Essential Oil Substitution List – Swaps for Five Precious Essential Oils

Rose Absolute featured with fresh roses.

Essential oils are one of the many gifts from nature. Plant material that is expertly distilled and bottled results in a potent scent that can be used in aromatherapy, body care recipes, and for pure enjoyment. But some of these precious essential oils are just that: precious. They can fetch a high price tag for various reasons including the oil content of the botanical or even the extraction method. Pure, quality essential oils, like the ones we sell here at Mountain Rose Herbs, may be slightly more costly but the result is a deeper, richer aroma, and a profound aromatherapeutic benefit. Like a fine wine, you get what you pay for.

Essential Oil Swap Considerations

While there are no exact replacements for a particular fragrance, it is possible to achieve a relatively close scent profile. These recommended scent substitutions are based purely on aroma alone and are my personal suggestions. This list is a good place to start, but I also suggest you do some additional experimentation on your own. Not only is it fun, but it’s a great way to find what works with your personal perfume preferences. When applicable, I’ve also listed constituent and action replacements. Sometimes a particular essential oil is used for its chemical make up or to achieve a specified action. This is helpful if you’re seeking essential oils that can be substituted for their desired therapeutic effects.

While these replacements mimic the aroma of a treasured oil, sometimes a scent substitute just doesn’t cut it. Four of the five oils on our list are available as a roll-on essential oil, providing these precious scents in an attainable and easy-to-use way.

The Precious Essential Oil Swap List

Without further ado, here is the list I’ve complied of essential oil alternatives for five of the most high-priced oils we offer: vanilla absolute, jasmine absolute, helichrysum essential oil, lemon balm essential oil, and Bulgarian rose essential oil. 

Vanilla Absolute SubstituteS


Vanilla absolute is extracted from the pods of Vanilla planifolia, a tropical plant that is increasingly feeling the pressures of climate change and habitat loss. This base note oil is well known for its characteristic warming, rich, and sweet scent.

Recommended Scent Replacements:

    • Benzoin resin oil is a thick and viscous base note oil. Benzoin has resinous and sweet aromas reminiscent of spice and vanilla.
    • Peru balsam essential oil is used for its warming, sweetly balsamic-like scent. Also considered a base note, this thick oil has vanilla-like aromatic undertones.

Benzoin Resin Oil being dropped into a glass bottle of carrier oil.


Jasmine Absolute Substitutes

Heady and sweet, jasmine absolute is often used for its alluring floral aroma. A strikingly unique middle note fragrance, jasmine absolute has no direct scent replacements and is difficult to replicate. However, playing with a combination of essential oils can get you close. I recommend adding either ylang ylang, vetiver, or patchouli essential oil to geranium as a close substitution.

Recommended Scent Replacements:

    • Geranium essential oil is bright with sweet, slightly herbaceous, and enticing floral aromatics. It is often used as a middle note.
    • Ylang ylang essential oil has a rich and intoxicating floral scent. Its tropical, fruity fragrance adds depth when blended with geranium.
    • Vetiver essential oil is a robust, long-lasting, and earthy scent. Its sweet yet woody characteristics pair well with geranium’s floral notes.
    • Patchouli essential oil is rich, warming, and earthy, pairing well with floral scents. Start with blending a drop or two to add depth to geranium when mimicking jasmine.

Recommended Constituent/Action Replacements:

    • Ylang ylang essential oil
    • Patchouli essential oil.

Helichrysum Essential Oil Substitutes

Helichrysum essential oil is another unique scent that is difficult to replace due to its earthy, sweet, and dry floral smells. I recommend blending a combination of clary sage and either bergamot or carrot seed essential oil.

Recommended Scent Replacements:

    • Clary sage essential oil is slightly more herbaceous and less floral than helichrysum but is similar in its earthy and bittersweet floral notes.
    • Carrot seed essential oil has complex middle notes with earthy, warm, and spicy aromatics. It pairs well with clary sage to replicate helichrysum’s mellow, floral fragrance profile.
    • Bergamot essential oil boasts bright and uplifting floral notes. Its underlying citrus spice scent plays well with clary sage to mimic an earthy, yet floral smell.

Recommended Constituent/Action Replacements:


Lemon Balm Essential Oil Substitutes

Lemon balm essential oil has a fresh, herbaceous, citrus fragrance which leaves plenty of room for replacement exploration based on personal preference. Try citrus if looking for a pick-me-up, lemon tea tree, or lemongrass for an herbal lemon aroma, or I find litsea cubeba, sweet marjoram, or coriander to be similar as well.

