What are Essential Oils for

Last Updated on September 7, 2021 by Andre

For centuries Aromatic Oils, also known as essential oils, formed a vital role in many ancient cultures worldwide. Their many uses and benefits continue to this day.


What are Essential Oils for

Which brings us to the question?


What are essential oils for and what benefits can such oils used in the ancient days still have such a profound effect now? Click To Tweet

To answer this, we need to go back in time to the land of Ancients.

Ancient lands such as Egypt and India as no one can say for sure where it started as these two great cultures have been known to use various forms of aromatic or essential oils, along with their preparations that also included ointments, perfume, incense, and other resins to name a few.

This also depended on what was required according to their cultural beliefs.

History, depending on where the source of such information came from, may state Egypt is the home of aromatic oils; however, both began their journey with such oils around the same time.

Cultures such as Ancient Greece and Rome learned most of their use from Egypt and India along the various trade routes.

While in the land of Ancient China, they would have used aromatic plants more than as an essential oil in their traditional Chinese medicine.

However, the benefits and use of such plants found in texts traced back to about 2700 BC, so their knowledge of aromatic plants has to be accepted and acknowledged to an extent.

Regardless of the culture, there were normally three main reasons such oils played an important role in their use.

For the most part, most of these reasons also overlapped each other as well.

Some uses and methods between the cultures may vary; however, the same concept remains.


These are the three main reasons for their use:


1. For religious rituals, for example, Various Oils were used as part of the mummification process in Egypt

2. Medicinal use in healing various physical ailments along with general well-being such as body cleansing

3. For spiritual enhancement or connections, depending on their belief, each culture had at the time.


A brief history of essential oils




King Tut Egypt


During the Ancient Egyptian era, religion and medicine went hand in hand, mostly due to their belief in the afterlife. When a person passed away, their spirit will seek their physical body in the afterlife.

The KA was one of two spirits the Egyptians believed the body to have.

As such, the KA could not survive long without the body in the afterlife to help the KA retrieve its body; Mummification took place to help preserve and protect until the KA was ready to collect its body to start a new life in its new world.


Egypt Mummy preparation


The Mummification process was very detailed, time-consuming, and very complicated, which some say it took 40 others possibly 70 days before the process was complete and ready for burial.

Part of that process included various ingredients that including Myrrh, Cinnamon, and Frankincense.

In particular, Myrrh and Frankincense was a highly valued treasure to have; it is also not surprising that according to the Bible, these two, along with Gold, were also given to the birth of the Christ Child by the Three Wise Men of the East.

You will also find that Myrrh and Frankincense played an important role in purification and cleansing to this day by various Churches during certain rituals or ceremonies.


Cleanliness was paramount!


Ancient Egyptian culture held body care and cleanliness to such reverence that it transcended economic status.

Unpleasant smells had associations of impurity, and a good aroma indicated a sacred presence.

This is a possible reason why certain essential oils used during ceremonies and the Mummification process placed such importance in their belief system.

One that would provide a sense of purity that would appease their gods.

This is also another reason why some would state that Egypt was the first to create such amazing oils, and to this day, they are still considered having some of the finest oils used in perfumery.



India wall inscriptions


One of India’s ancient traditions that are still used to this day is Ayurvedic Tradition Medicine, where certain essential oils were used for health and healing for the body and the mind and spirit.

There have been findings of such practices dating back to around 2000 BC, where they would use oils such as Sandalwood, Cinnamon, Ginger, Myrrh, Basil as some of the 700 plus herbs and aromatic oils that were known at the time.

In one of India’s sacred texts, “The Vedas,” many such ingredients would be used not only as a perfume for the aromatic effect that again would be used for therapeutic and for religious use.

Ayurvedic Medicine focused on Natural Healing, which would also include oil massage beneficial for the body. The sense of smell would also help stimulate the healing in the body, mind, and spirit.


Extracting the oil


Ibn Sina created Steam Distillation
Ibn Sina 980 – 1037


Ibn Sīnā was a Persian physician who lived from circa c. 980–1037 during that time, towards his later years, he invented steam distillation used to produce essential oils.


