Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Glossary

Learn the language and terminology you’ll need to get started with essential oils and aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Glossary

If you come across a term that you have questions about, we encourage you to contact us! We will gladly define it for you, and may even add it here.


Absolutes are plant substances extracted using chemical solvents that are later removed as part of the production process.


A substance which was not originally present in the oil at the time of distillation and was later added to an essential oil. Adulterants can be artificial or natural.

Base oil (Carrier oil)

Vegetable or nut oils such as Sweet Almond, Grapeseed, and Jojoba.


CO2s are plant substances extracted using carbon dioxide as a solvent to dissolve natural materials.

Common name

Common names are what you will typically hear essential oils called, for example, rosemary or lavender.


A device that disperses essential oils into an area. The three basic types are clay, candle and electric.


Adding a small amount of essential oil to a larger amount of base oil to make it safe for use on the skin.


A common method used to extract essential oils from plants. Steam distillation is the most common form of distillation.

GC/MS (Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer)

A device used by analytic chemists to determine the precise make-up of a given substance. Used in aromatherapy to determine the precise chemical constituents of an essential oil, and whether the oil is pure or adulterated with synthetic chemicals or other products.

Essential oil

Highly aromatic substance found in specialized cells of certain plants. Technically, when this substance is in the plant, it is called an "essence." After distillation of a single type of plant, the aromatic substance is referred to as an essential oil.

Herbally infused oil

These are oils that carry the medicinal properties of certain herbs. Carrier oil is infused with the medicinal herb, the plant is strained off, and the remaining oil can be used directly on the skin.


A hydrosol is the aromatic water that remains after steam-distilling botanical material. Hydrosols can be used in many different ways!

Latin name

Latin (or botanical) names classify the genus and species of each plant. For example, lavender’s latin name is Lavandula angustifolia.


As in top, middle, and base notes. A type of classification system based on aroma, to identify certain oils. Generally, essential oils from citrus peels are top notes, essential oils from flowers, leaves and stems are middle notes, and essential oils from roots are base notes.

Orifice reducer

A device used to reduce the size of the opening of a bottle, making dispensing the essential oil easier and more accurate.


A dropper used in place of an orifice reducer to dispense essential oils.


A thick, sometimes solid, sticky substance formed when some plants or trees are injured. Frankincense is a good example of an essential oil that starts as a resin.


Synergy is created when two oils are blended together in the correct amounts to create a greater total benefit than each oil working on its own.


A measurement of the thickness of a liquid.


Describes how quickly a substance disperses itself into the air. In aromatherapy, top note essential oils may be referred to as "highly volatile," meaning that they disperse quickly out of the bottle and into the air.

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Karen Williams


Hi, my name is Karen Williams. As a professional aromatherapist, I love to create amazing blends that inspire and promote a healthier lifestyle. I got my start many years ago as a registered nurse working in the hospital system. But along the way I knew something was missing. I wanted to help people more holistically. Then, I discovered essential oils, and my approach to life changed forever. Now, I’ve made it my mission to share what I’ve learned about aromatherapy with my friends, family, and the world. Because - life is so much better with health, happiness, and community. 

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