By: Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist
By now, I hope you have had the opportunity to review the following information, especially if you are new to essential oils.
- The Wonderful Wide World of Aromatherapy — How essential oils and aromatherapy support our wellbeing
- Welcome to Essential Education — Getting to know our essential oils
- Getting to Know Our Essential Oils – Part 2 — Choosing the most appropriate oils for our concerns.
The next step is beginning to explore blending your essential oils.
Here a some baseline concepts before we begin:
Blending 1, 2, 3 is just a beginning:
The intention of this Essential Education series is to help instill some confidence with basic information to help you move from memorization to exploration. The method described here is just one method of blending, with some basic parameters to help keep things simple, yet effective. Once you learn more, you will find what works best for your style and needs as an aromatherapy enthusiast.
Blending varies by type of aromatherapy practiced:
As you begin to explore more, you will see many different methods to blending. For example:
- By chemistry/constituents – often used in clinical aromatherapy
- By scent/notes – often used in perfumery
- By therapeutic action – using historically known applications for a remedy of a wellness concern of body, mind or spirit.
For most home enthusiasts, blending by therapeutic action most often suits personal aromatherapy concerns. You will find many of the home reference books written in this way.
Blending is an art:
As you study more about blending you will see, even within areas of specialty, aromatherapists have their own way of going about it. Aromatherapy is indeed a natural healing art, and blending is a big part of the art.
A blend of undiluted essential oils is called a synergy:
The concept of an essential oil synergy is that the outcome of the blended oils is going to have greater value than the essential oils working alone. If you blend more quantity than for a single use, you will also see the synergy referred to as a master blend, or a stock blend.
Ok, ready to get started?
Step 1: Planning Your Blend
Before we begin blending, it is important to know what you are seeking to accomplish by answering some key questions. This list is not all inclusive, but is outlined to give you some idea of the planning needed before you even begin to prepare your blend.
What concern are you looking to support?
- It is best to address one primary thing at a time.
- Your blend can have some supporting effects, which we will address.
For whom is this blend being made?
- A healthy adult?
- Someone who is pregnant or nursing?
How is this blend going to be used?
Are there any safety concerns?
- Does it need to be KidSafe?
- Are the oils phototoxic?
- Maximum dermal applications?
- Health concerns?
- Potential medication interactions?
- Time of day to be used?
- Scent preferences or aversions?
Step 2: Choosing Your Essential Oils
Now that you have answered questions such as those above, you can begin to choose your essential oils. There may be a variety of choices, but some oils work better together either synergistically, and/or how they smell.
This is where being familiar with your oils (what they do, how they smell, what their safety considerations are), as well as which oils best address your concern may be. If you need help with this, please review Welcome to Essential Education and Getting to Know Your Essential Oils – Part 2.
To begin, we are going to keep blending simple. And, we are going to blend by therapeutic action as a starting point for this exercise.
I learned my preferred process for choosing my oils to blend from Jade Shutes, an aromatherapy educator, and author. When you are ready for more complexity, I highly recommend her manual “The Dynamics of Blending,” for learning blending in far more detail and depth . Jade advocates a three-step approach to choosing your oils, summarized below:
- First Oil/Primary – addresses primary concern
- Second Oil/Supporting – supports the first oil for the primary concern
- Third Oil/Enhancing – brings the blend together and enhances the effects of the synergy
A few more additional oils could be added to enhance the overall synergy, but let’s start with the basics. I have created many effective blends using simply three oils. Once you get going and gain your confidence and more education, you could certainly begin to branch out to more complex methods and synergies.
Step 3: Creating Your Blend
To help get you started, you will find a worksheet below to help record your progress and process:
1) Choose Your Essential Oils for the Synergy
Select Your First Oil — to address your primary concern, ensuring it meets the criteria in the planning phase.
Select a Second Oil — to support your primary concern and to support the first oil.
Take the caps off the two bottles and hold them together. Gently waft the caps together under your nose (note: you don’t want to touch your nose or take a big sniff. Just a gentle inhale as it passes by).
