How to Blend Essential Oils – How Many Drops Should I Use?

A simple and creative way to bring essential oils into your everyday life is to add them to daily house hold products.  Something like a shower gel, or face cream would be ideal or even fabric conditioner. Choose something fragrance free or with a natural or mild perfume, otherwise the essential oils you choose may not be noticeable above the fragrance already present or if essential oils are already in the ingredients, adding more could increase the ratio to more than is safe.

Once you have your chosen base, add some of your favourite essential oils to the product and mix them in (see below for inspiration or click here to choose from the range of essential oils). It’s important to know how much essential oil to use because they can irritate the skin if not diluted appropriately.

I have put together 2 charts to help you with this (and a more comprehensive one at the end of the article for when you feel more confident), the first is for general use (which gives a 2% blend strength), and the second for any products being used on sensitive skin, or more delicate skin such as very young or aged skin (which gives a 1% blend strength).

2% General blend strength
Amount of base product No. of drops of essential oil to add
10ml 4
30ml 12
50ml 20
100ml 40
1% Delicate blend strength
Amount of base product No. of drops of essential oil to add
10ml 2
30ml 6
50ml 10
100ml 20

How to mix essential oils into your chosen products:

Sometimes it’s easy enough to remove the cap, add the appropriate number of drops to the bottle and give it a shake to disperse the oils evenly.  I often use a chopstick to stir in essential oils to a pot of cream.  If you have something very thick in a container that you can’t stir through, you may need to pour the product into a mixing jug first to blend the essential oils thoroughly, and then pour back into the original container -a funnel is particularly useful here.  You may also notice that the product becomes a little thinner when the essential oils have been added -this is normal.

Every day body care products and household products you can add essential oils to:

These are some every day products you can easily enhance with a few drops of essential oil, and some suggestions that would work well with their intended use -make sure the original product is fragrance free (organic, natural and children’s products are often more gently scented):

  • Shampoo ~ Rosemary and orange (for dark or thin hair), or chamomile and lemon (for fair hair)
  • Conditioner ~ Rosemary and orange (for dark or thin hair), or chamomile and lemon (for fair hair), benzoin and orange (for all hair types)
  • Shower Gel ~ Lemon and lavender (detoxifying & cleansing), eucalyptus and peppermint (clearing and invigorating).
  • Bubble Bath ~ Lavender and mandarin (cleansing & calming), roman chamomile and neroli (soothing and very calming).
  • Hand soap ~Lavender (cleansing) or rose (nurturing).
  • Face cream ~ Rose and frankincense (for dry, mature skin) or chamomile and neroli (soothing and gentle for sensitive skin).
  • Body cream ~ Benzoin and mandarin (protective and nourishing), geranium and rose (balancing and nurturing).
  • Washing Up Liquid ~ Lavender (cleansing) or basil and lime (fresh and zingy).
  • General Surface Cleaner ~ Lemon or citronella (detoxifying).
  • Bathroom Cleaner ~ Lemon, peppermint, eucalyptus and/or thyme (detoxifying and powerfully anti-microbial).
  • Laundry Liquid ~Lavender (cleansing) and lemon (detoxifying).
  • Fabric Conditioner ~ Lavender (cleansing) or geranium and orange (balancing).

Caution: Because many of these products are usually already fragranced, I would recommend you choose a fragrance free version, or something with a very gentle scent that you can enhance with additional essential oils.   A brand called Urtekram do a perfume free range that would be suitable.  Children and baby products are often fragrance free, and can be gentler with less aggressive ingredients, although this is not always the case.  Organic and sensitive skin ranges may also be fragrance free.

Tip: If I have any essential oils that are past their best then instead of throwing them away I use them in cleaning products around the house.

Essential Oil Blend Strength Chart – how many drops of essential oil to use when blending.

Use this chart to help you decide how many drops of essential oil to add to a base.

  • Up to a 1% blend strength – for use on the face, delicate and sensitive skin.
  • Up to 2.5% blend strength – or general use on the body
  • Up to 5% blend strength – for perfume making or when you are treating a specific area eg. a balm for chest infection or arthritic knee.

Screenshot 2017-07-28 13.08.18

A Basic Introduction on How to Use Essential Oils

I have learnt far more by experimenting and actually using essential oils myself rather than from books, but there is still a lot of important information to know that will help you understand and get more of a feel for how to use them.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are naturally produced by many plants and can be found in their seeds (coriander & fennel), fruits (mandarin & lime), flowers (rose & orange blossom/neroli), leaves (basil & geranium), woods (cedar wood & sandalwood) roots (ginger & angelica) and resin (frankincense & myrrh).  The essential oil is extracted from the plant material, usually by a process called ‘Steam Distillation’ which involves passing steam through the plant material to release and capture the essential oil molecules (more intricate details will appear in a future post).

