Once I started using essential oils, I was curious about experimenting and making my own unique blends using essential oils from different aroma families.
Not only is it exciting, but it is fun and easy too. And the results are so interesting! I simply combined different oils in varying combinations and I had a brand new bespoke blend. How cool is that!
One book that came in really handy while I was learning about essential oils and their aroma families and how to create different blends is ‘The Complete Book Of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy’ by Valerie Worwood. The book includes over 800 all-natural, non-toxic recipes. Read my review of the book to know more details.In the Complete Book of Essential Oils And Aromatherapy, you will also find lots of essential oil blends for different seasons of the year.
You will see how different blends use a combination of essential oils from different aroma families for an array of aromas to suit different purposes.
With that said, let’s learn some more about essential oils and their aroma families.
Essential oils basically fall into one of 8 aroma families:
Keep reading to find out more about these 8 main aroma families and what essential oils are included in each one.
1. Citrus Family
The essential oils in the citrus aroma family have a fresh, clean, and refreshing aroma that is associated with these fruits. Think of the scents of lemon, orange, and grapefruit.
Citrus essential oils are also very versatile. They blend easily with most other aroma families, especially the woody and floral families.
Oils from this aroma family are often added to energizing and deodorizing blends and to antiseptic blends as well.
Lemon is definitely one of the more popular essential oils in the citrus aroma family. It is unique in that it is not obtained from a flower or plant but is extracted from the rinds of the lemons through a cold process.
Lemon essential oil combines well with most other oils and is often added to blends that are meant to refresh and energize. It is also used as a household disinfectant. Read more about lemon essential oil benefits for health and home here.
Orange and sweet orange essential oils are a huge favorite with aromatherapy enthusiasts. These oils are also extracted from the rinds of the oranges, as well as from parts of the plants they grow on.
Orange oil works great as a sedative, antiseptic, and tonic. Sweet orange essential oil is often used in seasonal blends, including fall and winter blends.
Bergamot is one of those versatile essential oils that are used in numerous blends. This oil is extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange fruit.
Bergamot essential oil is often combined with more woody and masculine smells, though it has a fruity, sweet scent that works with many other blends as well.
Grapefruit is not only a popular citrus fruit, but it is high on the list of citrus essential oils as well. Grapefruit essential oil is not used for its aroma quite as often as its health benefits.
This oil works great as a disinfectant, antidepressant, and diuretic. It is widely used for its weight loss benefits.
Like many citrus fruit essential oils, it is extracted through a cold-pressed process of the rinds of the grapefruit.
Yes, lemongrass also belongs to the citrus aroma family. It infuses any blend it is added to with its light, refreshing aroma.
Lemongrass essential oil is combined with other oils in blends for reducing muscle pain and as an antibacterial agent.
This is a more subtle citrus scent and one that can be placed in a diffuser by itself or combined with other scents.
Its light aroma makes tangerine essential oil an excellent addition to any refreshing blend. It also works great when used as a sedative or to help calm a stomach upset.
2. Floral Family
This is one of the more popular aroma families not just for their therapeutic properties, but also for their lovely flowery aroma. Floral essential oils are often used as an addition to scented and perfumed beauty and skincare products. Lavender, geranium, chamomile, and rose are just some of the many versatile and popular floral essential oils.
Who doesn’t love lavender? This is probably one of the most widely used essential oils, not only because of its heavenly aroma but also because of its many health benefits.
Lavender essential oil is often used in beauty and skin care products, as well as bath salts, bath bombs, candles, and much more. It is great for your skin, soothing enough to help you sleep, and is wonderful for anxiety and depression. Read more about 7 awesome benefits of lavender essential oil.
Geranium essential oil is extracted from the geranium plant, a type of perennial shrub with delicate pink flowers. It has a delicate, floral scent, which works great when combined with other floral scents in blends.
Geranium essential oil helps to balance out hormone levels and reduce inflammation. It is often frequently used in essential oil blends to help with mental health, such as anxiety and depression. Learn more about the health benefits of geranium essential oil.
