Good blend equals creativity and knowledge: 5 therapeutic blending tips

One of the best things about aromatherapy is, you can create your own blends and experiment with several essential oils, absolutes, CO2s and carrier oils at a time. Blending of essential oils is done to enhance the effect of oils by bringing them together. A good blend of essential oils demands creativity and knowledge about aromatic blending, aroma profiles of oils and therapeutic effect of each and every oil. You can blend essentials for the sheer pleasure of mixing aromas and also for the delight of inventing your own therapy for your problems and ailments – acne, bladder infection, arthritic pain, fatigue, tension, stress, depression, muscle problems or other issues. By combining anti-viral oils you can make essential oil blends that are effective in treating injuries, cuts and scrapes on account of their antimicrobial properties.

Therapeutic blending tips: Therapeutic blending of essential oils is a bit different from aromatic blending. In an aromatic blend, you look only into the aroma of the blend. Only the end-aroma is important, not the therapeutic effect behind aroma. But in a therapeutic blend, both the healing and aromatic properties of  blend are important. In fact, both aroma and healing are so intertwined that just a whiff of the oil tunes you out of depression or anger or yields the desired effect.

There are several things you need to know before you start your own blending experiment. Below are a list of points to be noted:

1. Know aroma profiles: Essential oils have aroma profiles. That is, a particular oil maybe a top note, middle note or a base note. You need to know the notes of oils to understand them fully and use them appropriately. A delicate, highly volatile oil like Bergamot is a top note; a tenacious, less-volatile oil like Clary Sage is a middle note, while a deep and rich oil like Patchouli is of base note. While creating a good blend, you need to achieve balance between top, middle and base notes.

2. Test your oils’ aroma: To learn more about aromas of essential oils, you can test the aromas on a blotted paper or unscented tissue. Concentrate, inhale the notes of the oils and record the impressions you get of the aromas in the top, middle and base/dry-out stages. This would be useful in preparing blends because good blends have to carry a pleasant and likable aroma to work. Listen to yourself and note how you feel when you inhale a particular fragrance – energetic, relaxed, uplifting or sensual. If you like a particular aroma, find out which part of the oil you want to work with – top, middle or base –  and gather how you much of this aroma you want in your blend recipe.

3. Start with a small amount: Start making a small amount of the blend you want to make. Better to try with 5, 10 or 20 drops. Though large amount of essential oil blends do good, you can end up making a huge waste of time and money if the blend does not turn out to be therapeutic as expected.

4. Work with pure essential oils: Work with pure, therapeutic grade oils – essential oils, CO2s and absolutes. Do not complicate things by adding carrier or other oils in the beginning of the blend preparation. This would save a lot if you do not like the aroma of the blend you created.

5. Maintain a record: Keep a notebook on the number of oils you used, amount of oils used, which blends are of top notes, which are middle/base or which are to your liking etc. When you maintain a record, you will be able to repeat your favorite blends in large scale and store them for future. You will also avoid wasting time on blends that suck.

Don’t cut corners and buy cheap: 10 tips on how not to buy essential oils

Essential oils can cause health hazards if they are not of good quality or do not have therapeutic grade properties. Poor quality oils can mean oils which are adulterated, not properly distilled or produced from low quality crops. Such oils often do not last long and lose their aromatic and therapeutic properties too soon. Sometimes such poor quality oils can have harmful side effects and provide minimum benefits.

How not to buy essential oils: There are several nuances involved in buying essential oils. Below are a list of things to be noted/avoided while buying oils for aromatherapeutic use:

1. Don’t buy oils which are termed “fragrance oils”, “natural identical oils” or “perfume oils”. There are not therapeutic grade essential oils, but oils that are used for aromatic purposes. Many use the term aromatherapy for products that have no trace of the purity or essence of plant oils. Since aromatherapy is a popular alternative medicine, this malpractice has been on for years. So, avoid buying oils which are termed fragrance or perfume oils for aromatherapy.

