As the largest fragrance family on the wheel, herbal scents are divided into two categories:
fresh and green. Fresh herbal scents are the calming, sweeter herbs. Think herbs you might turn
into a creamy cup of tea, like Chamomile, or sweet herbs used to gently add flavor to a dish,
like Basil. Woody Thyme also falls into the fresh category. Green herbals are sharper, brighter
scents that smell fresh, lively and feel crisp.
For many of us, the strong and familiar scents of oils in the medicinal category are synonymous
with treating a cough or chest cold, oils like Eucalyptus and Tea Tree have a strong
camphoraceous scent that can be highly therapeutic. Though strong, most medicinal scents are
also refreshing and help clear the sinuses.
With so many wonderful floral scents to choose from, narrowing them down to just a few can be a
challenge. Fortunately, the fragrance wheel makes it a bit easier by creating two categories:
fresh and sweet. Fresh florals are scents that immediately bring flowers to mind. If you close
your eyes it’s like standing in a field full of blooms. Scents like Lavender, Rose, and Jasmine
are staples for this section of the fragrance wheel. Oils found in the sweet category are less
recognizable as “floral” or “flowery” scents but are just as useful.
With names like black pepper, garlic, allspice, and ginger, the spice scents are often overlooked
because people associate these plants with cooking. Spice scents often come from exotic parts of
the world, usually the Middle and the Far East, and lend a warm, comforting note to any scent
blend. Spice scents also frequently evoke images of crisp fall days, and holiday baked goods.
Perhaps the least-known of all of the fragrance families, the wood family has some amazing
essential oils to choose from for those who gravitate toward the warm scent of trees, bark, and
earth. When you think wood scents, think earthy, warm, dry scents with mossy or leathery notes.
Wood scents often provide a base note to perfumes.
Bright, sharp, juicy and uplifting, fruity scents are a favorite among many essential oil users.
The fruity family is known for its energizing scents. To help further categorize them, these
oils are divided into two types—fresh and sweet. The fresh scents, in particular, have so many
wonderful citrusy offerings that it can be hard to choose just one or two. They range from tangy
Pink Grapefruit to sweet Tangerine. The sweet scents are highly aromatic and tend to be sensual
and rich, like beautiful Jasmine or Ylang Ylang.
Among the strongest of essential oil scents, the mint family contains one of the most
recognizable smells on the planet—peppermint. As a member of the menthol subcategory, Peppermint
Essential Oil has an invigorating scent that has been revered for centuries for its revitalizing
properties. Mint scents are sweet, sharp and refreshing and add an edge to any essential oil
The foodlike family is small but mighty and includes two familiar favorites, coffee, and vanilla.
The highly invigorating and warm scent of coffee essential oil blends wonderfully with essential
oils like Cedarwood, and Vanilla and is a great way to awaken the senses first thing in the
morning. It’s also a common ingredient in natural body scrubs, lotions, and soaps. Both of these
foodlike scents bring a comforting, sweet note to any blend.
Earthy is used to describe an aroma that reminds us of fresh soil. Think mushrooms, the woods
after the rain, a forest floor, and autumn leaves. These scents can include charred wood and
smoky or green notes, and have been sought after for centuries for their therapeutic properties.
Myrrh essential oil is a great earthy scent often used in meditation and can help relieve
nervous tension and promote feelings of strength. Like Frankincense (another earthy essential
oil), it’s also a prized ingredient in facial products for mature skin.
The green family has two categories: fresh and earthy. Anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of
smelling a freshly cut Christmas tree has experienced a green scent firsthand. Balsam Fir
essential oil has a similar fresh, evergreen scent that’s not only excellent for holiday blends
but has many year-round uses. Fresh green scents might remind you of fresh grass, or a new
garden in Spring. Earthy green scents evoke images of freshly tilled soil or leaves in the