Scent customization made simple: The ultimate essential oil blending guide
Are you curious about the essential oil blending process? Interested in developing new essential oil combinations or recreating blends you love? Or excited that the personalization trend now extends to custom scents? Then this guide is just for you.
Creating your own personal essential oil combinations is as rewarding as it is relaxing. You can do so in a matter of minutes or stretch it out over an entire day. All you need to do is follow your nose!
- Gather your tools
- Carrier oils
- Droppers/pipettes/reducer caps
- Essential oils
- Perfume blotters/cotton balls
- Small glass storage bottles/blending bottles
- Scent families
- Understanding fragrance notes
- Top notes
- Middle notes
- Base notes
- Start creating your diffuser blend
- Research into essential oil blends
- Antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties of three essential oil combinations
- Efficacy of essential oil blends in wound healing
- Abilities of proper essential oil blending for repelling insects
- Benefits of essential oil blend inhalation on sleep
- Essential oil blends for treating respiratory infections
- Using your new scent
- Bathing with them
- Create compresses
- How to use essential oil combinations effectively
- Always dilute them properly
- Remember, not all essential oils are equally potent
- Check that your chosen essential oils are appropriate for what you want to use them for
- How will I know which oil is what note?
- Should I combine essential oils with a base of some kind to make them safe for the skin?
- How many different essential oils are typically used when essential oil blending?
- How do I start making essential oil combinations?
- Is it safe to blend essential oils?
- Blend your way to better health and well-being
You can begin with a single carrier oil or stock up on more than one when you’re first creating your essential oil blending toolkit. The best way to decide which carrier oils you need is to narrow down what you’re going to be using your blend for.
As is the case with essential oils, some carrier oils are rejuvenating and others are calming. Fine-tune your selection so that your ultimate goals for your blend are met.
The most popular options from Volant include our 100% organic Blueberry Seed Carrier Oil, Jojoba, Plum and Rosehip Carrier Oil. Jojoba is a great all-purpose carrier oil while blueberry seed, plum and rosehip carrier oils have particular antioxidant, anti-aging, moisturizing and non-comedogenic properties.
Most essential bottles come with reducer caps, but if these aren't available, keep droppers or pipettes handy so you can control the process when you’re making essential oil blends for diffuser use or any other purpose.
You’ll need at least 3 essential oils when you start experimenting with diffuser blends. You’ll have to have one representing the top fragrance note, one for the middle and one for the base.
Although preferences vary widely, most people consider bergamot, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, rosemary and tea tree essential oil to be staples.
Essential oil blending charts are widely available online, so we recommend that you study these to determine which oils you’re going to need.
You’re going to be working with pure, undiluted products when you start creating essential oil combinations, and these are particularly potent. You want to avoid the oil coming into contact with your skin directly, so gloves are a must to reduce the risk of a skin reaction.
Perfume blotters/cotton balls
You’ll need to smell and note down how your diffuser blends affect you and how they transform as they disperse. Bear in mind that different fragrance notes will come to the forefront during different stages, and be sure to make a note of which ones do what and when.
Small glass storage bottles/blending bottles
Dark glass bottles in sizes 1/24 oz, 1/8 oz and/or 1/4 oz work well when you’re blending essential oils in small batches. The glass won’t react with the oils, and the fact that they're dark will help retain your diffuser blends’ longevity.
Essential oils are categorized based on which scent family they belong to. These scent family descriptions can help focus on the scent you’re looking for and then direct you toward the appropriate oils to choose. There are eight scent families to choose from:
Oils are also classified according to their evaporation rate and their therapeutic properties.
Understanding fragrance notes
When you consult your essential oil blending chart, you’ll notice that the result of your blend can be likened to a musical chord, with a top, middle and bottom note.
When you start essential oil blending, think of the top notes as the first impression an aroma gives you. They're usually sharp and light and tend to evaporate quickly - between 5 and 10 minutes - so, sniff your blotter immediately to pick up on these.
Sweet orange essential oil, lemon, bergamot, lemongrass, grapefruit, lavender, spearmint and eucalyptus are considered to be top notes.
The next fragrance you’ll experience when creating essential oil combinations is the middle note. These are the primary part of the scent and may last as long as 2 hours.
Popular middle notes include Roman chamomile essential oil, geranium, tea tree, ylang ylang, spruce and rosemary.
The final part of our fragrance chord is the base note. It’s also sometimes referred to as the bottom, dry out, or fixative of the aroma.
Classic base notes include cedarwood essential oil, frankincense, vanilla and peppermint, and their scent will last 4-6 hours.
Start creating your diffuser blend
Image Source: Wellness Aromas
We recommend that you start by consulting your essential oil blending chart and identifying which base notes appeal to you and suit your purposes.
Remember that these notes will last the longest and, while some may not have much aroma, they play an important role in supporting your middle and top notes. Add between 1 and 3 drops to your vessel.
The next step in the essential oil blending process is adding your middle note oils. Using 2 to 4 drops is recommended, making up the body of your blend.
And the last step for creating essential oil combinations is the addition of your top note oil(s). These will be the first impression your blend makes and, if properly mixed with middle and base note essential oils, you’ll find your new aroma creating various enjoyable scents as it unfolds.
And now the fun really begins!
Now test some of your essential oil blend for diffusers by adding a couple drops to your cotton ball or perfume blotter and inhale. Observe and note how the aromas interact as they evaporate. If you want to boost an ingredient that’s not playing as prominent a role as you’d like, now’s the time to add it.
Retest your new diffuser blend 24 hours later to see if any more adjustments are necessary, and don’t be afraid to get creative.