Jasmine essential oil is extracted from the exotic jasmine plant with its large, white flowers.
Jasmine is a popular addition in many floral essential oil blends. The oil is great for helping with depression, uterine conditions. It is also known for its potent aphrodisiac properties and is often used in skin care products. You can make your own jasmine scented body butter using this simple recipe.
Rose essential oil is a popular addition to feminine perfumes and skin care products because of its deliciously heady aroma.
It is also the reigning aphrodisiac essential oil. Its sensual, seductive aroma is known for its ability to ramp up the mood in the bedroom.
This is a very versatile floral scent that goes very well with blends that contain other florals. It also combines beautifully with woody or earthy scents. Rose oil finds use in numerous natural health remedies, including as a laxative, uterine treatment, antiseptic, antiviral, and antidepressant.
It may come as a surprise to know that vanilla essential oil belongs to the floral family of aromas. This is not a typical pure essential oil like others, as it is not extracted from a plant or fruit, but from fermented vanilla beans. However, it still has many health benefits with a wonderfully fragrant aroma.
Vanilla essential oil is a wonderful addition to fruity, floral, and seasonal essential oil blends.
The last floral family scent on the list is ylang ylang. If you’ve used essential oils, for any length of time, you would have heard this name before. The oil is extracted from the ylang ylang tree which is a type of exotic tree with star-shaped flowers.
This is a versatile oil that is used generously in several blends. It is wonderful for beauty and health blends that are used to promote relaxation and improve your skin and hair.
3. Herbaceous Family
The herbaceous aroma family includes some very versatile essential oils that are extracted from different herbs and used for their aroma, flavor and fantastic healing benefits. As you will see, the herbaceous aroma family is mostly used as flavoring agents, unlike many other essential oils.
A favorite addition to Italian cuisine, oregano oil is extracted from the oregano herb. This oil is known for its strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Oregano essential oil can be diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or avocado oil and applied to the skin to reduce wrinkles and scars.
Thyme is another essential oil you might see used often, which is of course in the herbaceous category.
Thyme essential oil is often combined with other herbaceous essential oils to create powerful blends that can be used as an antiseptic in mouthwash and various other personal care products.
Clary sage essential oil is sometimes confused with being a floral essential oil, but it is in fact another type of herb. It is wonderfully healing and used for a wide range of purposes, from health to beauty. It also works as a natural deodorant and deodorizes your home, helps with cleansing and anti-bacterial purposes.
Clary sage oil works well as a mild sedative when blended with other sedative oils.
Rosemary essential oil is another one that some people put in the floral aroma family, but this is not the same thing as the rose flower. Rosemary is a type of fragrant and delicious herb. This oil might be used for cooking, but also for its healing powers and aromatherapy.
Rosemary essential oil is known for stimulating hair growth and helping with dry scalp, in addition to various other health benefits. It has a very powerful aroma so you need to be careful about adding it to any blend. Add only one drop at a time.
Marjoram is an essential oil that is on the sweeter side and is also considered an herbaceous aroma. It also comes from a herb called the sweet marjoram, though some marjoram oils are from the Spanish marjoram herb.
Marjoram essential oil is added to blends to help soothe arthritis-related joint pain, reduce stress and keep bacterial infections at bay. Learn more about the benefits and uses of marjoram essential oil here.
Basil essential oil comes from the basil herb and can be used in cookies when you don’t have dried or fresh basil herb available.
The aroma of basil also helps with fatigue and muscle pain, which makes it a powerful addition to any pain-reducing blend.
4. Spicy Family
The last aroma family of essential oils is the spicy category. Don’t let the name fool you – we are not talking about spicy as in jalapenos and peppers. This is more for the ‘spices’ that you find in seasonal blends, such as those for fall and winter. These are some of the essential oils in the spicy aroma family.
Nutmeg is one of the more popular essential oils in the spicy aroma family. It is a popular addition to seasonal spice blends such as fall treats like pumpkin pie and snickerdoodle cookies, or in blends for the holiday season, such as Christmas blends.
