The Art of Blending Essential Oils

My main purpose with this blog is to help you to develop your own relationship with using essential oils and experimenting with blending is one of the most fun aspects of this, there is constant opportunity to learn, be creative and experiment.

Introduction – choosing ingredients.

IMG_2610

Creating a blend can be a lot like cooking, I like using this analogy as most people are familiar with making things in their kitchen and blending essential oils is very similar in lots of ways. Instead of using the dried herb or seeds to season your meal, you’re using the oil, that has been pressed or distilled from the plant, to enhance your bath oil or face cream etc. One of the main reasons I choose and use essential oils on a day to day basis is to nourish and support my body, often the same reason I choose to eat certain foods (although I have to admit -sometimes I eat for comfort or distraction but that’s another story).  Ultimately, my intention when cooking or blending essential oils, is to make something that supports my body, wether it’s specific symptoms I’m addressing or I just want to enjoy the oils in a nurturing, confirming way through out my day.

Inspiration

Honey And Rose Panna Cotta with subtle flavours of rose and cardamom. Photo care of Unimed Living
Honey & Rose Panna Cotta with subtle flavours of rose and cardamom. Photo care of Unimed Living

Food often inspires me when I’m creating blends too and this recipe for Honey & Rose Panna Cotta is a great example, as after my mouth stopped watering, I made a blend of almond oil with rose and cardamom essential oils. It gives a middle eastern feel, very soothing, refreshing, deeply nurturing and nourishing in the bath, or as a massage oil.

Click here > for the Panna Cotta recipe and more inspirations.

Preparation

I love putting together blends of oils and I also love cooking, but I don’t always have as much time as I would like, and I can allow it to feel like just another task I have to fit into my day. So, for moments like this, I like to have some pre-made blends that I can use so that I’m not making things in a rush, or with out the quality and integrity I know I can bring when I make the space to do so with out any pressure. Just like when I don’t feel like cooking, I have lots of soups or curries in the freezer I can eat, so I still get a lovingly prepared meal, when I most need it.

Blending rules

The rules are there are no rules! -Well, that’s not quite true, because essential oils are incredibly potent, so you do need to observe any cautions they may have, (see List of Essential Oils for cautions).

Your essential essence…

IMG_2604

Whether I’m making something for a specific medical condition or just a lovely bath blend, I like to go with what ever I feel. I have noticed that different people have their own style when blending and when watching them I have been surprised at the combinations they come up with, things I would never have tried myself, yet they work perfectly. Each person can bring their own unique essence to a blend,  a little bit like with cooking; if a group of 100 people made a lasagne, not one of the meals would turn out exactly the same, they would each have their own way of doing it, from ingredients to presentation and all the details in-between. In the same way, if I asked someone  (even a qualified aromatherapist) to make a blend for a cold or for eczema, they would each end up making a unique product. Even if they did happen to choose the exact same oils, they could still have a different ratio, a different base and different method of application, each person brings their own essence and style to the blend.

The oils are so versatile, with many varied properties and effects, so there is certainly no right or wrong oil in any circumstance (apart from using an oil when there is a caution). Some oils have a more intense scent than others so you might choose a lower ratio to allow more delicate oils to come through, but then the scent could still work with even ratios, it would just have a different character and balance -for details on balancing the blend see my blog post on Top, Middle and Base notes.

Good practice

Photo care of Self-Love Affair
Photo care of Self-Love Affair

As you play around and get to know essential oils, your style, what you like and what works for you, I recommend that you record your recipes. I have a little ‘blending’ note book to write everything in, and I make sure I record the number of drops and the rest of the ingredients. This is because you might end up with something you really love, or a blend that someone asks you to re-create, then you have all the details handy to make it up again. I’m speaking from experience of course which is why I have developed a slightly more organised way of working. It means if I decide I want something to be a little more lavender, I can refer back to how many drops I used, and increase them.

I am also a big fan of the ‘Jamie Oliver’ style of making recipes, a shake of this, and a splodge of that as I have sometimes found myself stuck using the same oils and techniques in the past. Just watch out for essential oils that have maximum blend strength cautions and most of all, have fun!

Useful blogs for blending:

How many drops should I use? -this blog will help you to choose the appropriate blend strength depending on the purpose of your product.

