Essential Oils 101 - Beginners Guide

Essential Oils 101 - Beginners Guide

If you're interested in Aromatherapy & Essential Oils, or just starting out and need some basic tips to consider before making your next purchase, then please read on. 

In this guide, We aim to cover the basics of essential oils and the best practises for the intermediate and advanced consumer .




1. What are Essential Oils, are they similar to Fragrance Oils ? 

2. How are Essential Oils extracted ?

3. How do I use Essential Oils ?

4. How does treatment with Essential Oils work ?

5. They are so many Essential Oils, how do I know which one to choose ? 

6. What are the benefits of Essential Oils?

7. What are the side effects and safety precautions of Essential Oils ?

8. Can I use essential oils if I am hypersensitive? 

9. How to spot impure Essential Oils ?

10. Essential Oil Myths & Facts



1. What are Essential Oils, are they similar to Fragrance Oils ? 


An Essential Oil is a concentrated liquid containing chemical compounds which are extracted from plants. Essential Oils are extracted from different parts of plants, such as leaves, peels, barks, flowers, buds, and seeds. An essential oil is "essential" in the sense that it contains the essence of the plant's fragrance.

Essential Oils are concentrated, unlike Fragrance oils which are synthetic. Although fragrance oils may smell good, they do not have any beneficial natural compounds. They’re less expensive to produce because they’re diluted with artificial substances. Double check that the oil you’re buying is 100% pure essential oil and not a fragrance oil.


2. How are Essential Oils extracted ?




Essential oils are extracted by many different methods depending on the type of plant. Steam distillation is the most popular method of extraction.

Steam distillation is a separation process that consists of distilling water, together with a plant. The steam from the boiling water carries the vapour of the plant to a condenser,  both are then cooled and return to the liquid or solid state; while the plant oil residues remain in the boiling container.

Depending on the type of plant, there may be other methods of extraction, such as: expression, absolute oil extraction, solvent extraction, resin tapping, cold pressing and wax embedding. For more detailed information on each individual essential oil please visit the product page.


3. How do I use Essential Oils ?


With a basic understanding of the application methods and safety precautions, it is simple to start using essential oils. You will need to determine the uses and benefits of the oil you intend to apply, then follow any label and packaging instructions provided.

Essential oils can be used through two main methods: by inhaling through your nose or applying topically to your skin. This can be achieved through different applications, such as: Electrical diffusers, room sprays, body massage, facial massage, steam inhalation, roller balls, baths, foot baths, localised massage etc.

Note: some may consider a third option of ingesting Essential Oils, however considering the potential serious side effects of such use, we cannot recommend this practice, due to not enough studies available to support results.  

Note: To create your own Essential Oil blend, check out our blogpost on 'How to blend Essential Oils' by clicking here.



4. How does treatment with Essential Oils work ?


Essential oils work through the absorption of aromatic molecules through nasal and skin cells.

Essential oils absorbed through nasal passages, are believed to impact the nasal canal by stimulating smell receptors in the nose: which sends signals through the nervous system to the limbic system- the part of the brain that controls emotions, instincts and survival.

Scientists believe the activity of the nerve signal passing through this region of the brain causes mood changes by modifying brain chemistry. Through inhalation, aromatic molecules travel internally through the body and are absorbed through blood vessels.

Whereas, topically, essential oil molecules travel through the epidermis (the top layer of the skin), reaching the dermis (deeper layer of the skin) and then to the blood vessels allowing them to flow throughout the body.


5. They are so many Essential Oils, how do i know which one to choose ?


The selection of essential oils available can be overwhelming. There are many options and ranges available depending on your need - Sleep, Energy, Stress Relief, Cold & Flu, etc. Scents include; floral, minty, earthy, spicy, woody, herbal, citrus and fruity.

Then you need to consider how you plan to use them, whether that be via topical or non-topical applications.

At Lintro, we believe in simplifying aromatherapy so that we may all enjoy the amazing wellbeing benefits with ease. We have put together x12 Essential Oil blends which cover the majority of needs so you do not have to do the blending yourself, as well as providing 20+ Essential Oils singularly.


Lintro's Essential Oil Blends included are:

Stress Relief         Breathe        Clear Mind

Good Morning       Sleep        Morning Yoga 

Tranquil spa         Relax       Immune Boost   

Welcome Home     Energy       Love Spell  



6.What are the benefits of using Essential Oils ?




Studies have shown that Essential Oils may help with:

1. Stress and anxiety

2. Headaches and migraine

3. Sleep insomnia

4. Reducing inflammation

5. Aids in concentration

6. Antibiotic and Antimicrobial

7. Natural pesticide ( deter insects )

8. Food preservation

9. Treats skin imperfections

10. Cleanse and purify the air



7.What are the side effects & safety precautions of Essential Oils ?