Nutmeg essential oil goes great with cinnamon, ginger, clary sage, orange, and lavender oils.
Cinnamon is very similar to nutmeg and often found in the same seasonal blends. This is unique in that it is sometimes found not as a pure oil, but one in a dropper where you can use it directly on your skin for various healing benefits.
Cinnamon essential oil adds a delicate, sweet aroma to any blend. Try this recipe for a delightful Cinnamon Fusion Essential Oil Blend.
The next essential oil in the spicy aroma family is clove. Clove essential oil is packed with antioxidants, which gives the oil its many healing powers.
Clove essential oil can be used directly to soothe toothaches and other oral health issues. It has a powerful aroma and must be used in moderation when creating any blend. Start with one drop and keep increasing one drop at a time.
Ginger, like others on this list, is a type of spice that is often used in the kitchen, for its delicious taste and flavor as well as its many health benefits.
Ginger essential oil is very versatile. It makes a great addition to most seasonal and specialty blends. It can be used in any blend to help soothe digestive discomfort and menstrual disorders,
Cardamom is another popular essential oil in the spicy aroma family.
Cardamom essential oil is mostly used for its healing benefits as opposed to its aroma. It can help reduce nausea, work as an antiseptic, and help with chemotherapy side effects.
If you have ever used essential oil blends with sandalwood or cypress, you probably know some of the oils included in the woody aroma family. However, some might surprise you. Here are the essential oils included in the woody family. The first two essential oils that are considered woody aromas are frankincense and myrrh, which are often clubbed together.
Sandalwood is a popular essential oil with a woody aroma. This oil is extracted from sandalwood trees, the older the better. It can come from trees as young as 40 years old, but those 80 years old or older are preferred for their stronger aroma and more potent health benefits.
Sandalwood essential oil is used in several skincare products. It has strong astringent, antispasmodic and sedative properties.
Fir or fir needle essential oil has a fresh scent, so it is a little lighter than traditional woody aromas.
Fir essential oil is hugely popular in Christmas and holiday blends. It is also used liberally in blends with other woody and earthy scents. It is known to help relieve fatigue and pain associated with arthritis.
This woody oil is extracted from the cedarwood tree, which thrives in colder climates.
Cedarwood essential oil adds a wonderful woody aroma when added to any blend. It is commonly used in blends that are formulated to help with certain health issues such as oral health and helping with hair growth.
Cypress essential oil is another woody aroma family scent. Cypress can be used in a diffuser in aromatherapy or applied topically to help with to calm a wide range of skin conditions.
This is a versatile oil and can be combined with ylang ylang, chamomile, bergamot, and cedarwood oils to obtain some wonderful blends with unique aromas.
Juniper oil comes from the juniper tree, which is a type of evergreen shrub that grows mostly in Europe.
Juniper essential oil is often used in blends for stomach issues, and digestive problems. It is also a potent antiseptic.
6. Camphoraceous Family
The oils in the camphoraceous family have an unmistakably heady scent that is strongly aromatic.
Extracted from the oil-rich leaves of the eucalyptus tree, this oil has potent anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and decongestant properties. It works very well to clear the sinuses.
Eucalyptus oil has many healing properties and is often used in blends with other woody, spicy, and floral scents.
Peppermint essential oil is another widely used camphoraceous oil with several powerful therapeutic properties. Read more about peppermint essential oil properties and uses here.
Last but definitely not least is tea tree essential oil. Tea tree oil is a volatile essential oil that is extracted from the melaleuca plant found in Australia.
Tea tree oil is a fantastic addition to many homemade skincare products, especially anti-acne creams, and lotions.
7. Resinous Family
Frankincense comes from the Boswellia tree and is a hugely popular scent in aromatherapy.
This woody aroma works beautifully in seasonal blends and in blends created to soothe digestive issues. The oil is also a potent antiseptic.
