ESSENTIAL OILS have been around since before Biblical times (think frankincense and myrhh). But what exactly are they?
Essential oils are NOT "oils" in the conventional sense of the word, but are concentrated, plant extracts used for aromatic, hygienic and wellness purposes. Most often plant esters, they are called “essential” because they contain the essence of a plant, extracted from the flowers, fruits, roots, stems, and foliage of the plant.
If you are thinking of using essential oils, here are the FIRST 6 that you should consider to start your collection.
Just about everyone has heard of LAVENDER being used for relaxation with its clean, fresh, floral top note fragrance, and justifiably so. Lavender has been shown to reduce anxiety, stress and be a gentle uplifting fragrance. It blends well with almost all other oils too, especially citrus, mint and eucalyptus.
2. PEPPERMINT or EUCALYPTUS
The refreshing stimulation from the minty, camphorous top/middle note aromas of PEPPERMINT or eucalyptus is quite unmistakeable. Blends of these essentials are used in many muscle-ache preparations, and in congestion relievers (think Vapo-Rub). They also combat fatigue and a touch of peppermint with water taken orally can help soothe indigestion in many people. Be careful, though - a little goes a long way, so use them sparingly in any blend, lest they mask the other essentials used.
LEMON is the primary uplifting, rejuvenating and cleansing essential oil. All citrus oil top notes are similar in that they are fresh and uplifting, with orange being a "warmer" fragrance, lime a "cooler" fragrance, and grapefruit having a light tangy "lift" to its profile. Lemon can help ease depression, boost alertness, and blends well with many other oils, even the heavier "heady" ones such as ylang-ylang.
4. TEA TREE
TEA TREE is widely used in cleaning products as well as wellness blends for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. While it blends well with many other essentials, nothing can totally mask its strong, spicy, medicinal aroma, so use it very sparingly in blends and by itself when used in antiseptic applications.
In additional to having a medium-strong, almost rose-like floral note, GERANIUM is an excellent middle-note "blender": it has the ability to pull together a blend with, say, citrus top notes and woodsy deep notes. It's the perfect "go-between" or "middleman" in your oils blends. Some women report that it reduces symptoms of PMS, helps heal skin problems and- along with citronella- acts as a bug repellent. It blends especially well with citrus notes and lavender.
6. SANDALWOOD or CEDARWOOD
The spicy/woody aroma of SANDALWOOD or cedarwood provides a soothing, tension-relieving and long-lasting bottom note in your essential oil blends. Sandalwood is a popular bottom note used in making Sandalwood blends especially well with citrus and heady notes.
SOME CLOSING NOTES ABOUT BLENDING
Dark amber or blue bottles help maintain potency of your aromatherapy blends.
These six essential oils provide a good starting "palette" for creating many helpful blends. They cover a wide range of benefits: they provide calmness, relaxation, stress and pain relief. They uplift, they act as germicidals, and some are said to reduce depression and PMS symptoms. And a great bonus is that, because these essentials are relatively easy to extract from their source plants, they are some of the least expensive essential oils available. (Beware of any brand of essential oils that prices each bottle the same- costs vary widely.) Personally, I use "NOW" brand essential oils almost exclusively. No fancy packaging, no costly multi-level marketing commissions, no owner's name and catchy names stuck on the label to rake in more money: just good, pure, long-lasting essential oils. Disclaimer: I receive no compensation in any form whatsoever from the makers of "NOW" brand essential oils.
When you create your blends, the essential oils are mixed into a non-scented CARRIER OIL such as grapeseed oil, available in just about every grocery store. Keep your stock bottle in the refrigerator until ready to use and it will stay fresher longer. Then, simply pour out the amount needed into your smaller blending bottle. Aim for a total of about 10-15 drops of essential oils per ounce of carrier oil. Store your blends in dark blue or dark amber colored blending bottles, in a cool, dark location for maximum shelf-life.
If GaG'ers have specific questions, please PM me and I'll do my best to respond. Happy blending!