Tap to Read ➤

Fragrance Oils Vs. Essential Oils

Sonia Nair
Most cosmetics, toiletries, and cleaning products have some sort of scent, which is imparted by ingredients like essential oils or fragrance oils.
Most of us may not be able to deny the fact that, at least some of the cosmetics, soaps, or house cleaning products we choose, are selected solely on the basis of their aroma. Humans are naturally tuned to satisfy their olfactory senses, and this tendency is rightly taken care of by the manufacturers of these products. There are numerous such products, which come in a wide range of fragrances.

Scented Products

Fragrances are used in a wide range of products, like candles, incense sticks, soaps, and perfumes. Almost all people are attracted towards scented products, which are highly popular, when compared to products that lack fragrance. The only exception is those products, which are made for allergic people, and are labeled as non-scented, non-colored. However, the market is flooded with thousands of scented products, which are highly popular.
Scented products can be classified as products scented with fragrance oils and products scented with essential oils. While fragrance oils are used in products belonging to the first category, those in the second category contain essential oils. Some of the scented products contain both essential oils and fragrance oils, used in a single product. Though scented products are widely used, most people are still ignorant of the basic difference between essential oils and fragrance oils.

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are pure natural plant essences, that are extracted from various parts of the plants, like flowers, petals, roots, bark, leaves, and stems. For example, essential oil of rose is extracted from its petals, and patchouli essential oil is extracted from the leaves of the patchouli plant.
Essential oils are not oils in the true sense, but are the natural chemicals found in plants. These chemicals are extracted as aromatic and volatile essences.
There are various methods of extracting essential oils, like CO2 extraction, cold pressing, and stem distillation. Steam distillation is widely used for production of essential oils. These products are pure, and do not contain any color or other ingredients, like carrier oils.
Essential oils are highly concentrated, and have to be diluted several times before use. The fragrance of essential oils are retained even after dilution. These oils are very expensive, because large quantities of raw materials are required to make small amounts of essential oils.
For example, a drop of rose oil is extracted from around 30 rose petals, and 1000 pounds of jasmine flowers are used to make one pound of essential oil.

What are Fragrance Oils?

Essential oils are very expensive, and certain scents, like banana, do not have any essential oil. Hence, the chemical compounds in plants were analyzed, and were reproduced in the form of synthetic compounds (man-made), which smell like the plant product, or the essential oil they represent.
Most of the fragrance oils (otherwise known as perfume oils) are made this way, and are synthetic in nature.
Fragrance oils can be natural, partly natural and partly artificial, or fully artificial. If the product contains essential oil mixed with carrier oils at varying strengths, it can be called natural. The second category contains products, which have both essential oils and artificial fragrances (chemical compounds that mimic essential oils).
Those products which contain only synthetic or artificial fragrances can be referred to as fully artificial.
Most of the fragrance oils contain several components, which produce a different fragrance, when blended. Even essential oils can be part of fragrance oils. It has been observed that many perfumes contain more than hundred components. In short, most of the fragrance oils are a mixture of aroma chemicals, some of which can cause allergies in people.

Difference Between Fragrance Oils and Essential Oils

There are around 150 types of essential oils available in the market, whereas aroma chemicals, which are used to make fragrance oils, are more than 500 in number. The basic difference between fragrance oils and essential oils is that, the latter is purely natural, and the former can be considered partly natural (if it contains essential oil), or fully artificial (if only aroma chemicals are used).
Essential oils are natural products, which have therapeutic effects, and are used in aromatherapy.

Fragrance oils do not have any such health benefit.
Essential oils are volatile, and their scent dissipates with evaporation.

Fragrance oils are not as volatile, and they retain the fragrance much longer.

A drop of pure and undiluted liquid essential oil, when placed on a paper, will evaporate and does not leave an oil spot. On the other hand, fragrance oils leave oil spots on paper.
Essential oils have a limitation of fragrance, whereas no limitation is there for artificial fragrance, which comes in a very wide range, including the baked bread or baby powder versions.
As compared to the price of essential oils, most of the fragrance oils are cheaper. Some of the essential oils (like lemon), are cheaper than their fragrance oil counterparts.
Fragrance oils may cause skin irritation, as they are chemicals, which are made artificially. However, pure essential oils, in diluted forms, do not cause any side effect, unless you are allergic to it.

Essential oils must be used in a proper way, to avoid any possible side effects.
The debate regarding fragrance oils vs. essential oils is still going on, as health experts have many speculations about the possible side effects of fragrance oils, which are artificially made chemicals.
Even pure essential oils may cause adverse effects in some users. Essential oils are safer than fragrance oils. Environmental concerns are linked to both products. While use of some essential oils, like sandalwood and rosewood, can be considered environmentally irresponsible, some chemicals used in fragrance oils are also not good for the environment. So, it is very important to choose the right one, and use it properly. It is equally important to go for trusted manufacturers, while buying.