The Cleaners of Aromatherapy - Aldehydes

Based on their distinguishing qualities, each of the 12 chemical families can be divided into 12 Archetypes and their characteristic Elemental Powers.

These 12 archetypes, and their chemical families, tell us about the therapeutic properties, actions and effects of essential oils.

You can select essential oils to use alone, or in a formulation, to promote healing for specific conditions, based on their specific archetype and therapeutic chemical properties, actions and effects.

PLEASE NOTE: Depending upon the percentage(s) of a chemical component that comprises an oil, it can be classed in more than one chemical family.

Aldehydes - Archetype: The Cleaners

Renew & Freshen


Aldehydes are organic aromatic compounds with an oxygen atom double bonded to a carbon and designated as C=O. 

Highly unstable, aldehydes easily oxidize and become rancid in the presence of heat, light and air.

Citral, neral, geranial and citronellas are characteristic components of aldehyde containing essential oils. Essential oils containing primarily aldehydes have the highest antibacterial activity, along with phenols.

Citral is an aroma compound used frequently in the perfume industry for its citrus effect. It’s also used as a food flavor and  to fortify the effects of lemon oil.

Citral has strong antimicrobial qualities, and frequently used as an insecticide. It is also a great fat burner and excellent for promoting weight loss. Citral if often used for making weight loss medications.

Lemongrass oil contains 70–80 percent citral.

Citral has been studied and shown to be effective for its bactericidal and fungicidal activity. 

Neral, is an isomer of citral, meaning it has the same chemical formula as citral, but in a different arrangement and somewhat different properties. Neral is classified as a monoterpene aldehyde. Its aroma is similar to lemons. 

Neral has been studied and shown effective as an antibacterial agent. One study showed the antimicrobial prosperities of Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) to be effective against pathogenic bacteria in pet turtles.

Citronellal has a distinctive lemon scent. Research on its insect properties show its high effectiveness, especially against mosquitoes. Research has also demonstrated citronellal strong anti fungal properties.

Geranial has a light, sharp, fresh lemon scent. Studies conducted on the aldehydes geranial (alpha citral) and neral (beta citral) showed both to be effective as antibacterial agents. The study also showed their potentiating effect when mixed with myrcene.

Aldehyde Actions & Effects

Anti-viral - inhibits and controls viral activity, destroys virus.
Antibiotic - inhibits growth, destroys micro organisms.
Anti-bacterial - inhibits bacterial growth.
Anti-spasmodic - controls, alleviates inflammation resulting from injury or infection.
Anti-inflammatory - reduces inflammation.
Anti-parasitic - destroys parasites.
Anti-fungal - destroys, inhibits growth of fungus.
Disinfectant - inhibits, destroys bacteria.

Essential Oils in this class include:
Preferred distillation method, part of plant used, and some of best locations for production.

BASIL LEMON - (Ocimum citriodorum), steam distilled leaf, USA.
LEMONGRASS - (Cymbopogon citratus), steam distilled grass, India.
LEMON VERBENA - (Lippia citriodora), steam distilled leaf, France.
EUCALYPTUS LEMON - (Eucalyptus citriodora), hydrodiffused leaf, Australia
MELISSA - (Melissa officinalis), steam distilled flower/leaf, France.
CITRONELLA - (Cymbopogon winterianus), steam distilled Grass, Indonesia.
ORANGE SWEET - (Citrus sinensis), cold pressed fresh peel, Portugal.
MANDARIN - (Citrus deliciosa), cold pressed fresh peel, Italy.
(Citrus aurantifolia), cold pressed fresh peel, Brazil.
(Cymbopogon winterianus) steam distilled grass, Indonesia.
CINNAMON BARK - (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), steam distilled bark, Ceylon.
GERANIUM - (Pelargonium graveolens & P. roseum), steam distilled leaf, Renunion Islands, Madagascar or Albania.
TEA TREE LEMON - (Leptospermum petersonii), steam distilled leaf, Australia.

CAUTION: Strong skin irritant and skin sensitivity. Use in weak dilutions of 1% or less. Careful storage is recommended as aldehydes have a quicker oxidative rate, recommend refrigeration. Please check each essential oil for more specific safety cautions.

READ next article in this series, Aromatherapy Archetypes - 12 Natural Healers: The Transformers of Aromatherapy - Ethers.

READ first article in this series, Aromatherapy Archetypes - 12 Natural Healers - The Male Athlete.

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All statements on this website are intended for informational purposes only.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

click for more information
click for more information

FREE Aromatherapy Course with Order ($197 Value)†

Soul of Aromatherapy FREE Gift ($197 Value)

Privacy Policy