How to cultivate your aroma palette
You and your friends have been talking about wanting to do it for a long time, so you all decide to pitch in and purchase a few different bottles. One friend takes a bottle, pops it open and pours it into a glass. She then takes the glass and swirls it around, taking note of the color, opacity and aroma. The glasses get passed around. Everyone takes notes as they savor each new liquid.
We’re not talking about wine tasting, we’re talking about essential oil smelling. There are similarities between the two as alluded to above, but there are also many factors to essential oil smelling that are unique to the art. Understanding how to properly smell and judge an oil will give you a deeper understanding of aromatherapy and a better idea of how to blend for aromatic purposes. Break out your bottles and get ready to smell like you’ve never smelled before.
This article was inspired by Basenotes.
- Environment: It is important that your environment is free of other aromas. A well ventilated, quiet room with low humidity and normal temperature is the optimal location for smelling EOs. The aroma of an oil can easily interact with other surrounding smells, distorting an oil’s true aroma.
- What you need: Smelling strips are recommended, because smelling straight from the bottle does not allow enough exposure to the aroma of the oil. Basenotes provides specific recommendations for smelling strips or blotters, but we at EG use these.
- The technique: Relax and concentrate. Take short sniffs and evaluate with each new sniff. The first sniff leaves the best impression of an oil’s aroma. It is recommended that you take seven sniffs at most to avoid overexposure. Take note of the aroma of each EO as you go.
- Aroma notes: Taking note of an oil’s aroma helps to commit that aroma to memory. Earthy, balsamic, dry, spicy, sweet, floral are all examples of aroma notes. Write down what an oil reminds you of- champagne, pencil shavings, mulch, grass, candy... You can also visit an oil’s product page to see how EG describes an EO’s aroma.
- Rest your nose: It is possible for your nose to become overwhelmed by constant smelling and undiluted EOs which may result in a headache. To avoid overexposure, take breaks and clear your nose by doing something physical, like jumping jacks. Smelling coffee grounds is another way to clear the palate
- Singles only: In wine tasting, it is recommended that you start with single wines rather than blends to develop your palate faster. The same is true with essential oil smelling. With practice, you will be able to identify a blend’s components just by smelling.
- Time change: As stated before, the first sniff leaves the greatest impression. Over time, an aroma can change. One of the most significant changes is that the aroma will become more subtle as it dissipates. Smelling over time allows the beholder to know an oil’s aroma at every stage. You may also wish to take note of how long an oil’s aroma lasts.
Do you have a technique to smelling essential oils? Let us know in the comments section below!