Mixing Soap Making Oils
The first thing a lot of people do when they pick up a bar of soap is to bring it to their nose and smell it. This is especially true when buying soap from trade fairs. The reason behind the act is simple. Everyone loves and wants a great smelling soap. When soap smells good, not only do you smell good, but bathing becomes a much more enjoyable, much more luxurious experience. There really is nothing quite like being engulfed in the perfect blend of soap making oils.
Because smell is so important to consumers, it is also important for soap makers to make sure their products smell appealing. Many soap making recipes already come with blends for the fragrance oils or essential oils that should be used for that batch of soap. However, other recipes are free to experimentation with different soap making oils. Often, these recipes advise that you add your scent or scents of choice.
When dealing with just one scent, the process is easy. It gets tricky, however, when soap makers want to begin making their own unique blends, which often means mixing the essential oils. They will have to experiment with the scents and see what goes with what. After all, you don't want your soap to have such an overpowering smell that it gives consumers a headache!
Mixing essential oils requires that you understand the different types of scents available. There are three main types. The first are known as top notes, which are light stimulating fragrances that are often first to appear because of their quick evaporation. Second are the middle notes, which are long lasting fragrances that appear soon after the top note and compose most of the soap's scent. Finally, there are base notes which appear slowly and tend to remain.
To begin experimenting with scents, take a glass jar that can be sealed. Take three cotton swabs and the three oils you want to try and blend. First, dip one cotton swab into the first oil. You can also, when available, use the oil bottle's dropper to put one drop of oil onto one end of the swab. Put this first swab into the jar and seal it. Do this with the other two swabs and the other two oils till you have three different swabs with three different oils in the jar.
Seal the jar and wait about twenty minutes. Then, open the jar, position your nose a few inches above the jar and smell. Answer these questions: Is the smell pleasing? Can you distinguish the different fragrances? Do you need or want to smell more of a particular fragrance? Next, seal the jar and wait another few hours, giving the oils more time to blend. Then, smell the jar again. Again, answer the questions.
If you want the overall scent to focus on one fragrance more than the other, you can begin adding more parts to the mixture. For example, you can add two-parts chamomile by adding two cotton swabs of chamomile versus one part cedarwood and one part lemon. Remember, you will have to test the scent after a few minutes and again after a few hours to see if you've achieved your desired effect. Also, if you become confused with what you're smelling, go to the kitchen and get a good whiff of some coffee beans, this should clear your nostrils and get you ready to determine the scents of the soap making oils again!
For your reference, here are some great top notes, middle notes, and base notes you can start with.
Top Notes: eucalyptus, lemon, orange, peppermint, and basil
Middle Notes: chamomile, fennel, lavender, nutmeg, and tea tree
Base Notes: cedarwood, clove, jasmine, rose, sandalwood
There are certain scents or oils that act as fixatives, which can help make top notes last longer. Two great examples are oak moss and ylang ylang.
Remember to be patient while experimenting, and stop sniffing when you get a headache. Try to make sure that the scents of the oils that you use are scents that you know or feel will naturally go well together. For example, most people can guess (based on what the plants smell like) that lavender goes well with jasmine. Doing something like mixing eucalyptus with tea tree and clove oil may not work out too well because you are dealing with some strong scents that are all very distinct and may therefore clash. But if you find a blend that works, go for it!
The process of mixing or blending soap making oils can take hours. However, it will all be worth it when you get your perfect, signature scent.