The Difference Between Vanilla Absolute and Vanilla CO2 Essential Oil

Posted on: April 21st, 2014 by
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Vanilla as an Absolute and Essential Oil: Photo Credit, ISP

Vanilla as an Absolute and Essential Oil: Photo Credit, ISP

Vanilla is not a traditional oil that has been used in true aromatherapy practice, although it is commonly used in aromatherapy perfumery products. However, it appears to be emerging more in aromatherapy products because of its availability as a CO2 essential oil; previously, it was only available as an absolute (or resinoid). Here’s a quick look at the difference between vanilla absolute and vanilla as a CO2 extracted essential oil.

The Extraction of Vanilla

Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) is a perennial vine with green stems and huge “trademark” white flowers. The plant is a member of the Orchidaceae botanical family. It is native to Central America and Mexico, although vanilla cultivars and sub-species are today grown and produced in Réunion, Madagascar, Tahiti, and the West Indies.

The vanilla pods or beans are extracted for the production of the absolute. It takes between six and nine months before the pods are mature enough to be cured. Curing involves fermenting and drying the pods for the production of vanilla pods ready for retail. The curing process (where the vanilla fragrance is ultimately produced) may take six months to complete.

Cured vanilla pods are then solvent extracted to produce a resinoid. Finally, vanilla absolute is produced from the extraction of the resinoid. Given the complex and labor intensive process involved, it is easy to see why vanilla is a highly priced absolute.

Vanilla as an Absolute

Vanilla absolute is produced, in part, for the perfumery industry. However, because vanilla is so highly priced, there are many synthetic substitutes available. True vanilla absolute has a rich, balsamic vanilla aroma; it is also sweet. It exists as a dark brown, solid/liquid that needs warming up before it can be blended for aromatherapy and perfumery use.

Vanilla as a CO2 Essential Oil

CO2 essential oils are closer in “make-up” to distilled essential oils because of the lack of solvent used in the process (as in the case of absolutes). However, this does not mean they are the same as distilled essential oils. CO2 essential oils are extracted using carbon dioxide under high pressure. CO2 extracted oils are said to produce an aroma closer to that of the plant than that of distilled essential oils. But because CO2 essential oils are relatively new to the market, little is known/proven about how the therapeutic properties of a CO2 essential oil actually compare to a distilled essential oil. However, CO2 extraction can be used with plants that could not traditionally be steam distilled.

Vanilla CO2 essential oil has a range of vanillin percentage content – the component which gives vanilla its “vanilla” aroma. Vanilla CO2 essential oil dissolves in carrier oils, unlike vanilla absolute. However, the solid waxy substance still requires warming up before it can be blended successfully into aromatherapy and perfumery products.

Study Aromatherapy with Sedona Aromatherapie

Vanilla is a plant and oil that is studied in the Sedona Aromatherapie Certification in Professional Aromatherapy Program; to learn more about Sedona Aromatherapie home study courses visit the courses home page.


  • Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorsons

  • Eden Botanicals website, accessed April 21, 2014

  • Author is a certified aromatherapist

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Using Pre-Made Bases for Your Aromatherapy Products

Posted on: April 14th, 2014 by
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Adding Essential Oils to Pre-Made Bases: Photo Credit, ISP

Adding Essential Oils to Pre-Made Bases: Photo Credit, ISP

Starting out in the world of aromatherapy product making can be daunting; there are so many different base recipes and essential oils! But it doesn’t have to be complicated. There are various reasons why you might prefer to use a pre-made base for your aromatherapy products. This post looks at the reasons why you might choose a pre-made base over making your own – and how to choose and use such a base.

