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The Ultimate Guide To Essential Oils: Everything You Should Know

On this page, you’ll find a comprehensive guide to essential oils. You’ll learn more about the history of essential oils, what scientific studies say about them, how to safely use them, what types of fragrances they produce, and what kind of diffusers there are.

No two essential oils are the same. Two or more oils may be quite similar to each other, but each has a unique chemical composition that gives it its particular aroma and set of properties. Some essential oils have a floral scent, while some have a herbaceous, camphorous, woody, or citrusy scent. Some can relax you, while some can invigorate you. What all essential oils do have in common is that they can improve various aspects of your health as well as your state of mind.

  • Introduction
  • Notes on the Latest Scientific Studies About Essential Oils
  • Essential Oils in History
  • Brief Profiles of Aroma Foundry Essential Oils
    • Basil
    • Bergamot
    • Cedarwood
    • Citronella
    • Eucalyptus
    • Fir
    • Grapefruit
    • Lavender
    • Lemon
    • Lemongrass
    • Lime
    • Mandarin
    • Patchouli
    • Peppermint
    • Rosemary
    • Sage
    • Spearmint
    • Tangerine
    • Tea Tree
    • Ylang Ylang
  • Blending Essential Oils
  • About Carrier Oils and Agents
    • Why You Should Use Emulsifiers
    • Understanding Carrier Oils
  • Diffuser Types Guide
    • Heat-Using Electric Diffusers
    • Ultrasonic or Humidifying Diffusers
    • Nebulizing Diffusers
    • Oil Burners
    • Other Types
  • Types of Fragrances
    • The Basics of Fragrance Blending
  • Common Precautions
    • Pregnancy and Children
    • Phototoxicity
  • References


Photo Source: Leslie Kim (

Essential oils are the natural aromatic essences of various plants. These essences originate in special plant cells found deep in the bark, rind, leaves, or flower petals. The essential oils are then extracted through natural methods—either steam distillation or mechanical pressure. These two processes produce the highest quality of essential oils.

Chemical processes can also extract the essences of various plants, but these extractions are not actually considered to be true essential oils. Aroma Foundry’s essential oils are extracted from high-quality sources through either steam distillation or mechanical pressure, so you can be sure that you are indeed purchasing genuine 100% natural essential oils.

Perhaps the most common use of essential oils is through aromatherapy. Aromatherapy has a lot of beneficial effects, and can be used to complement the usual treatments for the symptoms of various health issues. Other than aromatherapy, however, you can also use essential oils topically or as an ingredient to create your own products such as soap, lotions, shampoos, and more.

On this page, you’ll find a comprehensive guide to essential oils. You’ll learn more about the history of essential oils, what scientific studies say about them, how to safely use them, what types of fragrances they produce, and what kind of diffusers there are. You’ll also learn more about each high-quality and 100% all-natural essential oil you could find at Aroma Foundry.

Notes of the Latest Scientific Studies About Essential Oils

There’s little scientific evidence on essential oils being used on human test subjects. The therapeutic benefits of essential oils cannot be easily determined by the scientific process, much like scientifically studying Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. However, there’s a growing body of knowledge on the health benefits of essential oils.

    • Various essential oils have been proven effective as antibacterial agents against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
    • A number of essential oils, such as Lavender and Rose, are confirmed to be effective in lessening stress, anxiety, and depression. Aromatherapy massage has also been found to provide short-term psychological health benefits for patients with cancer.
    • Natural constituents of essential oils play an important role in cancer prevention and treatment. This is due to various oils’ antioxidant, antimutagenic, and antiproliferative properties.
    • There are general and specific studies on essential oils which confirm their aromatic benefits in reducing stress and hypertension.
    • Other benefits of essential oils include supporting digestion, improving respiratory symptoms, and relieving menstrual pain.

Essential Oils in History

Essential oils have been used in home remedies for hundreds of years. Different cultures around the world have specific uses for them—from religious ceremonies to healing of the sick.

Egyptians used aromatic oils and pastes from plants to make pills, powders, ointments, medicinal cakes, and suppositories. They also used herbs, oils, and fragrances in religious practices. Pharaohs are also known to have their own special blends for meditation, war, and love, among other things.

The use of aromatic oils in China was first recorded centuries ago during the reign of Huang Ti. The emperor’s book of internal medicine documented uses of several aromatics, and this is still being referred to by Eastern Medicine practitioners to this day.

Ayurvedic Medicine from India has been incorporating essential oils to various healing potions. The uses of aromatic plants and oils played an integral part in medicinal, spiritual, and philosophical purposes.

The knowledge of the healing properties of essential oils became known to Greece, Rome, Persia, and other parts of Europe. Essential oils were used in medicine, personal care, household applications, and perfumes. Ayurvedic applications and the burning of Frankincense and Pine were also recorded to have significantly reduced the spread of the Bubonic Plague.

Essential oils have indeed come a long way in history. Mother Nature has blessed us with the essences of trees and plants to holistically support our health and improve our day-to-day living. There’s still so much more to learn about essential oils, especially when ancient wisdom can help us in our modern day issues.

Brief Profiles of Aroma Foundry Essential Oils

1. Basil Essential Oil

Short description

Basil has a refreshing aroma that is calming and relaxing. The essential oil is used for various culinary and medicinal purposes, which made it a staple in Southeast Asian culture.

Distillation method

Basil essential oil is extracted from the steam distillation of leaves and flowering tops.

