Blending does not have hard and fast rules that must be followed to create that wonderful blend that you’ll love for a lifetime.
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Essential Oil Blending Tips
Blending does not have hard and fast rules that must be followed to create that wonderful blend that you’ll love for a lifetime. The lack of limits and restrictions is what makes perfumery an art form. Having said that, a few tips will help get you off to a fine start:
When creating a new blend, start out small with a total number of drops of either 5, 10, 20 or 25 drops. 25 drops should be the most that you start with. By starting small, you waste less oil in the event that the blend does not ultimately provide the therapeutic results that you seek.
Start creating your blend by only using essential oils, absolutes or CO2s. After you have designed the blend, then you can dilute it by adding carrier oils, alcohol, etc. If you hate the blend you created, you have then not wasted any carrier oils or alcohol.
Keep a notebook that lists each oil that you used with the number of drops used for each oil. When the creative juices flow, it is easy to get carried away and later forget the exact recipe for your blend; one drop too much or too little of even one oil can drastically change the aroma of your blend. When you find that perfect blend, you want to be able to reduplicate it, and it’s near impossible if you didn’t take notes! If you are especially ambitious, it’s also a wise idea to note the vendor name of the oil that you used as the aroma and quality of oils do vary between vendors (even with the same vendor, the aroma of oils can vary from batch to batch, due to crop fluctuations and resourcing).
To store your beautiful creations, perfume sample bottles and 2ml amber “shortie” bottles are very inexpensive and can often be purchased from aromatherapy vendors and glass bottle companies.
Be sure to label your blends clearly. If you don’t have enough room to specify exactly what your blend is, label it with a number that corresponds to a number in your notebook.
Start off your blending experiments by creating blends that are made up in the following ratio (you do not have to be exact – this is just a guideline to get you started): 30% of the oils are top notes, 50% are middle notes, and 20% are base notes. See the chart attached to find out what oils belong to each category.
Some oils are much stronger than others, especially the absolutes and CO2s. Study oils you wish to use in a given blend and observe the oils that have the strongest aromas. Unless you want those oils to dominate the blend, you will want to use dramatically less of the stronger oils in your blend. See the chart attached for the intensity of the essential oils.
To learn more about the strength of oils, it is useful to try experiments where you add one drop of a selected essential oil to 5 drops carrier oil to get a 20% dilution, smell it, study the aroma, then add another 5 drops of carrier oil to get a 10% dilution, smell it and study the aroma again, then repeat as desired. This can help educate you on the characteristics and strengths of each essential oil at various dilution ratios.
If you do not immediately love your creation, be patient. Blends undergo great transformations as they age, and over time your ‘mistake’ could evolve into an aromatic treasure. After creating your blend, allow it to sit for a few days before deciding if you love or hate it. The constituents (natural chemicals) contained within the oils will get cozy with each other and the aroma can change, usually rounding out a bit.
Oils in the same category generally blend well together. I hesitate in specifying that particular categories blend well with other specific categories because it can limit your creativity and experimentation. Additionally, there are always exceptions. But to get you started, below are some categories that generally blend well together:
Florals blend well with spicy, citrusy and woodsy oils.
Woodsy oils generally blend well with all categories.
Spicy and oriental oils blend well with florals, oriental and citrus oils. Be careful not to overpower the blend with the spicy or oriental oils.
Minty oils blend well with citrus, woodsy, herbaceous and earthy oils.
Storing Essential Oil Blends
Store your finished blend in as small a bottle as possible (amber or cobalt blue glass bottles are best). Aromatherapy blends (and all essential oils) should be kept cool, away from direct sun. To make a perfume, mix the blend with a small amount of carrier oil (jojoba is ideal), distilled grain or grape alcohol.
Be sure to keep detailed notes and label all your blends so you can reproduce your successes or adjust blends that do not satisfy you. Keep in mind that essential oils tend to vary somewhat from crop to crop, so a reproduced blend may differ slightly from your original.
When essential oils are blended, a certain effect, e.g. a calming, uplifting antiseptic effect, can be enhanced by blending the most suitable essential oils.
This concept is referred to as a synergy. For example, bergamot may be blended with a variety of oils, each time enhancing a particular aspect of the bergamot.
Classical Blending Techniques
In the nineteenth century a Frenchman, Septimus Piesse, developed a method of classifying odors according to the notes in a musical scale. He transposed the idea of musical harmony into the realm of fragrances where the notes corresponding to each scent formed perfectly balanced chords or harmony when they were combined.
The practice of classifying essential oils and perfume ingredients into top notes, middle note and base notes still forms the basis of creating a well-balanced perfume and these principles may be applied to aromatherapy. A good perfume composition should harmoniously balance essential oils in these three categories.
A combination of orange and sandalwood, for example, can be very fresh and fruity at first, becoming more woody and balsamic later.
Perfumers have developed analytical techniques for determining the odor intensity. The odor intensities presented below are obtained for appeal and are rated on a scale from 1 to 10. Often the odor intensity may be used as a guide to blending. The key to balance is to achieve olfactory equilibrium which occurs when two or more essential oils are in a mixture and no single essential oils dominates the odor of the blend.
For example: if making a blend of frankincense and lavender, the respective odor intensities are 7 and 5. This means that the frankincense odor is stronger than that of lavender. As a result, mixing one drop of frankincense and one drop of lavender does not produce a fragrance representing both essential oils. Frankincense would dominate. To create a blend which can be perceived as a balanced combination of both essential oils it may be necessary to mix one drop of Frankincense to 3 drops of lavender (or even more).
Blend equalizers are those essential oils that will smooth out the sharp edges in a blend. They will balance the blend and allow it to flow harmoniously. The main purpose of the blend equalizer is to hold the blend together, but it has little effect on the blend’s distinctive personality.
Rosewood, Spanish marjoram, orange and tangerine would be blend equalizers. Fir and pine are ideal to use with cineole-rich essential oils.
Blend modifiers will give the blend a lift and contribute to its distinctive personality. If the blend is rather flat and uninteresting, adding a drop of a modifier may improve it. They should be used sparingly as they have the ability to greatly affect the overall fragrance of the blend even when used in very small amounts.
Blend modifiers include essential oils such as clove, cinnamon, peppermint, German chamomile, cistus and vetiver
These essential oils have pleasant fragrance and slightly modify the blend without overpowering it.
Blend enhancers include essential oils such as bergamot, cedar wood, geranium, clary sage, lavender, lemon, lime, may chang, palmarosa, sandalwood, spruce, jasmine, neroli, rose otto and myrrh.