The Art of Blending Essential Oils

Blending essential oils is all about inhaling!

Creating personal fragrances is all about experimenting - combining essential oils that you love from the very first inhale. When blending essential oils, the first skill you’ll need to develop is identifying aromas. Perfumers and aromatherapists catalogue aromas into components or “notes.” An individual essential oil can be categorized as a top, middle, or base note, first categorised according to musical scales by a Frenchman called Piesse in the 19th century.

It’s important to know that oils can have components of all three notes, so you’ll notice that each oil can have a top, middle, and base note. However, individual oils can be predominantly categorized as a single, dominant note. When blending essential oils, we choose oils from each category, essentially creating an aroma chord.

 

Top Notes (15-25% of your blend):

Essential oils that are classified as top notes normally evaporate very fast and typically have anti-viral properties. They tend to be light, fresh and uplifting in nature. Top notes introduce the perfume and are usually thin and mobile, with diffusive, sharp, penetrating, uplifting, refreshing, light, and/or fleeting attributes. Top notes are also known as head notes, the scents that are perceived immediately on application of a perfume. Top notes consist of small, light molecules that evaporate quickly. They form a person's initial impression of a perfume and thus are very important in the selling of a perfume.

Examples: Basil, Bergamot, Eucalyptus, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Mandarin,

Wild Orange, Peppermint, Petitgrain, Spearmint

Middle Notes (30-40% of your blend):

Middle note essential oils are considered the heart of the perfume and give body and balance to the blend. The aroma of middle notes is not always immediately evident and may take a couple of minutes to establish their scent. Middle notes are usually full-bodied, complex, and comprise the theme or focal point of the blend, while others augment, complement, balance and harmonize with the other notes. Middle notes are also referred to as heart notes, these oils tie the base and top notes seamlessly together.

Examples: Black Pepper, Cardamom, Clary Sage, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Cypress, Fir (Douglas, White), Geranium, Ginger, Helichrysum, Jasmine, Lavender, Melissa, Rose, Rosemary, Thyme,Ylang Ylang

Base Notes (35-45% of the blend):

Essential oils that are classified as base notes are normally very heavy and their fragrance is solid. It will be present for a long time and slows down the evaporation of the other oils. These fragrances are normally intense and heady. They are rich and relaxing in nature and are typically the most expensive of all oils. Base notes are the foundation on which the perfume is built and are dense, heavy, strong, deep and bring depth and solidity to a perfume.

Examples: Cedarwood, Frankincense, Ginger, Helichrysum, Myrrh, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Spikenard, Vetiver

NOTE: Myrrh, Patchouli, Spikenard and Vetiver are also known by Aromatherapists as “fixatives”, which are even deeper than base notes and draw the blend into the skin, giving it roots and permanence. Fixatives are usually overly pleasant by themselves and therefore should be used sparingly.

Are you ready to start blending?

To begin blending essential oils, choose essential oils that you believe will create a pleasant aromatherapy blend. Don’t worry what category they fall into (top, middle, or base). Keep it simple: choose 3-5 essential oils to begin with. I tend to blend single oils, rather than proprietary blends. These blends (such as those from the Emotional Aromatherapy range) are already blended to perfection. I rarely blend blends, but one example of a blend with a blend that I love is Balance with Elevation.

Step 1

Reflect on what fragrances you naturally enjoy. This will help you choose the right essential oils for your blend. Ask yourself if you like the zest of any specific herbs and/or spices or yearn for the smell of any specific flowers? Are you citrus or spice? Are you floral or woody?

Step 2

Perform an organoleptic test on the oils you’ve chosen. Place one drop of each essential oil on a perfume testing strip. Slowly draw the strip to your nose, creating circles in the air about a foot away. It’s helpful to note at what distance you begin to notice the aroma. Hold the testing strip to your nose, breathe in quickly at first, and then take a few slow, deep inhales.

Step 3

This is where you may want to start taking notes. Use any words you can to describe the images, thoughts, feelings, and sensations you experience. These could be shapes, textures, colours, sounds, emotions. Is the aroma heavy, sharp, dark, woody, loud?

Step 4

Let the essential oil evaporate for 10 minutes. Take a moment to get some fresh air or sniff some coffee grounds to clear your olfactory senses. Next, smell your testing strip again. Notice if the aroma is heavy or light. Did the initial aroma last long? Use terms such as mossy, fruity, floral, and green to describe the fragrance. Try to identify the main trait of the note. Is it nutty, grassy, or musky? Is it a shape or a personality? Let your imagination run wild!

Step 5

Be aware of your body. How do you feel physically and emotionally? Is your essential oil volatile, darting quickly up your nose and into the space between your eyes? Or has the oil travelled straight to your chest? Concentrate and take notes on where you feel the essential oil in your body and spirit.

Step 6

See if you can separate your chosen oils into top, middle, and base notes. Ideally, you will have at least two top, two middle, and one base note.

Formulating: How to Find the Perfect Balance in Blending

Now you have your oils, it’s important to consider the aroma strength of the oils you’ve chosen. Remember, strength is different from evaporation rate (how quickly the aroma evaporates from the testing strip); be careful not to confuse the two.

If one aroma is very powerful, you would not want to blend equal amounts of that into a formula as it will dominate. A great example is Lavender blended with Roman Chamomile. Chamomile has a stronger aroma than Lavender. Therefore, you need a bit more Lavender to compensate, otherwise, the Roman Chamomile will overpower the blend. To complement the aromas of both Lavender and Chamomile, you need to blend four to eight drops of Lavender with one drop of Chamomile.

Formulating: How to Find the Perfect Balance in Blending

Now you have your oils, it’s important to consider the aroma strength of the oils you’ve chosen. Remember, strength is different from evaporation rate (how quickly the aroma evaporates from the testing strip); be careful not to confuse the two.

If one aroma is very powerful, you would not want to blend equal amounts of that into a formula as it will dominate. A great example is Lavender blended with Roman Chamomile. Chamomile has a stronger aroma than Lavender. Therefore, you need a bit more Lavender to compensate, otherwise, the Roman Chamomile will overpower the blend. To complement the aromas of both Lavender and Chamomile, you need to blend four to eight drops of Lavender with one drop of Chamomile.

Formulating: Choosing the Right Ratios for Your Essential Oil Blend

You can start blending essential oils by creating an aroma wand: a few drops of the five oils you have selected on five separate perfume strips. Create a fan with these strips in your hand so you can waft them back and forth in front of your nose all the while inhaling. This is the time to adjust your ratio based on aroma strength.

The standard ratio for a perfume blend of essential oils is 5% in a 10mL bottle, which equates to 10 drops of essential oil. A few drops either side is fine.

Once you have your perfect blend, add to a glass rollerball bottle, top with dōTERRA's Fractionated Coconut Oil or another carrier oil, leaving a small gap at the top for air. Give it a shake and let it sit. The constituents (natural chemicals) contained within the oils will get cosy with each other and the aroma can change, usually rounding out a bit. The aroma will develop over time – let it sit for a few days. Make sure you write your blend down in a notebook – you will want to refer to the recipes later.

Enjoy your pure-fume!

If you are looking to purchase pure essential oils at wholesale prices 

for your blends, then click here. This will take you to dōTERRA's online store.

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