Brief info on uses and benefits

Basil is known to have antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, analgesic, and anti-anxiety properties. It can also help improve digestion, skin, and hair, and may be employed as an insect repellent, air freshener, and flavor enhancer.

Blending with other essential oils

Basil blends well with other essential oils such as Bergamot, Cypress, Cedarwood, Fennel, Geranium, Helichrysum, Grapefruit, Lavender, Lemongrass, Lemon, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Fir.

2. Bergamot Essential Oil

Short description

Bergamot is a citrus fruit that has a rich history. It’s known as the Italian Wonder due to its many health benefits and how it has helped many people all throughout history.

Distillation method

When Bergamot fruits turn yellow as they become ripe, the rinds are cold-pressed with a hydraulic press to release the oil.

Brief info on uses and benefits

Its essential oil has powerful antibiotic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, digestive, and antidepressant properties. It can also help relieve pain, stress, fatigue, and fever.

Blending with other essential oils

Bergamot blends especially well with Eucalyptus, Geranium, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lavender, Cedarwood, Patchouli, and Ylang Ylang.

3. Cedarwood Essential Oil

Short description

The essential oil of cedarwood is believed to be one of the first made by mankind. It’s seen thousands of years of use already, from the Egyptians who employed it to embalm their dead to the Native Americans who used it for purification ceremonies. While the cedars mentioned in the Bible are now rare, modern-day cedars are more than adequate for making the aromatic cedarwood essential oils we know and enjoy today.

Distillation method

Using steam distillation, the bark and wood of cedars are carefully subjected to heat in order to extract its chemical components without damage. Unlike extraction from leaves and other soft plant parts, extracting essential oils from wood can be a lot more difficult.

Brief info on uses and benefits

The fragrance of cedarwood essential oil is classified as a base note and as such has a heady, dark, and woody quality favored by many perfume-makers. But its benefits are far from limited to its scent. It’s been know to help aid in disinfecting wounds, killing fungal infections, boosting the respiratory system, easing arthritis, regulating the menstrual cycle, clearing toxins from the body and blemishes from the skin, and even calming symptoms of ADHD.

Blending with other essential oils

Cedarwood essential oil blends well with the essential oils of Fir, Helichrysum, Sandalwood, Bergamot, Cypress, Lavender, Jasmine, Rosemary, Peppermint, Lime, Lemon, and Ylang Ylang.

4. Citronella Essential Oil

Short description

Citronella essential oil has a fresh, distinctive, and citrusy aroma. Once you’ve had a whiff of it, there’s a very big chance that you’ll be able to recognize the scent anywhere. It’s this strong and characteristic scent that gives citronella oil one of its best-known attributes: the ability to repel insects.

As an insect repellent, citronella can help repel insects such as mosquitoes, which carry infectious and potentially deadly diseases. While this in itself is admirable enough, the oil actually has so much more to offer. It is full of compounds that can help treat a variety of ailments as well as help get rid of negative emotions.

Distillation method

The oil comes from the leaves of the Cymbopogon nardus or the C. winterianus, which are both species of the lemongrass (Cymbopogon) plant. These leaves resemble long stalks of grass, and are also often used to flavor food in various culinary traditions. The leaves undergo steam distillation, which produces the essential oil.

Brief info on uses and benefits

Citronella oil has been proven to be effective in repelling insects, but it can do so much more. It can help get rid of bacteria and fungi, soothe muscle spasms, increase urination, and reduce pain. It can also help relieve stress and anxiety, which can both occur due to everyday stressors. Thus, the oil is an effective addition to many aromatherapy blends.

Other than that, citronella oil’s strong aroma can also help get rid of bad odors, making the oil a great disinfecting and deodorizing agent.

Blending with other essential oils

Citronella oil blends very well with many other essential oils. These oils include Peppermint, Rosemary, Cedarwood, Tangerine, Patchouli, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Lavender, Lime, Lemon, Bergamot, and Ylang Ylang. Combining Citronella with any of these other essential oils can result in an extremely effective aromatic blend.

5. Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Short description

Eucalyptus is traditionally used to cure common cough and colds, but the uses and benefits of this essential oil is far more than just for respiratory ailments. Today, eucalyptus essential oil is widely used for its medicinal and industrial purposes.

Distillation method

The essential oil is extracted from the leaves and twigs of a eucalyptus tree. They are dried, crushed, and then distilled to extract the sweet, camphorous, and potent essential oil.

Brief info on uses and benefits

The health benefits of eucalyptus essential oil include the following—antiseptic uses, muscle and nerve pain relief, dental hygiene, treating respiratory ailments, stress relief, mood lifting, vermifuge, fever treatment, mosquito repellant, and household applications.

Blending with other essential oils

Eucalyptus blends well with Thyme, Rosemary, Marjoram, Geranium, Lavender, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Melissa, and Lemon essential oils.

6. Fir Essential Oil

Short description

Siberian fir essential oil shares almost all its properties with essential oils from other fir species, but the Siberian fir is king when it comes to the concentrations of the compounds found within it. From being anti-inflammatory to being an antioxidant and a sedative, fir essential oil could be put to various uses to benefit the mind and body’s well-being.

Distillation method

Fir essential oil is made by processing the needle-like leaves of the fir tree using the standard steam distillation method. The resulting oil carries with it the scent of pine forests.

Brief info on uses and benefits

Aside from what’s already been mentioned, fir essential oil has plenty of other uses. It can ward against infection, potentially fight cancer, detoxify the body, boost metabolism, relieve respiratory issues, and even help heal broken bones.

