Fragrance Oil Versus Essential Oil - What's The Difference?

Fragrance Oil Versus Essential Oil - What's The Difference?

There are quite a few fragrance buzzwords out there. You may see terms like “essential oils” or “synthetics” but may not be sure what the differences are. Don’t worry, we are here to clarify for you.

With so many fragrance options available today (perfumers often work with up to 5,000 ingredients), figuring out which is best can be daunting. It starts with knowing the difference between the three primary fragrance types and their respective benefits - essential oils, natural fragrance and isolates, and synthetic fragrance oils. Below we will define what each of these fragrance groups are, and when they are best used!

ESSENTIAL OILS: Essential oils are made from natural plant materials which are normally extracted through steam distillation or by pressing of the plant materials. Essential oils are completely natural, derived from natural ingredients and can be declared 100% natural and pure so long as there are no other ingredients in the essential oil.

NATURAL ISOLATES: This type of fragrance is made from natural isolates. You can make 100% natural fragrances by extracting isolates from essential oils, plant, and flower materials. When you use natural isolates, you can create fragrances that aren't necessarily found in nature but can create complex and sophisticated notes by layering many natural isolates together. This allows you to create a fragrance that has top, middle, and base notes (we’ll explain more about those in a future blog) and more depth than an essential oil. You can still make the claim that your fragrance is a hundred percent natural when using only natural isolates.

NATURAL DERIVED FRAGRANCE: Naturally derived fragrance is made from natural materials that are extracted using a solvent like alcohol. Since alcohol is used to extract the fragrance, these aren't classified as 100% natural by most standards since they are considered to have been contaminated by the alcohol solvent.

SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCE: There are many types of synthetic materials that are used in perfumery. In fact, there are anywhere from two thousand to five thousand different ingredients available to a perfumer at any given time - that's a lot to work with. Synthetics are man-made and as such perfumers can create types of fragrances that just simply cannot be found in nature, for example the 'essence of ocean air' or an idea of a familiar scent that may not necessarily be naturally derived.


When it comes to candles and home fragrances, the answer is whichever you prefer! A good candle maker should be able to show you the Safety Data for each of their fragrances so you know that it is compliant with the safety standards set out by IFRA. The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) is the global representative body of the fragrance industry. It seeks to represent the collective interests of the industry and promote the safe use of fragrances. 

At The Oasis Candle Co. we use a mix of essential oils, natural derived oils and synthetic fragrance oils which are all paraben free and of the highest quality. We source our oils from trusted suppliers in the UK and the US where strict IFRA regulations apply on the structure and usage of fragrance.

Naturals and essential oils will sometimes have less fragrance throw as their structure isn’t as stable as synthetic oils. This is something that we are extremely mindful of which is why we use different types of oils and why we always test extensively before bringing a new candle to market.

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