2. Don’t buy oils without Latin name, place, country or region where the plant species has been grown. If it is a chemotype, the oil’s label should mention that too. Good quality essential oil companies do list all possible information about oils, their extraction methods and other valuable data. So, if an oil’s label does not have all these, understand that it is not of high quality.

3. Don’t buy oils with same prices. There’s should be something wrong with company which sells all oils for the same prices. For instance, therapeutic grade pure Patchouli may actually cost more that Eucalyptus. But if your vendor sells both the oils at equal price, understand that something maybe wrong with regard to quality or a compromise has been made somewhere.

4. Don’t buy essential oils from companies which sell to the food and beverage or perfumery industries. These industries do not buy oils for their therapeutic properties but for their aroma or flavor. Vendors who sell to them may not maintain the therapeutic standards required for aromatherapy use.

5. Don’t buy oils that are sold in clear bottles. Most of the essential oils are photo-toxic and hence are sensitive to light. Many of them lose their aroma or flavor with the impact of light. Oils in dark or brown glass bottles are not liable to loss. Some vendors sell in aluminum bottles. Don’t buy oils sold in aluminum if there is no lining inside the bottle. Also, never buy oils sold in plastic bottles as plastic tends to dissolve in the presence of highly concentrated essential oils.

6. Buy from vendors who are ready to offer you samples or advice you on the therapeutic use of each and every oil. Some sell essential oils as a hobby. Such vendors may not know about oils in depth. So, avoid buying from such aromatherapy-illiterate vendors.

7. Don’t buy from online without comparing rates between vendors. You can send emails or interact in the online forum of the vendor before buying a particular oil. An authentic vendor will provide possibility of such buyer-vendor interactions.

8. Organic oils are entirely different from non-organic ones. Non-organic ones can often be byproducts of a lot of synthetic processes. If you want to experience holistic healing, avoid buying from non-organic oils.

9. Start with small samples. Do not order in bulk if you are buying from a vendor new to you. Avoid purchasing from street fairs, craft exhibitions or festival markets as oils sold in such places maybe locally grown and may not be up to therapeutic mark.

10. Don’t go by words. Do a background check on your vendor’s authenticity. Many vendors use the term “pure essential oils” in all their labels. Often their oils are the most contaminated in the world. So, never go by words of your vendor or the label on your oil without doing a thorough check.

Essential facts: What’s exactly in your essential oils?

Do you wonder what is in essential oils that make them so important and therapeutic? What makes them instant healers? Readymade-cures for every sort of pain or infection or injury or even emotional problem? What pushes forth that instant relief? Though the limbic system and its connection with the important parts of the body maybe an answer, you cannot justify that the therapeutic effects essential oils have on our minds and bodies by pointing at the brain’s sensitivity to aromas. There ought to something quintessential about oils which make them special medicinal cures. This article will focus on the constituents of essential oils and how to determine their quality or impact on our body.

Essential oils – constituents: What makes essential oils essential? It is the constituents or chemical make up of every other oil which determines its effect on the human body. Like every other thing, essential oils is made of an array of molecules and atoms which can be found out using quality tests like Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectroscopy (GC-MS). As you know, essential oils are plant substances which are the life-blood of plants. They provide support to plants throughout their life processes and carry all the nutrients and anti-viral, microbial and bacterial properties of the plant immune system. When these natural substances are used for curing an ailment, they react with the same germs in the human body and bring about an instant relief.

This philosophy of using natural herbs are immunity agents has been in practice for ages. Modern day Aspirin is but the old times white Willow Bark, discovered over 2000 years ago by Hippocrates to ease headaches, pains and backaches. When science discovered that this bark contained salicin which helps reduce aches, they used the constituent in a tablet and so was born, modern-day Aspirin.

Chemical compounds that are unadulterated and pure are the highlights of essential oils. In general, the following group of constituents are present in any essential oil:

  • Acids
  • Alcohols
  • Aldehydes
  • Coumarins
  • Esthers
  • Ketones
  • Esters
  • Lactones
  • Oxides
  • Phenols
  • Terpenes

Quality of essential oil constituents: Some oils may have a higher concentration of one or two constituents, while some others may lack in the very same constituents. For instance, Lavender oil has a high percentage of ester known as linalyl acetate which has the power to isolate and synthesize particular constituents. Some oils maybe blends of two or more oils and will be very expensive to buy. This is the case with Japanese Yuzu oil which looks like a blend of Grapefruit and Mandarin oils. Exploiting this nature of Yuzu, many try to produce the oil at cheap rates by blending Grapefruit and Mandarin. In a similar way, Patchouli oil is blended with Cedarwood or balsams.

It is difficult to standardize the constituents and if you do so, then, your essential oil may not be pure. This is because oils are influenced by several factors – right from soil, place of origin, amount of rainfall, to altitude, temperature, production, extraction and distillation processes. And manufacturers often standardize oils based on their customers/clients’ requirements. If a manufacturer sells his oil to the perfumery industry, he follows a particular standardization process and ensures that the oil meets the mark. However, in the case of therapeutic grade essential oils, this is not possible as such a standardization would mean adulteration of a substance that was pure and natural. This is why it is important to check if your oil’s constituents are unadulterated before you buy.

Aromatherapy golden rules: 8 best methods of topical application of oils

Without doubts, aromatherapy is therapeutic. It is a healing system which applies essential oils in the form of diffusers, massages, as bath oils or bath salts to promote health and life. The most common way of aromatherapeutic healing is through massaging or topical application. Though essential oils are beneficial to the body, care needs to be taken when you apply them on to your skin. Certain methods of topical application are more successful and reap the utmost benefits. This article will focus on some of the best methods in which you can use essential oils as a topical treatment for disorders and ailments.

Topical application of essential oils – Do’s and Don’ts: Never think that topical application of an essential oil is easy. There are several nuances involved and you need to attend to each and everyone of them to make most of your aromatherapy. Below are a few tips on how to topically apply essential oils:

1. More oil is not better therapy: Never think that the more oil you apply, the better you are healed. More oil can only detoxify the skin around the area of application. To avoid this, use only one to six drops of essential oils for an affected area. Generally, desired results can be got by using just one to three drops of essential oils.

2. Apply on your feet: The feet are the second fastest area to absorb essential oils quickly. Apply on the feet if you want an instant remedy. Since feet have large pores, you can trust them for quick relief of your ailment. Other quick absorbing areas include ears and wrists.

3. Foot bath preparation: Foot bath can be another route for a calm, relaxed and peaceful state of mind. Add one to six drops of essential oils per foot bath preparation and soak your feet in it.

4. Large area massage: When massaging oils to a large area of the body, it is better to dilute the oils. You can dilute the oils in carrier oils by 15 to 30% or add them with V-6 Mixing oil.

5. For children: Essential oils can turn toxic to infants and children if applied too much. Hence it is better to dilute them with V-6 Mixing oil. You can use one to three drops of an essential oil to one tbsp of V-6 Mixing oil for children and one to three drops of an essential oil to one tsp of V-6 oil for infants.

6. Never mix blends: Commercially available essential oil blends are prepared by specialized aromatherapists based on the reactions and properties of oils. If you mix blends, you can invoke a series of caustic or undesirable reactions. To avoid this, don’t mix blends. Do so only with individual oils.

7. Use layering technique: If you are unsure about how to make a blend, use layering technique in applying essential oils. Layering refers to the process of applying one oil (that is, rubbing it on to skin) and then, applying another oil on top of it. You need not wait for more that two seconds in between application of oils. If you want to blend the oils with a mixing oil, apply it on top of all the oils. Since absorption into the skin is pretty easy, you need not wait for one oil to dry to apply another.

8. Strictly no internal use: The FDA has approved certain essential oils for internal use and such oils have a GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe for Internal Use) label. It is safe to use oils with this designation for internal consumption. Don’t take other oils internally. It can be fatal.