Blending with other essential oils

Fir essential oil blends well with the essential oils of Pine, Lavender, Lemon, Cistus, Cinnamon, Orange, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, and Grapefruit.

7. Grapefruit Essential Oil

Short description

Grapefruit essential oil is among the “citrusy” essential oils. It has a light, fresh, and zesty scent that can uplift the spirit and improve mood. Unlike other essential oils, which come from leaves or flowers, grapefruit oil comes from the rind of the grapefruit (Citrus paradisi). While the grapefruit itself is mostly just suitable for eating, its essential oil has far more uses.

Like other essential oils, grapefruit oil has a number of active compounds. It has a high concentration of a compound called limonene, which has been found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and can also help with losing weight.

Distillation method

Extracting essential oils from citrus fruits like grapefruit can be quite difficult, since the oils are found deep in the rind. Thus, the oil is extracted through mechanical compression. This means, however, that a single grapefruit can produce only a little oil. It takes quite a lot of grapefruit in order to produce enough essential oil to fill one small bottle.

Brief info on uses and benefits

Grapefruit oil is often used in cosmetics, since it has the ability to help lessen the appearance of scars and blemishes. It can also help manage acne and keep the balance of your skin’s production of sebum. Grapefruit can also help cleanse the hair of dirt and dead skin, as well as help get rid of dandruff.

Of course, grapefruit essential oil isn’t just for cosmetic purposes. It can also help fight off harmful microbes, provide your body with more antioxidants, reduce inflammation, and even help you lose weight. If you’re feeling a bit down, grapefruit oil is also a great way to lift your spirits.

Blending with other essential oils

Grapefruit oil blends very well with many other essential oils. These oils include Basil, Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Rosemary, Bergamot, Peppermint, Lemon, Sage, Cedarwood, Patchouli, Tea Tree, Lime, and Mandarin. Combine Grapefruit with any of these other essential oils for a fragrant, cheerful scent blend.

8. Lavender Essential Oil

Short description

Lavender essential oil is perhaps one of the most popular essential oils in the world. It has a sweet, gentle, and floral scent, and it’s one of the most commonly used oils in aromatherapy. It’s also well-known for its ability to help relieve anxiety, induce calmness, and help treat insomnia. However, it has a lot of other benefits that can help enrich your health as well.

As a bonus, lavender is quite versatile. Not only does it have a myriad of benefits, it can be used in various applications as well. It can also blend quite well with a wide variety of other essential oils and scents, making it a staple in aromatherapy.

Distillation method

Lavender essential oil is extracted from the bluish-purple flowers of the lavender plant (Lavandula angustifolia). The flowers go through the process of steam distillation, which is the most common way to extract essential oils from leaves and flowers. The application of high heat as well as pressure draws the aromatic essence from the plants.

Brief info on uses and benefits

There’s a lot that can be gained from the use of lavender essential oil. It has anxiolytic, antimicrobial, analgesic, antispasmodic, hypotensive, sedative, and detoxifying effects. This means that the oil can not only relieve anxiety, it can also combat harmful microbes, relieve pain, soothe muscle spasms, detoxify your body, and ease tension and stress.

Lavender oil also features in many beauty and hygiene products, including soaps, lotions, perfumes, and more. Its fragrance is perhaps one of the biggest reasons that lavender is so popular, but it also has so much more to offer.

Blending with other essential oils

Lavender blends very well with many other essential oils. These oils include Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Peppermint, Lemon, Grapefruit, Cedarwood, Ylang Ylang, Lemongrass, Mandarin, Lime, Tangerine, Patchouli, Fir, Spearmint, and Ylang Ylang. Lavender can beautifully complement and enhance these essential oils in aromatherapy as well as in other ways.

9. Lemon Essential Oil

Short description

Lemon has earned the distinction of being a “Liquid Sunshine” due to its vibrant color, refreshing scent, purifying properties, and energy-boosting capability.

Distillation method

Lemon essential oil is produced by cold-pressing lemon peels. The lemon peel is the most nutrient-dense part of the fruit.

Brief info on uses and benefits

Lemon essential oil has a myriad of health benefits such as boosting the immune system, supporting the respiratory system, detoxifying the digestive system, relieving fever, and fighting infections. It is also helpful in boosting the health of the skin, hair, and nails.

Blending with other essential oils

Lemon blends well with other essential oils such as Geranium, Lavender, Neroli, Rose, Sandalwood, Tea Tree, and Ylang Ylang.

10. Lemongrass Essential Oil

Short description

Lemongrass is a favorite ingredient in many Asian dishes, but it’s also been used historically to help relieve inflammation, indigestion, fevers, as well as to help induce menstruation. Lemongrass essential oil could also be put to use to help with these conditions and more, as it has the remarkable ability to keep the body’s systems balanced and the immune system strong.

Distillation method

To make lemongrass essential oil, lemongrass stalks are harvested and sometimes dried before being subjected to the standard steam distillation process.

Brief info on uses and benefits

In addition to helping “tone” the various systems in the body, including the nervous and digestive systems, lemongrass essential oil is also useful for helping to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing inflammation and fever, fighting off fungal and bacterial diseases, and easing headaches and other types of pain. In addition, it can also be used for relieving stress, alleviating menstrual problems, soothing insomnia or general restlessness, improving the skin, and reducing anxiety and depression.

