Essential oils and fragrance oils are not the same. Essential oils are extracted from various parts of plants using distillation, expression, or solvent extraction. Sometimes, several different oils can be extracted from the same plant. An orange tree, for example, can produce essence from its fruit, blossoms, and leaves, each specific part lending us its own unique essence. Essential oils are also more expensive than fragrance oils because it can take hundreds of pounds of plant material to make one pound of the essence. To make a single pound of rose oil, it takes 2000 pounds of rose petals!

So, here are some considerations you may not of thought of.

Fragrance Oils

  • In general, fragrance oils tend to be more affordable than essential oils. But that may not be the case with designer type fragrance oils
  • There are famous and much-beloved scents that can only be found in the fragrance oil. Some fragrances simply cannot be mimicked through essential oils.
  • Fragrance oils fall into the FDA’s jurisdiction and their “trade secret” law. This means That the manufacturer of the fragrance oil does not have to disclose the ingredients used in making their fragrances. Basically you may never know what in the world is really in a fragrance oil, but they do have guidelines in place to ensure the general safety of the product. The ingredients used may range from debates as far as safety is concerned to an outright environmental hazard.
  • For soap makers, especially one that may not have a lot of experience, sometimes fragrance oils can be a bit more aggravating than an essential oil during the soapmaking process. Certain fragrances can cause what soap makers known as “seizing”. Most soap makers know this term, and we all know this problem can lead to a potentially bad day for us! The good news is many experienced soap makers know tricks of the trade to save our soap batches when this happens, or sometimes prevent it entirely.
  • There are people that are particularly sensitive to fragrance oils and even sometimes just plain allergic to them. However, in fairness, you have to keep in mind that over a hundred different ingredients could be used to create just one fragrance! The truth is that if a product is carefully made and the fragrance oils are carefully measured and added in the recommended amounts, the amount of fragrance actually used is generally unlikely to cause a reaction.

Essential Oils

  • In general, essential oils tend to put a dent in your wallet compared to fragrance oils. There are in fact different grades of essential oils, and as with all the things, the better ones tend to be more expensive. If you find one that is significantly cheaper, chance are it may not be as pure as you think and may be any better than a fragrance oil. Now I am once again speaking in general and am not stating this is always the case. The reasoning is that there are many manufacturers that sell essential oils that do in fact contain a small percentage of synthetic materials as well.
  • Even if an essential oil is natural, it doesn’t not mean that the means from which it was extracted was. There are several methods for extracting essentials oils, and some choose using chemical solvents in the process for certain essential oils.
  • As far as being environmentally friendly, many don’t realize that majority of the essential’s oils sold in the US, or the materials to make them, come from overseas. In a heated debate I once witnessed, one intuitive person brought up a new point that is absolutely worth considering. The fuel used either by flight or by sea alone very well could very well make up for any advantage that essentials oil have over fragrance oils in terms of being environmentally friendly.
  • Another blow to the theory that going natural is more environmentally friendly, is that hundreds of pounds of plant matter could be used to make a single ounce of essential oil! Certain plants used to create essential oils such as certain types of sandalwood, cedarwood, and rosewood oil are now endangered from the over-harvesting. Such heavy usage of natural resources can create an imbalance in the environment for types of essential oils that are extracted from “non-renewable” resources.
  • Essential oils undeniably have been found to carry positive properties from the plant materials they were extracted from. Wisely chosen quality essential oils can greatly increase the desired effects in a topical application such as creams or lotions. However, many debate on this when it comes to the topic of soapmaking. Unless a soap is “rebatched” or “milled”, including through “met and pour” methods or cooked through a “hot process” method, some believe that the high alkali needed during the soapmaking process actually kills at least a vast majority of any of the positive properties that may have come have from the plant matter the essential oil was extracted from.
  • There are those that are particularly sensitive to fragrance oils, yet there are people that are sensitive to essential oils as well- often time people that are sensitive to one may be sensitive to another. This does not make either one “bad”. You can’t place blame any more than you could place blame due to any other allergy. If you’re allergic to cats, you can’t blame the cat and certainly, you can blame yourself. It just happens. “Leave-on” products that aren’t rinsed away, such as lotions and creams, need to be treated especially carefully in terms of essential oils.

So now that we have a clear understanding pf the differences between these two, we urge you to go for fragrance oils because of the aforementioned reasons. And if you are really interested then check this out!

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