Essential Oil Substitution Chart for Blends & Recipes

Essential Oil Substitution Chart for Blends & Recipes

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, read it here.

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 aroma 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
Tangerine Orange
Cassia Cinnamon
Birch Wintergreen
Spearmint Peppermint
Helichrysum Frankincense
Sandalwood Cedarwood
Jasmine Ylang Ylang
Clary Sage Lavender
Myrrh Frankincense
German Chamomile Roman Chamomile
Angelica Clary Sage
Balsam Fir Blue or Black Spruce
Lemongrass Lemon
Ginger Cardamom
Cinnamon Clove

 

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.

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.

Essential Oil Substitution Chart

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
  • Lavender
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Myrrh
  • Rose
  • Helichrysum
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Rosemary
  • Cedarwood
  • Lavender
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Geranium
  • Thyme
  • Tea Tree

 

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
  • Cardamom
  • Tangerine
  • Ginger
  • Fennel
  • Peppermint
  • Orange
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Eucalyptus (any type)
  • Cedarwood (any type)
  • Peppermint
  • Frankincense
  • Cypress
  • Pine
  • Ravensara

 

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.

Immunity Pain Relief
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Sweet Marjoram
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Lavender
  • Copaiba
  • Wintergreen
  • Peppermint
  • Juniper Berry
  • Lavender
  • Sweet Marjoram
  • Cypress

 

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. 

Fatigue Workout
  • Rosemary
  • Eucalyptus
  • Pine
  • Peppermint
  • Lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Basil
  • Black Pepper
  • Rosemary
  • Lemon
  • Ginger
  • Coriander
  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint

 

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.

Insomnia Relaxation
  • Lavender
  • Vetiver
  • Cedarwood
  • Valerian
  • Sweet Marjoram
  • Petitgrain
  •  Roman Chamomile
  • Bergamot
  • Clary Sage
  • Petitgrain
  • Lavender
  • Vetiver
  • Chamomile
  • Sweet Orange

 

Emotional Support: 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.

Mood Swings Stress
  • Bergamot
  • Clary Sage
  • Lavender
  • Sweet Orange
  • Frankincense
  • Neroli
  • Petitgrain
  • Lavender
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Palmarosa
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Frankincense
  • Tangerine
  • Melissa

 

List of Substitution Essential Oils

Get the guide so you can easily reference the Substitution Chart when offline too.

List of Substitution Essential Oils

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Substitute essential oils and how to use them properly

Best Ideas for Substituting Essential Oils in Aromatherapy Blends


Jennifer Lane - Certified Aromatherapist

BIO: Owner and founder of Loving Essential Oils. I am a Registered Nurse and Certified Aromatherapist that loves to look toward essential oils and aromatherapy for all natural physical, emotional and spiritual support. I love creating and sharing DIY Essential Oil Recipes & Blends. Thank you so much for allowing me to be part of your essential oil journey!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information provided here is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease, nor is it a substitute for medical advice. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Post may include affiliate links. See full disclaimer.