Cedarwood Oils: Atlas vs. Virginian vs. Thuja

Cedrus atlantica

Image courtesy of Eric Hunt on flickr.com

When I first ventured into the realm of essential oils, I was introduced to “cedar” oil. I found the odor unpleasant and stayed away from it. That is until I discovered that what some people called Cedar oil wasn’t distilled from a true cedar. That oil is from Virginian Cedar, or Juniperus virginiana. A true cedarwood oil comes from Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica), or its relative the Himalayan cedar (Cedrus deodara), and smells divine.

Atlas cedar does smell woodsy, as ‘cedars’ do, but whereas Virginian cedar oil smells like pencils the Atlas smells sweet and balsamic. I went from disliking “cedar” oil (of the juniper variety) to falling in love with Atlas cedar. And, I soon learned, there are other “cedar” oils out there that are really Thujas and are in the Cypress family. “Cedar and cypress trees resemble each other. However, they are two distinct kinds of trees that are not very closely related. … Many trees that are called cedars actually refer to mixed assortment of genera that are scattered throughout the families of Pinidae. ‘True’ cedars of the genus Cedrus are located in the family Pinaceae.” It may seem complicated, but it helped me to understand how I could adore the scent of one oil and hate another when they both were called cedars.

It is important to understand that all “cedar” oils are not the same in their chemical makeup either. Thuja oil, also called White cedar or Red cedar, can be very toxic due to its namesake constituent called thujone. This component can be responsible for damage to the nervous system and can cause convulsions. It is best to avoid Thuja oils in aromatherapy.

Virginian cedar and True cedars are often used for respiratory or urinary infections and stress-related disorders. The beautiful and much nicer-smelling True cedars can also be helpful for skin conditions such as acne, dandruff, dermatitis, and eczema. And, I find that Atlas cedar enhances meditation by inducing deep breathing, making it soothing and leading to feelings of being grounded.

My adoration of Atlas cedarwood inspired me to include it in my first perfume blend along with blood orange and rose otto. I wore it one night when I was going out on a first date. The gentleman picked me up at my door and led me to his car. When he let us both in and shut the door the scent of the perfume became more pronounced. My date looked over at me as a cat looks at cream and said, “Gee, you smell good.” I was proud and a little nervous.

So, remember that all cedars are not the same. Your nose can lead you to similar types (Atlas and Himalayan smell deliciously similar) but knowing the Latin name can ensure that you purchase a cedar that is for your intended use.

4 responses to “Cedarwood Oils: Atlas vs. Virginian vs. Thuja

  1. Pingback: The 7 Essential Oils I Can’t Live Without | Elemental Aromas, LLC·

  2. What else was there in your perfume blend? Can you give us some drops measures/recipe, please? I love Atlas Cedarwood and just found mine yesterday, after missing for almost a year! I have rose otto oil (in frac. coc. oil) but I don’t have blood orange. Do they even smell?? Also, I can’t believe the man smelled you from his car, since these EOs dissipate almost as soon as you put them on. Did you mix some orientals in? (I dislike most of those, give me migraines). Also, how did your date end? 🙂 I came here because I was searching Thuja. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi, Intrigued. I’m glad you found me while doing your Thuja search.
    Those three essential oils were the only ingredients besides the carrier, which was jojoba oil. Unfortunately I created the perfume long ago and the recipe is lost.
    As to the blood orange, the essential oil is created from the peel and smells like the freshly peeled fruit. You can substitute sweet orange.
    When essential oils are blended into a carrier and used as perfume, they will have a scent for a while. Not as long as commercial perfume, but I applied the blend just before my date came over so the scent was still present. Also, rose essential oil has a strong scent that lingers for some time.
    And by the way, I never kiss and tell 😉


    • Thanks, Linda, for the info. I’m intrigued by the blood orange EO, since I was looking for some (the fruit) many years ago, couldn’t find them. Used to eat them as a child, fascinating fruit. Oh, haha! I see how I worded that! Sorry if it sounded like I was looking for saucy details, I merely wondered if he was the perfect gentleman at the date (table manners, opening doors, the works) or a memorable relationship lost in time, thanks to Atlas Cedar and blood oranges mesmerism, of course! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s