The Simple Guide to Mixing Essential Oils

mixing essential oils

Whether you’re just getting started with essential oils or you’ve been using them for some time, you may wonder about how to mix them.

How do you know which scents to choose for which purpose? Do you pick a few scents you like, blend them together, and hope for the best?

Mixing essential oils is a little more complicated than that. And while there’s nothing wrong with using scents you enjoy, you’ll get the most benefit when you understand which oils are best for your needs.

Read on for our beginner’s guide to mixing essential oils.

Define What You Want

Before you start mixing, you need to define what you hope to achieve with your essential oil blend.

Here are a few questions to ask before you begin shopping:

  • Who will use this essential oil blend?
  • What effect am I hoping for?
  • When will I use it?
  • Where will I use it?
  • How will I apply it?

Now sit down and write out what you want to achieve by mixing essential oils.

How will you use your oil blend? Will you apply it topically or through a diffuser? Or will you use it in place of harsh chemical cleaners?

Once you have your goals in mind, it’s time to do some research.

Do Your Research

Beyond smelling good, most essential oils serve a very specific purpose. You need to understand which oils do what before you can effectively begin mixing essential oils.

For example, ginger essential oil is a great choice to relieve nausea. However, ginger is contraindicated for those who take blood thinners or medication for diabetes.

An essential oil blend for a colicky baby may not be the ideal blend for a cleaning product. And the wrong oils in a relaxation blend could give you a huge boost of energy instead!

You might begin your research at a bookstore or on reputable websites. You could also visit your nearest health food store or holistic clinic for advice.

Create a list of oils you own or wish to buy. Work within your budget and remember you don’t have to buy every possible essential oil. Start with the basics and expand your collection over time.

In the meantime, here are a few facts to know before you begin mixing essential oils.

Understanding Aroma Categories

Browse any brands of essential oils and you’ll find dozens, if not hundreds, of options.

At first glance, the oils may appear to have nothing in common. The truth is that every essential oil falls into a certain scent category.

Here are a few popular aroma categories and their most popular essential oils:

  • Floral: Lavender, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, vanilla
  • Citrus: Grapefruit, orange, lemon, lemongrass, bergamot
  • Woody: Cedarwood, juniper, cypress, sandalwood, frankincense
  • Earthy: Patchouli, oakmoss, angelica root, vetiver, valerian
  • Herby: Basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, clary sage,
  • Spicy: Clove, ginger, nutmeg, cumin, cinnamon
  • Minty: Peppermint, spearmint, wintergreen, catnip

Some essential oils may cross over into two or more categories. Everyone’s sense of smell is unique, too, so what smells herby to one person may smell spicy to another.

Write down each of your essential oils and which category (or categories) they fall into. Essential oils within the same category usually blend well together.

Oils from complementary categories make good blends, too. Here are few ideas to get you started:

  • Floral blends well with: citrus, woody, and spicy
  • Citrus blends well with: woody, spicy, minty, and floral
  • Woody blends well with: earthy, floral, herby, spicy, and citrus
  • Earthy blends well with: minty and woody
  • Herby blends well with: minty and woody
  • Spicy blends well with: citrus, woody, and floral
  • Minty blends well with: citrus, herby, woody, and earthy

Before you start mixing essential oils, there’s one more element to understand: scent notes.

Understanding Scent Notes

Like a beautiful piece of music, your essential blend should feel harmonized and balanced.

Once you know how to combine oils based on their categories, you can create balance by paying attention to the “scent notes” of each oil.

Like the musical scale, scent notes are either top, middle, or base. The amount of time the scent lingers once it’s exposed to oxygen determine its note.

Here’s a basic breakdown of each scent note.

Top Notes

Top notes provide the first impression of a fragrance. Usually light and fresh, these note last for an hour or two and evaporate the fastest.

Common top notes are lemon, lime, basil, bergamot, peppermint, and eucalyptus.

Middle Notes

After the top note dissipates, the middle notes appear. Known as the “heart” of the blend, middle notes last between two and four hours and have a heavy influence on the final or base note.

Common middle notes include chamomile, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, clary sage, and cinnamon.

Base Notes

After the top and middle notes have completely evaporated, the base notes offer the longest impression. These notes are heavy and rich and may linger for a day or even several days.

Common base notes include patchouli, vanilla, sandalwood, ginger, oakmoss, and angelica root.

Ready, Set, Blend

You have your essential oils. You understand aroma categories and scent notes. You’re ready to start mixing essential oils!

First, gather the supplies you’ll need:

  • Essential oils
  • Carrier oil (almond, jojoba, coconut, etc.)
  • Testing strips
  • Dropper
  • 10 ml glass bottles
  • 2 ml glass bottles
  • A notebook

Since essential oils are a big investment, start with very small test blends. 10-15 drops should be enough to test the scent and determine if you like it.

Here are a few more suggestions for mixing essential oils:

  • Follow the 30-50-20 rule: 30% top note, 50% middle note, 20% base note.
  • Write down the exact number of drops you use in each blend.
  • Test your blends over the next few days, as scents evolve over time.
  • Record any feelings, images, or memories that the scents bring to mind.

Final Thoughts on Mixing Essential Oils

Mixing essential oils is both a science and an art.

The more you learn about them, the better equipped you’ll be to create your own unique blends.

Wondering where to start? Check out our recent post on how to make your own essential oil perfume!

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