Aroma, Scent, Smell, Perfume or Fragrance

What’s the Difference?

Our sense of smell is a wonderfully powerful sense. It can impact our mood or recall a long-dormant memory. It can be evocative or soothing, attractive or intriguing. We perceive the smell of thousands of different types of molecules, they can be either man-made (synthesized) or naturally derived (extracted from plants/animals/minerals).

These molecules directly affect our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual states. These are common terms that define what we are experiencing (definitions from

Aroma: suggests a somewhat penetrating usually pleasant odor. A term used to describe a sensation which is between smell and taste, such as the aroma of coffee.

a distinctive, pervasive, and usually pleasant or savory smell the aroma of freshly-baked bread; broadly: odor

the odor of a wine imparted by the grapes from which it is made – The wine has a fruity aroma.

a distinctive quality or atmosphere: flavor the sweet aroma of success

Odor: may imply a stronger or more readily distinguished scent or it may be equivalent to smell; caused by one or more volatilized chemical compounds, generally at a very low concentration, that humans or other animals perceive by the process of olfaction; odors are also commonly called scents, which can refer to both pleasant and unpleasant odors.

a quality of something that stimulates the olfactory organ: scent

a sensation resulting from adequate stimulation of the olfactory organ: smell

a characteristic or predominant quality: flavor the odor of sanctity

repute, estimation in bad odor

archaic: something that emits a sweet or pleasing scent: perfume

Fragrance: a sweet or delicate odor (as of fresh flowers, pine trees, or perfume)

something (such as a perfume) compounded to give off a sweet or pleasant odor

the quality or state of having a sweet odor

Perfume: the scent of something sweet-smelling

a substance that emits a pleasant odor; especially: a fluid preparation of natural essences (as from plants or animals) or synthetics and a fixative used for scenting

Scent: applies to the characteristic smell given off by a substance, an animal, or a plant.

effluvia from a substance that affect the sense of smell: such as

an odor left by an animal on a surface passed over

a characteristic or particular odor; especially: one that is agreeable

power of smelling: sense of smell a keen scent

power of detection: nose a scent for heresy

a course of pursuit or discovery throw one off the scent

inkling, intimation a scent of trouble


bits of paper dropped in the game of hare and hounds

a mixture prepared for use as a lure in hunting or fishing

Smell: implies solely the sensation without suggestion of quality or character

to perceive the odor or scent of through stimuli affecting the olfactory nerves: get the odor or scent of with the nose

to detect or become aware of as if by the sense of smell – I smell trouble

to emit the odor of

to exercise the sense of smell

to have an odor or scent

to have a characteristic aura or atmosphere: smack

to have an offensive odor: stink

to be of bad or questionable quality

What is Aromatherapy?

A form of alternative medicine that uses volatile plant materials, known as essential oils, and other aromatic compounds for the purpose of altering mind, mood, cognitive function, or physical health. Aromatherapy does not cure conditions but helps the body to find a natural way to cure itself and improve immune response.

Mechanisms of Action:

  1. is the influence of aroma on the brain, especially the limbic system through the olfactory system.
  2. the direct pharmacological effects of the essential oils on the body; oils interact with the glands that excrete hormones and enzymes to cause changes in bodily functions.

Synergy: The interaction or cooperation of two or more substances combined that produce an effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. When combining certain essential oils their synergy can provide a more effective and well-rounded therapy than a single oil.

The Difference Between Aromatherapy & Natural Perfume – by Robin Kielkowski August 08, 2017

Aromatherapy and natural perfume have similarities but there are differences in purpose and in some of the ingredients. Aromatherapy is the therapeutic application of aromatic essences (essential oils) for health and healing. This holistic practice encompasses the whole body, mind and spirit. The use of essential oils goes back in history, long before current medical therapies were available.

Natural perfumers use many of the same essential oils but the focus is on making something that smells great! Ingredients include essential oils as well as absolutes and CO2 extracts. Absolutes and CO2s are aromatic essences extracted using techniques different than those used to extract essential oils. Some of the oils used by natural perfumers have limited therapeutic value but add nuance to a fragrance.

Natural fragrances are ‘aged’ to smooth and bring out their uniqueness. Because of the volatile (evaporative) nature of oils, creating a natural fragrance that lasts after application requires thoughtful formulation. The natural perfumer will often use oils that have fixative properties. These fixatives not only provide long-lasting fragrance, they also give the total blend more staying-power.

What’s The Difference Between Essential Oils And Fragrances? (

As more people continue to uncover the power of aromatherapy, fragrance oils are sometimes confused with essential oils. To understand the difference, we can simply look at how each is produced. Fragrance oils are synthetically made and lack the volatile components of essential oils. Rich with effective properties, essential oils are extracted from plant parts through steam distillation or are cold-pressed. Some fragrance oils do contain a small fraction of essential oil but the essential oil is adulterated and diluted.

Used in perfumes, colognes and personal care products, the term “fragrance” on various products includes phthalates, which has been linked to a swath of health concerns such as cancer and obesity. According to the EWG, the average fragrance contains 14 chemicals not listed on the label. When sprayed or applied, many of these undisclosed chemicals are inhaled and absorbed through the skin. Over time, the chemicals accumulate in the body and result in health issues.

AROMA CHEMICALS: Molecules obtained from natural products or made by synthetic organic chemistry that have an aroma. Most of the synthetic aroma chemicals are nature identical, i.e., identical to the same molecule obtained from a natural product.

AROMA-CHOLOGY: A term coined by The Fragrance Foundation to describe the interrelationship between psychology and the latest in fragrance technology to elicit a variety of specific feelings and emotions.

