Perfumery

The aromatic blending of essential oils for the sheer pleasure of the aroma is a combination of creativity and science.  But there are therapeutic benefits too, determined by the inherent natural properties of each essential oil combined.  Sometimes, there is a synergy created that causes combinations of essential oils to be more powerful and effective than just one by itself.

There are approximately 500 essential oils commercially produced.  They are grouped according to their scent profile as follows: floral, citrus, woodsy, spicy, earthy, minty and herbaceous.

In the perfume industry scents are referred to as top, middle or base notes depending on their aromatic nature.  Top Notes are lighter and more volatile.  They are generally considered more stimulating and refreshing.  Middle Notes are soft and balanced and usually make up a majority of a blend.  Base Notes are deep and heavy and have the lowest evaporation rate.  Thus their scent lingers in the air the longest.  Essential oils are volatile which means that they evaporate completely when exposed to air, but at different rates depending on the specific essential oil.

Fixatives are particular essential oils with properties that slow down the rate of evaporation of the more volatile materials in a perfume composition, causing only gradual changes in the aroma of the perfume as the ingredients in it fade away.

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Top Notes

are 10 to 30% of your total blend.  They introduce the perfume and usually have diffusive, sharp, penetrating, uplifting, refreshing, light, and fleeting attributes.

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Middle Notes

are 30 to 60% of your total blend. They 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.

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Base Notes

are 15 to 30% of your total blend.  They are the foundation on which the perfume is built and are dense, heavy, strong, deep, tenacious and supportive (some with fixative qualities).

Essential Oil Perfumery Aroma and Note:

Basil – Herb: Sweet / Top

Bergamot – Citrus: Sweet / Top

Bois de Rose – Woody: Floral / Top or Middle

Calendula – Herbal: Sharp / Middle

Cedarwood – Woody / Base

Chamomile – Fruity: Apple / Middle

Cinnamon* – Floral:Sweet / Middle

Clary Sage – Green: Tea / Middle or Base & Fixative

Cypress – Woody / Middle

Frankincense – Earthy: Light / Base & Fixative

Geranium – Floral: Green / Middle

Ginger – Spicy: Fresh / Middle or Base

Grapefruit – Citrus: Sweet / Top

Jasmine Absolute – Floral: Heavy / Base

Juniper – Woody: Fresh / Middle

Lavender – Herbal: Sharp / Middle or Top

Lemon Verbena – Citrus: Lemon / Top

Litsea Cubeba – Citrus: Lemon / Top

Oregano –  Herbal: Sharp / Top

Myrrh – Earthy: Light / Base & Fixative

Neroli – Floral: Sharp / Middle

Patchouli – Earthy: Rich / Base & Fixative

Peppermint – Minty: Sweet / Top

Rose Absolute – Floral / Middle

Rosemary – Herbal: Tea / Top

Rosewood – Floral: Sweet / Base

Sandalwood – Woody: Sweet / Base & Fixative

Spearmint – Spicy: Mint / Top

Sweet Orange – Citrus: Orange / Top

Tangerine – Citrus: Orange / Top

Vanilla Absolute – Spicy / Base

Vetiver – Earthy: Rich / Base & Fixative

Ylang Ylang – Floral: Heavy / Middle

* Caution: skin irritant, use in very small amounts.

Here’s some help to get you started in choosing your essential oils:

  • For a Fresh and Energizing perfume add Grapefruit , Ginger or Vetiver essential oils.
  • For a Romantic and Floral perfume add Rose, Lime or Vetiver essential oils.
  • For a Sensual and Earthy perfume add Sweet Orange, Ylang Ylang or Cedarwood essential oils.

By and large, your perfume blend should reflect your personal tastes.

