There are so many essential oils out there. Sometimes I choose the one I want by smell, sometimes I choose by looking up the properties first. A lot of the time I just stick to a few that I know I like, but what if you actually want to create a beautifully balanced scent, such as one you would use in a diffuser, spray, massage oil, potpourri or candle? How do you blend essential oils for fragrance?
My blends are a bit ‘meh’
There are lots of oils that I love, such as bergamot, grapefruit and lemon, but the fragrances are quite subtle and don’t last very long. If I was to use these oils for a massage blend, they would smell pleasant but not amazing. This is because there is no depth; these lighter oils typically need to be ‘fixed’, or held down by other richer, deeper oils for a fuller, more balanced fragrance.
When perfumiers blend fragrances for actual perfumes, it is a long process of mixing and matching various smells. It is not so complicated for the casual home user but there are methods which we can borrow from perfumiers to make our blends of essential oils a bit more sophisticated and have more impact.
Top, middle and base notes
To create a balanced fragrance, we need to select a blend of essential oils which include a top, middle and base note.
Top/headnote: This is the first impression of a perfume, it is typically the lightest, freshest aspect of the blend. The odour typically doesn’t last very long. Examples of top notes are:
petitgrain, bergamot, lemon, lime, mandarin, tea tree, peppermint, rosemary.
One thing to remember is that some oils are naturally more pungent. Citronella and peppermint come across as quite powerful on first contact, despite being classified as top notes. You may need to use less of these. Let you nose be your guide.
Middle/heartnote: When the top note wears off, this will make up the main body of the perfume. Compared to the top note it is usually richer, more rounded and pleasant. Examples of middle notes are:
lavender, pine, geranium, juniper, fennel, cinnamon, neroli, chamomile, jasmine.
Base notes: Deep and rich, they last the longest on the skin and become apparent once the top notes wear off. They are the underlying fragrances that add depth to the blend. Examples of base notes are:
frankincense, yang yang, cedar wood, cypress, black pepper, patchouli, vetivert, sandalwood.
Character of a blend
In addition to creating a balanced blend which incorporates all three notes, you can decide on the ambience or character that you want to create. For a smoky, deep, heady aroma, you may want to have a larger percentage of base notes. For a herbal or floral fragrance, use predominantly middle notes. However, do try to use all three notes whenever possible.
How to choose the right blend of essential oils using tester strips
An easy way to try out a few mixtures is to use strips of paper, like the ones you get at perfume counters. Cut out out some paper strips and drop your oils onto them in the proportion you are thinking of. Make sure you label each strip with the oil blend and the proportion. For example, you might write:
1 drop lemon, 2 drops lavender, 2 drops yang yang.
Keep the strips apart from each other and leave to dry. When you smell them you’ll have a better idea of how the oils work together. Now all you have to do is choose your favourite blend!
Top Tip! Re-use the strips to fragrance your drawers and handbags or repurpose them as bookmarks.
Did you enjoy my article? What are your favourite blends? Please share in the comments below!