Top Note Essential Oils for Aromatherapy

Top note essential oils are popular in aromatherapy use because of their power to uplift and restore emotions. However, they have other therapeutic properties too. A lot of top note essential oils do not have a long shelf life because they evaporate quickly. They are relatively easily to extract from plants and consequently are economical in price. Many of the citrus essential oils are top note oils.

How Top Note Essential Oils Are Extracted

There are two main traditional methods of extracting top note essential oils for therapeutic aromatherapy use. Firstly, essential oil molecules can evaporate during a distillation process of heat, water and steam. The most volatile and smallest molecules are called top notes. Secondly, many citrus essential oils are obtained from plants through a process called expression. Expression extracts essential oils directly from the rind or peel of the fruit.

How to Use Top Note Essential Oils in Aromatherapy

Some top note essential oils, such as grapefruit and mandarin, are popular for treating children’s ailments due to their gentle nature. In addition, children like the sweet, uplifting fragrance of top note oils. Top note essential oils are also used in aromatherapy in skincare, to treat digestive disorders and to heal emotionally. Several top note oils are used to treat the symptoms of colds and flu and many have antiseptic and bactericidal properties.

Types of Top Note Essential Oils

Top note essential oils are extracted from the fruit, leaves, seeds and flowers of plants. Some top note oils may overlap with middle note oils. Examples of top note essential oils include:

  • lemon
  • lime
  • bergamot
  • orange
  • clary sage
  • eucalyptus
  • grapefruit
  • lemongrass
  • mandarin
  • peppermint
  • petitgrain
  • tea tree
  • lemon verbena.

Cautions for Using Top Note Essential Oils in Aromatherapy

Top note essential oils are sometimes used to adulterate more expensive essential oils. Citrus top note essential oils may be phototoxic and should be used with caution in ultra-violet light. Most top note essential oils will oxide easily due to their high volatility; store in a cool, dark place to maximize shelf life.

Blend top note essential oils with a carrier lotion or base before using them on the skin. Add top note essential oils to a blend with base note essential oils to “lighten” up an aromatherapy blend and to maximize synergistic therapeutic properties. Check individual essential oil profiles for cautions for use with regard to pregnancy, elderly, use with children or use with specific health conditions. Consult a qualified aromatherapist for further advice on the use of top note essential oils in aromatherapy.

Precautions When Using Essential Oils

Essential oils are highly potent substances. They are concentrated plant extracts, and are significantly stronger than the oils that occur naturally in the plants. If over-used or used incorrectly, these concentrations can cause undesirable side-effects.

Care must be taken when using essential oils because they are highly concentrated. Many should not be applied directly to the skin, but should be blended with carrier oils. Some oils should never be applied directly to the skin. Be sure to check the label for any warnings or precautions.

Basic Essential Oil Safety Guidelines

The following precautions are vital to ensure safe, proper handling and utilization of essential oils.

  • Treat essential oils as you would medication – keep the bottles tightly closed and out of the reach of children.
  • Don’t apply essential oils “neat” (directly from the bottle) to skin.
  • Do not assume the essential oil has the properties of the plant from which it is made.
  • Do not exceed recommended dilutions.
  • Do not use essential oils in food, or consume them in any way unless you are working with an expert or under medical supervision.

Essential Oil Evaporation

Some essential oils evaporate very, very quickly. So when applied to the skin, if massage not being done, it is advisable to cover those parts of the skin to prevent evaporation and enhance absorption.

Volatility of Essential Oils

Since essential oils are highly volatile, they may ignite if exposed directly to a flame or high temperatures. Never leave candle-warmed vaporizers or diffusers unattended. And never use them in a room with children.

Vaporizer Advice with Essential Oil Use

When using a vaporizer, don’t let the oils burn more than two hours. By this time the lighter molecules will have evaporated, and the heavier molecules will vaporized at a much slower rate. Also, don’t let the water in a vaporizer dry up or you’ll be left with the unattractive odor of burnt oil.

Additional Specific Precautions for Essential Oils

When using oils, the following measures will ensure safety.

  • Most essential oils should not be ingested or used in cooking unless you have specific professional training or instruction.
  • Although correctly diluted oils are harmless to human tissue, keep essential oils away from varnished furniture as the varnish may dissolve.
  • If you do not have information about a particular essential oil, DO NOT USE IT.
  • Avoid using a particular essential oil for a long period of time as you may develop sensitivity to it.

When used with respect and care, essential oils will leave the human body in a more positive state.