Aroma Therapy, part three – Scent Classification
A small bouquet of wildflowers, yarrow and wild oregano gone “wild”, possesses an amazing fragrance, pungent and herby, and the blossoms of each last a long time. How do you like my gorgeous flower vase?
Most classification systems seek to relate the effect of scent on emotions, while others classify scents by the similarities of their aromas. The response to scent is so subjective, it is difficult to duplicate in a lab any anticipated results. One system developed by a perfumer several years ago is based on emotional responses. Naturally, many plants fall into more than one category.
Sex-stimulating aromas are usually wax or fat based which when undiluted can be fairly unpleasant but when diluted “bloom” into low, sweet, deep or warm fragrances suggestive of body heat. Musk, ambergris and civet are examples; unfortunately for the animals, very few plants carry this effect, but synthetics are available that often come close.
Intoxicating fragrances, such as jasmine and ylang ylang, are usually floral, sweet, heady and soft. They create languor and relaxation, dulling the senses and slowing reactions. In excess, they can cause headache or nausea.
Refreshing aromas have a sharp, clean, high and piercing quality, such as mint, lavender, evergreen, citrus and camphor. These scents stimulate and awaken, and large amounts can clear the sinuses. Rosemary and eucalyptus are other examples.
Stimulating aromas are similar to refreshing but tend to be more bitter, dry or spicy in quality; woods, mosses, seeds, roots, resins and some leaves fall into this category. They are said to invoke intellectual and physical stimulation. Mint and eucalyptus are included in this category (as mentioned, some plants fall into more than one category), as are bergamot and other citrus fruits, and the fruit of black peppercorns.
Another classification system is based on fragrance quality or effect on emotions and physical sensations, and takes an either/or approach. For example, is a fragrance faint or intense, fresh or stale, sharp or dull, robust or feeble, pungent or bland?
While most aromas are subjectively described, there are some that most agree fall into certain categories, such as wintergreen: most folks will agree that it is “cool” but it is also “bright”, “intense” and “animated” as well. And when it comes to the smell of patchouli, opinions also intense and animated – people either love it or hate it. I think a little goes a long way.
Celebrating the gift of our sense of smell, here is a recipe for a delicious body oil which I have never shared with anyone! Put the drops of essential oil into a little one-ounce apothecary bottle (or other suitable glass container), then fill with almond oil. You can then use this “stock scent” to scent other oil, or unscented shampoo or your bath. I know the rose oil is expensive, but you could use Wild Rose Body Oil made by Weleda in it’s place as it is made with real rose absolute (not synthetic oil).
Temple Flowers Essential Oil Blend
sandalwood oil 10 drops
rose oil 35 drops
ylang ylang oil 10 drops
benzoin oil 10 drops
rosewood oil 5 drops
sweet orange oil 5 drops
Blend altogether in a 1-ounce bottle,
fill bottle with almond oil,
then use to scent a larger bottle of almond oil.
6 thoughts on “Aroma Therapy, part three – Scent Classification”
I look forward to reading your article, AarTiana, I love the Llewellyn Annuals.
Jennifer, thank your for your kind words! I hope you visit often.
Merry Meet Tiffany! I'm glad the blog gives you ideas, I hope they're useful. The only mistake you can really make when gardening is not trying. I don't get that impression from you. When you go to the garden center, don't be afraid to ask questions. When in doubt, look as the Sunset Western Garden Book, it's loaded with information.
p.s. you just never know what hides in the woods out in Hi-dee-ho!
Love your blog!
That sounds great! Was shocked to see you live in Idaho too! (don't know why just did) I'm in Boise though, so while you enjoy the trees, I'm enjoying wind and dust lol. Been thinking of starting a garden of my own this year and trying to decide what to use/get. You're blog is helping me with ideas thanks!
Oh your recipe sounds just delicious! Interestingly, I wrote a beginning aromatherapy article that will appear in the 2012 Herbal Almanac from Llewellyn – and my classification is based on scent mostly, but also function. I like some of the categories you specify here! Thanks for making me think, again (you Aquarians, making everyone do that hehe)!