A Few Notes on Aroma
Aroma, odor, fragrance…scents surround us everyday, everywhere. But, how do we describe them?
Our sense of smell is one of the most subjective senses we have. We associate odors with our feelings and memories, which complicates describing them even more. There is a scientific language to describing aroma that follows some simple guidelines related to music and the notes of a chord – which, interestingly enough, we also tend to associate with our feelings and memories.
The best way to experience all of the notes of a blend or oil is to place one or two drops on a perfume blotter or cotton ball and inhale. Take care not to touch the oil to your nose. I have on too many occasions accidentally hit my nose with a blend and had to walk away from what I was doing until later.
Top notes are the first impression of an aroma. They are usually light and sharp, and evaporate quickly, sometimes within 5 – 10 minutes. Sniff your blotter right away to pick up on the top notes. Some essential oils that are considered top notes are: citrus oils, such as: grapefruit, lemon, and orange. Also: eucalyptus, neroli, and peppermint.
The next aroma that you will experience is the middle note or the body of the oil/blend. These notes are the main part of the aroma and may last up to 2 hours. Some popular middle note essential oils include: clary sage, geranium, juniper, and tea tree.
The final note to an aroma is the base note. Sometimes referred to as the dry out note, fixative note, or bottom of the aroma. These will start to appear within a couple of hours of putting the oil/blend on the blotter, and can sometimes last for up to a day. Some classic base notes: cedarwood, patchouli, vetver, and ylang ylang.
Every aroma combination or single essential oil has elements of all three notes (top, middle, and base). A particular oil may be classified as a top note, but will still contain some characteristics of the other two, all working together in harmony. Hopefully, this information helps to make their complex beauty a bit easier to find and to understand.
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Debra Mauldin, Certified Aromatherapist
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