Vanilla Essential Oil: Uses, Benefits, and Blends
Here, at VINEVIDA, we believe vanilla essential oil is in need of a press officer, or at least a rebranding. Somehow the idea of vanilla has become banal, bland, and boring, and yet vanilla essential oil is anything but. We’re here to set the record straight and discuss the ins and out of the most gorgeous natural elixir, vanilla essential oil.
Scientific Name: Vanilla planifolia
Plant Part: Seeds/Beans
Composition of Oil: Vanillin, Hydroxybenzaldehyde, Acetic Acid, Isobutyric Acid, Caproic Acid, Eugenol, Furfural
Scent: Sweet, rich, and similar to the aroma of Vanilla extract
Color: Deep Brown
Perfumery Note: Base
Initial Aroma Strength: Strong
Extraction Method: Steam Distilled
Suitable Blending Oils: Coffee, Cocoa, and Peppermint
Vanilla Essential Oil Benefits: Component Breakdown
- Vanillin: Traditionally used in treatments for fever, spasms, blood clotting issues, and stomach problems, and painful periods.
- Hydroxybenzaldehyde: Sweet smelling component, specific to orchids.
- Acetic Acid: useful for treating bacteria and fungi
- Isobutyric Acid: Has a rich, almost rancid, buttery fragrance in its natural isolation, and appears naturally in human biology. In vaginal secretions, it seems to indicate sexual ripeness and ovulation.
- Caproic Acid: Useful antimicrobial
- Eugenol: Powerful antimicrobial activities
- Furfural: Insecticidal abilities
So let’s begin with the sciency stuff because we should begin by saying that really, there is no such thing as vanilla essential oil. There is a vanilla absolute and an oleoresin. Vanilla oleoresin is a semi-solid concentrate that is made by taking out the solvent from vanilla extract. A solution of isopropanol is frequently used instead of ethanol to prepare it. Some flavor and aroma do get lost during the removal of the solvent, but the essential oils do remain behind. However, only the geeks are going to ever call it an oleoresin, so from now on, we’ll continue to refer to it as vanilla essential oil.
Enough Dissin’ Vanilla, guys...
Now, who was the idiot who first decided to use vanilla as a way to describe anything unexciting? Because there’s certainly nothing vanilla about the Vinevida Vanilla essential oil.
This is no supermarket ice cream, it’s gelato enjoyed on a warm afternoon in St Mark’s square in Rome. Your morning began lazily, then you visited Vatican Square. Lunch was pasta at a cozy bistro overlooking the colosseum. The afternoon has been spent making lazy, passionate love, and now you sip espressos and share a rich gelato from a fluted glass with two spoons in readiness for the next round. Lambretta’s speed by, pigeons erupt, and you sigh, deeply, romantically and all consumingly, in love.
THAT is VINEVIDA Vanilla essential oil, lazy, sensual and languid, rich, decadent, and luxurious. Morpheus’s exotic delight.
Vanilla’s Fascinating History
Of course, it has come to mean “Common”, because of its presence in so many foods, but that’s a relatively recent development, because prior to the 1840’s it was one of the world’s most precious commodities, found only in the New World and fiercely hoarded by the European elite.
Vanilla was manufactured exclusively only in Mexico, where it lived in perfect symbiosis with its pollinator, the Melipona bee. After the Spanish invasion, the explorer Hernán Cortés was said to have witnessed the Aztec Emperor Montezuma enjoying a chocolate beverage made of corn, cocoa, and honey flavored with vanilla. Presumably, this was one of the delights that led to King James I making him governor of Spain and bringing him great wealth. For three hundred years, that would be the story of vanilla.
Vanilla Goes Corporate
Now, those of you who have sons will enjoy how this story changes, because it involves a 12-year-old boy with a stick. This particular boy was called Edmond Albius, and he was a slave worker in the French colony of Réunion. One day, after spending hours contemplating the exquisite vanilla orchid, he wondered if he might be able to hand-pollinate it to make it produce vanilla beans.
Using a small stick, he lifted the flap inside the flower and pushed the pollen-covered anther against the female part, the stigma. Can you imagine his excitement when, days later, a vanilla pod began to form? The output of vanilla skyrocketed in Réunion thanks to what is now known as the Albius method, and to accommodate the rise in demand, orchid cultivation expanded to nearby Madagascar from where we now source our beautiful Vanilla essential oil and locals still hand-pollinate vanilla orchids.
Where Does Vanilla Essential Oil Come From?
Vanilla plants are orchids, vines that climb along tree trunks. Their seed pods exude one of the finest odors in the vegetable kingdom, seedpods have no fragrance when they are gathered. Their characteristic odor develops as it ferments throughout its curing process, through an alchemy of sun and air. The lower end of the pod first starts to turn yellow, releasing a pervasive aroma of bitter almonds. Then, as it cracks open, it oozes a tiny amount of its elixir, known as balsam of vanilla.
