The Musical World of Scent Blending
Hello everyone and welcome back! I hope you are all doing well and maybe even getting outside for some sun and fresh air. We had rain last night and there’s nothing better to me than that clean smell after a refreshing rain.
Speaking of scents, the topic for this post is scent blending. On this big beautiful planet, we are blessed to experience so many scents ranging from florals, citrus, spicy, woodland, green and herby, to earthy. I like them all and my favorites change seasonally.
As I sit here with my coffee listening to some old Eagles tunes, I realize that blending scents is much like putting a song together. Scents are divided into three categories: top, middle, and base notes. Top notes are the first ones your nose detects but they fade away quickly. This leads your senses right to the middle note, and then the last thing you can smell is the base note; base notes last the longest.
Each scent is in a different musical note category. Most florals like lavender, mints, and citrus scents are considered top notes. Middle notes tend to be like chamomile, jasmine, rosemary, and even cinnamon to name a few, while the deep earthy scents such as patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood, and frankincense are your base notes.
When I am playing with new combinations of oils, I use paper strips like in the photo below and a small glass jar. Using a pipette, I add drops of the chosen oils to the strip, making sure to write down how many drops of each I used. I seal the strip up in the jar and let it sit for a while. Later I’ll come back, uncap the jar and take a whiff. I make sure to notice which scent hits me first and last, and then I make adjustments if needed by adding more drops of oils.
Once I have the desired scent combination, I have to adjust the quantities to fit my recipe; using a few drops of oil is fine in lotions and bath bombs, but in soap recipes you literally use ounces. Both essential oils and fragrance oils have skin safety levels you have to adhere to so I always check with the manufacturer for that information; I don’t want my soap to irritate someone’s skin!
This method can be used with combining fragrance oils as well. I often have a fragrance oil that I feel needs a little something extra, so I will experiment by adding another fragrance oil or essential oils until I get it just right.
I would like to mention too that the fragrance oils I use are always phthalate free; meaning they are skin safe. Phthalates are used in the cosmetic, perfume and candle making industries to make the scents last longer. These synthetic chemicals are known to cause birth defects, respiratory problems, and issues with the endocrine system. Sadly, manufacturers are not required to list them in their ingredients.
Generally in the spring I lean towards floral scents, but in the summer I gravitate to the fruity ones, and more earthy scents in the winter months. As much as I love the whole process of making soap and skin products, I do get into a rut sometimes when it comes to creating new scents. I'm always looking for new combinations so if you have an idea let me know! What's your favorite?