Blending essential oils 101- perfumery, beginner

How to blend essential oils for aromatherapy and natural perfumery

This exercise is aimed at getting you started, stuck in and proceeding without fear of your outcomes! So, please enjoy yourself and the process.

Beginners guide for starting to blend. This procedure is the one I use and suggest in beginners workshops for natural perfumery and aromatherapy. Keep in mind that this stage is about experimentation and learning about aromas, so there is no wrong outcome for this exercise.

Begin your blending by selecting one or several essential oils (EO) or aromas that you already know – lemon, orange, lavender, eucalyptus, even rosemary. Take the time to smell the EO by putting a drop on a tissue or a paper strip and inhaling the aroma. Take a pause and smell it again and think about the different aspects of the aroma. Consider:

  • bright or citrus notes – often citrus type aromas have a sunny/bright /optimistic appeal
  • floral notes – what can you identify in the EO. It may  be familiar or foreign to you, but it is reminiscent of flowers. Possibly you can distinguish rose, neroli or other florals.
  • green notes – smells like grass, leaves or ‘herby’
  • wood notes
  • easily identified and obvious aromas. If you can just smell lemon, for example, at least you have a memory for that aroma. so when you smell an unusual EO you can identify a ‘lemony’ note in it. This is the case with frankincense.

Write down your own impressions about each EO if it helps you. Now you have a basic concept of what your selected EO’s smell like. You can proceed to blend them. If you have selected several EO’s you can combine them to create a perfume. Let’s use this example.

Using jasmine, peru balsam, bergamot and sandalwood I would consider what I already know about the EO and its aroma. If I do not know then I would follow the procedure above. At this stage, I do not expect everyone to know whether the EO’s are top, middle or base notes. For this exercise do not worry about this. Rather, choose a selection that you like and want to work with.

So, how many of each oil?  You can research recommended blending rules and proceed from there. Some rules are based on aromatic ‘strength’ or odour strength. But in my opinion, you need to form your own olfactory memory (scent memory) by experimenting with the EO’s yourself. By all means use literature as a guide, but don’t let it restrict your creativity and flair.  This is often the hardest part and I have seen students spend long minutes fearfully delaying the opening of an essential oil bottle. Just remember to keep a tally of each EO in your recipe. Here are some options to get you started-

  1. use equal parts of each oil. So, a drop of each and see how it smells to you. Vary drop by drop as you go.
  2. use more of the oils you like or want to feature in the perfume
  3. use drop by drop, keeping a tally as you go, of each EO until you arrive at a scent you like
  4. use recommendations. Appell suggests the following as a guide to odour intensity. On a scale of 1-10
  •  lavender/lemon/orange/neroli/clarysage/bergamot/rosewood = 5
  • lemongrass/rosemary/fennel/cedarwood/spike lavender/ylang ylang = 6
  • patchouli/black pepper/peppermint/cinnamon/basil/myrrh/jasmine = 7
  • rose/eucalyptus/clove = 8
  • cardamon/bay/chamomile = 9

You can try different methods, but I would proceed in the following manner. Jasmine is a strong floral absolute, and I want it to be the focus of the perfume. Peru balsam and sandalwood have good fixing (create odour length and adhesion to skin) properties as well as creating a powdery, woody sweetness to the blend. Bergamot adds a bright, green, light citrusy aspect to lift the blend. As I know these EO’s well I would use 25% jasmine, 5% peru balsam, 30% sandalwood, 40% bergamot OR for an essential oil blend of 20 drops – 5 drops jasmine, 1 drop peru balsam, 6 drops sandalwood, 8 drops bergamot.

For your own use, take notes and record your dis/likes of your blend. Blending takes experience and reflection. The important thing to remember is that you are learning and forming a memory of aromas and how they work together. If you create something you like then it is a good blend.

You can add your EO perfume blend to 5-10 ml of carrier oil and revisit it at a later stage to see how it has developed.

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