Safety precautions:

External use only: Essential Oils are for external use only. Please DO NOT APPLY UNDILUTED to the skin. We always recommend using a carrier oil, when using essential oils topically. Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils, which can include: Coconut oil, Jojoba oil, Olive oil, Almond oil and Apricot kernel oil to name a few.  We also recommend a skin prick test prior to using on the skin to prevent an allergic reaction and test skin compatibility with the oil.

To conduct a prick test: dilute 1 drop of the essential oil in 4 drops of a carrier oil and apply 2 drops of the blend to a small area of non-sensitive skin. Avoid contact with sensitive areas such as: the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin.

Oral Ingestion: The research is conflicting and not decisive due to their simply not being enough studies for concentrated ingestion of Essential Oils. Many have considered small amounts of Essential Oils, which are used in many foods approved by world health organisations such as the FDA, as being evidence for the safety of such use. It should be noted here that such approvals for limited usage in foods is entirely different to ingesting a concentrated amount of Essential Oils directly from a bottle. At Lintro we do not advise that you ingest Essential oils.

Pregnancy: most medical experts agree that aromatherapy is a safe option during pregnancy, if inhaled, as opposed to topical applications. This simply means that if pregnant you should use essential oils in a diffuser, rather than applying them directly to the skin. For skin and oral application please consult a medical doctor qualified in clinical aromatherapy.

Health conditions: DO NOT USE Essential Oils if you have: heart-related ailments, skin disorders or allergies, hormone-related ailments, or epilepsy. Individuals that are taking prescription drugs, undergoing major surgery, or are at a greater risk of experiencing strokes, heart attacks, or atherosclerosis, all conditions mentioned are advised to seek medical consultation from a medical doctor qualified in clinical aromatherapist prior to use.

Children and safety:  We do not recommend using essential oils on infants under 6 months old. Essential oils should only be used by children, if under the supervision of an adult and approved by a medical doctor or clinical aromatherapist. Essential Oils should be stored in an area that is not accessible to children.

Flammability: Many essential oils are flammable. Never use or leave bottles of essential oil near a naked flame.

Storage: Essential oils should be used within 12 months of opening. The best way to maximise the life of your oils; is to keep them stored in a cool, dark place- away from direct sunlight. Our matte black bottles will help prolong the oil shelf life. If the oil is exposed to heat, air or light, the shelf life will greatly diminish. 

Essential oil side effects:

In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the essential and seek medical advice from a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment. To prevent side effects, please consult a medical doctor qualified in clinical aromatherapy prior to use.

Potential side effects of essential oils include: redness, rash, burning, low blood pressure, dizziness, headache, nausea, diarrhoea, convulsions, and rapid heartbeat.


8. Can I use essential oils if I am hypersensitive?

If you are hypersensitive, we only recommend using essential oils if you have consulted an allergist, trained medical doctor or aromatherapist prior to using the oils.  



9. How to spot impure Essential Oils ?

All essential oil consumers would love a perfect supplier of the purest oils at the fairest of prices. Unfortunately, many essential oil suppliers have come to rely on immoral practices to produce adulterated Essential Oils whilst labelling them as 100% pure.

Adulteration is the practice of modifying the composition of essential oils using various methods, this is so they may be sold at cheaper prices increasing the profit of the supplier.

This is were your own due-diligence comes in to prevent being mislead.We have broken down 4 best practices for the average consumer and 3 of the best evaluation tests for professionals. 

Average Consumer Best Practices


Seller background check :

When purchasing in general and in particular from Online marketplace sellers, make sure you are purchasing from a legitimate supplier with business and contact information being clearly visible on their external website. 

Does the supplier provide Safety Data Sheets, Certificates of Analyses or test reports which are easily accessible for each essential oil product on site ? 

Check the price :

The price of a singular Essential Oil is an easy way to identify whether they have potentially been adultered or not, though this does not guarantee that well priced essential oils are pure, it does however eliminate the significantly cheaper oils, this can practically be applied by having an estimate of the single essential oil prices of a number of reputable suppliers and then comparing with others, if the price is significantly lower than the average price,it can almost certainly mean the essential oil has been adultered.

The disparity in price for lower priced essential oils may not be so clear, however for some  essential oils such as Rose Otto, Jasmine, Neroli, Sandalwood, Ylang ylang and othes, this becomes very apparent. Please make sure you are comparing the exact same botanical name, origin, plant part and extraction method. Some essential oils may have the same name but are priced differently due to having different origins.

