Essential Oils vs. Fragrance Oils

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Essential Oil

What is the difference between essential and fragrance oils?

This question is frequently posed by those new to aromatherapy and herbalism. There is a lot of debate surrounding this subject. Fragrance oils and genuine Essential oils have many similarities but they also differ in fundamental ways.

Genuine essential oils are pure distillations of a flowers, herbs, roots, or resins that have not been cut with any kind of carrier oil. These oils are often expensive, and they are prized for their potent fragrances as well as their medicinal benefits. Plants and the essential oils derived from them contain allelochemicals-chemicals that have affects on the human body. Sometimes these effects are good and sometimes they are bad depending on the plant matter used. This is why it is particularly important to familiarize yourself with the herbs and oils that you use. Those new to the art should take the time to use additional resources, and speak with their doctor before using any herbal preparation that they are not familiar with. Some of the prized effects of certain essential oils are: skin and hair softening, skin moisturizing, rash / eczema / psoriasis relief, youthful looking rejuvenation, anxiety dissipation, tension relief, stress relief, pain relief, migraine relief, and enhancement of overall feeling of well being.

Essential oils have drawbacks as well as benefits. Many essential oils are incredibly expensive - an example of this is Rose Otto Essential oil. It is said that it takes a thousand Rose petals to make a mere drop of this oil. A fluid ounce costs, on average, $200 dollars. The pure scent of the oil is heavenly, and a small amount of the oil will go a long way. However, the expense is something that few can afford to indulge on a regular basis. This reason alone is often enough for many people to choose fragrance oils which are much less expensive.

Another drawback of some essential oils is that both their quality and scent varies depending on the crop. Essential oils can also vary by region due to variations in the plant matter used, conditions grown in, etc. This makes it difficult for craft makers to keep their finished products consistent. For people simply making items for personal use this is not usually significant unless the person is very particular about their fragrances, but for crafters making items for sale this can pose a very large problem. Many crafters opt for fragrance oils instead to keep their finished product consistent.

Finally sometimes an essential oil that smells really good, is not so good for health if the plant matter is poisonous or an irritant to the human body. This extremely limits the oils aromatherapy applications. Fragrance oils provide a way to avoid any unpleasant side effects of but still benefit from the scent of normally dangerous, or irritating herbs.

Those characteristics: the definition, benefits, and disadvantages of essential oils along with information about why fragrance oils are a viable alternative are a good start but its important to define what a Fragrance oil is. Fragrance oils are almost always synthetic; they do not contain the true floral essence so their contribution to aromatherapy is simply fragrance. Some fragrance oils aren't synthetic, these oils are blends of essential oils cut with a carrier oil. If you plan to use fragrance oils for crafting incense, bath and body products, etc. it is important to use concentrated, synthetic oils. Fragrance oils that are really essential / carrier oil blends have been diluted too much and their scent is not strong enough to be used for crafting purposes. Save the essential / carrier oils blend for use directly on the skin, hair, or candles.

Finally, Fragrance oils are beneficial even though they are synthetic because their aroma can help encourage peace of mind, and alleviate the blues. However, they are never to be taken internally unlike genuine essential oils. They are also much more affordable with the average person being able to use some every day. Ultimately whether a fragrance or essential oil is appropriate depends on the application, and the crafters budget.