Fragrance Wheel | How to Shop by Scent for Essential Oils You'll Love

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Essential Oils Blog

Shop by Scent: The Fragrance Wheel

Woman smelling a pink roseWith so many amazing essential oils scents to choose from, sometimes narrowing down your favorites can feel a bit overwhelming. After all, how many people really know what essential oils like Cajeput or Vetiver smell like? Fortunately, we’re here to help you make “scents” of it all, with easy-to-use tools like the Plant Therapy Fragrance Wheel.

Want to Narrow Down Your Favorites? Find Your Family with Plant Therapy’s Fragrance Wheel!

Conveniently located on our downloads page, the fragrance wheel lets you view all of our essential oils in one location. Using 10 color categories, it puts each individual scent into a Fragrance Family—Herbal, Medicinal, Floral, Spice, Wood, Fruity, Mint, Foodlike, Earthy or Fresh.

This is key because once you know what a few of your favorite scents are, it’s easy to look up what fragrance family they belong to and use this information as a guide for choosing other options you’ll be happy with. You can also use fragrance family information to help steer you away from scents that are less likely to appeal to you.  

By allowing you to easily locate essential oils with similar scents, fragrance families can save you significant time and money. So let’s get better acquainted with a few star members of each one:

Herbal Family

Juniper Berry essential oilWhen we think of the word herbal, it’s often the spice rack that comes to mind first— conjuring up the smells of homemade meals and familiar favorites like Basil, Dill, Thyme, and Oregano. But as the largest fragrance family on the wheel, this category has a lot of amazing aromas to offer.  

The herbal family is broken down into two categories: fresh and green. Popular options in the fresh category include sweet, calming scents like Basil Essential Oil and Chamomile as well as woody scents like germ-fighting Thyme, to name a few.

Green herbal fragrances include favorites like the uplifting scent of Lemongrass Essential Oil and the soothing scent of Chamomile, often used to ease children and adults into sleep. Lesser-known offerings in the green category include oils like Juniper Berry.  Harvested from the same berry used to make gin, this incredible essential oil is a natural purifier that can also be helpful when diluted and used topically on achy muscles.

Medicinal Family

tea tree essential oil

For many of us, the strong and familiar scents of oils in the medicinal category are synonymous with treating a cough or chest cold, oils like Eucalyptus and Tea Tree.

Take Eucalyptus for example: For many of us, this strong and familiar scent is synonymous with treating a cough or chest cold. It’s also the most widely known essential oil in the medicinal family. Used all over the world to help with respiratory problems, Eucalyptus Essential Oil is also used to support aching muscles and joints and even help stimulate mental focus.

Another very popular option in the medicinal family is Tea Tree Essential Oil. Known primarily for its uses as a skincare ingredient that may help ease irritation and redness, this strong, refreshing scent is often a key ingredient in shampoo and natural home-cleaning products.

Floral Family

plant Therapy lavender essential oilWith so many wonderful floral scents to choose from, narrowing them down to just a few can be a challenge. Fortunately, the fragrance wheel makes it a bit easier by creating two categories: fresh and sweet.  

Fresh florals

Fresh florals are scents that immediately bring flowers to mind. If you close your eyes it’s like standing in a field full of blooms. Scents like Lavender, Rose, and Jasmine are staples for this section of the fragrance wheel.

Let’s start with an option in the fresh category. Lavender is perhaps the world’s best-known essential oil and has been used for centuries to promote feelings of calm and relaxation. These days you’ll find it as a key ingredient in things like lotions, soaps, and shampoos.  It’s also widely used in diffusers and in natural pillow spray recipes to help promote sleep.

Another well-known favorite in the fresh category is Rose Essential Oil. One of the more valuable essential oils, this luxurious scent often requires thousands of kilograms of petals to make just one kilogram of product.

Sweet florals

Oils found in the sweet category are less recognizable as “floral” or “flowery” scents, but just as useful in capturing these beautiful floral scents. Intensely sweet Ylang Ylang Essential Oil, for instance, is perfect for use in perfumes and mixed with a carrier to create a relaxing and romantic massage blend.

