Alcohol-Free Body Spray

The trickiest part of this recipe is deciding on the essential oil(s) you love, because there are so many natural scents to choose from. That’s why the focus of this post is about guiding you how to mix your own scent. This post is like a little perfume 101 lesson.

recipe image: homemade body spray recipe final product

Many other recipes I’ve found include alcohol, because it is a natural preservative and makes the scent last longer. However, I do not recommend applying alcohol topically, which is why I’ve excluded it. I use alcohol in my room spray recipe, as the alcohol is not being applied to the skin. If you know that you will be applying the scent to your clothes (and not skin), then you may choose to include it. Some people choose to use an alcohol dilution (water & alcohol), whereas others choose to make a perfume by only using alcohol (no water). The preferred alcohol to use is a high-proof ethanol. The choice is yours.

How to combine essential oils for fragrance

If you want to keep things really simple, you could just use one essential oil which has a fragrance you love (preferably a base, or middle note for a longer lasting scent). Alternatively, you could copy/use the scents listed on some of your favorite synthetic products and deodorants. But if you’d like to become more of a perfume fundi, then keep reading. There are two things to consider when blending scents:

  1. Aromatic category and properties: floral, fresh, citrus etc. Generally, oils in the same category blend well together. If you want to experiment outside of this general rule, the chart below shows which categories blend well with each other.
  2. Perfume Notes: top, middle and base notes. Some essential oils evaporate quicker than others, and this is what determines their “note”. If the oil evaporates quickly, it is a top note, whereas oils which take the longest to evaporate are base notes. If you make a perfume that contains only top notes, the scent will evaporate quickly and not last very long. Generally, it is a good idea to combine at least one top, middle and base note essential oil for a long lasting fragrance.

I’ve created a helpful scent combination chart which shows you the aromatic categories and notes of some common essential oils:

So if you don’t want to go wrong, follow this fragrance formula:

Choose 3 essential oils from the same aromatic category, or from categories which blend well together. Select one top note, one middle note and one base note. Mix 30% top note, 50% middle note, 20% base note.

 In the beginning, when you are still experimenting with what scent combinations you like, you may want to use only 3 drops of a top note, 5 drops of a middle note and 2 drops of a base note mixed together. There will be less waste that way in case you don’t like the combination at all. Then when you are ready, you can make bigger batches and calculate what volume makes up the various percentages. After you’ve combined the essential oils, it is very important to let it stand for a day or two. Then smell it to determine how you feel about it. Some combinations I like to use:

  • Sweet musky fragrance: Grapefruit, neroli and vanilla. (30:50:20)
  • Sweet fragrance: Rosemary and vanilla (50:50)
  • Fresh floral fragrance: Rose geranium and pine needle. (70:30)
  • Sweet floral fragrance: Lavender, neroli and rose geranium. (30:50:20)
  • Clean, fresh and revitalizing fragrance: Rosemary and peppermint. (70: 30)
  • Deep woodsy fragrance: orange, cinnamon, sandalwood (30:50:20)

Are you new to essential oils? Did you know that some should be avoided while pregnant? Learn how to use essential oils safely.

Cost & Shelf Life

Cost price: R10 per 100ml using Grapefruit EO as fragrance.
Lasted me about: 1 month (using every day)
Estimated shelf life: 3 months (if you use distilled water, preservative and sterilized equipment).

*Costs accurate at time of writing, and based on retail prices.


  • Finding the perfect scent combination you love can take a little bit of experimentation.
  • Some people don’t want to use preservatives. If that’s you, you’ll have to follow my room spray recipe which uses alcohol in order to be preservative-free. Don’t apply the alcohol version to your skin, strictly clothes only.
  • Offers no antiperspirant action. If this is what you are looking for then I suggest making a natural roll-on (here’s my recipe).

Cherry on Top

  • Ability to custom-make scents for yourself and others.
  • You will benefit from the aromatherapy properties of each essential oil, which can promote concentration, relieve headaches and enhance mood, among many other things.


  • Essential oils:  Are completely natural fragrances. Each essential oil has it’s own unique properties and aromatherapy benefits. (Buy organic essential oils here)
  • Decyl glucoside: is a natural, plant-derived solubiliser which disperses the essential oils throughout the water to prevent separated layers and clogged spray nozzles. (buy here)
  • Distilled water: is a pure water which has a longer shelf life, because it is a less hospitable environment for bacteria to grow. Don’t confuse distilled water for filtered/ spring/ purified water. Distilled water is very affordable, and can be found at most pharmacies. (buy here)
  • Geogard Ultra: is a synthetic preservative composed of gluconolactone and sodium benzoate in powder form. It is ECOCERT, NATRUE and SOIL association approved for use in natural and organic products. (buy here)

Not sure where to find the best, or the cheapest essential oils? My shopping guide may help you.

What is your favourite fragrance combination? Let me know in the comments below.


17 thoughts on “Alcohol-Free Body Spray”

  1. Can you tell me where indigenous South African EOs fit on that chart? I have Cape May, but there are others like Cape Geranium, Buchu, etc. I’d like to use them in mixes but have no idea what ‘notes’ they have.

    • Hello again Chelsea =)

      Gosh, I never thought to include indigenous EOs! But what a terrific idea – I will make a note to redo my chart. In the meantime, I can help you with the EOs you mentioned.

      Cape May = Herby – Middle/Top note (Blends particularly well with floral notes and some herby notes like basil and clary sage)
      Buchu = Minty/Herby – Base note (Blends well with woodsy and citrusy)
      Cape Geranium = Same as chart.

  2. Can you tell me how this chart might compare to a roller blend dilution chart? 30, 50, and 20% are too high for the smaller bottles. I’m still figuring out how all this works so converting this is still a little difficult for me. Any help would be appreciated.

    • Hi Michelle. Thank you for your comment. I make my own roller blends too and just see the ratios as drops. So for example, 3 drops (30%), 5 drops (50%) and 2 drops (20%). Just multiply that by how many sets of ten drops you intend to use. So if you want to use 100 drops of fragrance then just multiply my original ratio by ten (i.e. because it’s ten sets of ten, for 50 drops you would multiply my original ratio by 5). So you would use 30 drops, 50 drops and 20 drops. Alternatively, if you want to work with millilitres then keep in mind that on average 20 drops of essential is equal to one millilitre. So if the roller is 10ml, then it can hold about 200 drops! For a 10ml roller, you would use the following millilitre ratio: 3ml, 5ml and 2ml. I hope that helps, and that I haven’t confused you further? Maybe you can tell me how many millilitres your roller is, and then I can help you with exact quantities?

    • Hi William. Thank you for you comment. That is good to know. You are free to use my recipes to sell, if you want. The more people using natural products, the better. Wishing you all the best.

    • Hi Melanie

      Thank you for your comment. Neroli is such a lovely scent. For the top note, I would recommend a citrus scent – I would personally choose orange. For the base note I would choose either vanilla or sandalwood. Let me know how it turns out 🙂

      Kind regards

    • Hi William

      Thank you for your comment. I am happy that you have learned a lot from my blog. Yes, you can always use distilled water. But for a longer lasting fragrance that has more of a perfume quality, I recommend that you use vodka instead of distilled water. Or perhaps a mixture of both. I recommend using 1 drop of essential oils for every 5ml (or every teaspoon) of distilled water/vodka – so 100ml of water will have 20 drops of essential oils. But some essential oils have a very strong/weak fragrance, so use your discretion. Add a little fragrance, then if it is too weak, add some more. Keep adding until you are happy with the strength of the fragrance overall. But remember to let it stand overnight, so that you can get a better idea of the final scent.

      Kind regards

  3. I would love to find the recipe to make Moroccan oil original scent. It smells so amazing. The scent Shampure from Aveda.

  4. Hi Christina!
    your website is amazing ! I am definitely trying a few recipes this w.end!
    A quick question, what brand of vanilla “essential oil”/”essence” do you buy (as i know that there is technically no vanilla essential oil)? and do you consider the brand you buy good enough to be used in body products (like soap /skin/hair home made products ?
    Thank you !

    • Thank you Gaby. That’s very encouraging to hear. It keeps me going 🙂 Vanilla absolute is insanely expensive, which is the purest and most natural form of vanilla that you’ll find. So this is the only oil that I use which is not completely natural. I use vanilla fragrance oil – I buy it from Escentia / Aromatic Essential Oils / Fun with Soap. Since I only use it in my soaps and fragrance products (like perfume, room and body spray), which don’t stay on my skin, I am not concerned. And since all my products are completely natural, I doubt a little dose of synthetic vanilla fragrance oil will do me harm. So I’d be happy to add a few drops to my skin products, but I prefer other scents in my skincare. I don’t expect it to have any therapeutic benefits – I simply use it for its fragrance.

  5. Hey there,

    I find that no matter which spray bottle I use, it always gets clogged or doesn’t spray, but dribbles. Do you have any ideas on how to avoid this problem?

    • Hello 🙂
      I recommend adding alcohol to your spray – it prevents the essential oils from clogging your spray bottles. I recommend vodka or rubbing alcohol. You said that you have tried different bottles, but I just thought I’d mention that they must have wider suction pipes. The ones with tiny pipes (like the ones in perfume bottles) are difficult, and clog easily. Those may require 100% alcohol instead of water. Let me know if this works for you. You could also try adding one drop of fragrance-free liquid soap to 100ml of body spray. The soap also helps keep the pump clear.


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