Found a blend to try but missing one oil? Need essential oil substitutions that you can use instead? With so many essential oils available on the market, you more than likely will come across essential oil recipes or diffuser blends that you are missing an oil for.
Don't stress, here are some ideas to try the next time you don't have an oil you need. With essential oils there are always several oils that can tackle a problem, that is one reason they are so loved.
Maybe you are new to aromatherapy so your collection is still small, that's OK too.
We made a post on the Top 30 Affordable Essential Oils to buy to help you expand your oil collection without breaking the budget.
Let's look at what factors to consider when needing substituting essential oils, plus you will find a helpful chart with common replacements.
What Essential Oil Can I Use Instead?
We frequently get the questions "What can I use if I don't have (insert missing oil here)?". Don't let the fact that you are missing one oil in an essential oil recipe stop you from making a blend that you are interested in.
You can always try that same recipe with essential oil alternatives. Will it change the blend...YES, but you can still get similar results by properly substituting with an oil that you have on hand.
Everybody has different oil favorites they like, and maybe some they don't. There are a few essential oils I will not buy because I just do not react well with them.
When I find a blend that I want to use and it includes an oil I either don't have or don't want to use, I look for replacement options.
How to Make Essential Oil Substitutions
The first thing you need to figure out when making an oil substitution is if you are blending for aroma (scent) or therapeutic (healing) value. Why does this matter? Well, they are two different outcomes for making a blend.
- If making a blend for aromatic purposes, the fragrance is very important and substitutions will need to be from similar aromas.
- If making a blend for therapeutic purposes, then the aroma is not as important as the benefits you are looking to gain from the oil blend.
No matter what type of blending you are doing, always be aware of the safety concerns of each oil in the blend and any contraindications. Also, keep in mind that no two oils are the same, each offers unique qualities.
Aromatic Substitutes - Blending for the Aroma
When substituting essential oils in an aromatic blend, your concern is the scent of the oils. This is usually when you are making a natural perfume, body spray, or scented beauty product where the aroma is the main highlight.
In this case, you will want to select essential oils in the same aromatic category (like citrus, floral, spicy, etc.).
I have an entire post that goes over essential oil aromas, plus it includes free cheat sheets for each of the seven aroma categories. So you can use that guide as a reference to find other similar oils.
For example, if you do not have tangerine, try orange as a substitution essential oil instead. No cassia, try cinnamon. Don't have rose otto, try geranium. These substitute oils will provide a similar aroma.
Here are replacement essential oils that will give you examples for aromatherapy substitutions:
|Don't Have This:||Try This:|
|Rose Otto||Rose Geranium|
|German Chamomile||Roman Chamomile|
|Balsam Fir||Blue or Black Spruce|
Therapeutic Substitutes - Blending for a Specific Purpose
When making therapeutic blends, the guidelines are different than aromatic blending. Yes, you want to create a blend that has a pleasant scent, but the goal of this type of blend is for specific issues or desired effects.
To find the right therapeutic substitute essential oil, you need to find one that offers a similar use or benefit. The substituted oil aroma can be different because that is not our focus.
Properly substituting one oil for another oil in recipes can help you customize a blend to you specifically. Keep in mind that people may have different responses to individual essential oils so you may need to experiment to find what works best for you. This guide is helpful for that too.
For me, oregano is an oil I prefer not to smell like, so in my topical immunity blends I will usually find another oil that I prefer to smell like rosemary or sweet marjoram.
Essential oil substitution charts can also be used to create cost-effective blends, as some essential oils may be more expensive than others.
Essential Oil Substitution Chart
Substitution charts are helpful when an essential oil is out of stock or unavailable. Substituting an essential oil can also be used to create unique blends with different scents and therapeutic benefits.
Here is a list of essential oil substitutions to swap out the oil that you need to within the category of your desired benefit. For example, you need rosemary for a hair serum but you don't have it, look under Healthy Hair and pick an oil from that list, like Cedarwood, and see how this works.
Beautiful Skin and Hair
There are many valuable oils to add to your skincare routine, and Tea Tree is probably one of the most popular ones for cleansing and rejuvenating the skin. Geranium is also a favorite oil for providing a smoothing effect on the skin. It is also useful for the hair, try adding to your shampoo or conditioner for a healthy, vibrant glow.
|For Healthy Skin||For Healthy Hair & Scalp|
Healthy Digestion and Airways
When it comes to stomach issues and maintaining a healthy gut, ginger essential oil is one of the most popular to help with digestion, bloating, gas, and occasional indigestion. Eucalyptus is a popular option to diffuse for easy breathing and it has an invigorating vapor when diluted and applied to the chest.
|Digestive Support||Respiratory Support|
Comfort and Wellness
Enhance your health with all natural and pure essential oils. A favorite oil to support the immune system is oregano oil but this oil can be too strong for some. I personally prefer sweet marjoram and tea tree to boost my immunity. When it comes to easing aches and pains, copaiba is sure to be a favorite.
Energy and Exercise
When energy is low and if just needing a jot of power before working out, try peppermint essential oil. Its menthol aroma give an invigorating experience with each use, it can also ease headaches and tension too.
Sleep and Calming
When it comes to helping sleep and relaxation, Lavender is the go-to oil. It offers a soothing and calming aroma that can ease feelings of tension.
Enjoy the emotional and physical benefits of aromatherapy with frankincense essential oil. This impressive oil can aid and support a list of body systems, mainly the digestive, respiratory, nervous, immune, and cardiovascular systems. This is a must have oil for soothing, healing and calming.
List of Substitution Essential Oils
Get the guide so you can easily reference the Substitution Chart when offline too.
Frequently Asked Questions About Substituting Essential Oils
What can I substitute for eucalyptus oil?
If eucalyptus oil is not something you can use or you don't have it on hand, substitutions can be surprisingly easy. For example, rosemary and tea tree oil are both excellent substitutions, as are peppermint oil, lavender oil, and cajuput oil.
Depending on the application of eucalyptus oil you're substituting for, you'll want to check the substitutions chart in order to see which one will work best for your job.
All substitutions have their own strength and properties that may differ from the original eucalyptus oil so make sure to find out what these qualities are before incorporating any substitutions into your project.
What can I substitute for bergamot essential oil?
If you're looking to find essential oil substitutes that can provide similar benefits as bergamot oil, there are several citrus oils that may come in handy.
- Lemon essential oil contains many of the same calming and anti-inflammatory properties as bergamot essential oil, yet has a slightly more subtle aroma.
- Sweet orange essential oil is similar to bergamot essential oil yet lacks some of the sweetness that the bergamot brings.
- Lavender essential oil may be a suitable choice due to its calming scent. While it won't smell like bergamot essential oil, it could still provide very similar benefits.
- Lastly, peppermint essential oil is known for its energizing qualities and has a minty smell that provides a refreshing aroma.
What can I substitute for sandalwood essential oil?
If you find yourself unable to access the benefits of sandalwood essential oil due its high cost or lack of availability, substituting an original ingredient may be a good alternative. Fortunately, there are many options for substituting sandalwood essential oil for other oils with similar properties.
Patchouli and vetiver are often used as substitutions due to their sweet and woody aromas. Cedarwood and benzoin also work well as alternatives due to their more woody character.
All of these substitutions can provide some of the same calming and antiseptic effects associated with sandalwood essential oil while adding their own unique characteristics that commonly make them popular amongst essential oil connoisseurs.
Some essential oils may have different therapeutic properties than the original oil, so it is important to research the properties of the substitute oil before use.