Blending with other essential oils

Lemongrass essential oil blends well with many other oils, including Basil, Bergamot, Cedarwood, Fir, Grapefruit, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Orange, Patchouli, Geranium, and Lavender.

11. Lime Essential Oil

Short description

Lime is being used today as a flavor in drinks and in various dishes, but its essential oil has plenty of other beneficial uses. It’s been used for centuries in Chinese medicine to promote healthy digestion and to improve nutrient absorption. Even today, lime essential oil is known as a powerful antioxidant that can help flush toxins from the body.

Distillation method

While citruses can be made through steam distillation as well, making lime essential oil through the cold pressing or mechanical method is largely favored because of the highly concentrated oils it produces.

Brief info on uses and benefits

Research has shown that depending on the circumstances, lime essential oil can have both appetite-stimulating and appetite-suppressing effects when inhaled or applied topically. It also has various other qualities, including being an antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, antipyretic, anticarcinogenic, and antidepressant.

Blending with other essential oils

Lime essential oil blends well with the essential oils of Citronella, Cedarwood, Lavender, Tangerine, Rosemary, and Ylang Ylang.

12. Mandarin Essential Oil

Short description

The mandarin fruit has been cultivated in China and Japan for over 3000 years, and its essential oil has been used in traditional Chinese medicine since 400 AD.

Distillation method

The conventional way of extracting mandarin essential oil is through cold compression of the outer peel of mandarin oranges.

Brief info on uses and benefits

Mandarin essential oil is antiseptic, antispasmodic, antibacterial, digestive, and detoxifying. It can also help relieve stress, facilitate the growth of new cells, optimize body organs, and help treat skin disorders.

Blending with other essential oils

Mandarin blends well with Clary Sage, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Rose, Geranium, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Lime, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Patchouli, Tangerine, Lemon, and Lavender.

13. Patchouli Essential Oil

Short description

Patchouli is a highly popular and admired ingredient for perfumes, deodorants, and oils because of its uncommon and exquisite fragrance. This essential oil is an extremely potent and powerful oil which carries with it many therapeutic benefits.

Distillation method

Patchouli essential oil is extracted by the steam distillation of fermented, dried leaves of the patchouli plant.

Brief info on uses and benefits

This aromatic oil has properties that include being an antidepressant, sedative, aphrodisiac, deodorant, insect repellent, diuretic, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, cell-regenerator, antifungal, and tonic.

Blending with other essential oils

Patchouli blends well with Cinnamon, Clary Sage, Cypress, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon, Myrrh, and Sandalwood.

14. Peppermint Essential Oil

Short description

Peppermint essential oil has an intense, distinctive aroma. It also provides a cooling sensation when used topically, and even a very small amount of the oil can pack quite a punch. The oil, as well as the peppermint plant, contain high amounts of menthol and menthone, which are compounds that have antiseptic, anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral effects. Thus, peppermint oil can help treat a variety of health issues.

Since peppermint essential oil is quite strong, you only need a little to enjoy its full effects. This means, of course, that you need to be careful in using it to make sure that you don’t experience side effects.

Distillation method

Peppermint essential oil is extracted from the leaves of the peppermint plant through steam distillation. This is the most common method used in extracting the aromatic essence of any plant. The high-temperature steam, combined with pressure, induces the release of the essential oil.

Brief info on uses and benefits

The peppermint plant (Mentha x piperita) has long been used for medicinal purposes. Its oil has a myriad of uses and can be included in things like aromatherapy and massage oil blends as well as in lotions, soaps, homemade toothpastes, and more.

The oil has also been proven to help improve digestive health, treat infections, relieve respiratory issues, treat migraines, and relieve muscle soreness. Peppermint is also known to be able to help treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common digestive condition. Other than that, there is also evidence that the menthol in peppermint oil can help inhibit the spread of certain cancers.

Blending with other essential oils

Peppermint blends very well with many other essential oils. These oils include Eucalyptus, Lavender, Grapefruit, Lemon, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Sage, Cedarwood, Patchouli, Lemongrass, and Spearmint. You can combine peppermint essential oil with any of these oils to come up with the aromatic blends or health benefits you’re looking for.

15. Rosemary Essential Oil

Short description

Rosemary essential oil has a powerful, herbaceous scent with strong notes of camphor. It has many considerable health benefits, but it can be an excellent choice for cosmetic uses as well. Other than physical health, it is known to be able to improve your memory and state of mind as well. 1,8-Cineole, a highly beneficial natural compound, can be found in rosemary essential oil in high amounts.

While rosemary may not be as popular as other essential oils, it can function very well on its own and it can enhance and complement the effects of other oils as well.

Distillation method

Rosemary essential oil is extracted from the leaves of the rosemary plant (Rosmarinus officinalis) through the process of steam distillation. Steam distillation is the most common way to extract essential oils from leaves and flowers. It entails the use of high-temperature steam as well as pressure to draw the aromatic essences of plants.

Brief info on uses and benefits

1,8-Cineole, one of rosemary essential oil’s major compounds, is able to help improve memory as well as cognitive performance. Because of this, you can use rosemary to help you focus on tasks that require mental effort, such as writing, preparing for reports, or studying for tests. Other than improving cognition, rosemary essential oil can also help relieve anxiety and stress.

Of course, rosemary is effective in helping you maintain physical health as well. It can help you combat harmful microbes, relieve pain, ease the symptoms of bronchial asthma, and boost your immune system. Rosemary oil can also help repel disease-carrying mosquitoes and even improve the quality of your hair.

