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Natural Perfumery Blending Basics

Creating your own fragrances is a playful art requiring little more than intuition, imagination, a passion for aroma, and attention to a few simple guidelines. There are no real rules as to which oils blend well together, so feel free to experiment! But remember, your blend will be greatly enhanced by using the highest quality pure plant essential oils you can find. Start small, mixing no more than 2 to 5 oils per blend and blending drop by drop. To get a feel for particular combinations of oils, put the bottle caps together and smell them, or use small strips of coffee filter or blotter paper. Working in a warm room will enhance the aro- matic qualities of the oils. If your oil bottles are not equipped with dropper tops, measure oils with a glass dropper, rinsing it in grain alcohol or isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and wiping it off between each oil. Extremely thick oils, such as benzoin and vetiver, may need to be diluted with a little grain alcohol before blending.

Scents are categorized as top, middle, or base notes. These categories are based on oil evaporation rates and some essential oils can fit into more than one. Most professional fragrance blends are composed of a balance of oils from these three different categories. Again, there are no rules about which oils belong in which category or how much of each to use, so it is up to your nose and your intuition! This is the art of blending fragrant oils.

Top Notes (5% to 20% of the blend) have the fastest evaporation rates. These are sharp, penetrating scents that you notice first when you smell a blend. In general, top notes are considered stimulating, light, and refreshing.

Middle Notes (50% to 80%) are soft and balanced and usually make up the majority of a blend. Middle notes are considered harmonizing.

Base Notes (5% to 20%) Having the slowest evaporation rates, base notes are deep and heavy and are used in blends as fixatives, helping to slow the evaporation of top notes. Many are resins, gums or woods and may be quite viscous (thick). Base notes are considered relaxing and grounding.

You may choose to allow blends to age a few days before adding them to a carrier oil or grain alcohol. If you don’t immediately love your creation, be patient. Blends undergo great transformations as they age, and over time your ‘mistake’ could evolve into an aromatic treasure. To make a perfume, mix the blend with a small amount of vegetable oil (jojoba is ideal), distilled grain or grape alcohol. Store your finished blend in as small a bottle as possible, preferably amber or cobalt blue glass. Blends, and all essential oils, should be kept in a cool place away from direct sun. Be sure to keep detailed notes and label all of your blends so you can reproduce your suc- cesses or adjust blends that do not satisfy you. Keep in mind that essential oils tend to vary somewhat from crop to crop, so a reproduced blend may differ slightly from your original. The following is a categorization of essential oils into top, middle, and base notes. Please note that oils can fall into more than one category. 


Base Notes

Angelica Root, Balsam Peru, Benzoin, Blue Cypress, Cistus Absolute, Cocoa Absolute, Fir Balsam Absolute, Frankincense CO2, Helichrysum, Myrrh CO2 Oakmoss Absolute, Osmanthus Absolute, Patchouli, Rose Absolute, Sandalwood Australian, Sandalwood Indian, Spikenard, Tonka Bean Absolute, Vanilla CO2, Vanilla Absolute, Vetiver 



Middle Notes

Angelica Root, Basil, Bay, Calendula CO2, Cardamom, Carrot Seed, Cedar Atlas, Cedarwood, Chamomile German, Chamomile Moroccan, Chamomile Roman, Cinnamon Bark, Cistus, Clary Sage, Cypress, Geranium Rose, Ginger CO2, Helichrysum, Inula, Jasmine Absolute, Jasmine Sambac Abs, Lavender, Lavender Absolute, Lavender Spike, Lemon Verbena, Marjoram Sweet, Mugwort, Neroli, Nutmeg CO2, Palmarosa, Pepper Black, Rose Absolute, Rose Otto, Rosemary, Sage, Spruce, Tuberose Absolute, Violet Leaf Absolute, Ylang Ylang Extra 



Top Notes

Anise Seed, Bay, Bergamot, Cardamom, Carrot Seed, Cedarwood, Chamomile German, Chamomile Moroccan, Chamomile Roman, Cinnamon Leaf, Clove, Coriander, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Fir Balsam, Galbanum, Grapefruit, Juniper Berry, Lavender, Lavender Spike, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Mandarin, Melissa, Myrtle, Orange Sweet, Oregano, Palmarosa, Pepper Black, Peppermint, Petitgrain, Pine, Ravintsara, Spearmint, Spruce, Tarragon, Tea Tree, Thyme, Wintergreen 

Simplers Botanicals 2014 - By Robin Lander, Clinical Herbalist & Aromatherapist