For my birthday a friend gave me a set of the aromatherapy oils you can see in the picture to the right. Although I've used aromatherapy oils before - particularly in my bath or in a diffuserto make the room smell nice - I wanted to do something a bit different now that I had a big set of essential oils. So, I came up with an idea for a blind test and invited some friends round to try them out.
Before my friends arrived I wrapped each of the little bottles with a strip of plain white paper to conceal the label, then wrote a number on each bottle. The idea was that we would smell each essential oil in turn, make notes about it and discuss what it smelled like, what effect we thought it would have and so on. I thought this might be a better way of getting to know the oils than just reading about what they were supposed to smell like and what uses they were meant to have.
It was an interesting exercise. A few of the oils were instantly recognisable - particularly lavender, peppermint and orange - but some that should have been easy to identify weren't.
However, the idea behind the blind test wasn't really to try to identify the oils, it was to learn more about them from their smell alone. That was surprising too, as several of them smelled quite different to they way they were described. Marjoram, for example, seemed bitter and astringent to me, whereas the description that came with the set said it was "sweet and spicy".
One that astounded us all was ylang ylang, but I think there might have been something wrong with that particular bottle. Ylang ylang *should* smell sweet and floral, but one that came in the boxed set smelled quite different - in fact we all agreed that we didn't like it. "Underlying notes of cat's pee" was what one woman wrote in her notebook! None of us recognised it before the label was revealed, even though two of us were familiar with ylang ylang from previous uses of essential oils. One of my friends is an experienced aromatherapist who knows what common oils should smell like, while I have a bottle of Boots ylang ylang and patchouli massage oil that is one of my favourites.
After we had all made notes about each one, we took the strips of paper off and revealed the labels underneath, then read up what the official guide said. The box came with short descriptions of each oil and its uses as well as recipes for bath, massage and diffuser blends. After the blind test, my aromatherapist friend demonstrated how to make a massage mixture and gave me a lovely neck and shoulder massage - very relaxing!
It was an interesting exercise and useful for getting familiarised with essential oils. I liked the boxed set itself, which comes with sweet almond carrier oil and empty bottles to put blends in as well as eight essential oils.
I might pop out and replace the ylang ylang with one that smells nicer though.
Relaxing Aromatherapy Oils Starter Kit
Arrullio Rejuvenating Aromatherapy Starter Kit
Arrullio Romancing Aromatherapy Starter Kit
Vital Touch Aromatherapy Burner