How much is enough . . . Essential Oil

by Sj
(Arizona)

I am still very new to soap making, and am looking to make my soap as natural as possible so I have been adding essential oils to my soap in an effort to not only add the benefits of the EO but for the aroma as well.


The problem for me is I obviously have not been adding enough because after a few days of curing you can barely if at all still smell the EO.

Since the EO can be pretty expensive I am looking to use what is needed but not to be excessive while still getting the aroma therapy effect.

I always check out the hand made soaps when I am out and many of them have such strong scents and they claim to be using EO.

Is there a recommended standard without breaking the bank or a supplier with bulk price break? Thank you for your guidance.

Answer:

Essential oils are not all created equal and they can be tricky to use.

Take a look at my page on Blending Scents for an explanation on the 3 catagories that essential oils are classified in.

The general rule of thumb is to add between 3%-5% by weight of base oils. This means that if your recipe has 1000 grams of base oils, you could add between 30 - 50 grams of essential oils.

As with all rules, there are exceptions. Take Anise oil. It is very strong and it's unlikely that you would need anywhere near 3% of it to scent a soap. Same goes for scents like clove and cinnamon. In fact, those two spice oils could easily sieze a batch of soap and cause sensitivity if too much of either is used.

Now take citrus scents. They pretty much disappear in soap if they are used on their own. They are top notes and are very volitile. I sometimes wonder if that first sniff sucks all the scent away!

I have found it best to try to use scents from each of the 3 catagories. Top notes to add the first blast of scent, middle notes to add body and complexity and finally base notes that ground the scent and give it a longer life. Many base notes are considered to be fixatives which will make the scents last.

I understand your reluctance to add too much scent. The price on some can be very prohibative. Check out the suppliers listed on my Suppliers Page. Compare prices and shipping costs. I find it best to pick a few favorites and buy in volumes of 4 oz or 100 grams or larger since much of the cost is the bottle.

Happy Soaping,
Cathy

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