A General Guide to Essential Oil Categories & Blends
Blends are mixes of essential oils with a carrier oil - vegetable based oils which are cold-pressed from plants, i.e. olive oil, almond oil, hempseed oil. Blends are used for massage movements in a dilution of approximately 3-5 drops of essential oil to 10mls of carrier oil.
Essential oils which are blended together without any carrier oil is called a synergy. Many essential oils work well together and can mutually enhance therapeutic properties and actions. The ideal is to achieve a harmony between all oils used. Generally oils of the same botanical family will work well together, as do floral fragrances, and oils which share common chemical compounds or constituents, i.e. camphoraceous, citronellal.
Top notes (or head notes) have a fresh and light quality. They are the most simulating and uplifting oils for the mind and body - generally from the chest upward, i.e. breathing. They are also the fastest acting and the quickest to evaporate (3-4 hours in a burner, 24 hours in the body). They usually come cold-pressed from fruits or distilled from light herbs. Top notes float on top of water.
Example: Sweet Orange, Peppermint
Middle notes (or heart notes) come from flowers and strong herbs. They generally work on the body from the chest down to the waist, i.e. metabolic, digestive, circulatory and lymphatic systems. They are moderately volatile, will float on top of water and will last up to a day in a burner and 2 or 3 days in the body.
Base notes have a rich, heavy scent that come from different types of wood, resins and some delicate flowers. They generally work from the waist down, can are known to be very relaxing and calming. They are the slowest oils to evaporate, particularly on skin where they can last up to a week in the body. Base note oils will also improve in quality over time and act as fixative to stop lighter oils dispersing too quickly.
Example: Cedarwood, Frankincense
These are general groups of oils that come from a distinctive family. In some cases there might be more or less groups, we have chosen the most common 8 groups to list.
Distinctive, fresh and uplifting qualities, these oils are from the citrus genus and are cold-pressed from the fruits, such as mandarin, lemon, lime, grapefruit and oranges.
Example: Grapefruit, Lemongrass
These oils can be heavier, richer and muskier scents.
Example: Patchouli, Vetiver
Think fresh flowers and roses. Soft, sweet and light.
The green herbs. Sharp, full aroma, very powerful.
Strong and sharp aromatic odor. A uniquely medicinal scent.
Example: Camphor, Tea Tree
Resinoids are extracts from dead organic material. There are a few different types, such as balsams (benzoin), resins (amber), oleoresins (turpentine) and oleo gum resins (frankincense & myrrh).
Example: Frankincense, Myrrh
Think cinnamon, cloves & nutmeg. Can be sweet, pungent, heady or savory.
Example: Clove, Ginger
Strong lingering scents characteristic of the different varieties of wood, like cedarwood, sandalwood and pine.
The possibilities are endless. Many oils can be mixed together to create completely unique aromas. Blending can be a very creative, intuitive and rewarding alchemical process. By mixing different oils together you are changing the structure and vibrational frequency of the oils. They will all serve different purposes and act on the mind/body in a specific manner. For example they may uplift or calm, stimulate or sedate, clear the airways or clear your skin.