Pre-Made Cosmetic Bases vs. Making-Your-Own Product Bases

Unless you have a talent or desire to make your own aromatherapy bases, there is no hard and fast rule for doing so. As long as you choose a quality base from a trusted supplier (see below), you can still make an authentic aromatherapy product with essential oils. Here’s a few reasons why you might choose a pre-made cosmetic base:

  • you are a holistic health practitioner or therapist who would like to use essential oils in your practice – but don’t have the time or desire to make your own product bases

  • you want to focus on your understanding and safe of essential oils, rather than learning the “right” balance and mix of ingredients for a base product

  • you are a massage therapist who will predominately be using essential oils with a carrier oil base

  • you don’t have artistic abilities or desires to create a custom base

  • you don’t have an interest in starting your own bath and body product business.

Composing a base recipe for each product base can be complex – using a pre-made base takes the stress out of this step and allows you to focus on creating the right essential oil blend for yourself or your client.

Types of Pre-Made Cosmetic Bases for Aromatherapy Products

Some of the pre-made cosmetic bases that you can use with essential oils include:

Some suppliers may even offer various bases of a basic recipe; for example, moisturizing lotion base, baby lotion. All you have to do is blend in the appropriate essential oil mix – using either your own essential oil knowledge, or the supplier’s recommendation (although this can vary).

Be aware that different bases may require a different dilution rate – as do contra-indicated groups such as pregnant moms, babies and children, those taking medication, and those with various health conditions.

How to Choose and Use a Pre-Made Cosmetic Base for Aromatherapy Products

Choosing a quality supplier for your pre-made base is key to a good aromatherapy product. Bases vary between suppliers, so it is wise to shop around and do your homework. If you have some basic knowledge of what the base should contain, it will help you to decide if the supplier is offering you a good product. A couple of my recommendations for pre-made base suppliers include:

Once you’ve chosen your pre-made base, take a quality aromatherapy course for information on how to safely and effectively add essential oils to the base. This is a quick guideline to some base dilutions (but be aware this is on the low side of recommendations and does not account for contra-indications):

  • Lotion for Body (1 oz): Add up to 10 drops

  • Carrier Oil Base for Body (1 oz): Add up to 10 drops

  • Bath Salts Base (1 oz): Add up to 10 drops

  • Water-based Spray (1 oz): Add up to 10 – 15 drops.

An extended version of this simple Essential Oil Blending Chart can be found in my book Authentic Aromatherapy.

Study Aromatherapy with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn more about essential oils and aromatherapy, consider one of the Sedona Aromatherapie Home Study Courses; to learn more, visit the courses home page.


  • Falsetto, Sharon, 2014, Authentic Aromatherapy US: Skyhorse Publishing

  • Penny Price Academy of Aromatherapy (UK)

  • Author is a certified aromatherapist in professional business.

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Fruity Aromas for Aromatherapy

Posted on: April 7th, 2014 by
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Citrus aromas are popular in aromatherapy because of their uplifting, light feel. They also have therapeutic properties which help with several digestive issues – and can help to combat cough and cold symptoms. However, if you are looking to blend a scent more reminiscent of fruit, rather than just citrus, you have various other essential oils and absolutes to choose from, too

Blackcurrant bud absolute has a fruity aroma: Photo credit, Anest ISP

Blackcurrant bud absolute has a fruity aroma: Photo credit, Anest ISP


The Difference Between a Fruity Aroma and a Citrus Aroma

Most people are familiar with citrus aromas – oranges and lemons are probably the most familiar citrus aromas. With regard to essential oils, there are also grapefruit, mandarin, tangerine, lime, petitgrain, neroli, yuzu and bergamot. You even have the choice between sweet orange essential oil and bitter orange essential oil – and another growing trend in aromatherapy practice, blood orange.

However, if you are looking for an essential oil with a more fruity aroma, it is harder to find. “Fruity” aromas are reminiscent of plants such as blackcurrant, pineapple, apple, and apricot. Most of these plants do not give up a natural essential oil – although you will find many synthetic, fruity aromas. Therefore, you will have to search for a plant which gives a similar aroma – or use an absolute, depending upon your goal.

