Learning to blend to get the utmost aroma and effectiveness of your blend involves many aspects. Sometimes these steps get muddled in the “professional” terminology or lost in translation. I hope this helps to guide you along in blending. Although I love and use my single essential oils, essential oils can become even more effective therapeutically when blending. Before we begin blending, we need to understand dilution rates. Essential oils need to be treated like medications, with respect and paying close attention to safety guidelines. First, we need to understand that essential oil dilution is important for two safety reasons. One, to avoid skin reactions: irritation, sensitization and phototoxicity. Two, to avoid systemic toxicity, such as fetotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, carcinogenicity and neurotoxicity. Adverse skin reactions are obvious when they happen, but systemic toxicities may not be. Skin reactions are totally dilution-dependent, and safety guidelines exist to minimize risk.
There are many factors that influence the dilutions rates that need to be kept in mind. It's important to limit the amount of essential oil used in aromatherapy. When we sese terms like "maximum dermal application" that is referring to an adult with healthy skin. With this in mind, you must adjust either per safety suggestions or at your own discretion. It's equally necessary to limit dermal dosing for essential oils that contain, for example, carcinogenic, neurotoxic, or phototoxic constituents. The total quantity of essential oil absorbed into the body from dermal application or massage varies according to several factors:
the overall amount of oils and types of oils being applied
the dilution rate of the essential oils
the choice of carrier used
the health, warmth and moisture of the skin and size of the area the oils are used on
the age of the client
and if the skin is washed off after application
Some simple dilution guidelines to follow when blending your oils.
1. Use for issues that are emotional in nature, for pregnant or nursing women, for anyone with a compromised immune system, for sensitive skin and for using directly on the face. Use 1% dilution which equals 9 drops total of essential oil to 1 oz. (30 ml) of carrier. If using more than one oil, determine the correct amount of each to equal 9 drops. And this is dependent on the oil. Some oils are not safe for those pregnant, nursing, children and sensitive skin as well as underlying health issues.
2. For massage oils and daily use for an individual with no health issues as described above, use a 2% dilution which equals 18 drops of essential oil to 1 oz. (30 ml) carrier.
3. Injuries of the muscle, tendon and bone, a 3-10% would be used depending on the individual, age, health, injury and oils being used. Safety first! Know your oils and keep your clients overall health in mind. (If 1 percent of dilution is equal to 9 drops then a 10 percent dilution is 90 drops). Always start at the lowest dilution rate and work up from there.
4. For local issues such as chest congestion use 3-10% keeping in mind that this depends on age, health, medications, sensitivity of the individual AND the oils being used. Again, start low and go up. Remember that these higher percentages are for healthy adults.
5. If the problem is acute and severe, you can go up to 25% dilution for SHORT term use, however, as a Certified Aromatherapist, I rarely find the need to use this much oil. Again, know your oils safety concerns. I’ve used this for severe issues such as severe cramps, intense spasms or extreme bruising or pain. It is imperative you know your oils and safety concerns when using EO’s at this percentage.
6. The last topic I want to bring up is using eo’s neat. “Neat” or using essential oils without a carrier can be used DEPENDING on the chemistry and safety concerns of the essential oil, can be used for small areas, superficial cuts, bee stings, bug bites and burn. Lavender is the go to for these situations and the only one I would recommend for neat use. ALWAYS do a skin test prior to using “neat” or use of any essential oil.
For children specific: Robert Tisserand gave these dilutions rates in an interview with Tara at Plant Therapy. To see the complete interview including diffusing around children, go to http://wegotreal.com/essential-oil-concerns-robert-tisserand/:
From Tisserand: "My recommended dilutions for children are:
Age Whole body Local use
Premature Babies 0% 0%
Up to 3 months 0.1% 0.2%
3-24 months 0.25% 0.5%
2-6 years 1.0% 2.0%
How often you apply depends a bit on the problem and the age of the child, but a general guideline would be 3-4 times daily"
Some diluting examples:
For 1 oz. (30 ml) of carrier
· 1% dilution: 9 drops total
· 2% dilution: 18 drops total
· 3% dilution: 27 drops total
For 2 0z. (60 ml) of carrier
· 1% dilution: 18 drops total
· 2% dilution: 36 drops total
· 3% dilution: 54 drops total
When you are blending, you will find your blends are amazing by considering the following:
· Aroma preferences: The aroma and notes of oils; i.e. top, middle, and base notes and in between these are top-middle and middle-base.
· What carrier you will use (olive oil, coconut oil, sweet almond, jojoba wax, unscented lotion)
· Concerns and goals of you or your client
· Chemistry of the oils (chemical family, chemical components)
· Method of application; topical, diffused, inhaler, etc.
· The energetics of oils
· Is it for an acute or chronic issue, relaxation, mood enhancing
· Safety concerns of the individual oils used
· While deciding which oils to use, smell each one. Andrea Butje at Aromahead Institute recommended using coffee beans to clear your "aroma" palate, sniff the beans to “clear the palate” before smelling the next and on. I tried it and it works great.
We often hear about “Synergy” blending or buy oils with this on the bottle but what does it mean? Synergy is the “expression of the whole has greater effects than the sum of all its individual parts”. We can create this synergy with essential oils by blending 2 or more essential oils.
