Tips for Mixing Essential Oils
Of course everyone has different likes and dislikes when it comes to aromas of essential oils. Not every individual will enjoy the scent of every recipe on this page. For this reason, I urge you to use your nose diligently. Before mixing two or more different oils together, test a drop of each oil on a cotton swab so you can get an idea of what the finished product is going to smell like.
When mixing essential oils, take it slow. Don’t just throw all of the ingredients together and call it done. Instead, mix them together a little bit at a time. Allow your senses to sample the blend as it evolves until you find the perfect combination. Just remember to keep track of how many drops of each oil you used and the order in which you added them so you can replicate the recipe in the future.
Always be gentle with your mixtures. Forceful motion such as vigorous shaking or stirring can easily damage the delicate organic compounds which give your essential oils their wonderful therapeutic aromas. Also, avoid exposing your blends to excessive heat or light as this will often change the chemical composition of the oils or cause them to oxidize and spoil faster.
Remember to leave a little space in the top of the storage bottle when you’ve finished mixing your oil blends. This will allow them to breathe.
When handling essential oils, ceramic or glass tools are highly recommended. Avoid contact with metals entirely.
While there are many options available, here are five of the most popular carriers with brief descriptions of each oil and their associated health benefits.
Sweet Almond – adds a rich nutty aroma to any blend. Sweet almond oil is high in oleic acid which may help to improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Coconut (Cold-pressed) – imparts a sweet tropical note to massage oils. Coconut oil is the richest natural source of lauric acid, and is considered to be one of the best oils for promoting healthy skin and hair.
Grapeseed – has very little scent. Grapeseed oil dries faster than many other plant oils due to its high concentration of linoleic acid.
Jojoba – offers a very slight nutty aroma. Jojoba oil oxidizes slowly, thus it has a much longer shelf-life than many other plant oils. Also, because it is similar in chemical composition to the oils naturally present in human skin, jojoba oil absorbs quickly and leaves behind very little residue.
Olive – possesses a rich, verdant aroma. Olive oil is high in oleic acid which can improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Also, note that the average ratios of essential oils to carrier are: 25 – 30 total drops per 15mL for therapeutic blends and 25 – 30 total drops per 60mL for full body massage blends.
Categories of Essential Oils
Akin to a musical composition, professional perfumers have separated scents into three distinct classes: top notes, middle notes, and base notes. These scent notes are determined by the essential oil’s volatility; lighter molecules evaporate quickly while heavier ones take longer to dissipate. Each note can influence the perception of the other notes. To create a well-rounded and balanced fragrance, you should aim for a combination of all three notes.
Top note – volatile oils with strong aromas that generally evaporate faster and absorb into skin very quickly. Some examples of top notes are lemon, peppermint, eucalyptus, and basil oils.
Middle – heavy, viscous, less aromatic oils with more subtle, longer-lasting fragrance such as marjoram, sage, anise seed, and thyme oils.
Base – harmonizing agents that bring the blend together; usually with a lingering aroma such as amyris, sandalwood, frankincense, and myrrh.
The oils for each recipe are listed in the order and quantities by which they should be added to your carrier oil, however this is only a starting point. Essential oils can vary greatly depending on a wide range of factors. For this reason, you may wish to experiment with your mixtures in small batches until you get them just right.
Determining fragrance notes is steeped in subjectivity as well. For instance, some have classed lavender as a top note while others consider it to be more of a middle note. So although it’s good to have a guideline of scent notes (and you can see a full accounting (here).
Grouping Aromas by Type
Another way to begin mixing and matching different oils is to first group them into aroma categories. Here are some examples:
- Floral – Lavender, geranium, jasmine, vanilla, ylang ylang, rose, neroli
- Citrus – Grapefruit, lemon, orange, bergamot, tangerine, lemongrass
- Woody – Fir, cedarwood, cypress, sandalwood, juniper, frankincense, myrrh
- Earthy – Oakmoss, patchouli, valerian, angelica root, vetiver
- Herbaceous – Basil, marjoram, rosemary, clary sage, oregano, thyme, tea tree
- Spicy – Clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, cardamom, aniseed
Generally, oils within the same category blend well together. Floral oils typically jive with woody, citrus, or spicy scents, while citrus blends nicely with spicy and herbaceous oils. Woody oils usually get along with every fragrance category. Feel free to experiment with your own cross-category blends, you never know what aromas you will discover!
Ready to get blending? When experimenting with new blends, it’s wise to start small. Use only three oils to begin with – a top note, middle note, and base note. You can always experiment with more complex fragrance combinations once you feel you are getting the hang of it.
Use 10 Drops in Total
During this highly experimental phase, make your first blend with a total of 10 drops. By using such a small amount, you haven’t wasted too much of your precious oils if you don’t care for the end result. If you hit a winning formula, 10 drops are easy to convert to larger batches later. Be sure to write down the exact amounts you used since a drop off here or there can make a dramatic difference when you attempt to replicate your blend.
