An exercise in smelling!!



Today we have an interactive blog post!!! This is something I’d like for you to do with me, so read this blog post all the way through, then get prepared and play along!! **Please note: you may choose any essential oil you wish for this experiment.

Brain Smelling

The article by Stephen Dowthwaithe is an in-depth discussion on how to properly smell with your brain, and not just your nose. This is something that takes years of training – but I thought this might be fun for us to do together. By performing this experiment, you can smell all the subtleties that make up an essential oil – they are very complex!

In order to begin this experiment, it was necessary to choose an essential oil to smell. I chose lemon, as it’s one that is easily identifiable and was part of the ACHS kit. For my first step I gathered materials that could be used as test “strips”. These included a coffee filter, a paper towel and two brands of perfume strips, which can be found here: Test strips. Next, I used these various “strips” to see which would provide the best smell (see table 1). I determined that the strips provided with my student kit and the strips from Plant Therapy were nearly identical. I proceeded with the experiment using the test strips purchased from Plant Therapy. As outlined in the article, the quality of the paper used as a test strip is important to the final product of scent.

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Once I had established the best strips to use, I moved onto the preparing my space. I sat at the table with my materials and a notebook. I completed each smelling experiment as noted in the article (Dowthwaithe, 2009). You can see the results for each one in tables 2, 3 and 4.

To begin, find a comfortable chair and sit down in a relaxed posture. Sniff your prepared strip. Then stand up and repeat the sniff. Did you notice anything different?

For the sitting versus standing experiment, I prepared a test strip by dropping 1 drop of lemon onto the end. While sitting, I noticed a bright fresh scent. The scent sparkled and was very sunny. Then, while standing, I sniffed it again. The scent was slightly duller and had less of a sparkle. The article mentions this is a result of a lowering in blood pressure that allows the body to devote more resources to the act of smelling (Dowthwaithe, 2009).

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Next, I preformed the experiment with eyes open and then closed. Again, while sitting I sniffed the test strip. I noticed that the scent remained bright and fresh. Once I closed my eyes and sniffed again the scent took on a tang and was deeper, less bright. You can do this as well, finding a comfortable chair. Sniff your prepared strip with your eyes open and then closed. Note any differences.

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Finally, I performed the odor fatigue experiment. to do this, prepare a strip with one drop of your essential oil. mark this strip, “strip 1” and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. At the designated time, prepare a second strip, mark it “strip 2” and set aside. Return to strip 1 and sniff slow and deep, keeping a tally of sniffs. When you reach a point where you can no longer smell the essential oil on the strip, set it aside and immediately pick up strip 2 and sniff. Note how they differ.

I kept a tally of sniffs and arrived at 24, on the 25th sniff I noticed no scent. I picked up the second prepared sample and noticed it was very flat and dull, almost no scent whatsoever. After about two minutes I could smell the strip again, although it took a total of 15 minutes for my sense of smell to return to normal. By using odor fatigue, professionals are better able to evaluate samples to note differences or even adulteration (Dowthwaithe, 2009).

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This was an interesting experiment; I was quite shocked when the scent disappeared from the strip after 25 sniffs. I can see how this would be useful to someone with the proper training to detect differences and level of quality in samples of essential oils or perfumes. I enjoyed learning more about how to smell with my brain and look forward to applying this in the future.

I hope that you have found this as interesting as I did! If you have questions or comments about this or anything you find on our blog, please contact us by email at


Dowthwaithe, S. (2009) ‘Using the Brain (not the nose) to smell: A systematic approach
to the most fundamental of techniques for perfumers and flavorists’ Perfumers World (34), pp 42-47.


Explore your essential oils: Valerian


Let’s learn more about Valerian. While it’s a bit of a stinker, it is extremely useful for insomnia or restlessness. Valerian’s ability to soothe  and relax is unsurpassed both as an essential oil and an herb. Why don’t we take a closer look & then I will share a few ways I use valerian at home.



Does Valerian sound like something you want to add to your essential oil collection? Here are a few ways I like to use it for myself.

  1. Diffuse a single drop of valerian with 2 drops of patchouli and 4 drops of sweet orange for a lovely way to relax before bed.
  2. Use a single drop of valerian in a personal inhaler with 4-5 drops of cedarwood and 3-4 drops mandarin to reduce tension or soothe nervousness.

As always, we want to hear from you! Contact us by emailing for any questions, concerns or comments you may have. You can join our Facebook group Safe Essential Oil Recipes and participate in lively conversation with other essential oils users. We have your safety in mind – so come hang out with us to learn even more! We look forward to seeing you there!


Explore your essential oils: Neroli


Neroli didn’t start off as one of my favorites, but it’s has found it’s way into my “must have” collection. Neroli is a rather versitile oil and simply amazing when inhaled to boost mood and uplift the spirit. It can be used in skin care and even in room sprays or bath products. Let’s take a look:



Are you looking for ways to incorporate Neroli into your routine?

  1. Use 6 drops Neroli, 4 drops sweet orange and 3-4 drops vanilla on a cotton wick for use in a personal inhaler. Use this during stressful moments or when you need a calming influence.
  2. Create a beautiful linen spray by adding 4 drops neroli, 4 drops lavender, 1 drops patchouli and 1 drop ylang ylang to 2 ounces of water. Shake well each time, then mist linens before bed for a wonderfully relaxing nights sleep. *not for use with children under age 10
  3. To 1 ounce of carrier or unscented lotion add, 1 drop neroli with 3-4 drops of tea tree oil to soothe acne prone skin. Use nightly after cleansing the face.


