Essential Oil Terminologies You Need To Know

March 24, 2019


What are Essential Oil Definition(s) It’s no surprise that when we discover a niche of products or services, we can be a little overwhelmed with the new words and terminology.

We all want to get the best products or service possible, but when we don’t always understand the jargon, we put the future of our purchases and decisions into the hands of luck. 


Lucky for you, we have a compressed list of words and terms that will help you navigate your decisions when it comes to aromatherapy and essential oils.

This list below gives you the runaround of Essential Oil Definition(s) and Terminology You Need To Know to help keep you out of the dark.

But First, What Are Essential Oils?


Essential Oils are volatile, aromatic, non-water soluble molecules collected by temperature regulated steam distillation. Many people don’t know this, but essential oils are not actually oils. A better Essential Oil definition would be an aromatic plant essence. The term “oil”  was coined back in the days of Alchemy when anything that did not mix with water was an oil. Essential oils can be extracted using different parts of the plant such as flowers, stems, leaves, seeds, roots, bark, resin, etc. 

The powerful aroma of essential oils are aromatic compounds that change quickly from a solid or liquid state to gas when at room temperature. When you smell lavender flowers, you are smelling the volatile essential oils that have changed to a gaseous form. The typical amount of essential oil produced from a distillation batch can average about 1%  or less. This is why some oils can be very expensive, especially if they are difficult to grow or cultivate in large quantities.

What affects the quality of essential oils?

Region, weather, season, time of day and method of distillation are only a few of the many factors that determine the overall quality of essential oils and the concentration levels of its constituents. Today, essential oils are used widely for emotional and physical wellness. It’s more and more commonly being accepted as complementary medicine to western healthcare.


Absolute Oil

Although absolute oils are similar to essential oils, they are extracted using a solvent as opposed to steam distillation. The solvent extraction is a multi-step process that typically uses petrochemicals, hexane, and ethanol. A bottle of essential oil that has been extracted with hexane/ethanol can contain about 1-5% of ethanol and traces of hexane which have been known to cause irritation to people with sensitivities. This method of extraction is still used today because it can yield a higher percentage of essential oil as opposed to traditional steam distillation, saving production costs for more expensive and delicate botanicals such as rose or vanilla as a means to make them more affordable.

NOTE: XinerQi only uses a clean extraction process also known as (Supercritical CO2). This is a superior form of extraction that does not use chemicals and remains completely pure in the final product. This form of extraction is labor intensive and yields a lower percentage, but the quality remains superior.


A natural or artificial substance found within an essential oil that was added before or after distillation. This is an unfortunate, yet common practice used among many companies to help cut costs.

NOTE: XinerQi’s essential oils are never diluted or mixed with additives and are GC/MS tested  to validate their chemical compositions.


The therapeutic art and science of using extracted aromatic plant essences to help increase cognitive function, bodily health, and mood. Aromatherapy is a natural and non-invasive treatment system that can be used as both a preventative and active treatment for ailments and discomforts. Its purpose is to assist the body’s natural ability to balance, regulate, heal and maintain itself. The term aromatherapy was coined by Rene Maurice Gattefosse in 1928. The practice since then, has encompassed human pathology and the treatment of different conditions, both emotional and physical.

Botanical Name

Is a scientific name that identifies the genus and species of the plant, followed by a particular chemotype or variety of that species if such varieties exist. In the case of essential oils, the names are in Latin. The genus name will be labeled first and species second, and if applicable, chemotype as the third.


Essential oil chemotypes are extracted from plants that belong to the same genus and species but may have different therapeutic properties due to the presence of different chemical components. Climate, altitude or soil in which the plants are grown may yield a higher or lower concentration of specific constituents.


The method or device of dispersing aromatic essential oil molecules into the air.
There are 4 commonly known types of Essential Oil diffusers:

  • Nebulizing Diffusers
  • Ultrasonic or Humidifying Diffusers
  • Evaporative Diffusers
  • Heat Diffusers


To thin or weaken the concentration of a liquid. For essential oils, this can be easily done by mixing a ratio of pure essential oil with a carrier oil.


A method used to separate the essential oil from plant biomass using only steam.


Also referred to as cold pressing, is a heatless method of extraction specific to citrus essential oils, such as tangerine, bergamot, lime, sweet orange, wild orange, lemon.

GC/MS Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer)

A diagnostic method used by chemists to identify the characteristics of a substance. GC/MS testing is used to classify the chemical makeup of essential oils, verifying purity and quality. This process allows us to identify if an essential oil has been diluted, contaminated or mixed with synthetic additives.

NMR Spectroscopy or Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS)

NMR spectroscopy or magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), most commonly known as Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, is a technique used to observe local magnetic fields around atomic nuclei. This allows scientists to access details of the electronic structure of a molecule and its individual functional groups. Biochemists use NMR to identify proteins and other complex molecules. It is also used to provide detailed information about the structure, dynamics, reaction state, and chemical environment of molecules.


To apply the essential oil topically without dilution.

e.g. “In some cases, you can apply Helichrysum oil on your skin “neat”.”


When oxygen, light or heat interacts with essential oils, it causes the chemical components to deteriorate over time. When the oil oxidizes, it alters the odor of the oil and degrades its therapeutic properties. Oxidation can make the oil slightly toxic, increasing the risk of irritation to the skin.

NOTE: At XinerQi we store our oils in temperature, humidity, and oxygen regulated environment until the day they are shipped in our UV resistant dark glass bottles. This helps extend the shelf life of your oils, giving you more value in each bottle.

Patch Test

A common method used to determine one’s sensitivities to essential oils. To perform a patch test, simply apply a tiny amount of essential oil onto the skin and wait 24 hours to see if there are any skin reactions.


A term used to describe an essential oil’s ability to increase skin sensitivity to sunlight. UV light or harsh conditions are most commonly associated with citrus essential oils. It is recommended to apply sunscreen after dermal application of citrus oil and avoid direct sunlight.

Solvent Extraction

An extraction method that uses food-grade solvents like hexane and/or ethanol to separate essential oils from plant material. Keep in mind, about 1-5% of ethanol and traces of hexane will remain in the essential oil, which has been known to cause irritation to people with sensitivities. This method is usually used on expensive plants and botanical, simply because it provides a higher yield in essential oil.

XinerQi (pronounced: Synergy)

The interaction of botanicals that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements


Having a beneficial effect on the body or mind.

Topical Application

The act of applying a substance onto the skin or dermis.


Substances that easily evaporate at normal temperatures. Undiluted essential oils contain hundreds of complex compounds in which several are susceptible to evaporation. An example would be the dissipation of the aroma of essential oil overtime after applying it onto the skin.

In Conclusion

While there are many other terms that could be discussed in regards to aromatherapy and essential oil definition(s), these are the basics that every beginner should know. Later on, as you start getting into complex terminology, we’ll start discussing qualitative traits that are used to describe the therapeutic properties of essential oil. Words like Antispasmodic, Antineuralgic or Astringent to name a few. But as for today, this is your conclusive list of essential oil terminology that you need to know. A list that everyone can learn. 


If there are aromatherapy or essential oil definition(s) or terms you feel that should have been added in this article, be sure to leave it in a comment below and include the reference that you received it from. 


If you have questions, please contact us at and we would be happy to answer any questions you have. 



  1. Johnathan

    Thank you for this explanation about the meanings for the essential oils

    • Hayley

      Hi Johnathan,

      And thank you for your comment! Have a blessed day!


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