A blend of essential oils is usually done either for therapeutic benefits or for aesthetic purposes. A good knowledge of essential oils is required to make a successful blend. For this you must first know the purpose for which the oil will be used. A good essential oil blend ensures the oils are used in their pure natural form for only then will they deliver the required benefits. Understanding the nature of essential oils, their aroma profiles and specific characteristics is a must before you begin the blending process.
Essential Oils Blending Factors and Process
Proportion of the blend depends on the oil. Usually it is a minute quantity, for essential oils are very potent and can cause skin allergies if the wrong proportion is blended. For example, for aromatherapy, only 2% essential oil is needed to be blended with the carrier oil. Hence, for 20ml of carrier oil, you need around 10 drops of essential oil to prepare the blend.
The part of the skin being treated plays an important role in the blend. For a person with sensitive skin, 2% dilution is the right blend. However in sensitive areas of the face, you need only a 1% dilution. Do not use extremely stimulating oils like marjoram or black pepper on sensitive areas.
The compatibility of essential oils is critical in the blending process. Some blend well while others can inhibit one other. While personal experimentation is the best way to know the correct essential oil blend prior knowledge can also help. Those who wish to blend essential oils must also know the broad groups into which they are categorized based on the aroma.
- Floral – jasmine
- Woodsy – pine
- Earthy – patchouli
- Herbaceous – rosemary
- Mint – peppermint
- Medicinal – eucalyptus
- Spicy – nutmeg
- Oriental – ginger
- Citrus – lemon
Once you know this category, you will also know the essential oil blends that harmonize well.
- Floral – citrus or woodsy
- Woodsy – all categories
- Spicy and oriental – floral, citrus
- Mint – herbaceous, earthy, woodsy or citrus
One property of essential oils is that the aroma changes after a few hours. So, when blended oils evaporate, the aroma will change, for some dissipate sooner than others. This is why a proper combination of different notes is needed to harmonize your blend.
Understanding the client profile is critical for aromatherapy. Always find out their health problems, sensitivity issues, emotional needs and other problems before using a particular blend. For example, for pregnant women and children a 1% dilution is recommended. In this, the skin type is critical not only in choosing the essential oils but also in the blend. The dilution must be done perfectly to avoid adverse skin reactions. Keep in mind what the treatment should achieve – cure some side effects of an illness, relaxation or uplift the mind.
The preference of the client also plays a role in the blend. Each person has individual likes and dislikes and different people can react in different ways to the same aroma. So, check out personal preferences before making your blend.
Aesthetic appeal of essential oil blends while not so critical to its therapeutic functions nevertheless plays an important role. Especially when used in a diffuser lamp, aroma is a powerful way to relax the mind of people. Hence, it is important to consider the strength of the odor when these oils are blended. A less powerful and toned down odor is usually preferred.
The cost also plays an important role in the blending process. Aromatherapists must blend the right quantity and number of oils. Unnecessary addition of oils when fewer oils can have the same effect will simply add to the cost. Use a maximum of three to four oils to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy.
The nature of essential oils, this depends on the three stages of changes that take place when the oils get exposed to air. Their aroma profile changes and they go through the top, middle and dry out stages. This is when the volatility of the oils corresponds to three characteristic notes. The top notes refer to fast acting, highly volatile and unstable aroma. The aroma is subtle and lasts only for a fleeting moment before it dissipates. After this note evaporates, the oil goes through the middle note stage. This is when the body of the oil is the best, most balanced and provides the finest aroma. From this note, the base notes begin to develop slowly. During this middle stage, the base notes are more noticeable and the compounds are less volatile.
Finally the base notes evaporate and the dry out stage is entered. At this stage, the aroma of the oils is bittersweet and powdery indicating there is still a small bit of the oil present. Based on individual aromas, essential oils also can be classified into the various notes.
- Bergamot – top note
- Clary sage – middle note
- Patchouli – base note
Variations in Blending and Blending Basics
When an essential oil blend is created, make sure you have the right balance between all three notes for only then will the complex aroma of the oil be achieved and the therapeutic benefits be enjoyed. For this, you need to analyze the aroma profile of essential oils. Place a drop on a blotter paper, concentrate and inhale the aroma. Note your impression about the quality and aroma and build a file with your ideas. There is no right and wrong way of blending.
Some aromatherapists use crystals and others the Eastern ‘Yin’ principle when blending. Professionals must also consider the client profile, synergy of the oils and if they have been blended in the safe proportion.
Blending of essential oils is considered more an art than a science although intimate knowledge of these oils is essential to achieve the perfect blend. Hence, practice blending several times, and only through a process of trial and error will you be able to achieve a satisfactory blend. So, start with one type of oil, slowly progress and soon you will know the nuances, individual aroma and peculiarities of each essential oil.