If you are willing to invest your time and energy into making your own perfumes and scents, then it is worth investing a little time to source good quality essential oils. Low grade oils contain fewer of the beneficial properties of high grade oils, and much less strength when it comes to their scent.
This is because the plants used to obtain the oils are not of best quality. Always choose Grade A oils and ensure you are purchasing from a reputable seller.
The majority of essential oils are made by extracting the oils from the plants using steam or water methods and these are perfectly suitable for use in your perfume making. All recipes are based on this type of essential oil.
There are two other extraction methods which are regularly used, and these produce a higher concentration of oil.
Absolutes: These are extracted using a solvent based method. This ensures that the oil extracted contains a high concentration of molecules, making it much stronger than other oils. If using absolutes in your perfume making, adapt your recipe to halve or even third the number of drops of the absolute oil.
CO2’s: These are extracted using pressurized carbon dioxide, making the finished product a much thicker density than most oils. These essential oils are ideal for perfume making as their extraction method allows them to retain a higher level of the plants natural scent.
As with Absolutes, adapt your recipes quantities in the same way to allow for the density and concentration of the oil.
Essential oils bottles are usually between 10ml and 25ml. Due to the high quantity of plants required to extract small amounts of oil, these tiny bottles can often appear to be expensive.
When purchasing your oils, you should take into account that although the quantity you are paying for is small, 1ml of oil contains 20 drops, meaning each 10ml bottle holds 200 drops of oil.
Absolutes and CO2’s, if undiluted, will contain the same amount of drops, but because of the concentration, each single drop is worth 2 or 3 drops of regular essential oil. Essential oils also have a long shelf life, typically 6 – 12 months.
When choosing oils to blend for your own recipes, or to alter a recipe, it is important to understand the different categories of scents available.
Cinnamon Bark (Ceylon Cinnamon) – While not a true floral, cinnamon bark adds a warm and enhancing element to a floral scent. It blends well with frankincense and all woody scents.
Geranium – Strong leafy rose scent with hints of fruit and mint.
Jasmine Absolute – A honey-sweet floral oil that is very distinctive. It has an aroma that is both calming and sensual.
Lavender – Sweet, balsamic sent with floral overtones. It blends well with clary sage, patchouli, rosemary, pine and many others. Lavender is renowned for its healing properties.
Neroli – Neroli comes from the bitter orange tree and has a strong, spicy scent that is very refreshing. It works well will most floral and citrus oil and has calming and sensual elements.
Rose Absolute – A very deep, sweet and long lasting floral scent with uplifting qualities.
Rose Otto – A gentler fragrance than rose absolute it is still warm and intense and works well in perfumes.
Sweet Basil – a sweet, floral scent with a lightly spiced aroma. It has therapeutic benefits which include an uplifting and energising of mood. It blends well with Lime, Bergamot and Clary Sage.
Ylang Ylang – Intense floral fragrance very similar to jasmine. Ylang Ylang is a sensual aroma that works well in Perfume and provides an upliftment to the mood. Ylang Ylang should be used sparingly as it has strong aphrodisiac qualities.
Exotic Basil – As with sweet basil this oil has a sweet, floral scent but with camphor overtones. Therapeutic benefits and blending is the same as Sweet Basil
Chamomile – Wild – This has a fresh herbal scent with sweet, long lasting, balsamic undertones. It blends well with wood and musk scents.
Chamomile – Roman – A milder scent than German Chamomile that adds warm overtones when blended with clary sage, jasmine, neroli or bergamot.
Chamomile – German – A sweet, fruity, almost apple like scent with hints of tobacco. Add rich undertones to perfume blends and is long lasting.
Clary Sage – Spicy, bittersweet scent with hints of hay. It has a long lasting aroma that works well as a fixative when combined with other blends.
Hyssop – A strong woodland herb scent with sweet and spicy overtones. It blends well with other herb oil and citrus oils.
Sweet Marjoram – Warm and spicy scent with hints of nutmeg. Works well in masculine blends or spicy perfumes.
Palmarosa – A rose floral scent mixed with fresh grass which is very refreshing.
Peppermint – Powerfully sweet menthol scent – best when blended with other oils.
Rosewood – A sweet, woodland scent with hints of nutmeg and floral. Add a nice layer to many scent blends.
Bergamot – A fresh, sweet and fruity aroma with uplifting qualities that blends well with other citrus oils.
Grapefruit – Bittersweet citrus scent that is refreshing and uplifting.
Lemon – Intense lemon scent. Lemon oil can cause some irritation so use in small quantities to enhance other scents only.
Lemon Eucalyptus – A fresh and invigorating scent that has an aroma of grass and rose but with a hint of citrus.
Lime – Very fruity and fresh oil with a strong citrus aroma. As with lemon oil, use in moderation.
Mandarin – Citrus scent with floral undertones that is uplifting and sensual.
Sweet Orange – A very lively scent that is sweet and fruity. This oil works well in both masculine and feminine scents and is refreshing and uplifting.
Tangerine – Very similar in scent to Mandarin oil but more suited to masculine blends.
Eucalyptus – A distinct scent with a hint of menthol. Invigorating and purifying benefits.
Wild Marjoram – A strong and spicy scent that is sweet and contains a hint of eucalyptus.
Peppermint – See Herb Group
Rosemary – See Herb Group
Tea Tree – This is a warm, spicy scent that has some medicinal undertones. Blends well with lavender, rosemary and nutmeg and creates an uplifting aroma.
Frankincense – Spicy, peppery, lemony and balsamic aroma that suits most masculine, floral and spicy blends.
Myrrh – Warm and spicy with a distinct balsamic scent. This is a good oil to blend with woodland scents.
Allspice – Spicy, slightly sweet scent that works well for masculine colognes. It blends well with orange, ginger and patchouli oils as well as other oils within the spice group. Therapeutic benefits include lifting of mood and overall feeling of mental wellbeing.
Bay – Intense fresh and spicy scent with a hint of cloves.
Cardamom – A slightly camphor-like scent that is spicy with floral undertones. This oil is best suited to blends that contain floral or masculine scents.
Cinnamon – See Woody Group
Coriander – Aromatic, slightly sweet and spicy scent that blends well with bergamot, cinnamon bark, jasmine and frankincense.
Ginger – A warm and spicy scent with woody overtones. This oil blends nicely with citrus oils and other spicy oils.
Nutmeg – A slightly oily scent of nutmegs with a spicy overtone. Best suited to spicy perfumes and men’s cologne, it has an uplifting and energizing effect on the senses.
Patchouli – A long lasting scent which is quite exotic with earthy, woody and spicy tones. It has a rich, sweet balsamic scent and is quite intense. The scent of patchouli deepens over time and is both soothing and sensual.
Vetiver – Rich woody scent with hints of sweet earth. This is a long lasting scent which works well as a fixative in aromatic blends.
Amyris – West Indian Sandalwood – This is a woody, balsamic scent with a slightly sweet overtone.
Carrot – Sweet, earthy and woody, carrot oil provides an oriental feel to most blends.
Cedarwood – A woody scent with balsamic overtones. This oil promotes calm during emotional stress and anxiety.
Cypress – Spine with strong hints of pine, this oil blends well with clary sage, lavender and citrus oils.
Juniper – Fresh and warm, juniper contains balsamic and pine wood aromas that blend well with citrus oils and spicy oils. This oil works well in masculine blends.
Pine – A fresh scent with a resinous undertone best suited to masculine cologne. Use with caution as this oil can irritate sensitive skin.
Sandalwood – Sweet, woody and warm with a balsamic scent that increases with age. Sandalwood blends well with the majority of oils and is sensual and relaxing.