Recommended Scent Replacements:

    • Lemon essential oil has a bright and uplifting citrusy scent, often used as a pick-me-up, top-note fragrance.
    • Lemon tea tree essential oil is not a blend but a single species of plant in the same family as tea tree oil. Its herbaceous yet uplifting lemon aroma is a close replacement.
    • Lemongrass essential oil is another close substitute for lemon balm and has a similar calming effect.
    • Litsea cubeba essential oil has enticing earthy, spicy, green aromas with a nice lemony top note. Its complexity is reminiscent of lemon balm.
    • Coriander seed essential oil is wonderfully earthy and sweet with a hint of citrus. Try blending this unique fragrance with lemon or lemongrass essential oil.

Recommended Constituent/Action Replacements:

    • Litsea cubeba essential oil
    • Lemon tea tree essential oil.

Lemon, Lemon Tea Tree, and Lemongrass essential oils on lemon slices.

Bulgarian Rose Essential Oil Substitutes

Precious indeed, this steam distilled oil is prized for its sweet, rosy, floral scent.

Recommended Scent Replacements:

    • Rose absolute is solvent extracted using alcohol resulting in a more affordable oil. This middle note has a full-bodied, alluring, rosy fragrance.
    • Geranium essential oil has a bright floral scent and is often utilized as a substitute for rose. Also considered a middle note, it is wise to exercise caution as this oil can be considered overpowering due to its high yield of oil when compared to rose.
    • Palmarosa essential oil has a sweet, floral, geranium-like scent although it is slightly more robust in smell compared to rose.

Recommended Constituent/Action Replacements:

Interested in LEARNING MORE ABOUT BLENDING?

The Art of Blending Essential Oils

You may also enjoy:

Essential Oil Substitution List Blog

 


Topics: Aromatherapy

Christine

Written by Christine on June 2, 2022

As Products Manager, Christine Rice has been working with the botanical goodies at Mountain Rose Herbs for over 14 years. With a Certificate in Aromatherapy from The American College of Healthcare Sciences, she works closely with the essential oils and hydrosols that we offer. She connects with the aromatherapy industry through our National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy business membership and contributes on working committees with The American Herbal Products Association. In addition to her love for aromatics and blending essential oils, Christine can be found gardening and exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She enjoys canning and preserving food, knitting when she has time, and keeps busy with her energetic daughter.


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Essential Oil Substitution List – Swaps for Five Precious Essential Oils

Rose Absolute featured with fresh roses.

Essential oils are one of the many gifts from nature. Plant material that is expertly distilled and bottled results in a potent scent that can be used in aromatherapy, body care recipes, and for pure enjoyment. But some of these precious essential oils are just that: precious. They can fetch a high price tag for various reasons including the oil content of the botanical or even the extraction method. Pure, quality essential oils, like the ones we sell here at Mountain Rose Herbs, may be slightly more costly but the result is a deeper, richer aroma, and a profound aromatherapeutic benefit. Like a fine wine, you get what you pay for.

Essential Oil Swap Considerations

While there are no exact replacements for a particular fragrance, it is possible to achieve a relatively close scent profile. These recommended scent substitutions are based purely on aroma alone and are my personal suggestions. This list is a good place to start, but I also suggest you do some additional experimentation on your own. Not only is it fun, but it’s a great way to find what works with your personal perfume preferences. When applicable, I’ve also listed constituent and action replacements. Sometimes a particular essential oil is used for its chemical make up or to achieve a specified action. This is helpful if you’re seeking essential oils that can be substituted for their desired therapeutic effects.

While these replacements mimic the aroma of a treasured oil, sometimes a scent substitute just doesn’t cut it. Four of the five oils on our list are available as a roll-on essential oil, providing these precious scents in an attainable and easy-to-use way.

The Precious Essential Oil Swap List

Without further ado, here is the list I’ve complied of essential oil alternatives for five of the most high-priced oils we offer: vanilla absolute, jasmine absolute, helichrysum essential oil, lemon balm essential oil, and Bulgarian rose essential oil. 

Vanilla Absolute SubstituteS


Vanilla absolute is extracted from the pods of Vanilla planifolia, a tropical plant that is increasingly feeling the pressures of climate change and habitat loss. This base note oil is well known for its characteristic warming, rich, and sweet scent.

Recommended Scent Replacements:

    • Benzoin resin oil is a thick and viscous base note oil. Benzoin has resinous and sweet aromas reminiscent of spice and vanilla.
    • Peru balsam essential oil is used for its warming, sweetly balsamic-like scent. Also considered a base note, this thick oil has vanilla-like aromatic undertones.