However, there are a few general rules to keep in mind:

  • Identify in advance the feeling or mood you want your perfume to evoke.  If not familiar with the scent profile of all of the essential oils, start by smelling a drop of each on a fragrance strip.  Then group them according to which note (top, middle, base) category they fall into.
  • Next, evaluate strength; when blending oils together, the aroma strength of each separate essential oil should be taken into account. For example, Chamomile and Lavender may be your favorite scents, but are they balanced? Chamomile is a middle note and Lavender is a top note. If you were to mix one drop of each, your perfume would be imbalanced; Chamomile would dominate. Therefore, to create a balanced perfume you would want to blend one drop of Chamomile essential oil with four drops of Lavender.  Try this.  It is a great experiment to help you understand aroma dominance.
  • Additionally, you need to be aware of any safety precautions for all essential oils you use and follow all safety precautions.

Also, if you have a specific therapeutic effect you wish to create or avoid, then pay close attention to which oils will lend themselves to that outcome.

Blending Oils

Blending essential oils is easy and fun, just keep good notes and follow a few simple guidelines:

  • Essential oils are hydrophobic meaning they don’t mix with water.  So, use a carrier oil or combination thereof to blend the essential oils into, to maximize the scent throw.
  • Allow blends to age a minimum of one week before adding them to a carrier oil.
  • Usually a 10 to 15% dilution of essential oil into a carrier oil is appropriate.  The Best Carrier Oils:  Aloe Vera, Avocado, Coconut, Evening Primrose, Grapeseed, Jojoba, Meadowfoam, Olive, Rosehip Seed, Sweet Almond.   Note: coconut, jojoba, and sunflower oils do not turn rancid.
  • All essential oil blends should be stored in dark glass bottles in a cool, dark place.

Preparations for Blending:

  1. Large, clean surface covered with paper towels on which to blend in a well-ventilated area.
  2.  Have available glass droppers or plastic pipettes for transferring oils.
  3.  A small glass with a small amount (½ inch) of vodka or grain alcohol to hold the used droppers/pipettes; swish the alcohol in and out of the droppers/pipettes several times to rinse them after each essential oil.
  4.  Fragrance tester strips (or coffee filters cut into long thin strips) to compare aromas and a pen to label them.
  5.  A blending bottle to hold your designer fragrance!
  6.  Perfume Journal – very important to keep detailed, accurate notes (even those that are not successful), if you wish to replicate a recipe.

STEPS FOR OIL BASE PERFUME:

  1.  Start simple! We recommend choosing no more than 3-9 essential oils to begin with.
  2.  Work with the base notes first (up to three). Start by evaluating the aroma of each base note on its own scent strip, then in different combinations by holding the scent strips together; decide what base notes you want to work with (you may decide to use only one). Do the same with up to three middle notes and up to three top notes (again, one middle or top note may be what you choose). Once you have decided what base, middle and top notes would work together, blend 2 drops each of the base and middle notes together in the small blending bottle; smell the blend on a scent strip. You may decide to add an additional drop or drops of either a base or middle note until you have a blend that you like, making sure to smell the effect of each new addition on a scent strip. When satisfied with the blend of base and middle notes, add your top note(s) one drop at a time, again smelling after each addition. Make sure to keep careful notes.
  3. Remember that you can always add a drop but never subtract.
  4.  Gently swirl or shake well after each addition to help your oils combine with one another.
  5.  Before adding the carrier oil to your perfume blend, allow your finished blend of pure essential oils to age for 2-3 weeks in the labeled, dated and tightly capped dark glass bottle. The blend will change as it matures and you can tweak it as it ages; don’t forget to note changes/any additions in your journal!
  6.  Decide on your dilution ratio of perfume blend to carrier oil and blend together. Usually a 10 to 15% dilution of essential oil into a carrier oil is appropriate.  If you want 1 ounce of perfume then combine 4.5 ml or approximately 180 drops of your essential oil blend (15%) to 25.5 ml of jojoba oil or other carrier oil.
  7.  Store in a labeled (glass only!) perfume bottle (preferably dark) with a tight fitting closure.

HELPFUL MEASUREMENTS

1 ml  =  30-50 drops, depending on viscosity and size of the drop;  Approx. 40-50 drops per ml for thin oils such as citrus and lavender oils;  more viscous (thicker) oils such as vetiver and sandalwood will be approx. 30-40 drops per ml.