Blending with other essential oils

Rosemary blends very well with many other essential oils. These oils include Cedarwood, Grapefruit, Peppermint, Sage, Lemongrass, Citronella, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Basil, Fir, Bergamot, Lemon, Mandarin, Tea Tree, Ylang Ylang, and Spearmint. You can create a wide variety of blends with a wide variety of health benefits to both your mind and body.

16. Sage Essential Oil

Short description

Sage essential oil has a warm, sharp, herbaceous aroma with strong notes of camphor. It can be colorless, but it can also appear to be have a light yellow tinge. Like the plant it comes from, sage oil offers a wide variety of health benefits that can help treat the symptoms of many health conditions. The sage plant (Salvia officinalis) has been in use since ancient times for many different purposes, including the improvement of fertility and the treatment of coughs and bleeding.

Over the years, both the sage plant and its essential oil have been proven to have components that can help you become healthier from head to toe, inside and out.

Distillation method

Sage oil is extracted from the partly dried leaves of the sage plant. This and most other essential oils are extracted via steam distillation. The steam distillation method utilizes high-temperature steam as well as pressure to coax out the essential oils of a variety of plants, trees, and fruits.

Brief info on uses and benefits

The sage plant has been used as a medicinal plant since ancient times, with civilizations such as the Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians using sage for a variety of medicinal uses. Its oil, of course, has perhaps even more benefits and applications.

Sage essential oil can help provide antioxidants, combat disease-causing microbes, improve digestive and menstrual health, reduce inflammation, and relieve respiratory issues. Thus, if you’re currently dealing with an infection, some stomach problems, menstrual cramps, a cold, or perhaps you just want to improve your overall health, sage would make a great and very aromatic choice.

Blending with other essential oils

Sage blends very well with many other essential oils. These oils include Lavender, Rosemary, Lemon, Peppermint, Grapefruit, Cedarwood, Lemongrass, Bergamot, and Spearmint. You can combine sage essential oil with any of these other oils in aromatherapy, or to create things such as massage oil blends, bath salts, and much more.

17. Spearmint Essential Oil

Short description

Spearmint essential oil is widely known around the world. Its uses dates back thousands of years. The uses and benefits of this cooling and rejuvenating essential oil covers a wide range of ailments, from various aches and pains to relieving respiratory issues.

Distillation method

The oil is extracted from the leaves of the spearmint herb by the conventional process of steam distillation.

Brief info on uses and benefits

Among other things, spearmint essential oil is known to be a good antiseptic, antifungal, antispasmodic, carminative, stress-relieving, emmenagogue, restorative, insecticidal, and stimulant agent.

Blending with other essential oils

Spearmint blends well with Basil, Eucalyptus Oil, Jasmine, Lavender , Peppermint, and Rosemary essential oils.

18. Tangerine Essential Oil

Short description

Tangerines have been grown for over 3000 years in Japan, China, and Djibouti. Ayurvedic medicine calls tangerine as “Santra Sal” and is highly regarded as a natural detoxifying agent.

Distillation method

Tangerine essential oil is extracted by cold compressing the peels of the fruit.

Brief info on uses and benefits

Tangerine has properties such as antiseptic, cytophylactic, anti-inflammatory, depurative, digestive, detoxifying, and antispasmodic. It can also help relieve stress, boost metabolism, and uplift the mood.

Blending with other essential oils

Tangerine blends especially well with Bergamot, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Geranium, Grapefruit, Lavender, Lemon, Wild Orange, and Roman Chamomile essential oils.

19. Tea Tree Essential Oil

Short description

Tea tree essential oil is quite powerful and has a myriad of uses and health benefits. It has a fresh, spicy, and camphoraceous scent similar to that of eucalyptus essential oil. It has been in use for decades as a disinfecting agent in dental and surgical procedures until the oil eventually became useful outside operating rooms as well. It has since established a reputation for being versatile and a jack-of-all-trades.

Nearly all essential oils are suitable for aromatherapy, including tea tree. However, tea tree essential oil can help you improve your health as well as the health of your skin and hair.

Distillation method

Tea tree oil is extracted from the leaves of the tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) through steam distillation. This is the most common way to extract aromatic essences from the leaves or flowers of many essential oil-producing plants. It entails the use of light pressure as well as high-temperature steam, both of which draw the oils out.

Brief info on uses and benefits

Tea tree essential oil is a very effective disinfectant that can help treat and prevent infections in the bladder, ear, eye, navel, skin, mouth, and genitals. It is also particularly well-known for its ability to help eliminate acne and promote clearer, healthier skin. Other than this, tea tree oil can also help you keep your nails and hair healthy.

One of tea tree essential oil’s most important aspects is its ability to fight off microbes that can cause various health conditions. Because of this ability, the oil can help relieve pain caused by dental procedures such as root canals and tooth extractions.

Blending with other essential oils

Tea tree blends very well with many other essential oils. These oils include Rosemary, Peppermint, Lavender, Lemon, Cedarwood, Basil, Eucalyptus, Bergamot, Spearmint, Lemongrass, and Grapefruit. Combine tea tree with these other essential oils to come up with exciting aromatic blends.

20. Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

Short description

Various parts of the flowering ylang ylang tree have been traditionally used in many cultures for their health-giving benefits, and the essential oil distilled from its blooms carry all of these benefits and more. It also has a sweet and distinct scent that makes it a favorite in the perfume industry.

