, and our disclaimer below.

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