There is another method, mainly used with citrus oils, called ‘expression’, where the oil is literally just pressed from the peel of the fruit. You can actually release the oil yourself if you dig your finger nail into the peel of an orange or lemon, as you pierce the cells you will be able to see and smell the essential oil.  Make sure you use an ‘un-waxed’ fruit, the waxed kind have been sealed.

Citrus fruit peel yields a lot of oil compared to other parts of plants, but you can probably still imagine that it would take the peel of many oranges to make a little 10ml bottle of Orange Essential Oil.  This should also highlight how concentrated the oil is.  Some plants yield a very tiny amount of oil in comparison, for example, roses.  It takes around 1200 rose flowers (that’s flowers not petals!) to make just 1ml of rose essential oil, which equals around 40 drops of extremely precious oil!  This should go a little way to addressing the high price of rose oil and other delicate floral oils, which generally hold a very small amount of essential oil.

What are the effects of essential oils?

Hopefully, you now have a good sense of the potency of essential oils and perhaps an idea of how powerful their effects can be.  You may be aware of how they are widely used to help us relax, and used as ingredients in bath oils or room sprays and that they are found in many beauty products to help improve our skin, but there are many other ways they can help support us both on a physical level and on the way we feel. The fact that they have such strong scents can have very tangible, immediate effects on our bodies and our moods.  All essential oils I have come across have anti-microbial properties which make them particularly suitable for using to help treat illness and disease, and can have various effects on all systems in the body from the endocrine to the digestive system.

How do you use essential oils safely?

Realising the potency of essential oils can also highlight why there are some safety precautions to observe and why it’s important to dilute them when using them on your skin.  In their neat form, they are way too strong for to use directly on the skin and  can cause tingling or burning sensations, and other reactions.  Diluting them in a vegetable oil is ideal as they themselves have many nourishing properties that your skin can also benefit from.  Generally they are full of vitamins and fatty acids that help keep skin healthy and vital.  They also help the essential oils absorb into your skin more easily.  Some other modes for diluting essential oils include honey, milk or aloe vera gel -water based products are not appropriate as the essential oils are hydrophobic (water-hating), and will not mix together.  You do not need to dilute essential oils when using them in a burner, diffusor or for inhalation (all methods to be covered in future posts). See my earlier blog post: Essential Oils in the Shower for details on using essential oils in a burner.

Always dilute essential oils before using them on your skin -including in the bath.
Various modes of application to the skin include:  massage, bath, compresses, skin care preparations such as creams or balms and neat application*.  They can also be used by inhalation (using diffusor, burner, steam inhalation or directly from a tissue) and they can also be used internally. The versatility and range of applications of the oils allows for your own personal input that means they can really support you in your life.  For example you can chose to give yourself a foot bath each night, (with a mix of peppermint essential oil and olive oil) when you get home from work because you have a job where you’re on your feet all day, and that’s what really supports you; or there may be a certain oil that helps calm your breath when feeling stressed or anxious, (e.g. frankincense, lavender or neroli essential oil) and you keep a little bottle in a your hand bag  to dot on a tissue and gently breath in for when you feel to use.  This is what i really love about the oils, that you can bring them into your daily, weekly or monthly routine to support you in so many different ways -all shared throughout this blog!

*Note: It is generally accepted that lavender and tea tree essential oils can be used neat on the skin. See my blog post on Lavender, Essential First Aid, for more details on using lavender or tea tree.

How to Make a Bath and Massage oil Blend

I have come up with a few favourite bath and massage blends over the years and I like to make a bottle up so it is ready to use when I’m in the mood.

You can make your own blend up with the following instructions or use the recipes I have shared below:

100ml Bath & Massage Blend Recipe

100ml of your choice of vegetable oil (eg. almond, apricot, or simply olive oil from your kitchen!)

50 drops or 2.5ml of your choice of essential oil

~these can be one or a combination of oils, but keep the totals to 100ml for the vegetable oil and  2.5ml (50 drops) for the essential oil.

