What Are Essential Oils and Their Aromatic Compounds, Exactly? Here’s What You Need to Know

aromatic compounds

Aromatherapy, essential oils, diffusers–you may be familiar with these words or heard of them. You’ve probably avoided them because you thought they were a fad or hocus pocus.

But now you’re curious. There is something to essential oils and their aromatic compounds. They do smell nice.

Before you go out and buy a diffuser for every room in the house and a set of oils to go with them, you’ll want to learn more about essential oils, what their benefits are, and where is the best place to get them.

Read on to learn all about essential oils and their aromatic compounds.

What Makes an Oil Essential

All oils are extracted from plants. They can be from the fruit, flowers, bark, roots, leaves, seeds, or pretty much any part of a plant.

Distillation with water and/or steam is a process that extracts most essential oils. Cold pressing extracts essential oils from citrus plants.

You might find it interesting to know that essential oils are not really oils like the kind you might use in your kitchen. They’re not fats. Yet, like other oils, they are easily separated from water and dissolve in oil. We should call these oils what they are, which is volatile aromatic compounds.

The reason people call a specific oil essential is that the purest essence of the plant is harvested and extracted to produce the oil. The oil is concentrated, so you only need a small amount to benefit from its properties.

Still, this doesn’t quite explain the term essential. All I can say is that alchemist during the Renaissance period believed that the oil was extracted from the essential part of the plant, of what performed its most important function. That which represented its essence.

And although it referred to aromatic waters, the term stuck.

What Is a Volatile Aromatic Compound?

They are molecules that come from organic compounds, in this case, plants. They are volatile because they tend to change states quickly, from solid to liquid to gas.

If you open a bottle of essential oil, you’ll smell it right away. A person can detect the potent aroma from a distance because it moves quickly through the air and into your nose.

This volatile property makes essential oils perfect for aromatherapy. Currently, there are over 3,000 types of volatile aromatic compounds.

And there are varieties due to factors such as what time of year growers harvest the plants, where the plants grew, the weather, and the method of extraction. All of these play a part in the quality of an essential oil

How Are Aromatic Compounds or Essential Oils Used?

There are three ways you can use essential oils, as an aromatic, topical and internal.


Aroma is what distinguishes essential oils. So it makes sense that their smell is what they’re used for. They are often added to cleaning products and laundry detergent and used as perfumes.

Many people use diffusers to help penetrate the air with essential oil fragrances.


Many beauty products and body lotions contain aromatic compounds, not only for the aroma, but also for the health benefits for the skin and hair. It’s unsafe to apply some essential oils to the skin unless diluted.


Internal use of aromatic compounds aren’t as popular, but a person can ingest them. Food and drinks contain added essential oils, as do dietary supplements. We all know that food tastes better because of the way it smells.

What Are the Benefits of Essential Oils?

There are an endless amount of benefits to one’s physical, emotional and spiritual health with aromatic compounds. There’s a good chance there are as many benefits as there are oils. Here are some of the most popular essential oils.


Lavender is the most prevalent essential oil. It’s used to help cure a whole list of ailments, including:

  • Headaches
  • Acne
  • Digestive disorders
  • Eczema
  • Nausea
  • Dry skin
  • Blood circulation

Plus, it smells wonderful!


It’s hard to find a cleaning product that doesn’t come with lemon fragrance. It does have antibacterial qualities. It helps with:

  • Oral health
  • Boosting your immune system
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Concentration
  • Mood
  • Gout

Many cleansers contain lemon, and it promotes overall health.


Peppermint is another well-used essential oil. Like lemon, it is antimicrobial. It also aids in alleviating headache, halitosis, muscle aches, mood swings, congested sinuses, hunger, and allergies.

Peppermint can give you a great boost of energy.


Eucalyptus is not only refreshing to smell but has a long list of medicinal properties. This includes helping reduce allergy symptoms, pain, congestion, respiratory problems, and wounds. It can help with hair growth too.

Eucalyptus, like lemon, is great to use in cleaning products.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree essential oil is the number one antibiotic on the list. Not only that, it is anti-inflammatory and antifungal. For this reason, tea tree helps cure acne, eczema, infections, and mold.

As an essential oil, it’s used in toothpaste, deodorant, and other hygiene products. For some, the scent is overwhelming. For others, it’s fresh and appealing.


Chamomile, like many others, is anti-inflammatory.

As an aromatic, it can help with depression, PMS, sleep disorders, anxiety and many other mood disorders. It can also help with digestion, eczema and healing wounds.


Rosemary is most known as a great addition to many dishes. In addition, it can be used as a disinfectant and helps with mood swings, muscle pain, oral health, headaches, infections, and memory.


Not only has a lovely woody scent, it has many healing qualities. It alleviates acne, scarring from injuries, congestion, PMS, pain, anxiety, and headaches.

It can even help reduce wrinkles.


Bergamot has a citrusy aroma and helps with mental health. Many people choose bergamot as an essential antidepressant. It not only reduces emotional stress, but also helps with muscle pain, coughs, digestion, and can be used as a disinfectant.

According to Sara Chana Silverstein, who wrote the book Moodtopia, “using herbs and aromatic compounds is a gentle way to enhance one’s emotional state without having to resort to antidepressants, anti-anxiety pills, or other medications that may have unwanted side effects.”

Ylang Ylang

Many beauty products contain Ylang Ylang. It promotes healthy hair and skin, reduces inflammation, and has an amazing fragrance. It also helps with mood swings blood flow and heart health.

Because so many essential oils help treat similar ailments or have similar health benefits, they are often combined to cover all the bases.

Where Can I Get Aromatic Compounds?

If you’re wondering where to buy essential oils or aromatic compounds, you have a lot of options. Many local health food stores carry them.

You can also get them online, from a particular brand’s website or on Amazon. But, be sure you’re purchasing high-quality aromatic compounds.

For more articles about essential oils, visit our blog.

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