Fragrance Oils vs Essential Oils: Full Guide

essential oils vs fragrance oils

Essential Oils vs Fragrance Oils

Essential oils and fragrance oils are both widely used and available in the manufacturing of cosmetics, soaps, and candles. However, essential oils and fragrance oils are not exactly the same. What is the difference between fragrance oils and essential oils?

The difference between fragrance oils and essential oils is that essential oils have all-natural origins having been extracted from plants and are created from natural sources, while fragrance oils are manufactured and created synthetically to achieve specific fragrances not available in nature.

essential oils vs fragrance oils

What Are They?

What Are Essential Oils?

You hear a lot about essential oils and their uses in cosmetics, soaps, candles and even potential health benefits. However, the question is… What are essential oils?

Essential oils are compounds, oil scent, and flavor extracted from plants. Essential oils are made through a distillation process or mechanical methods like processing. When an aromatic chemical is obtained, they are mixed with a carrier oil, making the oil ready for use.

Pros Of Essential Oils

  • All-natural origins
  • Less chemicals
  • Natural scents

Cons Of Essential Oils

  • Weak fragrance
  • High cost
  • Limited gragrances

Outstanding aromatic compounds extracted from these plants offer essential oils a certain scent. Essential oils are regularly used as a medicine to support well-being and good health.

The method for obtaining essential oil is key since chemical processes for obtaining oil produce fake essential oils. There are more than ninety different types of essential oils. Each essential oil has a unique sell.

Types Of Essential Oils

  • Lavender
  • Bergamot
  • Sandalwood
  • Rose
  • Peppermint
  • Lemon
  • Chamomile
  • Rose
  • Jasmine

What Are Fragrance Oils?

Fragrance oils are popular in cosmetics, soaps, and candles because they can produce fragrances that are not otherwise possible naturally. What are fragrance oils?

Fragrance oils are synthetic oils manufactured in a lab by mixing aroma chemicals and natural ingredients. They are mixed essential oils or synthetic aroma compounds diluted using a carrier like vegetable oil, mineral oil, or propylene glycol.

Pros Of Fragrance Oils

  • Less expensive
  • Stronger scent
  • More options

Cons Of Fragrance Oils

  • Can contain chemicals
  • Can be irritating to breathe
  • Can cause discoloration

For sensitive individuals, synthetic oils are slightly not desirable compared to essential oils as a perfume component. Societies primarily use these oils to eliminate many volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

A few of these organic compounds are considered very harmful, though the synthetic version is highly comparable.

Fragrance oils are used in cosmetics, flavoring, food, and perfumery.

Types Of Fragrance Oils

  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon
  • Rosehip
  • Peppermint
  • Mandarin Orange
  • Ylang ylang
  • Cedarwood
  • Lemongrass

How Are They Made

How Are Essential Oils Made?

Essential oils contain a strong hydrophobic liquid with VOCs obtained from plants. Essential oil is necessary since it has the flavor of the fragrance of the plant. The word “essential” used in the name essential oils doesn’t refer to being usable or indispensable by one’s body. How are essential oils made?

Essential oils are made by pressing or steam distillation of plants, bark, leaves, or flowers to extract natural compounds that produce fragrance. These compounds are then combined with neutral carrier oils to make what we know as essential oils.

Essential oils can also be called volatile oils, aetheroleum, or ethereal oils.

Essential oils are obtained through distillation, often with steam. Other methods include solvent extraction, absolute oil extraction, wax embedding, expression, cold pressing, and resin tapping.

They are applied in cosmetics, soaps and perfumes, and other products, like flavoring drinks and food and adding fragrance to home cleaning products.

Essential oils are not like fragrance, perfume, and more.

Essential oils are fetched from plants. They are used as an alternative for aromatherapy which its healing is enhanced by aromatic compounds. Wrong use of essential oils leads to allergic reactions and skin irritation.

How Are Fragrance Oils Made?

While some people view fragrance oils as inferior to essential oils, fragrance oils can have long-lasting and strong aromas comparable to essential oils. How are fragrance oils made?

Fragrance oils are synthetic compounds made by designers in a process where designers choose aromatic chemical compounds or essential oils which can combine to create artificial fragrances. They determine the quantity of every ingredient in order to create the desired fragrance.

For instance, a scent inspired by spending summer around the beach will have light, uplifting and refreshing ideal aromatic compounds.