Little by little the color deepens, the flesh softens, and the authentic vanilla aroma develops throughout the next month as natural fermentation gradually progresses through the pod. The essence percolates to in thick reddish drops, and then the pods are processed to give us the oleoresin.
The very choicest varieties of certain essential oils are called bourbons, and bourbon vanilla comes from Madagascar. It has a dense, creamy, and rather woody, tobacco-like, balsamic body note that intoxicates any perfumer with nostalgia.
What is Vanilla Essential Oil Good For?
Now, there is precious little research done into vanilla essential oil’s benefits for health, however, it is known that vanillin is a powerful antioxidant, which is being further researched for its potential anti-cancer possibilities. But really, do we need science to tell us about a flower that is so intimately part of our collective consciousness anyway? After all, when a scientist decides to investigate a natural compound it’s not because he wants to know if something does something, it’s that he wants to know how and why it does.
Most certainly, vanilla essential oil benefits are sedative and aphrodisiac, and nurturing. It lifts our mood and just makes us feel that little bit happier. In the end, that’s surely all we need to know?
Vanilla Essential Oil Uses: For Wholesale Purposes
Vanilla Essential Oil Uses for Aromatherapists
Most pertinent of the vanilla essential oil uses must be as a base note fixative that brings a radiant warmth to any blend. When we add vanilla we bring relaxation, sleep, seduction, and a touch of luxury.
As aromatherapists, we understand the power of scent, but sometimes we can be so fixated on properties and benefits we forget what a powerful magic carpet to the past, it can be, and probably no other compound does this better than vanilla essential oil.
Think about Christmas, and cinnamon and cloves come to mind, orange and ginger maybe. Red roses are valentines and freesias the fragrance of spring. But Vanilla essential oil has a rather special place in the mind. For the lucky children, it is birthday cakes, being surrounded by love and attention. The center of celebration and the delight of a pile of presents.
Vanilla essential oil takes you to the place where you are everything. As the song says “Where troubles melt like lemon drops, away up on the chimney tops…”
It’s a place where healing takes place, and stress melts away. Vanilla essential oil benefits are best reserved for special times, where mom needs a treat, or dad’s masculinity is wearing away. For when life kicks you, divorce, grief, redundancy....or just everyday life has just become a tedious grind.
Vanilla essential oil is your birthday every day….without the worry of the age number climbing any higher!
Tips for using Vanilla Essential Oil For Diffuser Blends
Vanilla essential oil’s benefits make it a wonderful choice for diffusers, but its viscosity is extremely dense that can make it difficult for the molecules to evaporate, and can be problematic to your actual machine.
Always dilute vanilla essential oil into a thin carrier such as grapeseed oil first, to thin it and help it diffuse. Its base note scent is so rich and radiant it is actually improved by dilution, allowing some of the lighter components to come through.
Is Vanilla Essential Oil Safe for Dogs and Cats
A soothing base note, vanilla essential oil makes a lovely nurturing sedative to use on nights where there are fireworks going off. Dilute down to > 0.5% ( 1 drop of vanilla essential oil into a tablespoon of carrier oil will calm them, and hopefully get them off to sleep. Rub on their tummies, or onto the insides of their ears. Anywhere, where there is not too much hair to get through. Although Vanilla oleoresins are not food grade, it won’t hurt them at all to lick at them, because of course, if they have sweet tooths, it will be a fragrance they know.
Vanilla Essential Oil for Skin
As previously stated, vanilla essential oil contains vanillin proven to have perwerlly anti-oxidant effects. Antioxidants fight free radicals in the skin that lead to cell oxidation and premature aging, however, there are many oils better served for skincare, that would love vanilla essential oil as their second in command.
Rose absolute nourishes newly formed skin cells as they head towards the surface layer. Rose and vanilla is a gorgeous mix, as is geranium and vanilla essential oil.
Wood oils like cedarwood Virginian or sandalwood are delicious for men’s blends and again both blend brilliantly with vanilla essential oil.
Vanilla Essential Oil Benefits for Soap Makers
Using Vanilla essential oil in soap does come with some notes.
Importantly, vanillin discolors, so you will find that your soap goes brown as soon as the vanillin encounters air. It’s actually quite a pretty color, but it changes as the days pass. The more oil you use, the darker the color. 1% dilution will give you a kind of golden caramel color to 3% is a rich espresso hue.
For Melt and Pour, you may find you want to add a Vanilla Color stabilizer in a 1:1 ratio with the amount of essential oil you use, however, this has inconsistent results with the Cold Process. Titanium Dioxide will lighten light discoloration if you have low dilutions of vanilla essential oil in a Cold Process soap.
I can’t imagine you need reminding, but some of the best natural blending ingredients, All like cocoa or coffee, also have a brownish hue, of course.
Vanilla Essential oil In Natural Perfumery
The vanilla essential oil has a starring role in Fougère ambery, oriental and chypre perfumes, lending a luscious heaviness to blends, intoxicating and melting the sharpness off citruses and adding depth to florals too.
