Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's Not Just Scent, it's Essential

I love trying out new fragrances for my soaps. There is an oil for just about every scent you can imagine.  Some of the fragrances are essential oils, which are all natural and extracted from the seeds, roots, bark or berries of a plant. While others are synthetic fragrances oils. Sometimes fragrances are a combination of both essential oils and fragrance oils.

In my soap making thus far, I have relied mostly on fragrance oils, as they are generally less expensive and some fragrances just cannot be created using essential oils. For example, if I wanted to make a banana scented soap, I would have to use a synthetic oil as there is no banana essential oil.  I love using fragrance oils in my soap.  Not only is there a wide range of fragrance blends to choose from, they ones I buy have already been tested to stay true in the soap making process.  In all, the fragrance oil makes up less than 1% of the total recipe and all the aroma chemicals are approved for use in skin care products.

Occasionally, I do get requests for soap scented with only essential oils. Some want a more natural product, while others are looking for the aromatherapy benefits (I will be discussing the actual benefits of using essential oils in upcoming posts).  Because there seems to be enough demand for products using essential oils, I decided to try creating my own blends.

The essential oils ready for blending.
Not knowing where to begin, I started with a few suggestions from others.  I noted each drop that was added to the blend.  I kept going until I either thought it was perfect or a no-go.  It was really an unscientific process and quite subjective as to what smells good and what does not. I did, however, try to have lots of variety:  a floral blend, a citrus blend, a mint blend, etc.
A few of the blends, and my notes for each one.
In the end, I created about 20 different blends. Of those 20, six made it on to the next round of testing.  For each of those six, I made about 1/2 to 1 ounce of the blend.  Over the next several days, the individual essential oils will continue to  meld.  This blending over time could ultimately change the fragrance from what it initially was (for better or worse).

If the blends make it past the aging round, I will begin testing them in products - especially soap.  Fragrances must be able to withstand the high heat and chemical process of soap making.
Six blends made it on to the next round!
Blending essential oils to make pleasing (and functional) fragrances is obviously a time consuming process with a lot of trial and error, but ultimately rewarding when I can sell a scented product that I designed myself.

I will keep you posted on the results of my scenting experiment and the six fragrances from round one will be in the shop if you would like to stop in and give them a sniff.  I would also love to know what your favorite scent blends are, as they could end up being used in a future batch of soap!



  1. As you examine the list of ingredients on the bottle of a
    cream used to reduce wrinkles, you will often find the presence of various essential oils.  It makes sense that essential oils and
    wrinkles would have a connection because wrinkles are often associated with dry
    skin and oil is a moisturizing agent. 


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