The aromatic application is the most widely known and used. Most of us understand that essential oils smell good and can be used as deodorizer or to freshen up the home.
But there is more to aromatic applications than just smelling good.
In the same way that harmful compounds, such as chemical cleaners or gases can be absorbed into our blood stream through inhalation, so can the positive properties of essential oils. Essential oils are also processed by the olfactory bulb and the limbic system, the same system that processes thoughts, memories, and emotions, which can help us feel calm, encouraged, and so on.
Aromatic application can:
Be nurturing to the respiratory system, including the sinuses.
Have a supportive affect on moods, the hormonal system, tension, etc.
Increase indoor air quality or help protect against environmental threats.
And the positive compounds and their properties, once within our blood stream, can encourage our immune system response or promote well-being in a multitude of ways.
This is because the "aroma" you breathe is actually a fine mist or vapor of the oil, containing all the same properties of the oil itself. And it is due to the fact that the olfactory system is closely connected to the limbic system of the brain that essential oils have such a positive affect on the physical and psychological systems of the body.
Here's how to use essential oils with aromatic applications:
Diffusing: A good diffuser should use cool or room temperature air or ultrasonic vibrations to diffuse the oil into the air, which help the oil molecules remain air-bound for several more hours and do not affect the structure of the oil through heat, which can diminish the quality of the oil.
Direct Inhalation: Directly inhaling the oil can be done by holding the bottle of essential oil a few inches from the nose and breathing in the aroma, or by adding a drop the the hands and cupping them over the mouth and nose. (For example, using this technique can be used with grounding or calming oils.) It is important to note that constantly opening and closing your bottle does exposure it to air and increase the oxidation rate, so diffusing is not only better for your bottle of oil, but you would likely use less throughout the day too. Some oils, such as Oregano or Cinnamon, should also be diluted before direct inhalation.
Indirect Inhalation: Adding a drop to a handkerchief, cotton ball, small square of fabric, shirt collar, hair, pillow case, etc can all be beneficial. (Try this with Vetiver when you want to promote deeper sleep!)
Hot Water Vapor/Steam Tent: Heat a pot of water (not boiling), add 1-3 drops of essential oil, place a towel over your head while leaning over the water, and inhale the steam. (For example, try this with Eucalyptus for respiratory health.)
Humidifier: Just like a diffuser, cool air humidifiers are best. Be aware that essential oils can damage plastic components over time, so choosing one made for essential oils is best. (Try a purifying oil to clean the air.)
Fan, Vent, Etc: Just like with the indirect inhalation, you can add the oil to cloth and place it in a vent or even in front of a fan. (A good use for this is Peppermint or Ginger in the car to calm motion sickness.)
Perfume or Cologne Smells good and is safer and healthier for your body (unlike normal chemical-based perfumes or antiperspirants). For perfume or cologne, add a 1 drop or a small dab to the wrists, behind the ears, or add 10 drops to 1-3 tsp of distilled water or alcohol to mist on the body or clothing.
Natural Room Deodorizer: Instead of harsh chemicals to cover up odors you can add essential oils to your odor removing efforts. For instance, you can create a room deodorizer by mixing a half cup of alcohol (such as vodka) with a half cup of distilled water, and 20-40 drops of your favorite essential oils in a decorative jar. Then add 10 or so bamboo skewers (like the ones you use for kebobs) to the mixture so that they are sticking out of the bottle. They will soak up the aroma and spread it throughout a bathroom easily. You can also create a spray.
Even though learning how to use essential oils aromatically is probably the easiest and safest, it's still important to know your body, and pay attention to how it responds to the oils. Aromatic is still a potent use of essential oils. Too much can overwhelm your system, give you a headache, or even cause a reaction if you're sensitive or allergic to the oil.