Back to the present


Although Ibn Sīnā invented steam distillation long ago, the same method is still the preferred way to extract essential oils from the plants.

You can see the idea of its use below.


The concept of Steam Distillation

Concept of Steam Distillation


Mummification may not be the norm now, yet the use of oils relating to health, wellness, along spiritual matters, still play an important and vital part more than ever before.

Essential oils were a highly prized commodity in the ancient days and, to this day, still are.

The reason being is they are highly concentrated volatile oils derived from various parts of the plants such as the leaves, flowers, resins, roots, and barks.

There are various methods of extracting the oils; however, the best and most common method is via steam distillation, which can produce the purest essence of the oils, but it is a lengthy and time-consuming process.

Prue essential oils can vary in cost depending on the type of oil used, yet the true essence is in its purest form.

The cost is that it required many particular parts of the plant to produce even a single oil drop.

Depending on the essence sought, it can require a lot to produce a single drop of essential oil.

For example, it can take around 10,000 roses to fill a standard 5 ml bottle of essential oil.

Because of such processes and the amount required, you will find Pure Essential Oils more expensive to purchase than some other oils you will find in your local $2 shop, which is not really essential oils.

These oils are not essential but know as Fragrance Oils. There is a big difference between the two.


Fragrant Oils are not Essential Oils!!!


There are a few differences between Essential oils and fragrant oil.


Fragrant Oils:


1. Fragrant Oils are artificial and synthetically made from chemical compounds that try to mimic the smell like the oil’s original aroma.

2. Fragrance oils have no therapeutic benefits and are not a choice to use in Aromatherapy.

3. Fragrant oils are mass-produced therefore are cheaper to sell. They have no benefit other than perhaps smelling nice. For example, there are fragrant oils called spring rain; they can smell nice, but how can you distil this?. There is no oil for that, just a chemically created manufactured compound created to smell nice and mimic a particular scent.


Essential Oils:


1. Essential oils (extracted) from the various parts of the plant through Steam Distillation bring out the pureness of the oils and are highly concentrated.

2. In Aromatherapy, Essential Oils are used to help bring out the positive elements that may affect the physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual aspects of life.

3. As you have read, the production of essential oils can be very time consuming, costly to produce but have an extensive range of benefits and uses depending on the oils used or condition that may require assessment for the individual.


You will find that fragrant oils are mostly used in cosmetics such as soaps, candles, moisturizers, most perfumes, and even kitchen and laundry supplies. T

This is because they are cheap and made in bulk to sell when a particular aroma is successful in such products.

You can find some places where such items do contain pure essential oils, but for the most part, fragrant oils are used hence the cheapness between the two.

The main thing to remember between the two is that Fragrant Oils are just that.

They give a particular scent looked for and are manufactured and a synthetic chemical compound.

Essential oils are pure extracts of the plant at its most potent stage and are the only oil that is beneficial when dealing with health and general well-being, including humans and animals.


In Summary:


So as you can see, all the various cultures would have used essential oils in various ways for the three main reasons mentioned earlier.

Fortunately, due to the many texts and records found from many cultures, the use and purpose of such essential oils are still in use today.


Further Reading:


Should you wish to learn more about using Essential Oils, the book list below will greatly benefit you.



Have you used Essential Oils before?

I would love to hear about your experiences using Essential Oils.

Which oils helped you the most along your journey in life?

Please feel free to post your comment below.


For further reading relating to Essential Oils, the articles below might be of interest to you.


Lavender Essential Oil Benefits

Tea Tree Essential Oil Uses and Benefits

What is a Carrier Oil

What is Frankincense Oil


As Always

Namaste The Journey begins with you. Andre



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11 thoughts on “What are Essential Oils for”

  1. I’ve been a fragrance enthusiast for many years and really enjoyed reading your review of the history of essential oils. It’s always so fascinating to think about how many years they’ve been used for therapeutic and medicinal purposes throughout the world. I’ve recently started creating my own fragrances, which are a combination of essential oils and synthetics. Having purchased both types of oils from several sources, you are right that essential oils are more expensive. Rose and sandalwood tend to be the priciest while citrus essential oils tend to be cheaper. I love using essential oils but have found that mixing them with synthetics makes the perfume last longer. Although fragrance oils (synthetics) aren’t natural, they are actually less likely to cause an allergic reaction which is another reason I use them in combination with essential oils.