Essential oil chemotypes: The less-known side of aromatherapy

Sometimes there are several different kinds of one essential oil called chemotypes. These are not laboratory variations of an essential oil, but biological variations of a plant caused due to effects of light, soil, temperature, weather conditions during plant life processes. Different chemotypes can produce different effects when used in healing or therapeutic applications. This is because, in a chemotype, the original plant’s biology undergoes a slight yet permanent change that lasts for ages. Though botanically the two plants are identical, the chemical make-up of a chemotype changes so much so that it becomes a separate species that carries qualities of both the new variant and its older kin.

What are chemotypes? The first fact about chemotypes are, they are not laboratory-created variations, but botanical variations of plant species. Chemotypes occur when the natural energies and elements like sunlight, water, soil, climatic conditions and environmental issues have an impact on a plant species and induce it to grow in a particular way. In trying to adapt to a particular environment, a plant may undergo mutation, isolation and evolution, which may in turn, affect its chemical framework and botanical identity. The changes that happen in such an atmosphere are subtle yet permanent and last for ages. Chemotypes are botanically identical but show slight yet distinct chemical differences. Essential oils produced from chemotypes show variations in aromas, therapeutic effects, blend properties and a lot of other things. This is why it is important to choose the right oil before planning to make a blend.

For instance, most people do not know about chemotypes and think all oils called Lavender are extracted from Lavendula officianalis. But it is always not so. All commercial essentials labeled Lavender oil are generally one of the chemotypes of Lavender. These can be extracted from  Lavendula officianalis or Lavendula latifolia or can even be a variant of Lavandin oil.

Essential oils with chemotypes: Essential oils that demonstrate a variety of chemotypes are – Thyme, Geranium, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Myrtle and Spike Lavender. Research is under way in this area of aromatherapy and botanists hope to discover many more chemotypes of plants in future. Below are some of the plants with prominent chemotypes:

Rosemary chemotypes: Certain Rosemary plants have a natural preponderance of camphor. Oils produced from such plants are called camphor chemotype Rosemary oils. A rosemary plant with no trace of camphor notes will produce pure Rosemary oil. On the other hand, if the plant has decreased notes of camphor, the yield will be verbenon. Verbenon is a popular Rosemary oil chemotype with balsamic-piney aroma and refreshing notes of a typical camphor chemotype.

Basil chemotypes: Basil demonstrates a lot of chemotypes and most popular among them are licorice, lemon and cinnamon scented plants. Two major chemotypes of Basil oils are Sweet Basil oil and Reunion Basil oil. Sweet Basil or European Basil oil is extracted from a strain of Basil with exceptionally high concentration of linalool. Since linalool has a delightful aroma, Sweet Basil is sweet and aromatic. All of Europe’s finest Basil oils are made from the Sweet Basil chemotype. Reunion Basil is a chemotype that grows on the Reunion and Comoro islands off the east coast of Africa. The Reunion type has a woody aroma which often has a camphoraceous note. All commercial Basil oils are somewhere between these two chemotypes of Basil.

Lavender chemotypes:
Lavandin oils are popular oils extracted from the chemotypes that are hybrids of  Lavendula hybrida. This Lavendula hybrida is actually a cross between true Lavender (Lavendula officianalis) and Spike Lavender (Lavendula latifolia). Unlike Basil, the various types of Lavadin are not influenced by climatic or soil conditions, but by the varying ratios of the two parent plants. Lavadin oils are used to scent soaps, detergents and cosmetics as they have herbaceous camphoraceous notes.

Daily aromatherapy: 7 must-know diffuser blends for everyday use

Diffusing essential oils is one of the easiest ways to heal or inhale your desired blend of oils. Diffusers can be made at home or brought in stores and are pretty easy to use. A usual diffuser comprises of a glass tube with a motor at the base and a timer to control the diffusing action. Only diluted essential oil blends are used in diffusers as it is hard for diffusers to break down the fragrant molecules and disperse them into air. Generally, diffusing blends are a combination of more that two oils and the diffusing proportion depends on the notes (top, middle and end) of an essential oil. This article will provide recipes for several diffuser blends that can be diffused everyday at your home or work environment.