As always, we want to hear from you! Contact us by emailing for any questions, concerns or comments you may have. You can join our Facebook group Safe Essential Oil Recipes and participate in lively conversation with other essential oils users. We have your safety in mind – so come  hang out with us to learn even more! We look forward to seeing you there!


Explore your essential oils: Carrot Seed



Carrot seed oil is a big stinker! I mean it – it really stinks. It’s redeeming feature is that it’s so great for skin! This is one of the oils we have in our Anti-Age Synergy and also in Soft Skin Synergy. If you can get past the smell (which, honestly, isn’t that bad!) you’ll fall in love!

CarrotSeedWe hope you’re learning a lot through these profiles! Have you been printing them out? If not, start now and create your own reference notebook! Contact us at or join our Facebook group Safe Essential Oil Recipes for more information ! As always, we are happy to help you learn more about your essential oils!



Explore your essential oils: Ylang Ylang


Ylang Ylang essential oil has a very unique scent. Personally, I use it in small amounts to help round  out scents and in blends where my goal is a general relaxing feeling. Ylang Ylang is wonderful for the nervous system! Let’s discover a few other uses for this beautiful oil.

Ylang Ylang

Need a few other options for using your Ylang Ylang? Try one of these awesome ideas:

  1. Add Ylang Ylang to vetiver and orange for a soothing bath
  2. Combine with bergamot, tangerine and vanilla for a unique lotion scent.
  3. Diffuse Ylang Ylang with Patchouli and Lime for a unique scent in your home!

If you have questions, contact us at or join our Safe Essential Oil Recipe Group on Facebook. We are here to help, so just let us know how we can be of service!


Explore your essential oils: Patchouli


Patchouli is a rather dividing essential oil. People either love it or they hate it. I happen to be in the LOVE camp! This rich, deep aroma is excellent for relaxing, grounding and calming the spirit. Let me share a few ways that I use patchouli in my own home:



  1. I add 6-9 drops of Patchouli to 2 ounces of macadamia nut oil. Store in a bottle with a glass dropper and apply to face nightly after cleansing. This is my FAVORITE serum. I have especially dry skin and it’s amazing…
  2. Diffuse 2 drops Patchouli, 3 drops Cedarwood and 3 drops Lavender for a relaxing evening yoga, prayer or meditation session.
  3. Use 9-12 drops of Patchouli with 4 drops sweet orange for a daily perfume. Mix into melted 1/2 ounce beeswax and 1 ounce jojoba – allow to solidify in a small tin. Dab a bit on pulse points.

If you have questions, contact us at or  join our Safe Essential Oil Recipe Group on Facebook.


The question of substitution…


There is a question I get many times a day “What can I substitute for _________________?” In some cases this is a simple switch. Most citrus oils can be interchangeably. Although there are a few exceptions – just like there is to anything in life. Mandarin and Tangerine are especially useful for calming while Grapefruit and Lime are wonderful for putting a pep in your step. This also depends on what you’re combining in a blend.

There are times when there is no simple answer. I’ll use an analogy: you wouldn’t substitute baking soda for baking powder in a recipe. They have different functions, even though they both say “baking”. A straight up substitution is not always possible. In order to illustrate my point better I will use some examples. For each let’s look at what each oil DOES in the recipe. Then we can find appropriate oils to use in place of one if we don’t have it. It’s the action of each oil we are looking at, not just the oil itself.

Example 1:

Find a “recipe” for pain that contains Frankincense, Ginger and German Chamomile. Here is what each oil is “good for” in this blend:

  • Frankincense (serrata) can be helpful in reducing inflammation and any achiness due to arthritis or joint pain.
  • Ginger, can be useful in relieving muscle tension and creating a sense of warmth which can increase blood flow and reduce pain.
  • German Chamomile is also very useful for inflammation and can be helpful for dull aching pain.

So what we have is a list of things that are very good at reducing inflammation, creating warmth and assisting in the alleviation of pain. Now, what if I don’t have Frankincense? I want to look for something that is similar on a chemical level, meaning it contains the same constituents in similar percentages.

How do I find that out?

A GC/MS is the answer! These aren’t super easy to read and even I am still learning the small details that you can take away from a report like this. The more you learn, the better you can figure out the intricacies of the chemical makeup of the essential oils.

Another way to to take a look at therapeutic actions. Frankincense is useful for inflammation and reducing the pain from arthritis. So you’d want a similar action from another oil. Two that come to mind are copaiba and marjoram. Either would be acceptable as a substitution if you didn’t have frankincense.

Example 2:

Finding a recipe for cough and cold that contains Fir Needle, Palmarosa and Cedarwood. BUT, I don’t have Fir Needle!!! Using the same process as above we can find something else to use in our blend. First, let’s take a look at chemical makeup. We also need to take a look at what Fir Needle does. The essential oil profiles, found here: Profiles and here: More Profiles, can be very useful in determining this information.

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Once we have this information, we can choose another oil with similar properties. Ones that I would suggest to replace Fir Needle would be Rosalina or Pine – since we want to encourage  better or easier breathing along with loosening mucus. Each of those have similar actions and can be useful as a substitute.

I hope this gives you a better of idea of why the question “What can I substitute for ______?” is one that doesn’t always have an easy answer. Don’t get frustrated, or give up. We’re here to help! Contact us at and let us help you through creating a blend or using different essential oils since you don’t have a particular one on hand. We do ask that you let us know if you are taking medications, have any medical concerns (like high blood pressure, diabetes, etc) or other things you’d think we’d need to know to assist you best! We look forward to helping you.