Compare the scent :

Train your sense of smell. Although it can take a while to become a professional in conducting an organoleptic test, you still have the basic sense of smell to recognise a stronger scent. This is by no means a definitive factor, but can be an indicator of impurity. 

Local aromatherapist :

Apart from finding a credible supplier whose purity tests you can trust, perhaps the most reliable way to assess your essential oils would be to consult an independent tester and have them professionally tested, this can be your local aromatherapist or analytical laboratory.


Professional Consumer top 3 Practices 

GC/MS Test:

The most accepted analytical way of evaluating the composition of an essential oil is a GC/MS Test. A GC/MS test enables the identification of the different chemical components comprising an essential oil. GC splits the oil into its individual constituent parts depending on its molecular structure, while MS analytically identifies each constituent to produce results 'spectrum'.

In this way, an evaluator can conclude which components, along with their percentages, were present in the sample, much like a chemical 'fingerprint'. By comparing the results with a spectrum that represents a known, pure sample, the purity of essential oil in question can be easily determined.

It is important to note that natural variations are possible from batch to batch; the molecular make-up based on harvest time, location, season, and soil quality of essential oils may cause variation in the results, however the values for each chemical compounds will still have to fall within a standard range to be considered very likely unadultered.

In the contrary even a slightly adultered essential oil will likely fall out of the standard range by a margin. The delicate balance of compounds that makes each essential oil unique is essential to know you are receiving the right amounts of constituents.

Organoleptic Test:

Organoleptic test involves using the senses to closely examine the quality of an essential oil. The colour, texture or consistency, and finally the aroma can be evaluated.

In order for an organoleptic tests to be accurate it must be conducted by a trained professional aromatherapist, Organoleptic tests require a high level of concentration due to these tests having to be repeated many times with a large number of samples.

Physical Test:

This involves assessing the physical or physicochemical properties of an essential oil, such as: its density, optical rotation, refractive index, solubility with ethanol, and freezing point. For example, a pure essential oil is associated with a particular density relative to water. This value can therefore be measured in order to check whether the sample oil is pure or has been adulterated, 

Similarly, essential oils display optical activity, which involves their capacity to rotate polarised light; the degree of this rotation can be measured, along with its direction, using a piece of equipment called the polarimeter. The result can then be compared to a reference value such as those published by the ISO. In this way, the identity of an essential oil can be honed in on, and consistent outliers can alert to possible impurities or adulteration.

Other secondary practices: 

Isotope analysis: 

Isotope analysis is the identification of isotopic signature, the abundance of certain stable isotopes and chemical elements within organic and inorganic compounds. 

Microbiology testing:

Microbiology testing helps to minimise the risk of potential damage by microbes and to ensure the microbiology quality of your products is maintained.

Heavy metal testing:

Heavy metal testing shows the amount of heavy metal content in any given essential oil. When properly distilled, essential oils shouldn’t contain heavy metals.

Chiral analysis:

Chiral analysis refers to the quantification of component enantiomers of racemic drug substances or pharmaceutical compounds. Other synonyms commonly used include enantiomer analysis, enantiomeric analysis, and enantioselective analysis


Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy is used to obtain an infrared spectrum of absorption or emission of a solid, liquid or gas. An FTIR spectrometer simultaneously collects high-resolution spectral data over a wide spectral range.


10. Essential Oil Myths & Facts


MYTH: Therapeutic Grade is a an assurance of high quality

FACT: There is no grading standard or universally accepted body that certifies the purity of essential oils- therapeutic grade is just a marketing term. A pure essential oil simply means one that has been extracted from its genuine botanical source and delivered to the consumer without any adulteration.

MYTH: 100% pure essential oils should last forever 

FACT: Essential oils constituents will decrease their potency over time due to oxidation reactions and may eventually become toxic. As a result these oils have expiry dates. 

MYTH: The water blot test and other home remedies will let me know whether my essential oils are pure or not.

FACT: The water blot test is an out of date purity testing technique. Unethical suppliers can pass this test by diluting the oils in vegetable oil. Home tests are rarely reliable, we recommend testing oils at a laboratory for accurate results.  

MYTH: I don't like the scent of an essential oil, therefore it must be impure.

FACT: The smell of an essential oil should only be considered as one indicator of impurity and not definitively the case. Ideally, smelling should be combined with many other reliable methods to come to a reasonable conclusion.



Essential Oils are delicate tools which can promote health and wellbeing.  These oils can be incorporated in everyday life; when used considerately, following manufacturer's labels. With the technology and resources available today; you can benefit from essential oils at home, or on the go: to help you balance and live a fulfilling life. 

If you are just starting out and ready to kickstart your Aromatherapy journey, we would recommend our Starter gift packs.

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