Fruity Absolutes

Fruity absolutes do not necessarily bear the same name as their citrus counterparts; for example, an orange is an orange, but an apricot is not necessarily an apricot in the world of natural scents ( note, apricot does give up a carrier oil which is used for aromatherapy purposes). This might sound confusing, so consider the following example:

Osmanthus fragrans, known as sweet osmanthus or sweet olive, is an evergreen shrub native to Asia – specifically the Himalayas, southern Japan, Taiwan, and Southern China. It has fragrant flowers of varying colors – white, orange, yellow. It also produces a fruit which is purple-black in color. It is used as a tea in traditional Chinese Medicine.

Osmanthus does not give up an essential oil but it is possible to extract an absolute from the flowers – which has a fruity aroma, vaguely reminiscent of apricot. The absolute is used for perfumery purposes, although it doesn’t have any therapeutic properties for aromatherapy practice.

Another example of a fruity absolute is blackcurrant. Blackcurrant, Ribes nigrum, is a plant that most people are familiar with because of its black berries which are used in many culinary dishes and beverages. The blackcurrant is native to central and northern Europe, in addition to northern Asia.

In addition to its fruit, the blackcurrant bears flower buds from which it is possible to solvent extract an absolute, known as blackcurrant bud – with a strong blackcurrant aroma! Again, the absolute is primarily used for perfumery purposes, not in aromatherapy practice.

Fruity Essential Oils

However, there are some essential oils which are used both in aromatherapy and perfumery practice – and may have a fruity aroma. One such example is davana (Artemis pallens). Davana (Dhavanam; Davanam) is an aromatic herb found in India. It has fragrant leaves and flowers. An essential oil is extracted from the leaves and flower tops by steam distillation.

Davana is used in aromatherapy for its anti-viral, anti-infectious, and anti-depressant properties. Although davana essential oil is described as herbaceous in aroma, I personally find it has a strong, fruity aroma – and it is indeed used in perfumery to create unique perfumes that require such an aroma.

Natural Fruity Aromas

Many products contain fruity aromas – but a lot of them may be synthetic in nature. Although it is harder to find natural fruity aromas for aromatherapy and perfumery purposes, it is possible if you do your homework – and get creative in your thinking! There are new essential oils and absolutes appearing on the market each day, as extraction methods become more sophisticated (such as CO2 extracted essential oils) and technology advances. Just make sure that the essential oil or absolute is suitable for your purpose – and it is what it claims to be.

Study Aromatherapy with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn more about essential oils and scents, consider one of the home study aromatherapy course in the Sedona Aromatherapie Home Study Program. To learn more, visit the courses home page!


  • Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorsons

  • Eden Botanicals website, accessed April 7, 2014

  •, accessed April 7, 2014

  • Author is a certified aromatherapist

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Aromatherapy Melts and Lotion Bars

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by
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I often see many bath and body terms used interchangeably on the internet – which can lead to some confusion when you are starting out in making your own aromatherapy products. A popular product at the moment appears to be aromatherapy lotion bars. However, I have been making these products under the name of melts, predominately for the bath. Here’s a quick look at the versatility of this kind of aromatherapy recipe.

Ingredients for Bath Products; Photo credit, ISP

Ingredients for Bath Products; Photo credit, ISP

Bath Melt, Body Melt, or Lotion Bar?

Take three basic ingredients, add in some essential oils, and voilà! You have the equivalent of a bath melt, body melt and a lotion bar. Advanced recipes contain more complex ingredients but to get started you will not need to use more than these basics.

Bath melts, as the name suggests, are used in the bath. You simply add your chosen melt to warm bath water and the aroma of the melt is released around you – in addition, to skin-friendly benefits of the other ingredients.

A body melt is literally a bath melt used in a different way. You rub the chosen melt over your body. It will gradually start to melt and release the oils and butters on your skin. A lotion bar? Essentially the same thing as a body melt.