I think Mandy Aftel sums up Vanilla oil perfectly in Essence and Alchemy, A Book of Perfume:
As we know, flowers stand for passion and romance. The very word “deflowered” connotes initiation into sexual experience. Not only in their heady aromas - dramatic, intense, sweet (sometimes sickly sweet), even narcotic - but in their very form and coloration, flowers are sexy. I like an Indian poet’s description of a rose is “like a book of a hundred leaves unfolding” but most comparisons are decidedly more erotic. A full-blown rose is like a voluptuous woman, orchids recall the vulva; flowers open and close like receptive female genitalia.
Blended with tobacco fragrances like Tobacco Vanille, by Tom Ford vanilla essential oil becomes creamy, sweet, and inviting. It almost takes on a cinnamony fragrance.
In Un Bois Vanille, Serge Lutens has blended vanilla essential oils with smooth woody oils and a tiny hint of citrus spiciness.
Blended with musk, vanilla becomes almost animalistic, deep sensuous, and a little dirty.
Vanilla essential oil will always seem nostalgic, but if you’re not careful it can become overwhelmingly feminine. To leverage vanilla essential oil into aftershaves, blend with patchouli for an achingly masculine dimension.
Other popular contemporary perfumes containing vanilla essential oil include
Lancôme’s Idôle, Vanille Exquise by Annik Goutal, and Jo Malone’s Vanilla & Anise.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for a perfumer is to create a fragrance that does not smell like holidays! Employ light florals like rose, geranium or lavender to create romantic summertime scents, but perhaps the most enchanting blends are herbaceous and woody aromas that conjure the forest in fall.
Vanilla Essential Oil Blends: DIY Recipes
Relaxing Massage Oil
- 10ml Grapeseed carrier oil (Vitis vinifera)
- 10 drops Rosehip carrier oil (Rosa canina)
- 10 drops Sesame carrier (Sesamum indicum)
- 3 drops Neroli essential oil (Citrus aurantium var amara)
- 2 drops Roman Chamomile essential oil (Anthemis nobilis)
- 1 drop Vanilla essential oil (Vanilla planifolia)
Safety: Not suitable for use in the first sixteen weeks of pregnancy
This is a rather special diffuser blend, made to make even the tensest of meal times merrier is taken from 75 Quick and Easy Aromatherapy Christmas Gifts Ideas: Essential Oil Recipes For Handmade Personalised Gifts by Elizabeth Ashley
- 20 drops Mimosa Absolute (Acacia dealbata) x 20
- 40 drops Mandarin essential oil (Citrus reticulata) x 40
- 30 drops Galbanum absolute (Ferula Galbaniflua) x 30
- 10 drops Vanilla essential oils (Vanilla planifolia) x 10
Safety: Not designed for topical use.
Vanilla, Rose and Geranium Hand Cream
- 10g emulsifying wax (E/W)
- 30ml Distilled and filtered water
- 20ml Rosewater (Rosa damascena)
- 30ml Almond carrier oil (Prunus amygdala)
- 5ml Jojoba carrier oil (Simmondsia chinensis)
- 1ml Glycerine
- 1ml liquid preservative
- 5 drops Geranium essential oil (Pelargonium graveolens)
- 2 drops Rose otto essential oil (Rosa damascena)
- 1 drop Vanilla essential oil (Vanilla planiflora)
Method Of Preparation: (Makes 100ml of cream)
Melt your emulsifying wax in a bain-marie in its own time over medium heat.
Boil the kettle and measure out your boiling water or warmed hydrolats.
Pour the melted E/W and water into a food processor, add the carrier oils and mix.
Watch your mixture. You want it well mixed, but not full of the air otherwise it will sink when it cools. It works best if you pulse the blender.
Add the essential oils and give one more quick blitz to ensure they are blended.
Use a jug to pour into sterilized jars/bottles.
Do not put the tops on until they are completely cooled, otherwise, you might have a mould outbreak.
Vanilla essential oil is not suitable for use in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy
Why Choose VINEVIDA?
At VINEVIDA, we love botanicals and the planet they come from. We believe in stocking the best at affordable prices and supplying to the discerning, which is why we are also members of both the Alliance of International Aromatherapists and the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy. In recognition of our excellent standard of product, we are proud to hold a 2021 Certificate of Registration as a Cosmetic Products Establishment with the U.S. Drugs and Food Administration.
Our joy at seeing people make beautiful things means we stock from the smallest amounts to the largest. Our wholesale essential oil prices begin with our smallest carrier oil of 120ml to our largest of 396lb, meaning any manufacturing company can afford to stock as many or as few oils their business can accommodate without running the risk of spoilage of some of nature’s most precious commodities. Why not see if you can save money by buying your Vanilla essential oil in bulk?
Don’t forget too, we like to look after our customers with reasonable prices and excellent customer service and reward the loyal ones with money off discounts over the year.
Why not check out if you qualify for our loyalty scheme and start saving today with an environmentally friendly choice of oil for skin, hair, massage oils, and soapmaking. Add VINEVIDA Vanilla Essential Oil to your cart today.