Keep an aromatherapy notebook from the very beginning -- you'll need exact records of how you made all your preparations. Jot down the ingredients, proportions, and processing procedures you used for each blend, as well as observations about how well it worked. Label your finished products with the ingredients, date, and special instructions, if any. You will be thankful for this information later when you come up with a formula everyone loves, and you want to duplicate it.
When considering blends, try to think about the characteristics of each oil, including what professional perfumers call personality, aroma notes, and odor intensity. Perfumers think of each oil as having its own unique personality, and they think of scent in terms of a musical scale: Fragrances have head or top notes, middle or heart notes, and base notes. The top notes are the odors that are smelled first but evaporate quickly, the heart is the scent that emerges after the first fifteen minutes, while the base note is the scent that lingers hours later.
Essential oils vary in odor intensity, which may or may not correspond to the evaporation rate of the aroma notes. Add much smaller amounts of strong essential oils, as it is extremely easy for an especially potent oil such as rosemary to completely overpower the soft scent of an oil such as sandalwood or cedar. When mixing small experimental quantities, one drop of a high intensity oil such as cinnamon can be way too much. Try adding just a smidgen of oil with the end of a toothpick.
You can tell which oils have a high odor intensity, such as patchouli and cinnamon, just by smelling them. Use only about one drop of any of these oils to five drops of a more subtle essential oil, such as lavender. On the other hand, orange has such a low odor intensity, you will need about eight drops of it to blend evenly with four drops of lavender.
Here you have the makings of a formula: 8 drops orange, 4 drops lavender, and 1 drop clary sage. This formula presents a lesson in intensity and is arranged by notes. The scent leans toward the top and middle note regions. The orange brightens the top, evaporating relatively quickly, while the clary sage provides a sweetly sauntering base for comforting lavender.
There are many ways to alter the formula. For instance, add a drop of cinnamon instead of the clary sage for a scent that's a little more spicy and stimulating. If you want the woodsy smell of cedar, add several drops to balance the blend. The options are almost endless.
Another way to expand a blend is to choose oils that have similar characteristics. It will make your blend seem more complicated and mysterious because no one can pinpoint exactly what the aroma is. Try combining peppermint and spearmint, lemon and bergamot, or cinnamon and ginger. Using oils that come from different parts of a plant tends to deepen and enrich the scent. For instance, add just the tiniest amount of turpentinelike juniper needles to a rich juniper berry to create a more detailed fullness.
In the next section, we will get a little more specific and show you how to make some medicinal aromatherapy preparations.
To learn more about Aromatherapy and other alternative medicines, see:
- Aromatherapy: Here you will learn about aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.
- Essential Oils Profiles: We have collected profiles of dozens of plants that are used to produce essential oils. On these pages, you will learn the properties and preparations for the most popular essential oils.
- How to Treat Common Conditions With Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used to treat a number of conditions, from asthma to depression to skin problems. Here you will learn how to treat some common medical problems with aromatherapy.
- Home Remedies: We have gathered over a hundred safe, time-tested home remedies for treating a wide variety of medical complaints yourself.
- Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies and aromatherapy can be very similar, and they stem from similar historic roots. On this page, you will find all of our herb profiles and instructions for treating medical problems with herbal remedies.