Essential Oils for Soap Making

Essential oils work wonderfully in soap making. They provide a natural way to add scent to your homemade soap recipes and the selection available is astounding.

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We now have access to scents that come from all corners of the planet and are widely used today in aromatherapy to help heal the body and mind. 

Happily, almost all soap making suppliers carry a large variety of essential oils at quite reasonable prices. Of course, prices do vary from oil to oil.

Rose oil requires around 2000 lbs of rose petals to produce a single pound of essential oil which makes it quite expensive.

Orange peels on the other hand are full of oil which is why orange oil very inexpensive.

Essential Oils for Soap Making

Historically, essential oils were categorized based on the musical scale system of top note, middle note and base note.

This classification process, invented by a Frenchman by the name of Piesse, is still followed today though to a lesser degree. 

Top notes are fleeting. Their scents are highly volatile but provide that first flush of scent. 

Middle notes take longer to notice and provide body to a scent blend.

Base notes are rich, heavy scents that are long lasting. They are slow to evaporate and act as a fixative in a blend.

To make a well balanced blend, it is a good idea to try to pick oils from each category.

Use the table below to become familiar with the different essential oils and their characteristics and then try your hand at mixing them together into blends you find pleasing.

Toothpicks are a good tool to use to create scent blends without wasting expensive essential oils.

I just dip the tip of a toothpick into the oil and call that one drop. After I have a few toothpicks scented, I put them together to see if I like that blend.

Once I find a combination that I like, I put the toothpicks in a container and come back later to see if I still like the blend or if it needs more work. 

My best advice is to follow your nose. Everyone has a different idea of what smells good so you might as well make one that you like. 

Sometimes we want our soap to serve a dual purpose. We may want it to cleanse our skin and provide healthful benefits.

The list below contains essential oils categorized by the benefits or qualities they are said to have.

By carefully selecting your essential oils, you could create an aromatherapy soap that helps to repel insects while also acting as a deodorizer....not a bad idea for a camping soap!

Acne - Bergamot, Chamomile, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon, Palmarosa, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Benzoin, Cedarwood, Clove Bud, Frankincense, Grapefruit, Lemongrass, Lime, Mandarin, Patchouli, Pepermint, Petitgrain, Rosewood, Sandalwood, Spearmint, Tangerine, Thyme and Ylang Ylang.

Anti-Bacterial - Peru Balsam, Black Pepper, Chamomile, Citronella, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Geranium, Ginger, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Sweet Marjoram, Neroli, Nutmeg, Sweet Orange, Oregano, Palmarosa, Patchouli, Pine, Rose, Sandalwood, Tea Tree and Thyme.

Anti-Septic - Anise, Peru Balsam, Basil, Bay, Benzoin, Bergamot, Black Pepper, Cedarwood, Cinnamon Leaf, Citronella, Clary Sage, Clove Bud, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Frankincense, Geranium, Ginger, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Mandarin, Sweet Marjoram, Myrrh, Neroli, Nutmeg, Oakmoss, Sweet Orange, Oregano, Patchouli, Peppermint, Petitgrain, Pine, Rose, Rosemary, Rosewood, Sandalwood, Spearmint, Tangerine, Tea Tree, Thyme, Vetiver and Ylang Ylang.

Aphrodisiac - Black Pepper, Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Clove Bud, Ginger, Jasmine, Neroli, Nutmeg, Patchouli, Rose, Rosemary, Rosewood, Sandalwood, Thyme and Ylang Ylang.

Astringent - Bay, Benzoin, Bergamot, Catnip, Cinnamon Leaf, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Geranium, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Myrrh, Patchouli, Peppermint, Rose, Rosemary, Sandalwood, Spearmint and Thyme.

Athletes Foot - Lavender, Myrrh, Tea Tree, Clove Bud, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Lemongrass and Patchouli.

Chapped/Cracked Skin - Benzoin, Myrrh, Patchouli, Peru Balsam and Sandalwood.

Dandruff - Bay, Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Lavender, Patchouli, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus and Lemon.

Deodorizing - Benzoin, Bergamot, Citronella, Clary Sage, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Lavender, Lemongrass, Lime, Neroli, Patchouli, Petitgrain, Pine and Rosewood.

Depression - Bergamot, Jasmine, Lavender, Neroli, Rose, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang, Basil, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Geranium, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lemongrass, Sweet Orange, Patchouli, Peppermint, Petitgrain, Rosemary and Rosewood.

Dry Skin - Chamomile, Jasmine, Sandalwood, Peru Balsam, Frankincense, Lavender and Rosewood.

Eczema - Bergamot, Chamomile, Lavender, Rose, Patchouli, Benzoin, Peru Balsam, Cedarwood, Geranium, Myrrh, Palmarosa, Peppermint, Rosemary and Thyme.

Hair Growth (promoting) - Bay, Basil, Grapefruit, Rosemary and Ylang Ylang.

Insect Bites - Chamomile, Lavender, Tea Tree, Bergamot, Basil, Cinnamon Leaf, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Thyme and Ylang Ylang.

Insect Repellant - Cedarwood, Citronella, Lavender, Bergamot, Basil, Catnip, Cinnamon Leaf, Clove Bud, Geranium, Lemon, Lemongrass, Patchouli, Pine, Rosemary and Sandalwood.

Insomnia - Lemon Balm, Lavender, Chamomile, Neroli, Basil, Catnip, Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Mandarin, Sweet Marjoram, Petitgrain, Rose, Sandalwood, Tangerine, Thyme, Vetiver and Ylang Ylang.

Mature Skin/Wrinkles - Frankicense, Neroli, Rose, Carrot Seed, Clary Sage, Fennel, Myrrh, Palmarosa, Patchouli, Rosewood, Rosemary, Jasmine, Manderin, Lavender, Geranium and Ylang Ylang.

Oily Skin - Bergamot, Geranium, Lavender, Sandalwood, Tea Tree, Bay, Carrot Seed, Citronella, Sweet Fennel, Jasmine, Juniper Berry, Lemon, Lemongrass, mandarin, Palmarosa, Patchouli, Petitgrain, Rosemary, Rosewood, Clary Sage, Thyme, Vetiver and Ylang Ylang.

Psoriasis - Bergamot, Lavender, Benzoin and Carrot Seed.

Rashes - Chamomile, Lavender, Peru Balsam, Carrot Seed, Sandalwood and Tea Tree.

Wondering how much scent to add to cold process soaps? Opinions on this matter vary just as much as each individuals sense of smell. My general rule is to add between 3% - 5% per pound of base oils. For example, for every 1000 gr of oil used in a recipe, you can use between 30 - 50 grams of scent.

Some essential oils are much stronger than others so this rule will vary depending on the oil you use.

You will need far less anise, cinnamon, clove, patchouli and mint in your recipe than lavender, sweet orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime and chamomile.

Cold process soap making can be a harsh environment for essential oils and the curing period can sometimes leave the scent wanting. The use of a fixative can help to remedy this problem.

Fixatives are ingredients that are used in soap making to hold or "fix" a scent to the soap. They are quite useful when you want to make oils like sweet orange or other fleeting top notes last longer.

Base note essential oils, benzoin powder, orris root powder and kaolin clay are all examples of fixatives that can be used in soap making.

Use caution when handling essential oils. They are very concentrated and some can be irritating to the skin when not diluted. This information is provided for reference use only and is not meant to substitute the advice of a licensed health care professional.

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