Spice Family

ginger rootWith names like black pepper, garlic, allspice, and ginger, offerings in the spice family are often overlooked because people associate these plants with cooking ingredients, not the powerful essential oils they are. Spice scents are chosen for their spicy, warm fragrances and are frequently also recognizable as spices we would use in our kitchen. 

Take Clove Bud Essential Oil, for instance. With a rich, warm scent that smells just like the spice, it can be diluted and used as an effective home cleaner. Diffused, it becomes a tool to help support a healthy immune system. Best of all, when mixed with other oils like sweet orange, cinnamon, and ginger, it creates a cozy blend that conjures up images of crisp autumn days and the holiday season.

Another versatile option in the spice family is Ginger Root Essential Oil. With a strong aroma and fresh, woody lemon scent, it’s traditionally used for its warming properties and to help aid in digestion and stimulate blood flow. It can also be diluted and used topically to help treat the normal muscle and joint pains that accompany aging.  

Wood Family

Vetiver essential oil Plant TherapyPerhaps the least-known of all of the fragrance families, the wood family has some amazing essential oils to choose from for those who gravitate toward the warm scent of trees, bark, and earth. These scents are the ones that bring to mind a freshly-tilled plot of farmland, a quiet forest of pine trees, or the earthy smell of fallen leaves. 

Helichrysum Essential Oil, for instance, is unsurpassed in helping rejuvenate the skin and is effective on all kinds of blemishes. One of the sweeter essential oil scents, it is also believed to help boost normal immune function and soothe away anger and destructive feelings.

Another wood family member worth mentioning is Vetiver Essential Oil.  A root oil with a pleasantly strong scent that is both earthy and smoky, it’s renowned for its ability to bring relaxation and balance and is often used to calm the mind and encourage sleep. Its unique aroma also makes it a popular ingredient in natural perfumes and skin products.

Fruity Family

grapefruit essential oilA favorite among many essential oil users, the fruity family is known for its energizing and uplifting scents.

A favorite among many essential oil users, the fruity family is known for its energizing and uplifting scents. To help further categorize them, these oils are divided into two types—fresh and sweet. The fresh category, in particular, has so many wonderful citrusy offerings that it can be hard to choose just one or two.

To help further categorize them, these oils are divided into two types—fresh and sweet.

Fresh fruity

Let’s start with a great staple for any essential oil user: grapefruit. Cold-pressed from the peel of the fruit, this sweet, tangy scent is renowned for its ability to help brighten your mood and ease mental fatigue. There are even studies like this one that suggest that the scent of Grapefruit Essential Oil may help control appetite

Another popular oil in the fresh category is Lemon Essential Oil.  A fresh, zesty uplifting essential oil that has been used for centuries to revitalize and support a healthy immune system, it’s found in all kinds of natural cleaners and room fresheners.

Sweet Fruity

The sweet category of the fruity family offers some lesser-known but equally as appealing options. Bergamot Essential Oil, for instance, is beloved for its uniquely citrusy floral scent. Vibrant and uplifting, bergamot is often used to help boost the mind and ease worries. It’s also been known to help combat teenage skin problems.

The sweet category also includes one of two chamomile offerings, Chamomile German Essential Oil. Like its Roman counterpart, this oil is well-known for its calming properties and ability to help ease people into sleep with its strong, sweet, herbaceous odor. The German version is also frequently used to help children who struggle with focus.

Mint Family

Peppermint essential oil from Plant TherapyAmong the strongest of essential oil scents, the mint family contains one of the most recognizable smells on the planet—peppermint. As a member of the menthol subcategory, Peppermint Essential Oil has an invigorating scent that has been revered for centuries for its revitalizing properties and is often used to help promote alertness, relieve headaches and calm digestive difficulties. Due to its menthol content, peppermint also has a unique cooling effect that can be soothing on the skin.

The second mint subcategory is warm. It contains another popular scent—spearmint. When diffused, this sweet, uplifting scent may help improve concentration and ease physical tension in the head and neck. Spearmint Essential Oil is also kid-safe and is often diluted and applied to the stomach to help relieve queasiness and/or bloating in children.

Foodlike Family

Plant Therapy's Vanilla essential oilThe foodlike family is small but mighty and includes two familiar favorites, coffee, and vanilla. The highly invigorating and warm scent of Coffee Essential Oil blends wonderfully with essential oils like Cedarwood and Vanilla and is a great way to awaken the senses first thing in the morning. It’s also a common ingredient in natural body scrubs, lotions, and soaps.

