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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.