Distillation method

The blooms are picked at night-time because that’s when their scents are strongest, and they’re processed shortly afterwards. Unlike other oils made using the steam distillation method, processing ylang ylang flowers can take up to 14 hours and is divided into several stages. The essential oil batches collected during the first distillations are the purest and most aromatic.

Brief info on uses and benefits

In their native soils, ylang ylang has been used to help treat malaria, pneumonia, asthma, stomach complaints, and more. Ylang ylang essential oil, meanwhile, has been known to be an effective regulator of mood, blood pressure, and heart rate. It also has properties that could help ease menstrual pain and many other types of inflammation, and it could also help improve skin and hair quality.

Blending with other essential oils

Ylang ylang essential oil blends well with the essential oils of Bergamot, Clary Sage, Geranium, Grapefruit, Lemon, Mandarin, Patchouli, and Sandalwood.


Blending Essential Oils

You can definitely make your own aromatherapy blends at home and be creative according to your signature scents. The rule of thumb is to make a 1:1 ratio on the essential oils that you’ll be blending. For example, if you want to make a spiritually uplifting blend, pour 1 drop of Sandalwood, 1 drop Rosemary and 1 drop Ylang Ylang. Try and test to see if you like the aroma of the resulting blends. From there, you can add more drops of a particular essential oil according to your preference.

About Carrier Oils and Agents

Why You Should Use Emulsifiers

When using essential oils other than for diffusion, the importance of emulsifiers cannot be stressed enough. Like many other oils, essential oils do not mix with water. The heavier oil would just float to the top, and even when this type of solution is thoroughly shaken before each application, it could often result in uneven distribution wherein more essential oil could be dispensed at one time than in another.

When essential oils are to be added to liquids besides other oils, therefore, something that could bind the unmixable elements together must be added as well. When this rule is not observed, some of the adverse effects you could experience include skin irritation, sensitization, damage to mucous membranes, or even burns. One prime example of when this could happen is if essential oils are added in its pure state to your bath. It is always best to blend it first with bath salts, castile soap, or other meant-for-bathing carriers before stirring it thoroughly into your tub water.

Other examples of emulsifiers include high-proof alcohol, organic gels like aloe vera, honey, and vegetable and animal fats. Note that while mixing essential oils with alcohol like vodka is good for household applications, it is often not as recommendable for other uses. If a solution is to be used on the skin, rubbing alcohol may do just as well.

Unscented lotion is another example of an emulsifier that’s often used in aromatherapy. When using emulsifiers, it is best to mix it first with the essential oils. Stir or shake the solution thoroughly and see if any separation would occur before adding water or other water-based ingredients. The exact ratio of the mix would largely depend on the type of essential oil used and the recipe being followed.

However, please note that unless the resulting blend is to be mixed with something else for topical use, emulsification is not necessary when you blend essential oils with carrier oils. This is because the two types of oils have similar chemical structures and would naturally blend well together even without external assistance.

Understanding Carrier Oils

Since essential oils are highly soluble in fats, any type of oil is technically viable as a carrier agent, but which types are the best? Also known as base oils and fixed oils, the most ideal carrier oils are those made by cold-pressing the parts of plants that are rich in fat, and this include the kernels, nuts, or seeds.

Carrier oils are basically pure organic matter in liquid form and not “essences.” As such, they do not evaporate like essential oils do, nor do they contain much aroma. They can go rancid as well, unlike essential oils, so it is always recommended to check first if the carrier oil you’re planning to use is fresh. Though they generally do not have much odor, if there’s a trace of bitterness in these oils when you sniff at them, it’s a sign they might have gone bad. Note, however, that some carrier oils do have fragrances of their own. They’d usually be nutty or sweet depending on the type, but these scents aren’t cause for worry unless you don’t want them interfering with the fragrance of your essential oils.

Carrier oils aren’t exclusively from plant material either. Some can come from animals or fish, and while these might not be ideal for use in aromatherapy, they can be used when making wound disinfectants, the way our ancestors did.

There are also many ways carrier oils are produced, but the best ones for topical use are those that had been cold-pressed—i.e., not processed using heat, or using only minimal temperatures—as well as those with high tocopherol or vitamin E content. Carrier oils that have these qualities won’t just be good for the skin, they’d also typically have a longer shelf-life. Note also that unrefined oils are best when it comes to topical use, which rules out the common cooking oils found in our kitchens as they’re usually heavily processed.

Oils that are absolutely not ideal for use on the skin include mineral oils and other petroleum-based products. These could block the pores, thereby preventing optimal essential oil absorption while also blocking the passage of toxins out of the body. Heavier materials which may be used, on the other hand, are vegetable butters like shea and cocoa. These would typically be solid at room temperature, and they’re also best when made through the cold-pressing method.

Coconut Oil

Fractionated coconut oil comes highly recommended because not only is it relatively cheap with a long shelf-life, it is also light on the skin, which allows for good penetration. This oil is also odorless, which means it won’t interfere with the scent of the essential oils it blends with.

One drawback is that it’s been processed and most of its natural contents have been lost. If you want a more organic option, a better choice would be virgin or extra-virgin coconut oil. In colder temperatures, these tend to be solid at room temperature. They have a rich and distinct aroma of coconuts, and they can be beneficial on the skin all on their own.

Sunflower Oil

This oil is also relatively affordable and can serve a lot of purpose, from skin application to use for massage. If it’s the unrefined variant, sunflower oil has a thin consistency, easily absorbed by the skin and therefore won’t leave an oily feeling, has very little scent, and has a long shelf-life.