Some natural and artificial ingredients commonly used to produce fragrance oils include alcohols, absolutes, carrier oils, aldehydes, resins, ester, and essential oils. Nevertheless, certain fragrance oils may not necessarily be entirely volatile or natural.

Fragrance oils can either be fully synthetic or contain up to 80% of essential oils.

Essential Oil and Fragrance Oil Uses

What Are Essential Oils Used for?

Essential oils have many useful applications and you often hear about the possible health benefits they provide, in addition to their uses in cosmetics and candle making. Let’s take a look at some specific uses of essential oils. What are essential oils used for?

Essential oils are used in aromatherapy, cosmetics, soap making, and candle making. Essential oils are popular in reed diffusers, wax melts, soap, body wash, shampoos and conditioners, and making scented candles. Essential oils also have some antibacterial properties.

When you apply essential oils to your skin, certain chemicals are absorbed.

Some application methods are used to enhance absorption; they include applying essential oils on various parts of the body or using heat. However, no proper research has been conducted in this area.

Inhalation of scents from essential oils may stimulate some places like parts of your brain, such as the limbic system. The limbic system controls emotions, sense of smell, long-term memory, and behaviors.

The limbic system mainly regulates emotions and the formation of memories. When a person inhales essential oils, their emotions and memories become triggered.

The limbic system also controls various unconscious physiological functions, like heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. Essential oils may be considered to have a physical effect on an individual’s body, though it is not yet confirmed.

What Are Fragrance Oils Used for?

Fragrance oils are safe for the body and can also be included in soaps, shampoos, perfumes, cosmetics, and many more products that must contact an individual’s hair or skin. Let’s take a closer look. What are fragrance oils used for?

Fragrance oils are used in different products such as household cleaning products, scented candles, air fresheners, vaporizers, and room sprays. When used in these products, they produce a distinctive, pleasant smell or allow them to dissolve pleasant aromas.

Fragrance oils may consist of single or double essential oils, and others can have even more. Nevertheless, the same combination always produces similar scents.

Changing the amount of each oil may alter the final smell, hence creating a more original scent compared to others.

Essential Oil and Fragrance Oil Cost

How Expensive Are Essential Oils?

While you buy essential oils, it is common to get relatively expensive and huge differences among different brands. If you are new to shopping for essential oils, you might be intimidated by the cost difference among various essential oil suppliers. How expensive are essential oils?

Essential oils cost between $2 and $15 per ounce. Depending on which essential oil you are considering, the region the plants grow, and the rarity of the plant. In addition, it can take several pounds of material to make 1 oz of essential oils.

In most cases, a new essential oil user goes for the cheapest or may keep blind trust in companies that offer pure essential oils. You can use one of these ways. However, most cheap essential oils don’t have the same quality.

The question is, why are essential oils expensive? Why do they vary so much in their prices? Should I buy costly or cheap essential oils?

Essential oil prices can vary between different species and their therapeutic benefit as well as safety precautions. Always review the botanical name of essential oil before purchasing.

What makes essential oils so expensive

  • Extraction method
  • Cost of growing and harvesting
  • Parts of the plant where it has been extracted
  • The oil yields
  • Labels and packaging
  • Companies and distributors
  • The size and quantity purchased
  • Essential oils demand and supply

Considering all these factors, the price of essential oil may be relatively expensive or cheaper.

Additionally, essential oils are generally more expensive than fragrance oils since it takes a large amount of plant material to obtain only a tiny amount of essential oils. For instance, it may take almost one thousand roses only to get a single drop of essential oil.

How Expensive Are Fragrance Oils?

Since there are various synthetic aroma chemicals and essential oils used to produce the fragrance oils, the cost of each fragrance oil is different. How expensive are fragrance oils?

Fragrance oils cost between $2 and $5 per ounce. Depending on which fragrance oil you are looking for, and if it contains essential oils, fragrance oils are more affordable than essential oils. They are easier to produce because they are synthetically produced.

When fragrance oils contain many essential oils or outstanding aroma chemicals, the cost will be relatively higher.

Because its components determine the price of the fragrance oil, a fragrance oil with elegant, complex fragrances becomes much more expensive.

Complex fragrances are not easy to develop; hence the price of the fragrance oils can go up depending on its development method. The quality of the fragrance also affects the pricing; high-performing fragrance oils tend to be more expensive.