The only difference between a bath melt and a lotion bar (or body melt) is that you might want to use harder butters for a harder consistency (and to maintain shape longer) in your lotion bar/body melt.

Basic Recipe for Aromatherapy Melts and Lotion Bars

To get started making your own basic melts or lotion bars, try the following recipe; recipe yield is approximately 10 oz:

  • 4.5 oz of soft butter (for example, shea butter)

  • 2 oz hard butter (for example, beeswax)

  • 2 oz carrier oil (for example, apricot)

  • 40– 60 drops of chosen essential oil.

Instructions for Making:

  • Melt the beeswax using the bain marie method

  • Add the shea butter and melt

  • Take off the heat and stir in the carrier oil

  • Add the chosen essential oils and stir

  • Pour the mixture into suitable soap or candy molds and allow to set before using

  • Store appropriately.

Learn How to Make Your Own Bath and Body Products

This post is a very basic introduction to making aromatherapy melts and lotion bars. Experienced crafters will be able to take this information and adapt it for their own use. However, if you are new to making bath and body products, you will want to take a basic course to learn how to use each ingredient successfully – and understand how to incorporate essential oils safely into such products.

Bath melts are covered in greater detail (with substitute ingredients and detailed instructions) in the Sedona Aromatherapie Basic Bath Products with Essential Oils Course. Aromatherapy melts and lotion bars are expanded on in greater detail in the Sedona Aromatherapie Certification in Professional Aromatherapy Course.

To learn more, visit the courses home page!

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Three Common Absolutes Used in Aromatherapy

Posted on: March 24th, 2014 by
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Jasmine: An absolute or an essential oil? Photo Credit: ISP

Jasmine: An absolute or an essential oil? Photo Credit: ISP

Although some would argue that absolutes are more suited to natural perfumery products than holistic aromatherapy practice, there are a few absolutes that are commonly used in aromatherapy. Absolutes are made differently to essential oils but some (depending on the process used) can still hold therapeutic properties for aromatherapy use. This post looks at rose, jasmine and benzoin – and their use in aromatherapy.

Definition of an Absolute

An absolute is extracted from a plant using a solvent. There are various solvents used in this process, depending upon the plant and the extractor. In the past, more “volatile” (and carcinogenic) solvents were used, before people were aware of the dangers and outcomes of using such solvents. Today, closer attention is given to the type of solvent used in the process – but its still possible that some suppliers might “cut corners” with the type of solvent used.

The use of a solvent first produces a concrete; the concrete is then further extracted (often with the use of alcohol) to produce the absolute. The final product may contain trace amounts of the solvent used – the reason why absolutes are not seen as “pure” for use in therapeutic aromatherapy practice.

Jasmine in Aromatherapy

Jasmine is one of the few “essential oils” used in aromatherapy which is not technically a pure essential oil. Jasmine essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the absolute – not the actual plant. However, jasmine is used in aromatherapy practice for skin care, respiratory problems, stress and nervous disorders.

Rose in Aromatherapy

Rose is one of the most adulterated essential oils used in aromatherapy practice. Although rose does produce an actual essential oil from the plant, it is an expensive process. An absolute is also produced from rose and is sometimes substituted with rose essential oil in aromatherapy practice because of its slightly lesser cost. Both the essential oil and the absolute have therapeutic properties but may vary depending upon species and process. The aroma of the oil/absolute may vary, too.

Benzoin in Aromatherapy

Benzoin is technically neither an essential oil nor an absolute; as crude benzoin is a resin collected from the tree, it is more correctly described as a resinoid. However, resinoids and absolutes are similar in nature; resinoids are usually produced from the resin or tree sap, whereas absolutes are produced from fresh plant material.

Benzoin is used in therapeutic aromatherapy practice for skin care, respiratory problems and muscle pain. It is noted for its slight chocolate-vanilla aroma!