Benzoin Resin Oil being dropped into a glass bottle of carrier oil.


Jasmine Absolute Substitutes

Heady and sweet, jasmine absolute is often used for its alluring floral aroma. A strikingly unique middle note fragrance, jasmine absolute has no direct scent replacements and is difficult to replicate. However, playing with a combination of essential oils can get you close. I recommend adding either ylang ylang, vetiver, or patchouli essential oil to geranium as a close substitution.

Recommended Scent Replacements:

    • Geranium essential oil is bright with sweet, slightly herbaceous, and enticing floral aromatics. It is often used as a middle note.
    • Ylang ylang essential oil has a rich and intoxicating floral scent. Its tropical, fruity fragrance adds depth when blended with geranium.
    • Vetiver essential oil is a robust, long-lasting, and earthy scent. Its sweet yet woody characteristics pair well with geranium’s floral notes.
    • Patchouli essential oil is rich, warming, and earthy, pairing well with floral scents. Start with blending a drop or two to add depth to geranium when mimicking jasmine.

Recommended Constituent/Action Replacements:

    • Ylang ylang essential oil
    • Patchouli essential oil.

Helichrysum Essential Oil Substitutes

Helichrysum essential oil is another unique scent that is difficult to replace due to its earthy, sweet, and dry floral smells. I recommend blending a combination of clary sage and either bergamot or carrot seed essential oil.

Recommended Scent Replacements:

    • Clary sage essential oil is slightly more herbaceous and less floral than helichrysum but is similar in its earthy and bittersweet floral notes.
    • Carrot seed essential oil has complex middle notes with earthy, warm, and spicy aromatics. It pairs well with clary sage to replicate helichrysum’s mellow, floral fragrance profile.
    • Bergamot essential oil boasts bright and uplifting floral notes. Its underlying citrus spice scent plays well with clary sage to mimic an earthy, yet floral smell.

Recommended Constituent/Action Replacements:


Lemon Balm Essential Oil Substitutes

Lemon balm essential oil has a fresh, herbaceous, citrus fragrance which leaves plenty of room for replacement exploration based on personal preference. Try citrus if looking for a pick-me-up, lemon tea tree, or lemongrass for an herbal lemon aroma, or I find litsea cubeba, sweet marjoram, or coriander to be similar as well.

Recommended Scent Replacements:

    • Lemon essential oil has a bright and uplifting citrusy scent, often used as a pick-me-up, top-note fragrance.
    • Lemon tea tree essential oil is not a blend but a single species of plant in the same family as tea tree oil. Its herbaceous yet uplifting lemon aroma is a close replacement.
    • Lemongrass essential oil is another close substitute for lemon balm and has a similar calming effect.
    • Litsea cubeba essential oil has enticing earthy, spicy, green aromas with a nice lemony top note. Its complexity is reminiscent of lemon balm.
    • Coriander seed essential oil is wonderfully earthy and sweet with a hint of citrus. Try blending this unique fragrance with lemon or lemongrass essential oil.

Recommended Constituent/Action Replacements:

    • Litsea cubeba essential oil
    • Lemon tea tree essential oil.

Lemon, Lemon Tea Tree, and Lemongrass essential oils on lemon slices.

Bulgarian Rose Essential Oil Substitutes

Precious indeed, this steam distilled oil is prized for its sweet, rosy, floral scent.

Recommended Scent Replacements:

    • Rose absolute is solvent extracted using alcohol resulting in a more affordable oil. This middle note has a full-bodied, alluring, rosy fragrance.
    • Geranium essential oil has a bright floral scent and is often utilized as a substitute for rose. Also considered a middle note, it is wise to exercise caution as this oil can be considered overpowering due to its high yield of oil when compared to rose.
    • Palmarosa essential oil has a sweet, floral, geranium-like scent although it is slightly more robust in smell compared to rose.

Recommended Constituent/Action Replacements:

Interested in LEARNING MORE ABOUT BLENDING?

The Art of Blending Essential Oils

You may also enjoy:

Essential Oil Substitution List Blog

 


Topics: Aromatherapy

Christine

Written by Christine on June 2, 2022

As Products Manager, Christine Rice has been working with the botanical goodies at Mountain Rose Herbs for over 14 years. With a Certificate in Aromatherapy from The American College of Healthcare Sciences, she works closely with the essential oils and hydrosols that we offer. She connects with the aromatherapy industry through our National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy business membership and contributes on working committees with The American Herbal Products Association. In addition to her love for aromatics and blending essential oils, Christine can be found gardening and exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She enjoys canning and preserving food, knitting when she has time, and keeps busy with her energetic daughter.