The Difference Between Essential Oils and Fragrance Oils


   A single smell can bring back fond memories of the past. The practice of aromatherapy uses scents to improve mood and relax or rejuvenate the body. Many of the products we buy have fragrances added to them with this in mind. Everything from that fresh smell of your laundry coming out of the dryer, the smell of the scented candle you have in your bathroom, the smell of the cleaning products you use in your house, are often picked for their scent as well as their purpose. To scent these products fragrance oil, essential oil or both are added. There are some basic differences between the two that make a difference in the strength, quality, and response to these fragrances.

   Essential oils are natural and not really oils at all. The essential oils are acquired by extracting the scents of plants through cold pressing, steam distillation, or CO2 extraction. A flower scent for example would be extracted from the petals of the flower. It can take hundreds or thousands of petals to create just one drop of essential oil. Essential oils are very concentrated and usually very expensive because of this. The strength and quality of the scent can also vary depending on the quality of the plants used. There are also varying grades of essential oils that may pass for, and be labeled as, natural when it has actually been combined with small amounts of fragrance oils. If a truly natural essential oil is desired, it would be wise to consider the extraction process used as well. Some processes use chemicals in the extraction process making the term natural open for individual interpretation. Because essential oils come from plants there are fewer scents available in this form.

   Fragrance oils are most common and come in many more scents than essential oils. This is because fragrance oils are normally synthetic but can be combined with essential oils and or carrier oils to create more of a selection. That laundry smell mentioned earlier is most likely made in a lab and added to the detergent, so that consumers can choose between mountain air or island breeze scented clothes. This is the same for scented candles, air fresheners, cleaning products, or almost anything, that is scented. There can be as many as one hundred ingredients in one fragrance. Because some of these fragrance oils are made with chemicals, some people have allergic reactions to them. It should also be noted that just because something is labeled “unscented” that might not technically be true. If a product would normally have an unpleasant odor, chemicals can be added to mask the smell but do not have to be listed in ingredient lists.

   So are essential oils better than fragrance oils? The choice between the two boils down to personal preferences. In either case, fragrance and essential oils can both have aroma therapy benefits.



Dawn Turner, currently resides in a small town in central Wisconsin and is the proud mom of two. She is an expert in fragrance and owns Indigo Fragrance sells quality fragrance oils and supplies. Dawn, a self professed scent junkie, loves to travel with her husband, ride ATVs, listen to music and eat vast amounts of chocolate.


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