Guide to Mixing Essential Oils, part 2: Aromatherapy and Scent Families

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Once you’ve familiarized yourself with base, intermediary and top notes, the next step is to consider what type of scent to build your blend around, and how to go about doing so. While there are no strict rules per se as to which types of essential oils will go together, there are some loose principles: if you go about mixing oils from every family of scent without consideration as to which ones may go together, you’re much more likely to end up with a muddy, unpleasant aroma than a successful one, after all.

Different essential oils can be used for various purposes and therapeutic ends. It’s important to consider these functions when making a blend, as they can determine which ingredients are most suitable.

Principles of aromatherapy

Essential oils also have different effects and functions; while it is true that some of these are more up for debate than others – for example, lavender isn’t relaxing to someone who simply hates it – certain oils do as a general rule fulfill these roles better than other. Therapeutic values of these oils are oftentimes rooted in their chemical composition: while spike lavender can help relieve pain, sweet orange essential oil simply cannot.

Here are some examples of functions for essential oils as well as oils that can be used for these purposes.

Relaxing oils chase away anxiety and stress, and they can also help those suffering from insomnia. –   True Lavender

–   Marjoram-Spanish

 Stimulating oils boost energy levels and concentration, bringing about wakefulness and clarity of mind. –   Most citrus oils

–   Thyme

Analgesic oils relieve pain and ease muscular tensions. They have a high cross-over with decongestant oils.  –   Spike Lavender

–   Peppermint

–   Eucalyptus

 Decongestant oils clear up mucus and ease breathing. They can be rubbed on the chest, diffused or used in massage. – Tea Tree


 Anti-depressant oils help regulate moods and ease sadness and numbness. These oils often cross-over into the stimulating oil category.  –Most citrus oils


Families of scent

Families of scent are categorized loosely according to the nature of ingredients and their scents. It is not an exact science, and certain aromas defy categorization: for example, sandalwood is neither arboreal nor properly a resin, and it is therefore included in the atypical category. Families of scents, save perhaps for the atypical category, tend to pair well together, and certain categories are more likely (though not guaranteed!) to harmonize with other ones.

Floral. Extracted from flowers, these scents tend to pair well with sweet scents, resins, atypical scents such as sandalwood and certain spices. They generally clash with arboreal scents, though this effect can be mitigated by adding fruit-based oils, or carefully balancing them.

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