List of the most popular Essential Oils, their Uses and Cautions. -this blog will help you to choose which essential oils to use, depending on the purpose of your product.

Blending Essential Oils using Top, Middle and Base Notes – this blog will help you understand the practise of making a well balanced blend.

Thank you to Unimed Living & Self Love Affair for sharing your beautiful photos!

How to Blend Essential Oils using Top, Middle and Base Notes.

IMG_2639

Many people like to put a blend together by using a top, middle & base note. This is typical in perfumery, but also popular in aromatherapy, as people like to get a ‘well rounded’ scent. It basically means that the blend is put together with a range of oils or scents that will come into play at different times -at the beginning, middle and end. It’s not something I consciously try to do, as I like to focus on the purpose of the blend, but it can be a useful guide especially when you are building confidence and experimenting.

Top notes you will smell immediately, I like to think of them with their molecules widely spaced and jumping around a lot, so when you take the lid off a bottle of perfume, they are straight out of the bottle and are the first to enter the nasal passage and be recognised by the sensory nerves. Examples would be oils like lemon, lime and other citrus oils.

Middle notes will come through after a little time, I like to think of their molecules as more evenly spaced and a little more stable. A middle note would often be floral oils such as lavender and rose and herby oils like basil and thyme. Put simply, something in-between a top and base note.

Base notes may not be immediately apparent.  As their molecules don’t move around very much it takes time before you are able to recognise the aroma. They have the benefit of lingering long after the top note has disappeared and often at the end of the day, if you still smell perfume on your skin then you are just left with the base notes. Examples would be woody oils like sandalwood and myrrh. If you smell these from the bottle the scent is very subtle, if it comes out of a cold place you often can’t smell a thing but when it’s warmed on the skin it begins to take shape.

Don’t feel like you have to make the blend tick all the boxes to get it right, you don’t want it to reign in your creativity, so if you feel like putting 3 middle notes together or just base and top notes, then go for it, the blend will have it’s own unique quality.

Useful blogs for blending tips:

How many drops should I use? -this blog will help you to choose the appropriate blend strength and number of drops to use depending on the purpose of your product.

List of the most popular Essential Oils, their Uses and Cautions. -this blog will help you to choose which essential oils to use, depending on the purpose of your product, including which ones to avoid.

A List of the most popular Essential Oils, their Uses and Cautions.

A list of the most popular Essential Oils, their Uses & Cautions (in alphabetical order).

To help you choose which essential oils to use in what ever you’re making, be it bath blend or room scent, here is a list you can refer to with some of their most useful properties and any cautions you need to be aware of.

I will be constantly updating this list, so if there are any essential oils that do not appear yet or that you would like more details on, then please contact me, or comment on the post and I can add to the list.

Basil (sweet basil) ~ Supports digestive problems, another great oil for a tummy balm blend.

Caution ~ Avoid in pregnancy (due to varied methyl chavicol/estragole content). Maximum 2% blend strength. 

Basil essential oil

Black pepper ~ Similar to eucalyptus in effect – powerfully clearing, specifically great for respiratory system, especially lungs. Also great for muscle aches & pains but black pepper is much more warming and gentle than eucalyptus. A lovely oil to use in the evening in a bath blend, or if you feel you are run down or ‘coming down’ with something.

Caution ~ possible irritant to some in high dose.

Cardamom ~ Gently soothing tummy aches and nausea, supports appetite and is refreshing and comforting. A great oil for children, for travel sickness or for morning sickness.

Chamomile (german) ~ Very anti-inflammatory, so perfect for any condition with inflammation from bumps and bruises to arthritis and gout. It’s also good for skin inflammation especially bites, but Roman Chamomile ay be more suitable if it’s for delicate sore skin, as it’s more gentle.

Caution ~ Sensitisation possible, avoid with ragweed allergy.

Chamomile

Chamomile (roman) ~ Gentle, soothing and calming, great for very delicate skin, and skin conditions. Relieves itching, and allergies.  See my blog on Chamomile for Skin Conditons  for more details. A great oil for children.

Caution ~ Potential sensitivity to those with ragweed allergy.