Diffuser blends for everyday use: Before you kick start making diffuser blends, you need to know a couple of things. You need to read the manufacturer’s information on safety, contraindications etc. for all oils you plan to use in your blends. Also, do get to know details of the proportion of oils from reputed sources, otherwise you will end messing up with too many recipes that are neither aromatic or useful. Use only nebulizing diffusers for thicker oils like Vetiver, Patchouli, Oakmoss, Sandalwood, Benzoin etc. as only they diffuse such oils better.

To start with, try preparing a small blend that does not require much homework. Once you are done with it, use it in a diffuser and see the effect of the aroma and the functioning of a diffuser. Note what is lacking or what could be improved in the oil and work on it. This practice will help you handle even difficult recipes with care. Below are a list of diffuser blends:

1. Lime Blend: This is a refreshing blend with Lime at the helm of aroma operations. To make the blend, use 1 drop of Jasmine, 5 drops of Lime, 3 drops of Sweet Orange, 1 drop of Cinnamon and combine everything well. You can add 20 drops of this blend in your diffuser or include 5 drops in your bath water.

2. Lime-Bergamot Blend: Another Lime blend that keeps you happy and lively always. Combine 10 drops of Lime with 7 drops of Bergamot, 2 drops of Ylang Ylang and 1 drop of Rose and mix everything well. Fill your diffuser with your blend to scent the room.

3. Bergamot Blend: Mix 4 drops of Bergamot to 3 drops of Sandalwood, 1 drop of Jasmine and 2 drops of Grapefruit. This is a healing and therapeutic blend that is good for family health and hygiene.

4. Patchouli Blend: As Patchouli oil is the main ingredient, never forget to use a nebulizing diffuser for this blend. To prepare the blend, add 12 drops of Patchouli to 5 drops of Vanilla, 2 drops of Linden Blossom and 1 drop of Neroli. Combine and shake the ingredients well before using. Don’t forget to clean  your diffuser after using as the blend has the tendency to leave a thick residue in the diffuser glass tube.

5. Lavender Blend: Ideal for creating a calm and peaceful atmosphere. Add 5 drops of Lavender to 4 drops of Rosewood and 1 drop of Ylang Ylang. You will create a relaxing atmosphere if you diffuse this blend at your home.

6. Rosemary Blend: This blend is both invigorating and relaxing. Use 5 drops of Rosemary to 3 drops of Lavender, 1 drop of Roman Chamomile and 1 drop of Peppermint. Combine the ingredients well and use in an ordinary diffuser.

7. Sweet Orange:
Sweet Orange is the essential oil of love. To create a romantic atmosphere and solve all obstacles or disruptions in a relationship, diffuse this oil in your bedroom or by the poolside. People will open up to conversations and grow romantic on inhaling this blend. To make this, combine 9 drops of Sweet Orange with 5 drops of Lavender and 5 drops of Spearmint. This blend will relieve you of physical and mental stress too.

Aromatherapy gift ideas: 5 domestic gifts your moms and aunts would love

Who said aromatherapy is all about healing or scenting your room? You can use it for anything, even for making extraordinary gifts that would be loved by your friends and family members. Aromatherapy essential oils come with cleaning properties. Using this aspect of the oils, you can make home cleaning domestic products that would be both aromatic and clean well. This article will offer domestic gift ideas using essential oils.

Aromatherapy domestic gifts: Think of a factory-manufactured household cleaning product. It comes with a lot of chemicals and is not made of natural substances. Aromatherapy cleaning will be a completely different experience from ordinary cleaning. Domestic products made using essential oils will mostly be pure, non-chemical and natural in composition. Below are a few domestic gift ideas:

1. Window cleaning: Window cleaning soaps often have a strong, synthetic fragrance which maybe or may not be to your liking. When you make a window cleaner using essential oils, you get a natural substance that is both aromatic and safe to use. You will need the following ingredients to make this aromatic window cleaner: juice extracted from a lemon, 2 cups of club soda, ½ tsp of Peppermint oil, and 1 tsp of Cornstarch. Stir the lemon juice into the cornstarch. Do this slowly and steadily in order to avoid lumps and also add club soda and Peppermint oil to the mixture. When the blend is done, store in a glass atomizer or spray bottle. Spray on windows and polish dry.

