What Smells Good with What

I just went back and re-read my two posts about how to use essential oils in the bath and how to make essential oil blends for bathtub use, and I realized that I had promised to put up a blog post about what essential oils smell good with what. Boy, am I slacking off. Sheesh. Okay, well, here is Mare’s guide for blending essential oils for the purposes of smelling nicely in a bath or body blend (perfumery is a different subject – it’s got base, middle, and top notes and entirely too much complexity):

  • I put essential oils into eight groups: essential oils that smell like trees (woodsy), like flowers (floral), like fruits (citrus), like spices (spicy), like herbs (earthy), like a breath of fresh air (minty), like grasses (grassy), and like candy (sweet).
  • Woodsy essential oils are ones like Pine, Juniper, Sandalwood, Cypress, Cedarwood, Fir Needle, etc. Basically, they come from trees and they smell like a walk in the forest. Woodsy essential oils go well with pretty much all other groups except for the spicy group (but that is just my opinion). And I don’t like Woodsy oils with Minty oils so much, either.
  • Floral essential oils, not surprisingly, usually come from flower petals. These include Ylang ylang, Jasmine, Rose, Neroli, Geranium, etc. Florals smell very nice with every other group EXCEPT for Minty oils (I mean, can you imagine?). I especially like floral oils with spicy, woodsy, and sweet oils…the combination of Black Pepper and Ylang ylang is very nice, as is Rose and Sandalwood.
  • Citrus oils come from the rind of citrus fruits. I guess that is another “Duh!”-worthy observation. These include Lemon, Lime, Sweet Orange, Bergamot, Grapefruit, Mandarin, etc. Citrus oils are refreshing and uplifting, and they, too, go well with almost every other group of oils, except for Minty. Actually, this is kind of intuitive – have you ever brushed your teeth and then tried to drink an Orange juice? Yeccccchhhh! Exactly. The same goes for the scents.
  • Spicy essential oils, in my book, are oils like Black Pepper, Ginger, Fennel, Anise, Cardamom, Nutmeg, and Coriander (Cinnamon and Clove are spicy too, but I wouldn’t necessarily use them on the skin too much – they have the potential to be much too irritating). As I said before, spicy essential oils go particularly well with florals, but they also go well with citruses and some earthy oils, too.
  • Earthy essential oils smell like what I imagine the inside of apothecaries would have smelled like in the old days, where they would have drying herbs hanging upside down from the rafters. I count oils like Rosemary, Lavender, Patchouli, Clary Sage, Sage, Basil, Yarrow, and Bay Laurel, to be among the “earthy”-smelling essential oils. Earthy oils go very well with Citrus, Grassy, and Minty oils.
  • Minty essential oils are a very small group – basically, just Peppermint and Spearmint. Minty oils go well with Earthy oils and a very few others, like Geranium and Lemon, but that is about it (again, that is just my own opinion – you may have a different one).
  • Grassy essential oils come from – ta-da! – grasses and stalks. This is another small group, including Vetiver, Palmarosa, and Lemongrass (there may be another couple, but they’re not leaping to mind at present). Grassy oils smell nice with Citrus, Earthy, Woodsy, and Florals.
  • Sweet essential oils are kind of a hodge-podge. There are a couple that I couldn’t really place elsewhere, and these are oils like the Chamomiles (Roman, especially), Vanilla and Melissa. Roman Chamomile comes from flowers, but the resulting scent is decidedly not floral (not to my nose anyway). Rather, it smells like earthy apples to me. Vanilla is not used that much in Aromatherapy (it is used a LOT in perfumery) because it’s not an essential oil (rather, it’s an absolute), but it does enhance the mood and you can use it in a bath or body blend. And Melissa is so expensive and so rare that whatever you do get is probably not the genuine thing anyway. I’ve smelled true Melissa once and it smells like an herby lemon candy that might hang out on your grandmother’s night stand. Anyway, these oils go nicely with Citruses and Florals.

Well, there you have it. Not only do the oils smell wonderful, but they also have therapeutic benefits, too. Isn’t it wonderful that we live on a planet that provides such plentiful access to such a fragrant pharmacy?

About Mare

is a Master Herbalist, Certified Aromatherapist, and enthusiastic natural mommy to a beautiful tot of 2, the Little Apple. She shares her parenting adventures (sometimes mis-adventures) via this blog.
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2 Responses to What Smells Good with What

  1. stefan says:

    I need a essential oil that adds an apple smell, any suggestions?

    • Mare says:

      Hmmm, that is an interesting question. I would say Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) might be your best bet. It smells somewhat like an “earthy apple.” But other than that, I really can’t think of any others that might naturally approximate the apple smell.

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