Absolute or Essential Oil?

Some aromatherapists may not use absolutes in true therapeutic aromatherapy practice. However, as this post attempts to explain, there might be an occasion where the use of an absolute is appropriate; understanding your product is the key to making an informed decision.

Study Aromatherapy with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn more about the practice of aromatherapy, consider taking one of the home study aromatherapy courses with Sedona Aromatherapie. Visit the courses home page to learn more!


  • Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorsons

  • Keville, Kathi, Green, Mindy, 2009, Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art (2nd Edition), US: Crossing Press

  • Author is a certified aromatherapist

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Common Terms Used to Describe an Aromatherapist

Posted on: March 17th, 2014 by
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What Qualifications Does Your Aromatherapist Hold? Photo Credit: IPGGutenbergUKLtd, ISP

What Qualifications Does Your Aromatherapist Hold? Photo Credit: IPGGutenbergUKLtd, ISP

What’s in a name? Quite a lot in the world of aromatherapy! If you are researching a course/career in an aromatherapy-related subject, you might be confused by the various names which a qualified aromatherapist goes by – names, or initials, which follow the aromatherapist’s name, that is. At the moment, there is no single, legally-required format to indicate your level of aromatherapy training – and you might find, with a bit of research, that people use the same term to describe very differing levels of aromatherapy training. Here’s a quick look at some of the more common terms used to describe an aromatherapist’s training.

Certified Aromatherapist (CA)

A Certified Aromatherapist (CA) is the most common – and probably the most apt – term used to describe an aromatherapist who has taken a certified aromatherapy training program with an approved provider for a particular organization. This training is some indication of the level of education that an aromatherapist has received. However, even certified aromatherapy courses can vary in content and quality, so do further research into the actual training provider, and the qualifications and experience they hold, too. Certified aromatherapy courses vary considerably in length – depending upon the accreditation board and the level of training.

Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Practitioner (CCAP)

Some aromatherapist use the term Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Practitioner (CCAP). Aromatherapists who use this term have usually completed an education in clinical aromatherapy practice – and may/may not be practicing clinical aromatherapy as well. Training in clinical aromatherapy is usually an indication of a higher level of aromatherapy training than a basic aromatherapy course (with a minimum number of hours of training) – but it is still prudent to check the level of training, too.

Master Aromatherapist (MA)

The term Master Aromatherapist (MA) – not to be confused with those who have taken an University Master’s degree – is used by some individuals, and organizations, to try to indicate that their level of training is of the highest standard (and length). However, this is not a legal term – and a course which doesn’t use this term isn’t necessarily of lesser value and quality than a course which does use the term.

It is personal preference if you want to use the term on completion of an aromatherapy course which indicates it is of “master aromatherapy” level.

Certified Aromatherapist vs. Registered Aromatherapist

In the United States, the term Registered Aromatherapist (RA) is also used. For more information on this term, read this previous blog post – The Difference Between a Certified Aromatherapist and a Registered Aromatherapist.

A Note on Aromatherapy Course Titles

Aromatherapy courses not only vary in content – but in description, too. Some aromatherapy course providers abbreviate the course title for ease of use; however, this does not indicate a legal term or title to be used after certification.

Do diligent research when searching for an appropriate aromatherapy course for your needs – there are many different aromatherapy courses to choose from and your final choice will depend on your personal needs, goals and budget. Don’t be afraid to ask questions from the course provider – a reputable course provider should be willing to answer such questions and provide information in order that you can make an informed choice.

On a final note, there is no legal requirement to have studied aromatherapy before setting up in practice as an “aromatherapist.”

Study Aromatherapy with Sedona Aromatherapie

Sedona Aromatherapie offers a quality, comprehensive, budget-friendly home study program which varies from “hobby” product-making courses to full professional certification. Learn more by visiting the courses home page!


  • Author is a UK certified aromatherapist with seven years of practice and experience in the United States.

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