Research into essential oil blends
Scientists are increasingly concluding that using essential oils to treat different physical, mental and emotional states really does work. Testing in laboratory settings has revealed the following fascinating results:
Antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties of three essential oil combinations
A study of cinnamon, wild carrot, eucalyptus essential oil and rosemary blends proved that they have a significant effect on a wide range of bacteria and some viruses including H1N1 and HSV1. They also found that cinnamon, wild carrot, clove and oregano oils were antifungal against six strains of Candida. This means that essential oil blending may be valuable when treating colds, flus, post-influenza pneumonia and fungal infections, among other things.
Abilities of proper essential oil blending for repelling insects
A combination of cinnamon and lemongrass essential oil in a 2019 field study was found to be useful in creating a spatial repellent for mosquitoes. This tactic, in conjunction with others, was found to be instrumental in shielding humans from bites by these bugs.
Benefits of essential oil blend inhalation on sleep
As effective as the inhalation of 2 drops of lavender oil within 30 minutes proved to be in decreasing anxiety and positively affecting sleep latency, duration and quality, blending it with bergamot essential oil proved more effective in this 2021 study.
Essential oil blends for treating respiratory infections
In a study titled “Essential Oil Blends: The Potential of Combined Use for Respiratory Tract Infections” published in 2021 in the journal Antibiotics, 369 essential oil combinations were tested against bacteria and yeast known to cause respiratory tract infections in lung cells. Five distinct essential oil combinations were found to have the best antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities while being safest for the lung cells. These blends were cypress and tea tree oil, hyssop and rosemary essential oil, marjoram and tea tree oil, myrtle and tea tree oil, and oregano and tea tree essential oil.
Using your new scent
When you’ve created a combination of fragrances you like, you’re not limited to only using your essential oil blends for diffuser use.
Take a look at your essential oil blending chart to uncover the exact properties of the oils you’ve used and apply them appropriately by:
Bathing with them
Add a few drops of your diffuser blend to your bath, combining the benefits that inhalation offers with those that topical applications deliver.
When you know that you’re not limited to using your new recipe just for when you’re looking for diffuser blends, you will be able to benefit from their use in hot or cold compresses too. Find out which oils treat what and use them accordingly.
Study your essential oil blending chart or check out our blogs at Volant to find out which oils are recommended for various mental, emotional and physical ailments, and create a combination that targets what you need help with.
Diffuser blends disperse the oils very effectively into your immediate environment and allow you to take advantage of what they offer as you go about your business.
You can also breathe the scent of your chosen essential oils directly from the bottle or add a few drops to a bowl of hot water, a cotton ball, a tissue or a towel and inhale it like that.
If you’re suffering from aches and pains, your essential oil blending chart will help make short work of creating a combination to treat whatever ails you. Just be sure to dilute your oils properly with your chosen carrier oil.
How to use essential oil combinations effectively
Even though essential oils are 100% natural products, there are some guidelines that are essential to follow when you start using them in any capacity.
Always dilute them properly
Unadulterated essential oils are effective natural additions to many different aspects of our lives. But they remain powerful compounds. It’s important to treat them with the respect they deserve to use them correctly and enjoy their maximum benefits.
Even a single drop of essential oil contains an enormous concentration of herbal properties, so ensure you dilute them sufficiently before applying them in any capacity.
Whatever dilution method you end up selecting for topical use, the final content of essential oil shouldn’t exceed between 0.5% and 2% of the total blend. This amounts to between 3 and 12 drops of oil per finished product, depending on the volume you’re making.
Charts and calculators are widely available online, so don’t be afraid to use them!
When creating essential oil combinations for body care formulations, the 2% final content of oil to total end-product volume takes into account that these oils are applied frequently and liberally to large areas of the body. It also takes into consideration that fragrance is usually a secondary concern to the primary function of soothing and/or moisturizing.
If you are taking up essential oil blending with an eye toward creating perfumes, however, things are different. Because these formulations will be used more sparingly and applied to localized areas, a slightly higher proportion of oil to carrier is recommended. In these cases, allow for up to 5% of your final product to be essential oil.
Remember, not all essential oils are equally potent
Do your research about the nature of the essential oils you’ll be using when you’re creating your own recipes.
Check that your chosen essential oils are appropriate for what you want to use them for
For example, oils that don’t do well in sunlight won’t work properly when included in a recipe for a hair treatment. Always make sure you research each oil's attributes before you begin combining it with any others and using it for a specific purpose.
How will I know which oil is what note?
A quick online search will reveal which notes your chosen essential oil offers. Bear in mind that there may be some overlap.
Should I combine essential oils with a base of some kind to make them safe for the skin?
Yes. Carrier oils dilute these potent oils enough for them to be used safely directly on the skin.
How many different essential oils are typically used when essential oil blending?
Beginners should start with just three oils. The limit for perfect synergy seems to be five.
How do I start making essential oil combinations?
Experiment with 1 drop of the base note oil, 3 of the middle note and 1 drop of the top note oil. Then add 20 drops of carrier oil.
Is it safe to blend essential oils?
Yes, as long as you do so responsibly.
Blend your way to better health and well-being
Essential oil blending is something everyone can do, and the results are both therapeutic and aromatic. It’s a very creative endeavor and one in which you use your physical sense of smell with the more intangible one of intuition, along with a basic knowledge of each oil’s individual characteristics.
As you become more familiar with scent families, fragrance notes, evaporation rates and therapeutic properties, the essential oil blending process will become easier and more satisfying.
Using the reflective, systematic instructions outlined here, you can develop the understanding and skill necessary to make balanced, harmonious, pleasing blends that you develop and refine over time.