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

Smelling a blend of essential oils on ‘scent strips’ during a perfume making workshop.

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 and choose oils for their qualities, 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.

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