Try the 30-50-20 Rule
With all this about evaporation rates and the lightness and heaviness of various botanical oils, it can be difficult to ascertain what proportions to use when you’re just starting out. A good rule of thumb for beginner blenders is the 30-50-20 rule, which is to prepare your oils by using 30% top note, 50% middle note, and 20% base note. In our three oil experiment using 10 drops, that would translate to three drops top note, five drops middle note, and two drops base note.
Massage Oil Precautions
Beware of allergies. If you are uncertain, always perform an allergy test before applying any essential oil blend to large areas of the body. Also, not all allergic reactions are immediate. Wait at least twenty minutes, then check the test site for redness or swelling.
In case of allergic reaction, do not rinse with water! The best way to remove oil is to apply a skin-safe liquid dish-washing soap to dry skin where the oil is present. Rub gently for at least 30 seconds or until you are certain that the oil has been removed before rinsing.
Many herbal remedies can have a negative impact on pregnancy. The massage oil blends listed below specify if the ingredients are considered safe for use by pregnant women. Regardless of the information provided here, it is strongly recommended that pregnant or breast feeding women consult with a professional physician before using essential oils or other herbal remedies.
Most essential oils are not safe for internal use. While many essential oils are extracted from foods, they should never be ingested unless the packaging specifically states that they are safe to use this way.
Remember to wear sun protection if you must be exposed to sunlight after applying essential oils to your skin. Many of these blends (especially those containing fruit oils) have the potential to make skin more sensitive to UV damage.
Massage Oil Recipes
Now that you have the basic technical aspects and precautions associated with oil blending under your belt, it’s time to get creative!
Warm Spice Blend: mental clarity, uplifting
Cinnamon + Sweet Orange + Cardamom + Coriander Seed
Cardamom – 3 – 4 drops – (middle: warm, green, aromatic spice) – traditionally used in Ayurveda to invigorate the mind and body; also used to ease nervous tension.
Sweet Orange – 14 – 16 drops – (top note: sweet, fruity, citrus) – very cleansing and uplifting aroma.
Cinnamon Bark – 5 – 6 drops – (base: warm, dry, herbal spice) – potent natural stimulant; also antimicrobial and promotes digestive health.
Coriander Seed – 3 – 4 drops – (middle: sweet, spicy, woody, slight fruity) – revitalizing spice stimulates the senses; also aids with digestion and soothes inflammation.
Carrier oil – coconut, almond, jojoba
Citrus Flower Blend: emotional well-being, sensuality
Clary Sage + Jasmine + Bergamot + Ylang Ylang + Grapefruit
Clary Sage – 2 – 3 drops – (middle: dry, musky, bittersweet, floral) – soothes muscle tension; relaxes the mind and naturally elevates mood.
Jasmine – 2 – 3 drops – (middle: warm, rich, deeply floral) – warms the body and stimulates the senses.
Bergamot – 12 – 14 drops – (top note: fresh, spicy, floral, citrus) – relieves tension and elevates mood.
Vanilla – 4 – 5 drops – (base: rich, sweet, creamy floral) – heightens senses and elevates mood
Ylang Ylang – 2 – 3 drops – (base: rich, sweet, floral) – relaxing and mood-elevating.
Grapefruit – 2 – 3 drops – (secondary top note: fresh, tangy, citrus) – both contain antioxidants, improve skin health, and promote detoxification.
Carrier oil – grapeseed, olive, jojoba
Sweet Dreams Blend: relaxes mind and body, sleep aid
Mandarin + Lavender + Valerian + Sandalwood + Chinese Rose
This blend is designed to help you fall asleep at night. Simply massage a few drops of oil over temples, behind ears, inside of wrists, and on the bottoms of your feet about ten minutes before bed.
Mandarin – 1 – 2 drops – (top note: light, fruity, citrus) – relaxing, cleansing; also a digestive aid.
Lavender – 12 – 14 drops – (middle: sweet, floral, herbaceous) – promotes relaxation; also a powerful anti-inflammatory and natural detoxifier.
Valerian – 6 – 7 drops – (base: warm, woody, balsam, musky) – powerful natural sleep aid; reduces anxiety; lowers blood pressure.
Sandalwood – 3 – 4 drops – (base: soft, woody, light balsam) – soothing, anti-inflammatory; also a decongestant.
Chinese Rose – 2 – 3 drops – (middle: soft, spicy, sweet, floral) – relaxes; adds depth to the blend’s aroma.
Carrier oil – grapeseed
Morning Blossom Blend: digestive health, soothing
Ginger + Cardamom + Ylang Ylang + Bergamot + Neroli + Grapefruit
This oil blend is great for relieving tension, muscle spasms, bloating, and nausea. Pour a few drops of this blend into your palm and let it warm to body temperature. Gently massage over the stomach or into skin on the inside of your wrists, behind your ears, or on the bottoms of your feet.
Ginger – 2 – 3 drops – (middle: fresh, warm, woody, bright) – settles the stomach; also antioxidant and a natural fever-reducer.
Cardamom – 2 – 3 drops – (middle: warm, green, aromatic spice) – traditionally used in Ayurveda to invigorate the body and quell nausea; also promotes mental clarity, soothes nerves, and aids in detoxification.
