Here are some commonly used terms to describe odor types or families.
Floral – the fragrance of a single flower or a bouquet of flowers: Lavender, Neroli, Jasmine, Geranium, Roman chamomile, Rose, Ylang ylang
Woody – this can be the refreshing smell of a pine forest but also the unobtrusive smell of the woods floor: Pine, Cedarwood, Juniper, Cypress, sandalwood
Earthy – the smell of the earth after a long-needed rainfall: Oakmoss, Vetiver, Patchouli
Herbaceous – this is somewhat pungent, green and slightly woody: Marjoram, Rosemary, Basil, Roman chamomile, Lavender, clary sage, Rosemary, Marjoram
Minty – the smell of menthol: Peppermint, Spearmint, Cornmint
Medicinal/Camphoraceous – having a camphor smell: Eucalyptus, Cajeput, Tea Tree, Rosemary, Peppermint
Spicy – Gives you the impression of hot, pungent and warm: Nutmeg, Clove, Cinnamon, Coriander, Black Pepper, Ginger, Cardamom
Citrus– a stimulating freshness: Orange, Lemon, Lime, Bergamot FCF, Grapefruit, Mandarin
Resinous – a heavy earthy smell: Frankincense, Elemi, Myrrh
As you can see, a few oils belong to more than one group, this reflects their chemical makeup.
You can take this one step further and add another characteristic to the odor. These would include balanced, diffusive, dry, flat, fresh, harsh, heavy, light, musty, rich, sharp, sweet, smooth and warm.
I am sure as you read this list, you recognized an oil that would fit that characteristic.
Battaglia, S. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy; Third Edition The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, Australia, 2017
Tisserand R. Young R. Essential Oil Safety, second edition. Churchhill Livingstone, UK, 2013
Sheppard-Hanger S. The Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual. Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy, USA, 2000
Caddy R. Essential Oils in Colour. Amberwood Publishing, UK, 2005
Lawless J. The encyclopedia of Essential Oils. Element Books Limited, GB, 1992
Caddy R. the Essential Blending Guide. Amberwood Publishing, UK, 2007
Weaver W.W. Sauer’s Herbal Cures. Routledge, UK, 2001
World Wide Web Encyclopedia Britannica. USA, 2014
Photos attribution – istock Photos
Do not take essential oils internally.
Do not apply to eyes, sensitive areas or mucous membranes.
Do not apply undiluted to skin (for directions on proper dilution refer to an aromatherapy text).
The information on this website is not intended to diagnose or prescribe.
Pregnant women, nursing mothers and children should not use essential oils without first consulting a healthcare provider.
The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA.
You should not use this information for treating a health problem or disease or to make a self-diagnosis.
Contact your Health Care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem.
Information and statements regarding Kelley products have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health condition or disease. All information, content and product descriptions contained within this site is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute advice given by a pharmacist, physician, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information for treating a health problem or disease or to make a self-diagnosis. Contact your Health Care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem.