A Guide to Essential Oils & Fragrances
Posted on September 22 2016
What Are Essential Oils & Fragrances?
One of the key ingredients in soap making is the essential oils and fragrances. These serve different purposes and it is important to know what sets them apart from each other. Let's take a closer look at these different types of oils found in many natural and hand made soaps. We use the term essential oil these days, but this is actually a shortened form of the true name, quintessential oil. This comes from the ancient belief that all matter is comprised of five elements. The four that we are most familiar with earth, air, fire and water and the fifth element which is known as quintessence. This is also sometimes referred to at ether or spirit, so in the most basic of terms essential oils are the spirit or life essence of whichever plant it was extracted from!
How Are Essential Oils Made?Essential oils are produced by distilling the leaves, bark, roots, flowers or some other part of a plant. They do not feel oily in texture and most are clear, although certain oils have a pale amber hue. They contain the true essence of the plant they are derived from and are highly concentrated so a tiny amount goes a very long way. Often a huge amount of plant matter is required to produce essential oil. For example, rose oil requires approximately a ton of petals to produce one pound of oil making it one of the more expensive oils to purchase. Most soap recipes will call only for a few drops of essential oil for an entire batch of soap! Fragrance oils are something much different although many people confuse them with essential oils. Fragrance oils are usually not derived from the actual plants themselves, but rather are artificially created. They do not carry the therapeutic benefits that essential oils do and are used solely to add scent during the soap making process. They may be derived from natural ingredients, but are usually heavily diluted with carrier oils.
Why Are These Oils Used?
Essential oils are used in soap making for the therapeutic aromatherapy benefits. They also offer a completely natural way to add scent to handmade soaps. They also mean that your finished soap is going to have additional benefits other than just cleansing your skin! For example, Sandalwood, Lavender and Lemon are all great for treating acne while Palmarosa and Ylang Ylang are great for diminishing the appearance of wrinkles and fine line! There are literally thousands of therapeutic benefits depending on the essential oil used. Some of these benefits include pain relief, relaxation and anti-viral or anti-bacterial properties. Fragrance oils, as noted, have no therapeutic benefits. They are added to soap only to give it a pleasing scent. They are often used because there is a much broader range of scents to choose from than with essential oils. It is important to check whether or not the soap you purchase actually has fragrance oil or essential oil in it as many manufacturer's will sell fragranced soap under the 'aromatherapy' label, but if it only contains fragrance then it does not have any real benefits. Aromatherapy is not regulated, so you must check to make sure that essential oils are listed on the ingredients if you specifically want an aromatherapy product. Essential oils are seen as more natural, and this is correct since fragrance oil is synthetic. However, when buying natural soaps you should not be put off if they contain fragrance oil as it is not a harsh chemical and there is less than 1% in any bar of soap. With that being said, if you want a truly 100% natural soap then those containing essential oils are the way to go!
How To Make Natural Soap With Essential Oils - Video
Types of Essential Oils & Fragrances Used in Soap MakingAs with most soap making ingredients, you will find that there are different grades of essential oil and fragrance oil. In the case of essential oils the quality will vary a great deal depending on the crop, the region the plant was grown in and the conditions of growth. This can make essential oils less stable than fragrance oils which are produced to a specific recipe. It is usually best to find a supplier that you like and stick with them as this will give you the best level of consistency in your essential oils. With fragrance oils you may see terms like 'extreme concentrate' or 'perfumers grade' , but these are not industry recognised terms. They are simply ways that some manufacturers use to differentiate between the different levels of scent dilution that they sell! The oils themselves that are used in soap making are many and varied. Every essential oil has it's own properties and some of them compliment each other very well. There are not really any oils that cannot be used in soaps. The only real hurdle is that often the cold process technique can be harsh on the essential oils so they either need to be added later in the process or a fixative needs to be used to retain the scent. It is common to blend various oils and scents. In fact, essential oils (and fragrance oils for that matter) are categorized on a musical scale of top notes, middle notes and base notes depending on how long they last and it is always best to blend at least one from each category. Some of the most popular scents used for making natural soaps include Lavender, Jasmine, Sandalwood, Plumeria, Rose, Apple, Raspberry, Passion Fruit, Grapefruit, Peppermint and Chocolate.
3 Ways To Categorize Oils:
• Top NotesFleeting scents that disappear quickly, but offer a strong initial burst of scent. Examples of top notes would be Citronella, Lime or Orange Sweet.
• Middle NotesIt takes longer for these scents to come through, but they provide the main body of any fragrance blend. Some popular middle notes include Jasmine, Neroli and Rose.
• Base NotesThese are the richer, heavier scents which last for a long time as they are slow to evaporate. Good base notes include Sandalwood, Vanilla and Ylang Ylang. In conclusion, you have seen that essential oils and fragrance oils are not the same thing. Essential oils are usually included in natural and hand made soaps for the therapeutic benefits that they can offer from aromatherapy while fragrance oils are added with the sole purpose of scenting the soap. If you prefer to have a soap which is 100% natural, then you will want to look for one that contains essential oils rather than fragrance oil. It really is a simple matter of personal preference, for therapeutic benefits go with essential oils and for a greater choice of scent opt for fragrance oils. Soap.Club offers over 70 different scents of 100% natural handmade soap. To find out more about our products click here or join our monthly membership plan to receive handmade artisan soap conveniently delivered to your door. For more information contact one of our soapers at firstname.lastname@example.org.