Olive Oil

This oil is readily available in many households and could be used in a pinch. However, most aromatherapy practitioners do not favor it for cosmetic purposes because it tends to sit heavily on the skin.

Avocado Oil

Avocado is very rich in nutrients. While it’s also heavy and oily on the skin like olive oil, it is highly ideal for use on the hair.

Jojoba Oil

This oil is one of the best choices out there for skin-specific uses because its chemical composition is close to that of the oil our own skin produces. It is also ideal for massage use because it contains its own anti-inflammatory properties. Jojoba oil has medium viscosity but absorbs well on the skin. It also has a fairly long shelf-life and won’t go rancid that easily.

Sweet Almond Oil

As its name suggests, sweet almond oil has its own subtle fragrance, which makes it a favored choice when making perfumes. While this oil is thin and light, however, it takes a while for it to absorb onto the skin. Like the other oils on this list, sweet almond oil is readily available, affordable, serves multiple purposes, and has a long shelf-life.

Other Carrier Oils

Here are a few other examples of carrier oils that are often used in aromatherapy: canola oil, corn oil, apricot kernel oil, sesame oil, safflower oil, hazelnut oil, grapeseed oil, evening primrose oil, and many others.


Your choice of carrier oils, just like your choice of essential oils, are definitely not limited, and it might require you to try several oils out to see which would best suit your particular skin type. It is also important to watch for a possible allergic reaction, especially for carrier oils like peanut oil.

Diffuser Types Guide

Depending on what you expect to get from your essential oils, there are various types of diffusers that you could use. If we’re talking using the oils’ scents to create ambience in a room, for instance, a simple reed diffuser could do quite well. If you want to receive the full health benefits from your oils, however, investing in the more expensive and high-tech models might be necessary. To give you a much better idea, we listed the most commonly used types of diffusers and how each may be used.

Heat-Using Electric Diffusers

To use this type of diffuser, the essential oil is applied to the “pads” that typically comes with it. Heat is then generated to gently raise the pads’ temperature, which would then slowly release the oil’s aroma. One pad can be dedicated to a specific oil, or other oils could be served up on top of another oil used previously to create a one-off blend. The pads can be changed after they’ve seen several uses and are beginning to fall apart.

While diffusers like this are generally inexpensive, one drawback is that too much heat application can “cook” essential oils, and a lot of the health benefits you might be after would be lost in the process. Most models also only have a “diffuse” setting, meaning the device must be manually turned on and off, which might also account for why “cooking” accidents happen often.

Ultrasonic or Humidifying Diffusers

There are various makes and models for this type of diffuser, which could simultaneously moisturize and purify the air by using ultrasonic vibrations to send out molecules loaded with water and essential oil particles. That same benefit, however, is also its drawback. Because the oils require dilution with water to be sent out that way, you might need to use more drops at a given time to get the same level of health-related effect as some other types of diffusers.

Ultrasonic or humidifying diffusers come with a water tank that vary in size, the smallest typically having 100-ml capacity, the largest, 500-ml or more. These are often made from plastic materials that make them less ideal for cold-pressed citrus essential oils as these can be corrosive. Some manufacturers prohibit outright the use of citrus essential oils with their product because of this, and some lesser makes might have the same problem even with steam-distilled essential oils. They’d also need to be cleaned frequently.

If the manufacturer’s recommendations for the diffuser’s use are followed, however, they’d serve your aromatherapy needs just fine. After adding the required amount of water as well as the recommended number of essential oil drops, these diffusers can be run automatically in a set time. Some also have options where they run on and off intermittently, which is especially useful since most experts would not recommend a session to last more than an hour at a time.

Nebulizing Diffusers

Sometimes called atomizing diffusers, this type of diffuser is the most ideal if you want to get the most overall health benefits out of your essential oils. This type either uses a powerful and continuous burst of air to diffuse microdroplets of pure essential oil into the air or turns the essential oil into mist or vapor that could easily go straight to your lungs when inhaled while also being absorbed by the skin.

Another thing that makes this type of diffuser ideal is that it doesn’t need heat or water to operate. It only diffuses essential oil particles, which makes for an even distribution within a closed space. Of course, it isn’t without drawbacks. The first would be the price—even the cheapest model could be more expensive than the most high-end models of other types of diffusers. Another is that it tends to be noisy, which might cause you disturbance if you’re sensitive to low humming sounds. Last but not least, it tends to use up essential oils pretty quickly.

With all that said, there’s no denying this type of diffuser’s greater efficacy when what you need from your essential oils is treatment and not just therapy. Simply add the undiluted essential oil to the diffuser’s glass reservoir and run it at either low or high diffusion. Just remember that it is not recommended to run nebulizing diffusers for more than a quarter of an hour at a time because overexposure can cause nausea, headaches, or emotional disturbances, among other things.

Fifteen minutes at a time, however, is often enough to give your body and mental health the boost they need, and it is also ideal that you give yourself time to adjust from what you’re receiving from the pure essential oil microdroplets.

Oil Burners

Like the electric diffuser, oil burners also use heat to disperse the essential oil into the air. They can be good for personal use or in small spaces in order to create an ambience while also scenting the air. When applying heat to essential oils, however, some of its elements can become transmuted or outright lost. This should be fine if you only want to enjoy the delightful play of scents and lights, but not so much if we’re talking health benefits.