The Difference Between a Botanical Family and a Fragrance Family (

Here’s a quick look at defining both botanical families and fragrance families for aromatherapy and perfumery:

Botanical Family defines a group of plants that share common botanical features and, in the case of aromatherapy, therapeutic properties. Aromatherapists learn the common traits of each botanical family that produces aromatic plants (and essential oils) so that they become familiar with making suggestions for alternative essential oils with similar properties.

Fragrance Family defines a group of scents (or chemical components) of plants (or synthetic components) that share similar aromas. Perfumery concentrates on the note and scent of an essential oil in comparison to the overriding notion of a therapeutic property for aromatherapy purposes; in addition to essential oils, a perfume may be made up absolutes, extracts, and/or artificial aromas and substances.

Aroma Compound: also known as an odorant, aroma, fragrance, or flavor, is a chemical compound that has a smell or odor. A chemical compound has a smell or odor when it is sufficiently volatile to be transported to the olfactory system in the upper part of the nose.

Generally, molecules meeting this specification have molecular weights of <300. Flavors affect both the sense of taste and smell, whereas fragrances affect only smell. Flavors tend to be naturally occurring, and fragrances tend to be synthetic.

Aroma compounds can be found in food, wine, spices, floral scent, perfumes, fragrance oils, and essential oils. For example, many form biochemically during the ripening of fruits and other crops. In wines, most form as byproducts of fermentation. Also, many of the aroma compounds play a significant role in the production of flavorants, which are used in the food service industry to flavor, improve, and generally increase the appeal of their products.

Coffee Aroma vs. Coffee Fragrance: What’s the Difference? (

Fragrance:  A fragrance is simply the unit of smell or the scent of something. When you smell something, fragrance enables you to say, “Oh, that smells like coffee.”  When referencing coffee specifically, dry coffee grounds have fragrance. Add water to the coffee and Shazam!—You now have aroma.

Aroma: The aroma of something is more encompassing.  It’s not just scent.  It’s also the flavor and mouthfeel. Though they are similar in some aspects fragrance and aroma are different, especially when revealed during a cupping.

Fragrance vs. Aroma: Scent, or fragrance, is processed one way through our noses. Aroma is processed two ways through our nose as well as retronasally. Retronasal is when a smell is first processed via your taste buds. When you slurp coffee, the aromas then drift up and the smell receptors in your nose add the scent to the flavor to produce an aromatic profile.

Why EVERYONE Should Avoid Fragrances

The Side Effects of Synthetic Scents (

The dangers of synthetic scents aren’t always evident, but we have the science to prove that everyone, regardless of age or health, needs to make avoiding fake fragrances a major priority.

A National Academy of Sciences points out some vital facts: About 95 percent of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum (crude oil). They include benzene derivatives (carcinogenic), aldehydes, toluene and many other known toxic chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions.

Some of the worst toxic ingredients used in lotions, shampoos, laundry detergents, cleaning products and so much more include synthetic scents, often listed as on labels as the elusive “fragrance.” And many on the list are known or suspected endocrine disruptors, compounds that tinker with hormonal health that can trigger weight gain and even set you up for diseases decades down the line.

When a company puts “fragrance” on the label, don’t be tricked. This is a catch-all term actually can stand for thousands of different ingredients (literally, at least 3,000). And when you use a product containing “fragrance” or “parfum,” all of those mysterious ingredients are absorbed right into your bloodstream. These ingredients are predominantly made from chemicals and are just outright toxic for your health in so many ways.

Serious Dangers of Synthetic Scents

  • According to the Breast Cancer Fund, when it comes to the prevention of cancer, avoiding synthetic fragrance is one of the main ways to help yourself. That’s because the dangers of synthetic scents include hormone-disrupting phthalates and synthetic musks.
  • Styrene is found in cigarette smoke and car exhaust. Doesn’t sound like it would smell too good, but shockingly, it’s actually being used in cosmetic sprays and liquids as well as cleaning products.
  • Phthalates are another group of chemicals often disguised as “fragrance.” They are connected to cancer, endocrine disruption as well as developmental and reproductive toxicity.
  • Research conducted by Dr. Philip J. Landrigan of the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center demonstrates that fetal exposure to phthalates is linked to autism, symptoms of ADHD and neurological disorders.
  • These dangerous synthetics are already banned from cosmetics in the European Union but are still quite common in products produced and sold in the United States. Phthalates often hide under the “fragrance” ingredient, but they can also appear on ingredient lists as phthalate, DEP, DBP, and DEHP.
  • Fragrances are one of the top five allergens in the world. Allergic reactions include headaches and migraines, difficulty breathing and sinus irritation, just to name a few. Fragrance mixtures also commonly trigger contact dermatitis, a type of allergic skin reaction.
  • It’s extremely common for asthmatics to suffer health symptoms when exposed to perfumes, colognes and other scented products, especially when they contain artificial scents.

Why Use Essential Oils Instead?

Essential oils are natural chemical compounds that are extracted by water (steam) or expression (pressure). There are no chemicals used in acquiring these compounds.  Highly concentrated plant cell extracts or aromas; all have aromatic principles. They are essential because they are essential to the plants survival and function in its environment.

They are extracted from a plant’s fruits, flowers, leaves, stalks, bark, rind, or roots. Mixed with a carrier (such as water, oil, alcohol, or lotion), and then put on or applied to the skin, sprayed or diffused into the air, or inhaled from a tissue or cloth. Because they are naturally occurring molecules they help the body by nourishing it instead of poisoning it with synthesized toxins that interrupt or hinder normal bodily functions.

This is why uses only the purest, unadulterated raw ingredients and essential oils when hand blending her products fresh to order. Find yours here.




Leave a Reply