The sweet, rich scent of Vanilla Essential Oil is safe for kids, making it a great choice for DIY aromatherapy products like soaps, lotions, and sprays, as well as festive holiday blends. With a warm and inviting aroma, it can also be added to a carrier oil to create sensual blends that help promote relaxation and reduce nervous tension.

Earthy Family

Plant Therapy the Fantastic Franks essential oilSought after since ancient times for its spiritual and therapeutic uses, Frankincense Essential Oil is the most well-known of all of the offerings in the earthy family. Steam-distilled from the tree sap of Boswellia trees, it has a green, balsamic, lemon-wood scent that’s perfect for meditation practices and is known to bring comfort during times of sorrow. It is also used to relieve joint pain, support the immune system and as an ingredient in rejuvenating facial serums and creams.

Myrrh Essential Oil is another offering in the earthy family that dates back thousands of years. Its dry, resinous amber-wood aroma is often used in meditation to create a relaxing and uplifting atmosphere and, when diffused, it can help relieve nervous tension and promote feelings of strength. Like Frankincense, it’s also a prized ingredient in facial products for mature skin.

Green Family

Pinecone on a stumpThe green family is composed of two categories: fresh and earthy. And, anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of smelling a freshly cut Christmas tree can appreciate these offerings. Balsam Fir Essential Oil, for example, has a fresh, evergreen scent that’s not only excellent for holiday blends but has many year-round uses. Added to a carrier oil, it is an excellent choice for calming overworked muscles and joints. Diffused or applied topically to the chest, it can help support a healthy respiratory system. This essential oil is even known to help balance emotions.

In a category all by itself, Carrot Seed Essential Oil is the only offering in the earthy family. With a distinctive scent that is all at once woody, earthy, slightly spicy, strong and herbaceous, it can be diffused to help relieve worry, promote relaxation and aid digestive and respiratory systems. It’s also used in face creams and serums for its ability to help rejuvenate and moisturize tired skin.

Conclusion

The fact is, figuring out what essential oil scents you like best is a fun and enlightening journey. So, whether you use the Plant Therapy Fragrance Wheel, recommendations from friends or just your own instincts, be sure to take your time and really take in the full array of offerings. By being open to essential oil scents that are new or unfamiliar, you just might find some new and unexpected favorites.

128 thoughts on “Shop by Scent: The Fragrance Wheel”

  1. This fragrance wheel is amazing. It has made my ability to be confident in making blends I like much easier. Plus, it has made it much easier to describe oils to my mom when I try to encourage her to buy one, I truly believe she would like and benefit from. I love the educational content of the blogs without the heavy marketing, like I find in other blogs. You rock PT.

  2. Love these educational posts and how they empower us to make better use of our oils (and not buy things we surely won’t like). Thank you, PT!

  3. Wow this is super helpful!! I’m always really confused with what to purchase next. I’m a very tactile person and need to touch and smell. This will certainly come in handy. Thanks Plant Therapy.

  4. Thank you so much for this wonderful tool! It definitely takes me out of the dark in explaining likes and dislikes and should help me in my future choices!

  5. Is there a way to tell what scents compliment each other in a diffuser blend with this wheel? That would be awesome!

  6. Wow thank you so much this is so helpful. Me and my EO buddy always say “ hey I just bought a new EO and it’s so good. It’s so earthy or it’s so fresh “ and then say “ so is it like such n such “ . We are always at a loss for what we are smelling lol . This is an awesome reference for what we are talking about now. I’m sending her a copy too.
    Thanks so much

  7. What a fun way to explore new oils I might “need” 😉 Thank you for also creating a wheel with all Kid Safe oils!

  8. I love scent wheel! That’s so helpful when you’re buying online and aren’t sure about a particular scent!

  9. What a resourceful idea. Sometimes with all the different oils, it gets a little confusing. I really appreciate this and wish you had one that we could purchase.

  10. Thanks for sharing this. Quite interesting to see the groups I tend to gravitate towards. Looks like the oils I have the least of are the woods and greens. Very insightful.

