Course CodeVHT104
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn about the huge range of different aromatic oils that can be derived from plants; the chemicals they contain; and the various ways they are able to be used  for improved health and well being.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Plant Identification
    • Understand the classification system used for naming plants and the importance of this to an aroma therapist.
  2. Introduction to Aromatherapy
    • The history of aromatherapy. How aromatherapy actually works. Basic chemistry of essential oils.
  3. Essential Oils
    • The therapeutic benefits of oils and how to use them.
  4. Safe Use of Essential Oils
    • Learn to use essential oils safely, in a controlled manner.
  5. Carriers
    • Learn about the properties of carriers and how to use them.
  6. Growing and harvesting herbs for Essential Oil
    • Methods of growing plants for essential oil extraction. When, what, and how to harvest.
  7. Methods of Extraction
    • Learn extraction methods and how to evaluate to economic viability of producing your own essential oils.
  8. Hazardous Herbs and Oils
    • Become aware of the danger of some oils. Safe practice.


  • Describe the classification system used for naming plants and to be able to identify the family, genus and species names of plants used to produce essential oils.
  • Define aromatherapy and its history, to understand how aromatherapy works, and the basic chemistry behind it.
  • Identify a range of essential oils and their uses.
  • Ensure that essential oils are used in a safe and controlled manner.
  • Identify what can be used as a carrier for essential oils and why they must be used.
  • Describe methods which can be used to grow, and harvest herbs used in essential oil production.
  • Describe methods used to extract essential oils from plants.
  • Identify herbs and oils acknowledged as hazardous to people, and which should not be used in aromatherapy, or with great care.


Below are some of the exercises you will do in this course.

  • Give the scientific names (genus, species and variety names) of ten different plants from which essential oils are derived.
  • Research an essential oil of your choice. Find out as much as you can about the oil including:
    • Conditions that it is suitable for
    • What plant it is sourced from and where it grows naturally
    • How it is extracted
    • Where it is available commercially
  • Determine different blends that can be used for treating a head cold.
  • List a range of oils that would be considered safe to use for children.
  • List a range of types of vegetable oils appropriate for use in massage and indicate what types of skin the oils are good for.
  • Explain why some herbs tend to be collected in the morning, some before flowering, some during flowering, and others at various times of the year.
  • Submit your detailed costing for processing herb materials to produce essential oils.
  • Discuss which essential oils may not be safe for use during pregnancy.
Lavender is commercially grown for oil production. Lavender oil is an essential oil, i.e. a volatile oil obtained from the parts of the plant which possesses the characteristic odour of the plant. The oil is used in perfumes, soaps, shampoos, face creams, deodorants, candles and disinfectants. Lavender oil is also used for medicinal purposes. Herbalists use it to treat wounds and skin conditions, such as acne. In aromatherapy, lavender oil is inhaled, e.g. to treat headaches and nervous disorders. 
Lavender oil is a superficial oil, i.e. secreted in glands on the surface of the plant. The glands are located on the surface of the flower calyx.
Chemistry of Lavender Oil
Lavender oil typically contains more than 100 components. It is mostly made up of:
  • an acetic ester called Linalyl acetate (approx. 40%) and 
  • a terpene alcohol, called Linalool (around 30%)
Linalyl acetate has a fruity sweet aroma that contributes heavily to the unique scent and antimicrobial properties of lavender oil. 
Lavender oil also includes lavandulol, 1,8-cineole, pinene, limonene, borneol, rosmarinic acid, tannins, camphor and other compounds.
Lavender oil from Lavandula species (e.g. L. angustifolia) with a high linalyl acetate content and relatively low camphor content is commonly used to produce perfumes and cosmetic products. 
Distillation is used to separate the lavender oil from the plant material. There are two methods of distillation: water distillation and steam distillation.
Water distillation is an ancient method of distillation for herbaceous oils. It requires the plant material to be completely immersed in boiling water. This method is difficult to carry out efficiently and is therefore only used rarely nowadays.
Steam distillation is now the preferred method of distillation for herbaceous oils. The oil glands are ruptured upon contact with the steam, releasing patches of oil. The steam condenses on the plant surface, emitting its latent heat and thereby raising the temperature of successive layers. At the edges of the oil patches is an interface where oil and water come into contact. Once the condensing steam has raised the temperature to approximately 98°C, the additive properties of the water’s and oil’s vapour pressures cause the liquids to boil. Oil saturated vapour rises and can be led through a condenser where it is cooled until it condenses back into a liquid. The liquid flows into a separator.
Because oil has a lower density than water, it floats on top of the water and can be skimmed off. 

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