One of the coolest things about essential oils (EO’s) is the process of mixing them together to make something totally unique. So it surprises me when people seem hesitant about blending. There is a tendency to over think and focus on doing it ‘right’. The creativity is forgotten.
This is not to say that blending essential oils should be a strictly random pursuit. Ideally we want to find a balance between the two extremes. Having some idea what you’re doing will net better results, as well as save time and money. Below are my tips for the novice at blending.
1. Clarify your purpose.
Are you blending for therapeutic purposes or do you just want to make something that smells good? If your blend is going to be used therapeutically you’ll need to research the uses and contraindications for each oil. In Aromatherapy, fragrance is not always the first concern when one sets out to make a blend. Aromatherapists usually try their best to make a blend smell great, but function is the top priority. If you want to duplicate a recipe then research the oils before hand to make sure the resulting blend will be safe and appropriate to suit your purposes.
2. Start small. And cheap.
Blend in 10-20 drop increments. If the recipe is successful, increase the ratios and make a larger batch. If the recipe is awful, at least you didn’t waste much essential oil. This is especially important when working with EO’s that are expensive or hard to find. Allow yourself to get a feel for blending with less expensive EO’s first. However, don’t be tempted to work with fragrance oils. They’re cheap but they do smell and behave differently so the experience you get won’t be helpful when you transition back to essential oils.
3. Know your notes.
Base notes, middle notes, and top notes. The key characteristic of essential oils is their volatility, which means the scent molecules evaporate into the air. Some evaporate quickly, some slowly. Knowing how your essential oil is classified will help you figure out what role it should play in your blend.
- Top Note- the very first impression of a fragrance. Top notes evaporate faster than other notes and need to be blended with heavier oils if you want the scent to last. Some EO’s that are top notes: All the Citrus fruits, Anise, Eucalyptus, Cinnamon leaf.
- Middle Note– what you smell after the top note has worn off. The middle note is most characteristic of a blend. Middles help to anchor the top note and provide a bridge between the base and top, so the blend seems more balanced. Some EO’s that are middle notes: Lavender, Chamomile, Clary Sage, Rosemary, Nutmeg, Ylang Ylang, Petitgrain, Cedar, Carrot Seed.
- Base Note– also called the dry out. The base note is what is left after the middle and top notes have evaporated. The base note helps the blend last longer on the skin, provides depth, and holds the other scent molecules down so they evaporate slower. Some EO’s that are base notes: Vetiver, Patchouli, Myrrh, Sandalwood, Cinnamon Bark, Benzoin, Rose Absolute.
4. Keep records.
Record the details of a blend using the number of drops for each oil. Be sure to also clearly label your containers. It’s best to put your blend away for about a week before testing the fragrance. Let the molecules form a bond so you can smell a true blend rather than being able to easily pick out each component. Record your impressions. Do you love it? Hate it? Is your blend good but missing something? The act of recording each recipe and making notes on your results will sharpen your instincts for picking oils that work well together.
And probably the most important tip- Just create. Stay in the moment and have fun. Express yourself by allowing your thoughts and emotions to guide your choices. No second guessing. Accept the fact that everything you make won’t be great and that is perfectly all right.