  11. This is a great tool! I look forward to using it while buying new oils. I feel it should help me when I’m really unsure about a oil. Wohoo pt you are awesome!

  12. This is such an awesome idea! Kudos to whomever got this gem together. Sooo much easier on the eyes instead of trying to search for the right oil!

  13. It took me ages of research to figure out what is so simply compiled right here. My only issue is when I try to blend families. I’ve found I adore blending woods and florals, but woods and fruit make me feel icky. I’d also like to say there’s room for the “clean” family. It’s not medicinal, and it’s not herbal. It’s like tea tree by itself. Airy and clean.

    I guess, however, there are going to be different scents that people will argue over where they belong. Sort of how my daughter and I can not agree in if her backpack is green or blue. (We are just pretending it is teal right now.)

  14. This is seriously going to come in handy especially as i try to recreate some of my favorite blends while making them kidsafe! Thanks for this awesome tool

  15. Thank you for this reference. There are a lot of oils that I am curious about, but don’t know if I will like the scent. This seems like a great tool for helping figure it out!

  16. Thank you. Next time I’m in Meridian store will have to get this. I love how it looks . Thank you for the visual , I knew this existed but never thought about getting one, now I do 🙂 .

  17. Thank you for this info! I have been wondering what several of the less common oils smell like, and this helps to give a baseline when comparing to scents I already know. Awesome!

  18. So happy for this wheel! Very helpful as well as the article for the descriptions about each family. Definitely cannot pick a favorite though. Like so many of them

  19. Thank you! This fragrance wheel has helped me determine if I’ll like an oil but also comes in handy for rounding out my collection. I typically gravitate to food-like, spice and citrus oils. I found I really enjoy a lot of woody and green oils too. I may have never tried them at all. I had decided to try some from scent families I didn’t yet have. So glad I did!

  20. Thank you so much for all of the helpful resources you provide! This definitely is very helpful for me to understand what I might like for my next purchase!

  21. Great resource for those of us who know what we like in scents but don’t know what we like in product. Thanks for the help. Now, if you can figure out how to replicate the scent of freshly baked cookies!

  22. This is so interesting! I’ll be sure to refer to the chart to figure out if I’ll love some of hose trickier scents. Thanks for making it easier to get some great oils!

  23. I love this wheel, and I’m glad to see that some of the newer oils have been added to it! I’d love to see one of the synergies it would help tremendously! I wish it were updated a little more often or when it was it had all of the current oils on it, so I would know where they fit in the fragrance wheel though. Overall this is a tremendously helpful tool, especially useful for people like me who tend to go toward more of certain types of scents, since so many oil benefits can be multi purpose or crossover! Thanks for all the great info you publish Plant Therapy!

  24. This was very interesting to read. I did not know that you even had downloads. I am very new to Plant Therapy and I am learning many things about all the oils. I have only used oils for a month now. Thank you for fragrance wheel.

  25. Thank you for the fragrance wheel as well as the constituent chart! You basically read my mind, PT! And this is incredibly generous of you guys to share this wealth of knowledge. Both charts definitely “paint a picture of a thousand words”. Thanks again!

  26. The fragrance wheel is extremely helpful and well well thought outI, I love having this available. I use it mostly to find replacement oils based on scent when trying to copycat a synergy.

  27. I love this wheel, others only divide by 5 or so scents. I look fwd to using this along with the ‘notes’ of each oil. I also like blending within a botanical family.

  28. I finally took the time to really view this wheel and I’m so glad I did. Even though I have many, many oils, there are times when I just don’t have that “one” that goes in to a recipe. This wheel helps me more than I thought it would.

  29. Such helpful information! I will use this next time I am buying oils. It helps give a name to the scents that I do and don’t like

  30. This is a very useful tool for me. I love mixing and blending oils for room sprays and perfumes/deodorants but I’m still a newbie. Laying them out in a graphic helps get to know how they might smell together. Thanks! I love Plant Therapy as a resource.

  31. A very useful tool! I also provided insight to many of the words I see used to describe your blends; words like fruity and woodsy seem more full bodied when able to see single oils that fall in the same category.

  32. I will be downloading this! I bought a book with essential oil chemistry in it. I am learning more about oils, and I bet that the oils in each group have a chemical compound that they are all high in.

