Pouring essential oil

Optimizing your Aromas: a few tips

Diffusion: the ‘premium’ dispersion method? 

Something I’ve recently been noticing is how essential oil blends smell lighter, sweeter and more sublime when diffused versus smelling the blend from the bottle, or even rolling it onto the skin. It’s something to keep in mind when you order blends or sample vials – before a final judgment, diffuse the blend, rather than solely basing your rating on its aroma from smelling the bottle or vial. 

Diffusing allows the essential oil molecules to distribute via delicate particles in the air, offering a lattice of scent, rather than the more concentrated aroma direct from the bottle. This gives a lighter, more subtle aroma that is generally more pleasant, in my experience – somehow more ethereal, less thick and heavy. Whenever I pass my diffuser with my favorite scent in it I put my face right over the mist and deeply breathe in… It’s an absolute pleasure, and helps get the benefits of the oils quickly into my bloodstream.  

Of course, for convenience and transportability, nothing beats a rollerball, aromatherapy necklace or inhaler. A lovely blend will still be enjoyable regardless of dispersion method. But when evaluating a blend, keep in mind that a blend you rate an 8 may be a 10+ when diffused. 

Another thing I’ve been noticing is how the aroma of blends varies depending on: 

  • My location: car, shop, home, friend’s house. The ambient aromas will impact your experience of a blend. I may go from loving a blend to feeling ambivalent to loving it again, depending on where I am! 
  • What I’ve eaten or drank recently. Your own chemistry/biology impacts a blend. No two people will experience the same aroma on their skin since we are all different in what we eat/wear/think/feel etc!
  • What scent I’ve most recently smelled. A more “savory” blend, such as our woody & herbaceous Santa Fe blend, almost takes on a bitter note when smelled after our Goddess blend, which has a sweeter, more floral profile. Order matters!

To reset your nose and experience a “clean slate” when trying oils and blends, keep coffee grounds, a half a lemon, or an herb such as rosemary to smell in between and avoid the previous aroma impacting the new one. If needed, step outside for awhile and let the fresh air help clear your nasal passages. 

Olfactory Fatigue …where did the scent go?

Another thing you may encounter is an acclimation to scent after ongoing exposure. This “habituation” is when your olfactory sense becomes ‘blind’ to a particular oil or aroma. This is familiar experience in our homes: you may visit a friend and can smell their combination of food they were cooking, fabrics and ambient scents specific to their family, while they can’t smell their home at all. You may also apply a perfume and later someone comments on how good you smell, but you no longer smell it. 

To counteract this affect with your essential oils, you can do a few things: 

  • Give your nose a break from that aroma: go outside, turn off the diffuser, smell something else. 
  • Change the oils in your diffuser frequently to avoid habituation to your favorite scent. 
  • Use diffusers that disperse intermittently (most ultrasonic diffusers will do this automatically). 

Scent, just like food and art, are entirely personal and no one blend or essential oil will please everyone. Beyond personal preference, scents change throughout the day according to your location, food and even mood – and of course, develop over time as well, until they ultimately reach their expiration (this won’t happen if you use them frequently – don’t save your scents, incorporate them into every day!)

I find that keeping a ‘go with the flow’ attitude towards essential oils and aromatherapy is helpful – enjoying the ever-evolving and changing nature of aroma, not getting too attached to a specific experience of an oil or blend. As they say, you ‘never step into the same river twice’, and that’s true of aromatics as well.

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Stephanie Ariel

Stephanie Ariel is a certified aromatherapist, author, yogi and marketer who lives and offers classes in Santa Fe, New Mexico...Stephanie's Full Bio

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