Fragrance oils may become less expensive because the capability to manufacture and extract is not essential.

Shelf Life

What Is the Shelf Life of Essential Oils?

Many fragrance oils have a shelf life, though the shelf life duration varies depending on the type of oil. Here are some of the variations in essential oils shelf life.

What is the shelf life of essential oils?

  • One to two years. For example, Lemon, lime, and grapefruit.
  • Two to three years. For example, Black pepper, bergamot, and catnip.
  • Three or four years. For example, Cinnamon Cassia, carrot seed, and clary sage.
  • Four to five years. For example, Palmarosa, Amyris, and blue tansy.
  • Six to eight years. For example, Patchouli, vetiver, and Buddha wood.

What Is the Shelf Life of Fragrance Oils?

You do not get as much variation in the shelf life of fragrance oils. In addition, I would suggest not even ordering fragrance oils if you are not sure you will have them used within the next six months.

Part of this reason is that you do not know how old they were when you bought them. What is the shelf life of fragrance oils?

Fragrance oils have a shelf life of about two years if they have been sealed and stored properly. This may vary slightly depending on what the oil is, however, only order fragrance oils you think you can use within a 6 month period because you do not know when they were produced.

If you store your fragrance oil well, it can have a shelf life of up to two years. You can record the date you got the oil for easy estimation.

It is not advisable to keep the bottle slightly full since it will react with the oxygen present in the bottle and oxidize. To avoid oxidation, transfer the fragrance oil to reduce the amount of oxygen in the bottle.

Safety of Using Fragrance Oils

Like anything else, fragrance oils and essential oils can be dangerous if they are not used properly.

How to safely use fragrance oils

  • Keep it away from pets and children since it is highly toxic if swallowed.
  • Don’t smoke when near them because they are highly flammable.
  • Do not eat or drink fragrance oils.
  • Don’t use fragrance oils in vaping.
  • Always check the SDS to make sure you use the correct amount.

What Type of Oil is Used in Candles?

You can find a variety of oils and blends used in candles. This is dependant on what the manufacturer is wanting to produce and the fragrance they are trying to use in their scented candles. What type of oil is used in candles?

Fragrance oil is the most common type of oil used in scented candles. This is due to the variety of fragrances and because it is much more affordable when producing making candles. However, essential oil candles do exist, they are just much more expensive.

We mainly use a blend of fragrance and essential oils. The primary requirement for a candle fragrance is to be phthalate-free. Phthalate is found primarily in fragrance oils, hence making fragrance oils best for use in candles.

It is not yet clear what amount of phthalate is needed since it causes health issues. It is not yet proven that they cannot cause a risk.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are fragrance oils stronger than essential oils?

Fragrance oils can have a stronger scent than essential oils. This is because fragrance oils are designed to have strong smells and essential oils are natural. However, this can vary depending on the fragrance oil and the type of essential oil you are putting it up against.

Is it better to use fragrance oils or essential oils for candles?

If you want the strongest scent possible, use fragrance oils. If you want an all-natural candle with an all-natural oil giving the candle its scent, then use essential oils. However, both can be great options.

Can I mix fragrance oils and essential oils?

You can mix fragrance oils and essential oils to design your own fragrance. Keep track of what you are mixing and how much you are mixing and you can design your own specific candle scent.


In conclusion, fragrance oils and essential oils both have their uses. In addition, they also come with their own pros and cons. Fragrance oils dominate the scented candle market because of their affordability and variety of fragrances.

However, essential oil candles also have their fans, but the candles will be much more expensive.

I enjoy both types of candles and use them both regularly, it just depends on what fragrance I am in the mood for. With that said, around the holidays nearly all of the scented candles I use are made with fragrance oils because of all of the great holiday fragrances that are available.

Fragrance oils vs essential oils

Carl Adamson

Hi, I'm Carl Adamson, one of the founders here at Candleers. A few years ago I got really into the art and craft of candle making, initially with soy wax container candles. My friends started asking me to make candles for them and pretty soon it turned into a nice side-business. I started this website as a way to document what I've learned over the past few years and hopefully help others in the process. I still love candle making but I'm learning that what I enjoy even more is the business side of things - and for this reason I've started consulting others on how to start and grow their own candle-making businesses and side-hustles.

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