It’s no secret that we love blending. In fact, at Clarity Blend, we like to believe that blending is our super power! Many moons ago, we started gradually dipping our toes into aromatherapy with the more known essential oils – lavender, sweet orange and peppermint were our first oils. Fascinated by the wonderful world of aromatherapy, our collection of essential oils grew exponentially over the years. So did our experimental blends – some of which were more successful than others! Since those experimental early days, we have practiced and perfected our blends, sampling many essential oils along the way. Based on this experience, in this blog post, we’d like to share with you our approach to blending.
Individual essential oils
Single essential oils are vibrant and dynamic on their own. Each essential oil has a multitude of uses on body, mind & soul. We recommend first getting to know the individual essential oils – their personality, scent profile and benefits. You will naturally have affinity to some scents and your scent preferences may change over time. Once you get to know a few essential oils, the blending can begin!
Why blending? The sum is more than the individual component.
One of the great things about aromatherapy is how you can get a synergistic effect when you blend two or more oils together. Blended together, essential oils become more powerful than the sum of their parts. This is because their chemical compounds interact to create an entirely new compound. You can personalise a formula and create a unique character in a blend. With over 100 essential oils, the number of blend variations are infinite.
Blending is both an art and a science
Blending is the art of successfully combining essential oils to create a cohesive, pleasing and therapeutic blend. This comes with practice but since our olfactory system is so powerful, you can develop a ‘nose’ and an instinct for blending pretty quickly. As aromatherapists, we also know a little about the chemistry behind it – i.e. how components interact together and ‘behave’ in a blend. This is because each essential oil has a unique chemical composition. For example, citruses tend to ‘behave’ as a top note – typically elongating and making the blend lighter.
Our key principles to blending
In our blending practice, we follow some basic key rules:
- Top, middle and base notes
Similar to perfumery, a blend is made up of top, middle and base notes (or accords in perfumery). Essential oils are combined to give structure to the blend and create a balanced, long-lasting fragrance. We start with the base notes, which are rich aromas, such as earthy, woody, spicy or medicinal scents. Base notes give a scent body and longevity to the blend. In our blends, we use black pepper, vetiver, patchouli, frankincense as base notes. Middle notes are the heart and hero ingredient of the blend, such as floral, herbaceous or woody notes. Top notes are light and refreshing and give ‘a first impression’. Citruses are perfect for top notes and we use a lot of citruses in our blends, including bergamot, sweet orange, blood orange and grapefruit.
- 3 to 5 essential oils
Following the principles of top, middle and base notes, we typically use 3 to 5 essential oils in each of our blends. When sticking to this principle, the individualities of the single essential oils are still quite apparent, so you will be able to smell the lavender in our Sweet Dreams blend or the eucalyptus in our Mind Spa blend.
More than 5 essential oils in a blend becomes really crowded and essential oils start to dilute their properties. We’ve seen “luxury” blends of 19 essential oils on the market but this is a pure marketing trick!
- Essential oil families
Essential oils can be categories into fragrance “families” which can guide your blending choices. While there are no hard and fast rules, the aromas tend to marry well with those of their own family and with neighbouring families. There are different categorisation of families but we like to work with the following families: citruses, herbaceous, floral, spicy, woody and medicinal essential oils. One of the easiest ways to see how essential oils enhance each other in a blend is to blend essential oils from the same family. For example, blending florals will give you a wonderful bouquet of aromas. We blend citruses in our Citrus Delight blend.
- Native regions
Essential oils come from plants grown in so many different places all over the world. Where we can, we try to source the essential oils from the native regions rather than other world regions where the plants might also be cultivated. In our experience, obtaining the essential oils ‘at source’ delivers the most potent, vibrant and therapeutic oils. We also aim to source organic or wild varieties, where possible.
- Avoid essential oils from endangered and vulnerable species
We do not use essential oils from endangered or vulnerable plant species, such as sandalwood or rosewood. For example, rosewood is an endangered species, and Rosewood oil cannot be sold without a special certificate from the Brazilian Government to confirm that it comes from sustainable sources. This is called a CITES certificate. We try to avoid altogether using oils from endangered species as there are so many great sustainable alternatives.