The seed pods of a Central American orchid are the source of this delicately fragrant oil. Fresh vanilla pods have no scent, though, and it takes a long, labor-intensive process to isolate the aromatic essential oil. Despite vanilla’s association with baking, essential oil of vanilla has several uses outside the kitchen. Vanilla essential oil is stronger than vanilla extract and is not appropriate for cooking.
The fragrance of vanilla may help you cope with stress. Of study participants who smelled vanilla oil, 45 percent reported feeling relaxed while another 27 percent said they felt happy, according to research results published in the January 2005 supplement of “Chemical Senses.” To de-stress, scent your home with vanilla diffuser reeds or a potpourri simmer pot. Add a few drops of vanilla oil and other calming oils like lavender and jasmine to your bathwater for a relaxing soak.
Perfuming Personal Care Products
While vanilla essential oil may not have remarkable skin or hair care benefits, its pleasant aroma is still useful in bath and beauty products. Add vanilla oil to unscented liquid soap for a natural, non-irritating fragrance. Combine it with cocoa butter to make a sweet-smelling moisturizer. Blend vanilla oil with a carrier oil like almond or jojoba to create a body oil that can lift your mood and help you relax.
Spicing up Massages
Vanillas oil’s calming, sensuous scent has given it a reputation as an aphrodisiac, and at least one study seems to support this use. Of 30 scents tested for their ability to increase penile blood flow, vanilla was one to which older men reacted strongly, reported Alan Hirsch of Chicago's Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. Stir a few drops of vanilla essential oil into almond oil to create your own blend for romantic massages. Hirsch also found men react strongly to lavender and women to cucumber, so add those oils accordingly.