2. Domestic cleaner: This is a recipe for cleaning your house in the natural, disinfectant, aromatherapeutic way. You get an exotic fragrance that refreshes and adds joy to your living environment. Get ready the ingredients: Sweet Orange oil, Clove oil, Cinnamon leaf oil, 1 tsp washing soda, 2 tsp borax, ½ tsp liquid soap or detergent and 2 cups of hot water. Combine all the ingredients in a spray bottle directly. Shake well to dissolve and blend properly. Use it when you know the blend is complete. You can spray on to a dirty surface for 15  minutes before wiping it off. This cleaner has antiseptic qualities and leaves a great fragrance in your home atmosphere. This recipe was originally formulated by Barbara Lucks.

3. Air Freshener: Air fresheners are nothing new to aromatherapy. Essential oils make the best air freshener blends and this recipe is one such aromatherapy blend. Add 20 drops of Lavender to 10 drops of Lemon, 6 drops of Bergamot, 5 drops of Lime and 5 drops of Grapefruit. Mix all the ingredients well and pour into spray bottle with water. If required, you can use Polysorbate to help water and oils mix.

4. All-Purpose Cleaner:
This is a recipe for every cleaning job. You can use it for cleaning your kitchen sink, for toilet cleaning and even for dirty surface wiping. Add 5 drops of Lavender, Lemon and Pine oil in a spray bottle with a squirt of liquid soap. Spray on to the surfaces you want to clean and start cleaning. The end result will be an aromatic, well-cleaned surface.

5. Kitchen/Toilet Cleaners: This is ideal for use in kitchens and bathrooms. Add 2 drops of Rosemary with 4 drops of Lemon, 3 drops of Eucalyptus and 4 drops of Lavender. Mix the ingredients well and pour into a spray bottle. Spray on to surfaces and start cleaning. You can also use Polysorbate to mix the ingredients well.

For clean healing aromas: 7 tips to clean essential oil diffusers

Essential oil diffusers can work as atomizers, humidifiers and air purifiers. Before using an essential oil diffuser, you should know how to operate, clean and maintain a diffuser without issues. Since diffusers are one of the best ways to use an essential oil, they ought to be maintained and cared for properly. They are also pretty expensive to be replaced frequently and this makes periodical cleaning of these instruments mandatory.

How does a diffuser work? Before learning to clean a diffuser, you should know what a diffuser is and how it works to emanate essential oils into air. A diffuser uses ultrasonic waves to break down  essential oils in water, releasing a waft of scented air into your living area or work space. It generally consists of a plastic base, holding a motor and a glass tube to disperse oils into air. The glass tube combines water with oils and diffuses clean, scented air molecules into the room. If your diffuser is clogged due to excessive use of oils or on account of sticky, heavy carrier oils or essential oil blends, its functionality will be reduced and you may only get less than half its original efficiency. In  order to avoid this, you need to clean your diffusers every week or at least once in 10 days depending on your usage frequency.

How to clean essential oil diffusers: Cleaning essential oil diffusers is pretty easy and will not require more than half an hour. You will need rubbing alcohol to do the job as it will remove all essential oil residue which may be sticking to the curves and ends of diffusers. Below is a step-by-step process on how to do it:

1. Add alcohol to diffuser: Add ½ oz of rubbing alcohol to your diffuser and clean with gloved hands. Rubbing alcohol is effective in removing any kind of residual wastes from essential oils, including sticky substances, aromas etc. You can tilt or sway the diffuser to let the alcohol pass through every curve or intricate point in the glass decanter.