    Have you tried creating your own perfumes using essential oils? I’m curious!

    • Hi Lynn

      Thank you for the visit and comment and great to hear from another person having a wonderful interest in essential oils.

      Having worked in a Natural Therapy colleges for years has given me a greater appreciation not only in natural therapies but also Essential oils. That is where i started becoming more aware of the many great benefits Essential oils have to offer. The history is amazing to read about and there is so much more just on that from the many wonderful civilisations of the past.

      Yes agree Rose and Sandalwood can be on the higher end of the market price but knowing how much it takes to produce a single drop of oil shows why that is the case.

      Sandalwood along with Frankincense are my two favourites and so is Rose as perhaps due to my Mother who loved to grow roses at home every chance she got before passing the world. Even three days before she went I remember coming home and there she was water and tending to her roses. So I guess that is a personal special for me 

      You mentioned mostly due to the cost of some oils combing them with the Synthetic Fragrance oil. I can understand due to extending the aroma just remember that as you already know Fragrant oils are not the real deal and do not provide any medicinal or therapeutic benefits to health and other issues. 

      As for skin or allergic reaction it is also best to so a small test patch if unsure of a particular oil. Plus the added bones rather than adding the synthetic oil you could instead combined the essential oil with a Carrier oil. I have created a post on that so just click Carrier oil and more is explained there.

      This method can help to extend the aroma and also the essential oil for a longer period there are many combinations and even more that what I have written on this. Plus the fact that carrier oils can have their own therapeutic benefits alongside the essential oil. 

      To me that would be the better solution in extending the essential oil I will leave you with that thought in mind.

      So wishing you every success with your oils enjoy and stay happy.



  2. Hi

    Thank you for this informative article on essential oils.

    I am glad that you clarified the difference between fragrance oils and essential oils because often this is confused when buying so called natural products.

    I use essential oils all the time and for many years and love their amazing healing abilities.  The essential oils that I use most often are Oregano, lemongrass, lemon, sweet orange, lavender, peppermint, tea tree, clove, rosemary essential oil, just to name a few.

    My best oil at the present time for healing is my Oregano Essential oil because of its amazinly quick healing abilities for example for mouth ulcers gone in a couple of days, minor cuts.

    Thanks again for building awareness about essential oils, I have shared this article with social media.


    • Hi Jennifer 

      Thank you for the visit and also thank for sharing this on you social media which is very thoughtful of you to do so.

      There is a many difference with the synthetic fragrance oil and true pure essential oil as i have written above in the post. That is a must as far as I am concerned in letting other know the difference

      Certainly there are many amazing benefits of Pure essential oil  that can help to bring many positive aspects in one’s life on all levels physically, mentally , emotionally and spiritually.

      You have some similar favourites I love lavender, peppermint tea tree and rosemary especially yet there are many others that can equally become a favourite as well.

      All have there wonderful properties and all can certainly help in health as you have stated with The Oregano Essential oil. Its is also great to hear results from someone else so thank you for that input as well.

      Wishing you well along your journey and always remember to believe in yourself, keep going forward and enjoy all you do in life.



  3. Hi Andre! I love my essential oils! I use them everyday. My favorite one is lime, thieves and of course frankiences, can’t leave without it! It’s a great oil that has amazing health benefits. Very informative article, especially for those who just started to learn and use EO. It’s important to know the difference between fragrant oils and pure essential oils. But like you mentioned the price is very different between those two.  What is your favourite EO company?

    • Hi Alona

      Thank you for the visit and comment so much appreciated.

      Its wonderful to hear you are loving your essential oils and more so regularly used as well. Yes Frankincense is a great favourite of mine as well. Thieves although not a direct essential oil as it is made form a combination of other essential oils such as clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary. 

