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November 23, 2020

You may have heard these two terms used interchangeably, but there are some important differences. We asked a panel of professionals to weigh in on distinguishing factors. Read on to learn more.

Vanessa Thomas

Vanessa Thomas

Vanessa Thomas, a cosmetic chemist and founder of her company Freelance Formulations.

Concentrations of plant material

The difference between Aromatherapy Oils and Essential Oils is that Aromatherapy Oils often include essential oils, carrier oils, and other fragrances in their formula. Essential Oils are usually purer, and if they are of good quality, they are almost entirely made up of concentrations of plant material.

Essential Oils are usually made by boiling plants like flowers, roots, or other plant material several times and collecting the oils that rise to the top while discarding the rest.

These plants can also be extracted using chemicals, but then they are not considered essential oils. Essential Oils are very expensive for this reason. Because Essential Oils are living plant materials they can vary based on where they have been grown.

Essential Oils may have multiple uses, such as topical uses, or they may be ingested. Aromatherapy Oil would not be suitable to ingest and is generally better for adding a pleasant smell to the area.

James Bullard

James Bullard

James Bullard is the founder of Sound Fro. He shares his love for music on his blog, covering a variety of topics that will strike a chord with music enthusiasts around the world.

Specific purpose

Aromatherapy oils are just essential oils used for a specific purpose.

Essential oil (also called volatile oil, ethereal oil, or aetherolea) is the oil extracted from plants. As its name implies, it has the “essence” of plants, which is why it is being used in various commercial products like perfumes. This is primarily because of the scent such oil contains.

With this, the essential oil can also be used for aromatherapy sessions. In this procedure, essential oils are used as a form of alternative medicine in which it is said that its aromatic compounds could bring healing effects.

Hence, aromatherapy oils are just essential oils used for a specific purpose, which is aromatherapy.

Alistair Knight

Alistair Knight

Alistair Knight is a writer for Essence of Arcadia, an aromatherapy and essential oil business designed to create and deliver the highest quality oils and diffusers in the world.

Concentrated compound

Essential oil is a concentrated compound that is extracted from a plant. This concentrate allows essential oils to emit the scent of the plant. Interestingly, this scent of the oil can be even stronger than the plant itself.

On the other hand, aromatherapy oils are oils that are typically mixed with a base oil in order to increase the absorbency (hence their use by massage therapists). Approximately 2% of aroma oils are made up of essential oils.

Brittany Hogan

Brittany Hogan

Brittany Hogan, Founder of Nefertem® Holistic Skincare, has a background in traditional healing modalities including Amma Therapy, Aromatherapy, and Herbalism.

Natural extract

While the FDA does not regulate the terms "essential oils" or "aromatherapy oils" to provide a clear distinction between the two, many in the trade consider them very different. To tradesmen, the essential oil is a natural extract from a plant's root, stem, leaves, fruit, seed, flower, or bark.

In contrast, aromatherapy oils are artificial, lab-created fragrance oils, many of which contain toxins, such as phthalates, known to cause reproductive harm and respiratory damage. While both essential oils and aromatherapy oils can be used to incite a physiological response via the olfactory system, essential oils do so naturally and gently.

Aromatherapy oils, on the other hand, tend to do so while causing nasal irritation and dryness. As you can imagine, tradesmen who seek to offer natural or organic products reach for essential oils every time.

Andrew Taylor

Andrew Taylor

Andrew Taylor, Director at netlawman.com.au.

Based on scent distribution

Aromatherapy oils are purely based on scent distribution for healing, and therefore the purity of the oil is not an issue. We are mainly looking at the quality of the scent and using this to calm, energize, etc.

On the other hand, essential oil is placed on the skin or even consumed, and therefore, it is less about fragrance and more about the quality and purity of the oil. Essential oil is a concentrated quality from a source, be it lavender or myrrh, and you can dilute this or use it straight to benefit from the medicinal properties within.

Chris Norris

Chris Norris

Chris Norris, Managing Editor at SleepStandards.com

Therapeutic purposes

As a sleep medicine expert, I usually recommend the use of essential oils, specifically lavender oils to aid my patients who are having sleep problems. Lavender oil is used as an aromatherapy to help individuals fight insomnia, depression, and anxiety.

Aromatherapy oils are a portion, usually 2% dilution, or a mixture of essential oil. Aromatherapy oil is normally mixed with a base oil or other essences to heighten its scent. On the other hand, essential oils are pure, undiluted, concentrated extracts from plants. The extracts are typically used for anything the plant is known for, such as medicinal and therapeutic purposes.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors are not necessarily affiliated with this website and their statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.

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