To use, simply mix drops of essential oil with a bit of water on the small reservoir at the top of the diffuser. Light the candle which would ideally use low heat to gently disperse the oil and water mixture, and simply blow it out again after use. Please be careful not to leave the fire unattended in between.

Other Types

We’ve mentioned reed diffusers, which is an example of a non-electric, evaporative type of diffusers. Another popular example of this type of diffuser are terracotta pendants. The material would absorb the drops of essential and would let the scent out slowly when exposed to a passive heat source like sunlight or body heat. Their effects have even been known to last for days.

These types of diffusers use little intervention to disperse essential oils and would let them diffuse as they naturally would, but this could mean that lighter elements within the oil would evaporate first and leave behind heavier components which have benefits of their own. Again, these might be more ideal for decorative and scenting purposes and perhaps not so much for health-related usage.

Types of Fragrances

The idea of classifying essential oils’ fragrances according to “notes” came from music. When composing a song, elements must be added such that the end product would produce a pleasing harmony. Some of the more powerful pieces of music could evoke thoughts and emotions in a listener, and when done right, blending fragrances could also do the same.

Fragrances are roughly divided into three categories of “notes” according to the length of time their aromas typically linger. Notes are either top, middle, or base. Top notes are those whose scents are the first to hit our sense of smell but would also be the first to dissipate, usually within the first couple of hours.

Middle notes last from two to four hours, or even longer if they could also be classified as a “heart” note—something in between two types which, in this case, are middle and base. A good example of a heart note is the scent of ylang ylang. Middle notes are usually soft and warm, but they can be any type: sweet and floral, piney or woody, herbaceous or camphor-like. They offer balance to the blended scents as well as greatly extend the overall fragrance.

Finally, base notes are scents that tend to be heavy, musky, earthy, and/or woody. Not only could these fragrances last for several hours longer, they’ve also been known to linger for days. They are typically “masculine” scents, but these darker scents have been gaining popularity amongst women as well because of their mysterious and longer-lasting appeal.

In Aroma Foundry’s collection, the essential oils that are usually considered as top notes are Basil, Bergamot, Citronella, Eucalyptus, Grapefruit, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Peppermint, Spearmint, Tangerine, and Mandarin. The middle notes include Sage, Fir, Rosemary, Tea Tree, and Ylang Ylang. Lastly, we have the famous base notes Cedarwood and Patchouli.

It is important to note that the amount of drops to be added for a complete blend doesn’t always depend on which type of note an essential oil happens to be. For instance, even between top notes, one fragrance could be stronger and more overpowering than another, and this is the same across the board. This is why, in order to come up with a successful blend, some experimentation is often necessary.

The Basics of Fragrance Blending

To get started on making your own blend of scents, all you’ll need are small reusable bottles and a notebook or an electronic note-taking device to record the combinations you’ve tried. You can choose 5-ml bottles in the beginning: there’ll be less waste this way as you’ll only be blending a few drops each of essential oils. Note that you don’t have to limit yourself to just one essential oil per note. The beauty of blending is in how much room it gives you to simply explore.

As you go along, take careful notes of the number of drops you’ve used for each essential oil per blend and consider if this combination hits the spot or if something needs to be added or subtracted. A simple way to test each fragrance is to add a few drops of the blend to a cotton ball and to let the notes play themselves out. You can then freely adjust from there until you arrive at the scent combination you like best.

Once you’ve arrived at a blend you like, there will then be other things to consider. How would you like to use this blend? You could choose to run it as is in your diffuser for up to an hour and let the play of scents linger for hours more, but you could also make a perfume out of your personal blend and carry it around with you all day.

Depending on which form you choose, whether as a mist spray, a roll-on perfume, or a perfume balm, you’ll need to gather other ingredients in order to process the essential oils further, including emulsifiers (typically high-proof alcohol), distilled water, and carrier oils. You will also need specialized containers that would not only store your resulting perfume but also protect the chemical integrity of their contents and extend their shelf-life.

Common Precautions

Basic Things You Need to Know

    • 100% pure and all-natural essential oils are less likely to cause adverse reactions, while oils with additives in them are more likely to be unsafe.
    • Some essential oils may be safe to apply topically in small amounts, while some essential oils should be diluted in carrier oils or other suitable substances before application.
    • If your skin is inflamed or damaged in any way, it may be more sensitive to essential oils and may thus be more prone to negative reactions.
    • Do not ingest essential oils without the guidance of a medical professional.
    • If you have a health condition like diabetes or if you’re taking medication, you should first consult your doctor before using any essential oil. Essential oils can interfere with the effects of your medication.

Pregnancy and Children

The use of essential oils in pregnancy is something of a controversial topic. According to some, if you use essential oils properly, it’s unlikely that it can negatively impact a developing fetus. However, there is still very little information that details how exactly can essential oils affect pregnancy. Thus, if you’re pregnant, you should consult your doctor before using essential oils.

You should not use essential oils on children under the age of 7, since they may not be capable of withstanding the strong effects of the oils. While essential oils are all-natural and beneficial, they can also have adverse effects if not used properly.

What is Phototoxicity?

Some essential oils can be phototoxic. This means that they can make the skin especially susceptible to the effects of ultraviolet radiation. Potentially phototoxic essential oils include Bergamot, Lemon, Lime, and Grapefruit. If you apply these oils on your skin, make sure that you don’t have to go out into the sun for at least 12 hours after application.


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