The Shocking Truth About Vanilla Essential Oil

Vanilla essential oil does not exist! True story! Can you believe it?! We were sure that we had found a way to make an essential oil out of everything!

In this article you will learn about the amazing and versatile vanilla bean, we will take a look at why there isn’t a vanilla essential oil, what the next best thing to a vanilla essential oil is, what you can use it for, and lastly, we will share with you our top vanilla oil picks.

Table of Contents

Why Does Vanilla Essential Oil Not Exist?

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Essential oils are made starting with a process called steam distillation. Because the essence of vanilla does not come from its leaves or blooms and from inside a bean pod, this steam distillation just doesn’t work with this beautiful vine.

Vanilla Bean Pods

The vanilla bean plant has large, green leaves but the part of the plant that holds the vanilla bean essence is in the bean pod.

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Vanilla bean pods themselves are a tough, fibrous structure that encases the actual vanilla bean paste on the inside. Steam distillation is ineffective at drawing out the essence therefore no essential oil can be made into a product that would constitute being categorized as an “essential oil.”

The vanilla bean contained in the pod is a solid matter that is encased tightly inside the pod. The only way to get the vanilla bean out of the pod is to cut the pod vertically with a sharp knife and scrape it out.

Vanilla Extract vs Vanilla Oil

Vanilla has been used as a flavoring aromatic since the early 1500s. It is thought the Totocana people of the Gulf Coast of Mexico were the first to domesticate vanilla. Over the years, vanilla’s value exploded exponentially and was and still is a coveted spice in the food and perfume industry.

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Vanilla is compounded in a variety of ways to be used in a variety of products. One of vanilla’s most common presentations is vanilla extract.

Extraction of Vanilla Oil vs Extract

Vanilla extract is made by being macerated and percolating vanilla bean pods in a solution of alcohol and water.

Vanilla “essential” oils aren’t what you might expect. If you are buying something called “vanilla essential oils” online, you are getting one of the three following vanilla-based, sort of like essential oil but not really oils.


One is called oleoresin. This product is exactly what is in the word, resin. The resin is removed from the bean pod using a solvent and then mixed together with a carrier oil. However, oleoresin doesn’t blend well with carrier oils and you will have resin remnants in the oil you are mixing it with.

Vanilla Absolute

There is another product called Vanilla Absolute. This product is composed of vanilla beans and 25% ethanol alcohol. It is a very thick product that can make it easier to work with than oleoresin.

Vanilla CO2 Extract

This oil has been extracted from vanilla beans using carbon dioxide under high pressure. However, vanilla CO2 is extremely expensive. It does blend the best with carrier oils and does not have any vanilla bean sediment left behind like the vanilla oleoresin.

Health Benefits of Vanilla Oil

The benefits of vanilla have been predominantly domesticated and experienced in the cooking and perfume industries. Vanilla’s health support properties have been suggested in aiding Parkinson’s, hypertension, and various heart problems. However, scientific research/studies on measurable benefits are still largely unavailable.


This benefit has not been proven by research. However, a general consensus across aromatherapy experts, and with the overall testimonials from essential oil users say that vanilla is calming and mood-boosting.

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It may sound like a small punch but when you consider what is calm and in a pleasant mood alleviates, it becomes an oil heavy in your rotation.

Most of us have some sort of emotional tie to the smell of vanilla. Whether it reminds us of baked treats at grandma’s house over the holidays or the scent of candles your mother lit during a special time in the year, some of us are just emotionally attached to the aroma of vanilla.

Immune Benefits

One study looked at the efficiency of vanilla oil in combination with patchouli and ylang ylang oil against bacterial adherence formed by bacteria that causes staph and klebsiella infections. Researchers found that when vanilla oil was isolated it was able to strongly inhibit the adherence of staph bacteria cells and it was also able to stop any further development of the bacteria cells that had already attached to other cells in the body.

More research still needs to be done, but this is a very promising finding for vanilla oil!

Can You Use Vanilla Oil as an Essential Oil?

Yes, you can use it basically the same as your other essential oils but some forms of vanilla oil are not going to behave in the same ways due to its thickness in its consistency. For example, oleoresin doesn’t blend well with carrier oils, you are going to see the speckles and may feel a bit of the solid material still left from the vanilla bean after topical application and diffusing.

While, other forms of vanilla such as vanilla CO2 extract has a lighter consistency and blends well with carrier oils, and is able to be diffused without clogging the diffuser.

Best Vanilla Oils

When buying your vanilla oils in either the oleoresin, absolute or CO2 form, remember, it might be more pricey than other essential oils. This is because the process of extracting the vanilla beans and making vanilla oil is more tedious than other oils.

Luckily, some essential oil brands have come out with their own high-quality vanilla oils and at a reasonable price. Check out our top picks below.

Plant therapy

Plant therapy has great equality oils for an affordable price. This is true for this vanilla oil as well. First and foremost, this oil is not a fragrance oil, it is extracted via hydro-alcohol distillation, which makes this oil lighter than other forms of vanilla such as oleoresin. The lighter consistency makes this vanilla oil one of the best forms of vanilla to diffuse.

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Additionally, the scent of this oil is sweet, but not overpowering like vanilla extracts for baking can be.

How to Use

For diffusing, add 3-4 drops of this oil to 100 ml of water and enjoy the calming benefits!

Eden’s Garden

Eden’s Graden prides itself on the high quality of its oils and affordability. A lot of their customers agree with this statement and continuously purchase from them.

Their vanilla oil and ylang ylang oil essential oil blend is divine; it smells subtly sweet and energizing.

Edens Vanilla Blend - Vanilla Essential Oil

The species of vanilla in this blend is called vanilla planifolia(Bourbon Madagascar vanilla), in this particular blend, this vanilla is CO2 extracted, making it the most expensive form of vanilla since it blends the best with carrier oils.

Edens garden comes through with its affordability promise, and even provides this oil at a reasonable price!

How to Use

For a vanilla-infused body oil or massage oil, add a few drops of this oil to 2-3 percent of a carrier oil such as jojoba oil or coconut oil. Perform a small patch test if you are new to this oil to make sure that you don’t get an adverse skin reaction. Then apply all over the desired area.

Concluding Thoughts

Our overall thoughts are this: if you aren’t a big fan of artificial vanilla fragrance oils, but love the scent of vanilla then it might be worthwhile trying the natural vanilla oils we mentioned above.

Please let us know in the comments if you end up trying this oil and let us know your experience. We would love to hear from you!


    • Vanilla essential oil has the potential to cause skin irritation and sensitization, and it contains small amounts of eugenol, a compound which can be toxic if ingested in large amounts. Chemicals like eugenol are in artificially produced vanilla; natural vanilla is a different story.

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