An example of component blending is Eucalyptus citriodora. Its antimicrobial effects are due to a synergy between citronellal and citronellyl and research shows that each component on its own is four times less effective than when combined. I use this method when I’m blending for medicinal purposes, like colds, flus, body aches, pains and inflammation. I use pines, spruces, firs and cedars when component blending for pain, inflammation or respiratory issues. A nice addition to conifers are Plai, Copaiba or Cannibis essential oil.
Essential Oil’s Synergy:
When blending, knowing the chemical family is important. For synergy blends, it’s good to try to blend a few oils from the same chemical family to achieve a good solid foundation. But don't over do it. Find a balance. And keep in mind that although the major components paly an important role in an essential oil, it is the oil as a whole that makes it therapeutically effective.
What’s a Carrier and Why Do I Need one?
Carrier oils are made from plants and can include nuts, seeds, or fruits. Some carrier oils include coconut oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, argan oil and jojoba Oil (although this is really a wax). They aren’t volatile like essential oils are and help to bind the essential oils to slow the evaporation rate. When blended correctly, the carrier protects the skin from irritation from the essential oils. They tend to be heavier than essential oils and are very safe for the dermis (skin). This does not dilute the effect or power of the essential oils and since it binds the essential oils, this will keep them from evaporating so quickly thus allowing time the absorb into the dermis more efficiently. (2) Plus carrier oils have their own unique therapeutic properties.
Understanding the “Notes”
Notes are the evaporation rate of essential oils. The first smell from a blend and the first to evaporate is your essential oils with the Top Note. The top note fragrance is usually lighter with a beautiful fresh aroma. These oils add brightness to your blend. Some examples of top notes are Distilled Lime, Bergamot, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Grapefruit and Orange. The next note or the “heart” note as the Middle Note is referred to, gives blends an aromatic softness, full and softens the overall aroma. Some middle notes can be top-middle or middle-base meaning they have notes of the top or base aromas within them. They absolutely harmonize your blend as you will see when you learn the middle notes. These oil are your mentally and physically calming and soothing oils. Some great middles notes are Roman Chamomile, Lavender, Ravintsara, Rosewood, Clary Sage, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine and many more.
Next is the Base Note. These are the oils that provide that deep, warm and grounding quality to your blend. They function as fixatives by reducing the evaporation rate of the top notes. Base notes add an deepness to the blend and more than not they have those beautiful deep earthy aromas. Because of their calming and grounding qualities, base notes are your relievers for stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Several of the essential oils derived for woods, resins and roots are base notes. Ylang Ylang is an exception. It’s derived from its beautiful white fragranced flower. Base notes are so soothing and harmonizing for the mind and body. Some great base notes include Cedarwood, Patchouli, Vetiver and Myrrh.
Shelf life and extending the shelf life of your essential oils
The shelf life for each of your products you make varies depending on the ingredients you add to the blend. If you are blending three different carrier oils, the shortest life of the three becomes the shelf life of your product. This holds true for your essential oils. You take the shortest shelf life. Each oil has it's own shelf life. If your supplier does not provide the shelf life, resources such as Aromaweb.com does and is an excellent resource. When you purchase your oils and open that bottle for the first time, this starts your shelf life. Writing the date on the bottle when it is opened for the first time is a great habit so you can track your shelf life.
If you are creating hydrous blends or blends with water based ingredients such as hydrosol and water sprays, aloe vera gels, castile soap blends with water add they will last only a few weeks and keeping in the refrigerator is best. Adding a preservative is great when water is one of your ingredients and will extend the life of your product.
A good practice is the keep track of every ingredient you buy, when it was produced and the length of the shelf life. Essential oils are best stored in a cool place around 60-65 degrees. I fid a mini fridge works quite well. When first into oils, I stored mine in my regulare refrigerator in a glass covered container. Within a few weeks, my milk tasted and smelled like essential oils. Although I love my oils, I found they don't go well with milk. So store in a separate refrigerator to avoid this aromatic experience.
Ensure all oils are tightly closed to avoid oxidation and shortening the shelf life of your oil. Any company you buy from should have the distillation date on their products. This is vital to a great product.
The following is an example of a blend that would have the shelf life of the avocado oil used.
1 0z. (30 ml) Jojoba wax (generally does not go rancid)
1 0z (30 ml) Avocado oil (about one year of shelf life from when it was produced)
20 drops Jasmine absolute essential oil (about 4-5 year shelf life)
So if the avocado oil was produced in the beginning of August and stored in a cool place. You bought it in January. You have bought it at about 6 months old so now its shelf life is 6 months.
With Aloe Vera Gel, it’s in its own unique category. When you purchase it from a supplier it's usually preserved already. If you add only essential oils, you will likely be able to use the shelf life of the aloe. However if you add additional ingredients, especially those that are water based (water or hydrosols), it throws off the balance of the preservative and now the shelf life has changed.
I hope this guides you it making the best smelling, most effective blends you’ve ever experienced. Remember that aroma is very personal, bringing comfort and precious memories that are unique to each person. So what may be the "perfect" aroma for you, may not be for another. Happy oiling and be safe. Graciously your, Rehne
"Carrier Oils - Properties and Profiles." Aromatherapy and Essential Oils. Web. 11 May 2016. http://www.aromaweb.com/.
"Why Is Essential Oil Dilution Important?" Robert Tisserand. Web. 11 May 2016. <http://roberttisserand.com/>.
(n.d.). Essential Oil Shelf Life. Retrieved June 12, 2016, from http://www.aromaweb.com/articles/essentialoilshelflife.asp