Clove ~ Very powerful pain reliever, especially where there is nerve pain. Useful for toothaches and for warming and releasing aches and pains.

Caution ~ Maximum blend strength 1%. Sensitisation possible. Caution with hyper sensitive, diseased or damaged skin. Not suitable for children under 2 years.

Eucalyptus (globulus) ~ Powerfully clearing, specifically great for respiratory system, especially lungs. Also great for muscle aches & pains.

Eucalyptus radiata ~ this species of eucalyptus is more gentle than the globulus, so I would use it with children, elderly, or if someone feels the globulus is too fierce.

Frankincense ~ A fantastic skin oil, very good for dry and mature types. Also good for calming and focusing on breathing so very useful in a burner to scent the room and to help calm anxiety.

IMG_2976

Geranium ~ Very sweet and feminine, balances the endocrine system, a great oil to use to support females cycles and any hormone related issues, including irregular periods and menopause. A very lovely, sweet and fresh oil for young women.

geranium essential oil

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) ~ Powerfully cleansing and clearing. Helps clear stress and tension. Great for supporting sleep. Very anti-microbial and great natural antiseptic. See my blog on Lavender Essential First Aid  for more details.

Caution ~ There are no cautions with Lavandula angustifolia, it is a very user friendly oil, but just ensure you buy a pure, good quality oil, especially if you intend to use it neat on your skin -you don’t want to be using a synthetic perfume quality oil on a spot or graze.

IMG_1721

Lemon ~ Cleansing and detoxifying, ideal for using in a face cleansing balm (with lavender). Fantastic oil to use in a burner to cleanse and brighten the atmosphere especially when someone is sick.

Caution ~ Phototoxic, meaning it reacts with sunlight (and sun beds), so avoid use on skin if exposed to sunshine. Citrus oils have a shorter shelf life, meaning they react with oxygen much quicker and can cause sensitisation and irritation.

Lemon essential oil

Mandarin ~ Very gentle to the skin, soothing and calming, a lovely one to add to an evening blend or for use in a blend for stretch marks. A great oil for children.

Myrrh ~ Deeply healing skin oil, especially for festering, difficult to heal wounds.  Great for connecting to and supporting breathing very gently. See my blog on Myrrh Essential Oil for more details and Gargling with Myrrh for oral problems.

Caution ~ Avoid in pregnancy, although can be useful in 3rd trimester to prepare for birth -seek professional advise here though.

Myrrh

Neroli (orange blossom) ~ Apart from smelling completely beautiful and delicate, it is very soothing and calming to the nervous system, and so has an amazing effect on all that the nervous system controls, so this would include digestion, muscle tension & emotions. It is a great oil for melting stress, and anxiety.

Peppermint ~ Great for muscle aches and pains, sometimes has a tingling sensation, great for refreshing feet. Supports digestion, would make a great tummy or foot balm.

Caution ~ Do not use if cardiac fibrillation. Maximum blend strength 3%. Avoid use with babies.

Rose (Rose otto – Rosa damascena or Rose absolute – Rosa centifolia)~ Deeply nurturing, great for those self-loving moments. Very supportive for women and men. A gorgeous oil to use in beauty and skin care, particularly for mature and dry skin.

Leonardo da vinci flower study

Thyme (Mild – Thyme linalool)~ Powerfully anti-microbial, and anti-fungal, great for coughs, especially deep chesty ones. A fantastic oil to include in a blend for athletes foot.

Caution ~ Use this mild version of thyme. Avoid use on hyper sensitive or damaged skin. Do not use with children under 2 years. Maximum blend strength 2%.

herbs

Yarrow ~ this unusual bright ink blue oil is highly anti-inflammatory and is great for any conditions where inflammation is present e.g. gout, arthritis, allergies, pain, breaks, strains. See my blog on Yarrow Essential Oil for more information.

Caution ~ yarrow can contain a varying amount of camphor in it, which means it is advisable to avoid with epilepsy, in pregnancy, and could cause sensitisation in ragweed allergy sufferers.

yarrow essential oils

Note: Always ensure you buy good quality essential oils from a trustworthy source. I will be launching my own range of essential oils very soon, in the meantime you can contact me to purchase: laura@essentialoilsandyou.co.uk