Myrrh is another essential oil in the resinous aroma family. Myrrh essential oil is extracted from the Commiphora Myrrha tree that grows in Africa and the Middle East.
Myrrh essential oil works very closely with frankincense and is often used in the same blends.
6. Earthy Family
The earthy aroma family is one of those categories that aren’t as easy to figure out. This is where you are going to get a lot of the more masculine scents, as well as fragrances used in blends for home use and sometimes personal perfume. Here are the essential oils included in the earthy aroma family:
The first essential oil in the earthy aroma family is patchouli, which should not be too much of a surprise. Patchouli essential oil is extracted from various parts of the tropical patchouli plant.
It has a strong aroma and is often used in men’s or unisex perfumes, as well as many health blends.
Vetiver essential oil is also known for its earthy aroma. It is sometimes labeled as ‘khus’.
Vetiver is often combined with patchouli in blends since they both smell very similar, but vetiver has more of a lemony scent which adds a touch of freshness to any blend. This is a calming and grounding scent, with some healing benefits as well.
Valerian root is a very popular herb used in natural medicine. Not surprisingly, the same herb provides an amazingly therapeutic oil as well.
Valerian essential oil is one of the earthy aromas with a long list of health benefits. This is often used alone or in blends to help with heart palpitation, skin conditions, blood pressure, anxiety, and sleep disorders.
The last of the earthy scents in this aroma family is angelica root. You might not see this essential oil quite as often because it isn’t used for its aroma quite as much as its healing abilities. It is extracted through steam distillation of the root, herbs, and seeds of the rhizome plant.
Angelica root essential oil is used in blends to alleviate digestive discomfort and reduce stress.
Tips for Using Your Knowledge of Essential Oils and Their Aroma Families to Create Your Own Blends
You now understand what the 8 aroma families are, and what essential oils go in each one. You can use this information to figure out what scents go well together in various blends, whether you are looking to create a bespoke blend for health purposes or you want to create a unique aromatic blend.
When making your own essential oil blends, some will be hits and others will be misses. It’s okay though. That’s the only way you are going to discover the ‘Next Best Blend’ for you.
The best part about experimenting with making your own blends is that one day you are sure to stumble upon a blend that you will fall completely in love with. You can then go on to make that your signature aroma.
While there are no rigid rules to adhere to when making essential oils blends, there is one thing to keep in mind. You will get the best results when you combine scents that complement each other.
Generally, this means choosing essential oils based on the aroma family they belong to. Having said that, this rule is not written in stone. Feel free to go against the norm and mix and match to your heart’s content.
Oh yeah, don’t forget to write down what oils you’ve used and in what ratio so you can replicate your successes and avoid your failures.
Looking for Ideas for Essential Oil Blends?
Check these out:
Romantic Essential Oil Blends to set the scene for a night of passion and romance.
Spring Diffuser Blends to fill your home with the fresh, vibrant, invigorating scents of spring.
Festive Halloween Essential Oil Blend to add to the haunting atmosphere on this spookiest of all nights.
If you are new to aromatherapy and have not yet purchased any essential oils, PlantTherapy.com is a great place to start your collection.
I highly recommend the Essential Oils Starter Set with Aroma Diffuser by Plant Therapy. With 6 essential oils, 2 carrier oils, 4 roller ball bottles, 4 personal inhalers, a sleek diffuser, and a beautiful wooden storage box, this Essential Oils Starter set has everything you need to get started on your aromatherapy journey.
If you do not want to buy a diffuser just yet, Plant Therapy also has another lower-priced Essential Oil Starter Kit without the Aromafuse Diffuser.
Ideas for Making & Enjoying Your Bespoke Blends
Of course, you are going to need essential oils and aromatherapy diffusers to make and enjoy your newly created aromas. Click the links below to read my reviews of best-selling essential oil sets and diffusers.
Pick up your favorite diffuser and essential oils and have fun experimenting with essential oils from different aroma families!
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your physician before using essential oils. See Full Disclaimer here.