2. Run the diffuser with alcohol:
This is the next step. You can use the same alcohol or drain the first alcohol solution and add a fresh amount of it into the diffuser. Run the diffuser with alcohol for about 3 to 5 minutes. This will ensure that the alcohol goes through every point or crevice of the glass tube. However, this would diffuse alcohol into your room. So ask people who are allergic to alcohol scent to leave the room.

3. Clean the glass tube: Remove the tube from the base of your diffuser and plug it with your finger. Add another fresh bout of alcohol and shake the diffuser well to clean all parts of the tube. This will distribute alcohol into the nooks and crannies of the aromatherapy diffuser and ensure  a proper cleaning of the whole instrument.

4. Allow alcohol to stay overnight:
If you feel that many essential oil substances still remain in the glass tube, allow alcohol to stay in the diffuser overnight. Alcohol will do a complete cleansing act overnight.

5. Clean with cotton swab: When you are done with all the above methods, do not stop. It would just take you a few minutes to run an alcohol-dipped cotton swab through the diffuser. This is a second round of cleaning which would make sure there no sticky oils in any part of the diffuser.

6. Wash with dishwasher:
Now comes the primary question – will not alcohol’s smell remain in the diffuser for long? Yes, it will if you do not clean it with something else. Use a dish washing soap to rinse the diffuser’s glass tube thoroughly. This would remove the remaining essential oil residue and also wipe out the smell of alcohol. You can use hot water to rinse the dishwasher.

7. Test run after cleaning:
You are done with the cleaning job and all you need to do is dry the diffuser properly. Turn the diffuser on and run it for few minutes without any essential oils. This will dry it completely and will never cause harm to the motor of the diffuser. At no point soak the diffuser in water to clean its outer surface. You can do the job by using the same cotton swab you used to clean the insides.

A waft of scented air: 5 tips to choose the right diffusers for essential oils

Essential oils are best dispersed into the air through diffusers. If selecting an essential oil for a diffuser involves a lot of work, selecting  an appropriate diffuser for your essential oil blend is a bigger job. This is because only good and apt diffusers can do the diffusing job well. You need to use a particular diffuser for an enclosed space and a different nebulizing diffuser for a large space. Choice of diffusers also depend on the hours you want the diffuser to function, the Notes of the essential oil blends used and the nature of the space in which the diffuser is used (car, home or patio). This article will explain in detail the things to note while choosing essential oil diffusers.

Why essential oil diffusers? Aromatherapy enhances health in a lot of ways and diffusing oils into the space you live is one way to using aromatherapy for your utmost benefit. Diffusing essential oils do not just create a scented atmosphere, but also pave way for a healthier you, through its healing properties. As the sense of smell inhaled is directly connected to the limbic system of the brain, aromatherapy makes physical, emotional and psychological improvements and changes possible. Diffusing essential oils also aid with respiration and breathing and cleanses your environment off impurities, germs and viral/bacterial contagions (like H1N1 flu or other flu symptoms).

The trick to getting to all these benefits is to use an appropriate diffuser for the purpose. But it is not that easy and the below points will explain to you why it is so:

1. First steps: Where do you want to use your diffusers? In your car or your toilet or living area or patio? You need to decide that first. Based on the space of the room and the purpose of the diffuser and diffusing oil, you can choose your diffusers. Some essential oils work well only with certain types of diffusers. Some others have very low diffusing ratios and can work even for 6 to 7 hours. Before choosing your diffuser, decide on the following: the space in which your diffuser is to be used, diffusing blend (its notes, evaporation quotient etc), the numbers of hours you want your diffuser to work (or scent to be prevalent).

There are several types of diffusers present in the market. Below are some of the most popular of them:

2. Jar, Reed, Smelly Jelly diffusers: Least expensive but most efficient. They work great with small enclosed spaces, but the scent throw is not far or expansive like in other diffusers. With Jar diffusers, we need to change the reeds too often. Smelly Jelly diffusers work only in stable environments and hence are not suitable for use in car.