Directions: If the vegetable oil you have is in  a 100ml bottle, then you can simply add the essential oil(s) to this and give it a shake to disperse evenly.  You may need to pour a tiny amount of the vegetable oil out first to allow room for the essential oils.  If you have a larger container of vegetable oil you can either adjust the amount of essential oil you add (eg. double if you have a 200ml container), or measure out the 100ml in a kitchen measuring jug, add the essential oils and stir, and then pour into a 100ml bottle or container.  Ensure the container you use is completely dry, as if the oil blend mixes with any water it will go off.  You can usually buy empty bottles at chemists, department stores, or Muji in London, or you could try antique shops for some elegant glass containers.

Use: Add 1-2 tea-spoons in the bath (add just before you step in for maximum benefits).  See ‘Essential Oils in the Bath’ blog post for more on using your bath blend.

Delicious Bath

Turkish Delight Bath and Massage oil Blend ~Nurturing, relaxing and refreshing.

100ml Argan oil

Rose essential oil, 5 drops

Black Pepper essential oil, 25 drops

Cardamom essential oil, 20 drops

Vanilla Orange Bath and Massage oil Blend ~Soothes and eases tension, and great for the skin.

100ml Almond oil

Benzoin oil, 27 drops (this is quite a thick oil so you will need to shake well for it to mix evenly)

Orange essential oil, 16 drops

Neroli 7 drops

Each recipe above gives you a blend strength of 2.5%, which is appropriate for most skin types.  I would recommend dropping this blend strength to 1% (20 drops/100ml) for children, elderly and those with  sensitive skin.

These blends should last for 12 to 18 months, but keep them in a cool dark place to ensure they stay fresh because the oils are sensitive to heat and light (so a bathroom cupboard would be suitable, but not a sunny windowsill or shelf above a radiator).

They can also be used as a massage oil directly on the skin, or for moisturising  after taking a shower, you should notice it makes it easier to apply the oil to slightly damp skin and you also seem to use less of it.

As I cover more of the properties and effects of different essential oils, you will develop more of an idea on how to mix a blend up for specific purposes, in the mean time, please feel free to ask any questions or advise on making your own blends.

How to Use Essential Oils in the Bath

Delicious Bath

Using essential oils in the bath can be a deeply relaxing and nurturing experience.  One important point to be aware of is that the oils must be diluted before you add them, this is because they are very potent and can irritate the skin in their neat form.  I have heard many stories from clients who have sprinkled drops of oil straight into the bath and experienced anything from tingling sensations to nasty skin reactions, even unable to use that particular oil again, after developing sensitivity.  So, even though you may be adding the drops of oil to an entire bath full of water the drops do not actually mix with water (because they are hydrophobic), and will stay in droplets on the surface of the water, clinging to your skin as you enter, which is just like putting neat oil onto your skin.

To dilute the oil you must mix it with carrier oil / vegetable oil, a tea spoon of olive oil would work just fine (see ‘A list of Carrier Oils & their Uses’  for more options).  To make it easier to prepare I often pour a tea spoon of olive oil into an egg cup add and then add the essential oils to this.  I would suggest adding between 3 and 12 drops of essential oil depending on the oils you use and how strong you want the scent/blend.  To start with, you could use 6 drops of lavender.  You can use more than one oil, but keep the total number of drops of the oils combined between 3 and 12.  So you may like to mix 4 drops of Orange with your 6 drops of Lavender and perhaps a further 2 drops of Black Pepper (so 12 in total).  This would make a relaxing, warming bath blend, great for aches and pains at the end of the day. Give the mixture a little stir so the essential oils are evenly blended in the olive oil.

Now your bath blend is ready.  Wait until the bath is run and at the appropriate temperature for you and that everything else is prepared, e.g. towels warmed, candles lit etc. (how ever you like to set the scene).  Just before you’re ready to step in, pour the oil blend into the bath and give it a little swoosh to help it disperse, then lay back and enjoy.  Adding them at this moment ensures you enjoy all the wonderful benefits of the oil especially the scent.  If you were to add them as you start running the water (as I would with bath bubbles) the heat and steam created would evaporate a lot of the oil and by the time you lay in the water there would be little left to appreciate.  After bathing notice how nourished your skin feels, just a tea spoon of oil manages to envelope your whole body leaving it soft and smooth.

Simple Bath Blend Recipe:

1 tea-spoon Olive Oil,

3-12 drops of Essential Oil, eg. 6 drops Lavender, 4 drops Orange, 2 drops Black pepper.

Mix together and pour into the bath just before entering.

CAUTION: Be careful not to slip as you step out of the bath, as the olive oil can make it a little slippery.