      Having said that is has many benefits in health particularly in helping to kill viruses, bacteria and mold.

      Mentioning the difference between fragrance and essential oil is very important yes there is a difference in price but that is because fragrance oils are synthetically made and have no medical or therapeutic benefit to offer other than being cheap and some fragrant oils can smell nice while some are terrible and not even worth paying a few dollars for as well. Being synthetic it is cheaper to make and manufacture

      On the other hand Pure essential oil particulars when cold pressed bring out the pure essence of the properies the plants, bark, resin or trees have to offer and can take much toi produce even a drop of oil. But this oil has some much therapeutic beneftts depending on the oil which in turn makes it dearer than fragrant oil.

      One must ask themselves:

      Am I looking for just a nice smell in the office or home that is very cheap then yes fragrant oils can have it’s place there but if asking am I looking to improve my health physically, mentally, emotionally and or spiritually then Pure Essential oils is a must.

      As for favourite EO company there are a few but but they all offer some oils that others may not have. So no really strict favourite. The ones mentioned in the post are some good ones to look into.

      Thank you for your time and visit I really do appreciate you sharing your thoughts and views.

      Please come again look forward to this.


  4. Hi Andre! I love my essential oils! I use them everyday! My favorite ones are lime, thieves and of course frankinces can’t live without it! It’s a great oil that has amazing health benefits. Very informative article, especially for those who just started to learn and use EO. It’s important to know the difference between fragrant oils and pure essential oils. But like you mentioned the price is very different between those two. What is your favorite SO company?

  5. I just love essential oils! I did an aromatherapy massage course many years ago, and had to buy a variety of oils. My favorites were begarmont and orange – for the their lovely aroma. And lavender for  its relaxing effect! While we use them today, I’m surprised they are not used more often. You’ve inspired me to use these oils more! It was great to read the history you included too, thank you for sharing!

    • Hi Shelly Ann

      Thank you for the visit and comment much appreciated. Y

      es as for the history I felt it needs to be include and give credit to those that kept Essential Oils going.

      Lavender is one of my favourites then again so are many others as they can be hard to choose. But that can also depend on its purpose.

      Lavender is great if you need to relax and get a good night’s sleep so placing a couple of drops on the pillow or just in case you are worried of staining the pillow cases You can always place those drops on a tissue and have it near by as you relax and nod off to sleep.

      Another way which I am in the process of doing a new post on is using an Essential Oil diffuser which will certainly benefit those in the room 

      I am happy that you have been inspired just make sure you are using the pure essential oils and not the ones marked fragrant as they are not real and synthetically made and have no therapeutic benefits.

      Please stay turn for more


  6. Hi Andre,

    I really enjoyed your post.

    I have never ever used essential oils, but your post certainly gave me a good history lesson. I enjoyed that!

    I think I would like to be mummified when the time comes!

    By the way, I could not see the book list at the end of the post. Is there something missing there?

    Were essential oils used as a form of currency too?

    Is oil extraction something that can be done at hobby level? That could be fun!

    Good post!


    • Hey Tim 

      Thanks for dropping by with your comment and glad to provide just a short snippet on the history lesson.

      As for the book list I checked it out and it works so not sure why you can’t get there as it is certainly working this side. Perhaps you may need to refresh your browser and try again.

      As for currency Frankincense  what a highly valuable possesion and you can read on my other post on What is Frankincense   At once time is was more highly valued than Gold and as you would be aware was also a gift given the the Christ Child Jesus at his birth along with Myrrh and Gold. So yes it was used a currency even solders at times were paid instead of regular currency at times.

      For Oil extraction it probably would be better to purchase the oil not only for some places such as Frankincense are located in certain areas and is not a normal plant or tree to grow. Plus to extract some oils you need a high amount like Rose oil can take 1000’s or petals to produce 5 ml of oil not to mention the various methods of which cold pressing is best.

      However you do have other oils which can easily be extracted such as lemons, other citrus fruits but learning the right way to do this first is the best option.

      Thank you for the visit much appreciated.



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