3. Candle diffusers, aroma lamps: Ideal for small spaces. But these diffusers need watching as candle flames are involved. These work by diffusing essential oils by the heat of a tea light or similar heating device. If you use a heating device, you need to add water so that you can get the steam of oils used. Diffusers of the light bulb kind of rings also fall under this category. Used for tiny spaces, they must be refilled constantly.

4. Electric and fan-based diffusers: These are some of the expensive diffusers in the market. A car diffuser of this kind involves adding a few drops of the essential oils to a tissue and plugging into the car dash cigarette lighter. The diffuser heats up the scented cloth and diffuses aromas into the car space. Peppermint, Grapefruit, Lemon and Ginger work well as car diffusers. In case of fan-based diffuser, you can plug into your room and use it for 3 hours.

5. Nebulizing diffusers: These are diffusers for large spaces. Most of them are hand-blown, glass nebulizers that are attached to a motor and work by dispersing aromatic molecules into air. Since they don’t use heat to disperse oils, the oils remain unchanged and retain their therapeutic value. But these are also the most expensive of all the diffusers in the market.

Touchstone techniques: 4 ways to test the quality of essential oils

Determining the quality of essential oils is not easy even if you have been an aromatherapist for years. This is because essential oils come from various parts of the world and companies/manufacturers acquire oils from farmers, small-scale essential oil distillers, wholesale aromatic oil suppliers etc. Since essential oils are complex structures with many constituents, it is tough to determine the quality or quantity of chemical substances present in them. There are also several possible adulterants along the way. Essential oils can become impure on account of conditions in every other stage of its development – harvesting, distillation, handling, storage and packaging. Some manufacturers sell oils as “pure” even after diluting or cutting or extending their aromas and chemical properties.

Essential oils quality – what should you know? You should understand certain basic things about essential oils before you opt to buy and use them. Some oils change as they age. While a few oils like Rose, Patchouli, Spikenard, Myrrh and others improve as they age, a few like Citrus oils oxidize and grow toxic as they age. Apart from this, you need to understand why is it important to know if your oils are of high quality or not. If you use synthetic aromas instead of pure essential oils, you may end up experiencing toxic reactions. Impure essential oils also do have any therapeutic effect on you and maybe a waste of money when used. All these factors prove that it is important to know the quality of your “pure” essential oils before applying them in home or domestic use or for healing or aromatic purposes.

Below are a few tips to know the quality of essential oils:

1. Regulation of Essential oils: The FDA regulates essential oils through the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act and Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. This Act regulates all food, food additives, cosmetics and dietary supplements. According to this act, the FDA sees essential oils based on their use – for healing or cosmetic purposes. For instance, if a perfume manufacturer, sought a quality essential oil, the FDA would grade the oil based on its specific use in perfumery. In the same way, the FDA would regulate an oil as drug if it is used an aid to quit smoking or for curing or preventing any disease.

Other than the FDA, there are foreign bodies which regulate essential oils. These include, AFNOR or Association of Francaise de Normalisation  and ISO or International Organization for Standardization.

2. Know the Latin names: If you plan to buy an essential oil, you need to inquire the manufacturer a few things: the Latin name of the plant (used to prepare the oil); the farming methods and practices used; check for the name of the country or region in which the plant has been grown etc. Spend time familiarizing yourself with essential oils and learn to identify between pure essential oils and synthetic fragrance oils.

3. Test the scent of oils: You can test the aroma essential oils if you learn to identify the top, middle and end notes of an oil. Put one drop of an oil on a perfume test strip, a cotton swab or a scrap of paper towel. Smell the aroma periodically. An essential oil’s aroma is pretty complex and changes with every stage of evaporation. This is not the case with ordinary fragrances. Also, a pure, undiluted oil will never leave an oily or greasy spot on the strip.

4. Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectroscopy (GC/MS): These are two lab tests which can help you determine an essential oil’s constituents and quality. Each oil is passed through the chromatograph, after which, the ionized constituents are amplified and detected by Mass Spectroscopy.  Though a GC/MS is an effective method, it cannot determine the synthetic and natural diluents of the oil. High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) is another method used to analyze the constituents of essential oils.