  33. I love this article. I wish it and the wheel could be turned into a product that could be sold at Plant Therapy. The first thing I did was print the wheel. It would be great to be able to have a much thicker paper cardboard like laminated wheel that spins with all of this information on it I know that is something I would buy I don’t know that anyone else but I definitely would buy it!

  34. This blog post has a lot of great information but I have to say that wheel is AWESOME. I haven’t seen that before. I’ll definitely be referring to that in the fufure. Thank you!

  35. Thank you for this wonderful tool! I love the wood scents and the florals. There are a couple on here that I wasn’t aware of and I can’t wait to try them. Going to keep this handy for future reference. Thanks!

  36. I have been looking for a guide like this! My husband and I are always talking about what kind of scents we want to invest in along with the other great properties of oils. Thank you for this!

  37. Thanks to this amazing chart I just discovered Yuzu and Davana and they are going on my next order!! Love discovering new oils in my range of favouite scents.

  38. This is super helpful as I’m new to essential oils and a very visual person. I saved this on my phone for reference Thanks!

  39. This was really helpful to have! I have looked at the wheel in the past, but post rally helps me to understand it! I think it will really help me to identify oils want to add to my stash. Thank you for the post and all the information you provided customers!

  40. How cool is this!! I’ve often wished these oils were in a store nearby so that I could sample them all…this really helps!!

  41. FUNtastic article. I enjoyed reading the sample essential oils in each category. Learned a lot. Thank You, Plant Therapy!

  42. I didn’t realize that I like “wood” scents until I saw them classified this way. Thank you for explaining!

    1. Carol, blending takes a lot of personal experimentation to find the mix of oils you like best. The fragrance wheel is a great tool to help you make your decisions but doesn’t give a definitive answer to what any oil blends best with. However, each of our oil’s product pages on our website will give you a list of oils that blend well with certain other oils 🙂

  43. Thank you for sharing this wheel! It is such a good tool to keep. I agree that using essential oil should also be done with instinct, and not only theory read in the books.

  44. I love the fragrance wheel. Every time I purchase an oil I don’t have I put a little dot above the Oil on the wheel . This allows me to see where I have gaps and what oils I can use to substitute if I don’t have that particular oil without having to use my memory or check the oils I own.

  45. This is interesting, and helps me decide which ones to try next! I have no singles in the Green family and apparently love the Wood, Earthy and Fruity groups a lot

  46. I absolutely love this fragrance wheel. It really helps me to narrow down my most favorite scents and to avoid purchasing scents that I might not like! Thanks Plant Therapy!

  47. This year, I decided to organize my oils using this fragrance wheel. And surprisingly discovered that I loved the oils that had a medicinal scent. Who knew? I use this wheel now all the time when I’m experimenting with blends.

  48. I find it interesting that within each family, there are certain oils I love and others that I cant stand. You would think it would be all or nothing, but it’s not the case for me.

  49. This wheel will be an awesome tool to help determine what I will be purchasing in the future. I am fairly new to oils and very unsure of some, and this really helps categorize them for us to pick ones we will like, thanks plant therapy!

  50. So is THIS how the oils are designated by color on the top?! I have always wondered what the colors stand for… This is extremely helpful!

  51. This is great! It would be even better if you had scent strips so one could sample before buying an oil they may not like. Sustainability!

  52. The fragrance wheel definitely helps me determine if I will like a oil. Some oils I debate purchasing them because i’m unsure if I will like them because of the scent. I’ve now saved this wheel in my photo gallery to help next time.

  53. This post was comprehensive and extremely helpful. I was familiar with the fragrance wheel before, but this post helped me read and understand it better. Thank you! I have now added several new oils to my wish list after reading.

  54. I’ve come along this wheel before and had no idea how I can make use of it (I think it was on Pinterest). Now I know what to look after, and this post comes just perfect since yesterday I just realized I miss some Floral and wood family oils I so much want and need to create some personal blends! Now I know what to look after when choosing my oils for my next order!

    I’m also interested in finding more about oil substitutes, since some of the oils, especially the floral ones, are pretty expensive.

  55. I refer to this wheel all the time, especially when I am introducing someone to essential oils and we are trying to figure out what scents the other person does and doesn’t like.

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