Bergamot – 12 – 15 drops – (top note: fresh, spicy, floral, citrus) – relaxes stressed muscles; also a natural odor neutralizer, mood elevator, and fever reducer.
Frankincense – 5 – 6 drops – (base: fresh, woody, spicy, balsam, light citrus) – soothing, digestive aid; also antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Neroli – 2 – 3 drops – (secondary top note: sugary, citrus) and …
Grapefruit – 2 – 3 drops – (tertiary top note: fresh, tangy, citrus) – both contain antioxidants, improve skin health, and promote detoxification.
Carrier oil – grapeseed, jojoba, almond
***While all of the ingredients used in this blend are considered to be safe for use by pregnant women, it is always recommended to consult your attending physician before starting any new herbal remedy treatment during pregnancy.***
Pain Relief Blend I (Sweet Wood): relaxes muscles, calming
Roman Chamomile + Australian Sandalwood + Lemon + Neroli
Roman Chamomile – drops – (middle: fresh, rich, sweet, fruity, apple) – relieves pain and inflammation, relaxes mind and body, and aids in healing wounds.
Australian Sandalwood – drops – (base: soft, woody, warm, hint of balsam) – a natural mood-lifter, heightens the senses, promotes relaxation, and opens the airways.
Lemon – drops – (top: crisp, citrus) – adds a very cleansing note to the blend, anti-inflammatory, promotes skin regeneration.
Neroli – drops – (top note: light, sweet, floral, soft citrus) – mentally soothing and anti-inflammatory.
Carrier oil – grapeseed, jojoba
Pain Relief Blend II (Fruit & Spice): relaxes muscles, mood-elevating
Bergamot + Lavender + Myrrh + Roman Chamomile
Bergamot – 2 – 3 drops – (top: fresh, spicy, floral, citrus) – in addition to relaxing stressed muscles, also a natural deodorant, mood-lifter, and fever-reducer.
Lavender – 10 – 12 drops – (middle: crisp, floral, green) – promotes skin health, detoxification, and wound-healing.
Myrrh – 8 – 9 drops – (base: dry, creamy, resinous) – relaxing and fragrant, with regenerative properties.
Chamomile, Roman – 4 – 5 drops – (middle: fresh, rich, sweet, fruity, apple) – relieves pain and inflammation, relaxes mind and body, and aids in healing wounds.
Carrier oil – grapeseed, jojoba
Pain Relief Blend III (Warm Earth): soothes aching joints, relaxing
Clary Sage + Cajeput + Turmeric + Ginger
Clary Sage – 2 – 3 drops – (middle: dry, musky, bittersweet, floral) – naturally reduces inflammation and muscle tension, also soothes and relaxes the mind and eyes.
Cajeput – 12 – 15 drops – (top note: strong, slightly sweet & fruity, camphor) – warms skin, reduces muscle tension, and relieves pain
Turmeric – 7 – 8 drops – (base: fresh, spicy, woody) – powerful natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever with antioxidant properties.
Ginger – 3 – 4 drops – (middle: crisp, tangy, earthy) – natural pain killer and anti-spasmodic, also promotes mental clarity and good digestion.
Carrier oil – grapeseed, olive, jojoba
Pain Relief Blend IV (Fresh Balsam): cools inflammation, invigorating
Eucalyptus + Scotch Pine / Lavender + Sweet Marjoram + Grapefruit
Eucalyptus – 2 – 3 drops – (top note: refreshing, sharp, strong camphor) – offers strong relief from joint pain, tension, and sore muscles.
Scotch Pine – 13 – 14 drops – (middle: dry, woody, balsam) – stimulating to the senses with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
Copaiba Balsam – 5 – 6 drops – (base: mild, sweet, woody, green) stimulating and detoxifying with anti-inflammatory properties.
Sweet Marjoram – 3 – 4 drops – (bright, sweet, balsam) – a very soothing and uplifting aromatherapy oil that also helps to relieve muscle tension.
Grapefruit – 2 – 3 drops – (fresh, tangy, citrus) – antioxidant rich, promotes healthy skin and cell regeneration, clears the mind, and invigorates.
Carrier oil – grapeseed, olive, jojoba
Deep Forest Blend: promotes organ health, detoxifying
Rosemary + Atlas Cedarwood + Oregano + Grapefruit + Thuja
Rosemary – 2 – 3 drops – (middle: strong, fresh, camphor, woody, balsamic) – anti-microbial, anti-fungal; also relieves pain, inflammation, and congestion; sharpens the mind.
Atlas Cedarwood – 10 – 12 drops – (base: woody, balsamic, rich dry overtones) relaxing, detoxifying; also promotes cell regeneration.
Oregano – 5 – 6 drops – (middle: warm, spicy, herbaceous) – anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic; also aids with digestion and detoxifies the body.
Grapefruit – 2 – 3 drops – (top note: fresh, tangy, citrus) – antioxidant rich, promotes healthy skin and cell regeneration; also clears the mind and invigorates.
Thuja – 3 – 4 drops – (top note: sharp, fresh, camphoraceous) stimulating, detoxifying; also eases joint and tendon pain.
Carrier oil – olive, grapeseed, jojoba