How is the scent? Is it generally pleasing? If you like it, proceed. If not choose another oil you want to go with your first choice oil and start again.
Select a Third Oil — to bring together the overall blend
What enhancing effect do you want to add to your blend? Do you want to enhance the scent? Do you want to enhance the overall action? Do you want to add a supporting action? All the above?
Hold the cap of the third oil with the caps of other two oils and do the wafting experiment again. Is the scent generally pleasing? Are you happy with the combination of the three in general? If so, then you are ready to proceed.
2) Make Your Blend
For this you will need:
- Cotton balls or fragrance test strips
- Scratch paper and a pen or pencil
- It is also good practice to wear gloves
Try This 3 Oils + 5 Drops Method
This method keeps things simple, and it makes for a blend that is easy to use immediately, or to scale up or down with minimal math.
For example, with a 5-drop mini-master blend, you could easily add the following within safe and appropriate guidelines:
- 5 drops in a diffuser (per 100 ml)
- 5 drops on a cotton ball at your bedside, or desk (this is what I do with my tester samples)
- 5 drops (mixed with appropriate carriers) in a bath
- 15 drops in a personal inhaler
- 1 drop x 5 uses in aroma jewelry
- 20-40 drops per ml for a master blend stock bottle.
Choose the Ratio of Oils
- Grab your scratch paper and a pencil.
- Write down the name of each oil you have chosen.
- Add one drop of the first oil to your cotton ball or scent strip.
- Mark down a hatch mark next to that oil written on your paper.
- Add one drop of the second oil and record it.
- Add one drop of the third oil and record it.
(Trust me, marking each drop immediately is critical. If you think you will remember what you did when you are done, ask me how many times I have lost my place with which oil I just dropped, or how many recipes I have forgotten by the time I finished dropping and smelling my oils!)
- Now, take a smell of what you have so far. How do you like it? What would you like to increase or mute?
- Add one drop of the next oil you choose. It can be any of the three. Don’t forget to write it down.
- Smell again.
- Add the final drop of any of the three oils you choose and smell. How do you like it? Love it? Great! You have your blend. Don’t love it? Start again, adjusting the choice of which oils to bring out more in the blend and which ones you want to stay in the background.
3) Record your Recipe
- Once you are finished, be sure to write down your synergy recipe and store in a safe place.
- Recipes are written in descending order of volume (which oil you used most first, and then, alphabetically.
- It is good practice to also include the Latin names, so you remember which variety you used.
- Be sure to write down the purpose of the blend.
- If you created a synergy that is larger in volume than for single use, be sure to label the bottle.
- If you created a master or stock blend, also be sure to date it. Your shelf life will be determined by the essential oil in the synergy with the shortest shelf life when stored properly.
Examples of sample blends using the 3 Oil/5 Drop Method
These are all mini-master blends to sample if you are looking for some inspiration to get started. Feel free to change the amount of each oil in the synergy suited to your own personal sense and needs should you wish. If you have gotten to know your oils, you can even play with making substitutions that better suit you.
2 drops Kunzea (kunzea ambigua)
2 drops Blue Cypress (callitris intratropica)
1 drop Fragonia (agonis fragrans)
This is soothing to aching muscles and joints. Soothing to mind and spirit. Helps to release blocked pain and emotional scars to the spirit.
2 drops Ho Wood (cinnamomum camphora)
2 drops Rose Otto 10% (rosa damascena)
1 drop Lavender Fine (lavandula angustifolia)
This is a sweet soother to the mind, body and spirit when needing to significantly relax nervous tension on all levels.
2 drops Peppermint (mentha x piperita)
2 drops Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis ct 1,8-cineole)
1 drops Lime (citrus x aurantifolia)
An invigorating blend. Supports focus and clarity.
Shutes, Jade. “The Dynamics of Blending: A Guide to Blending and Reference Manual for Essential Oils and Base Materials.” N.p.: East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies. N.d. Print.