Knowing an essential oil

As an aromatherapist I use a lot of essential oils. I have over 50 in the two boxes I use for my work on a regular basis.

This is worth doing, even if you only have three or four or even fewer oils in you home. Take an oil, let a drop of it fall on a piece of paper and inhale the aroma.

What do you notice? Describe the aroma.

What do you feel?

What does it remind you of?

Write down the answers to these questions in as much detail as you can.

In ten minutes smell the paper again.

What do you notice this time? Describe the aroma again. How is it different?

Again What does it remind you of.

What do you feel?

Repeat the process in an hour and again two hours after that.

If daily life gets in the way, don’t worry. The times do not have to be accurate.

Some oils will change in aroma a lot more than others as the more volatile components evaporate.

Just before I started typing I did this with Lavender. I noticed myself breathing more deeply and at once was reminded of hot summer days. Now about an hour later the aroma is still quite strong but much duller. I am reminded more of one of my two late Grandmothers who would always put lavender bags in with her clothes. It still deepens my breathing but to me does not have that sense of life that the oil did when I first let the drops fall on the paper.

It is important that I understand the oils from a personal perspective, not just from the theory that is taught in classes or that I can read from books. Don’t get me wrong, the theory is important. This exercise would not tell me which oils to avoid when working with pregnant or breast feeding mothers. What it does help me with is understanding the psychological effects of the oils as well as some of the physiological effects such as those on the lungs.

I will also compare the aroma with that from the plant which grows on our allotment here in Cambridge. Clearly some of the more exotic oils will not let me do this.