Last month we talked about the reasons and advantages to blending essential oils.

This time we will look at another factor to bear in mind when blending essential oils.

One of these factors is having regard to the ,“note” of each of your essential oils. Now this is predominately an aesthetic consideration in that it affects how your blend will smell. But aesthetics are still important even when creating a blend for a particular physical problem, emotional condition or another purpose. A blend that smells attractive and cohesive will be more enjoyable to use, create a more positive mindset and will generally produce better results.

You may have heard the term “note” in relation to perfume. It essentially relates to the volatility of the components of the essential oil, which in turn affects the rate at which the oil will vaporize or evaporate and also affect the “energy” of the oil.

There are 3 notes generally referred to – top, middle and base notes.

Top Notes are the lightest, with smaller faster moving molecules. They evaporate very quickly, so will dissipate first and often appear more obvious when you first smell a blend, then gradually disappearing. Top notes generally have a brighter, lighter energy.

Typical top notes are the citrus group of oils, which reflect this bright lively character.

Top Notes - Basil, Bergamot, Clary sage, Eucalyptus, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Mandarin, Sweet Orange, Petitgrain, Tea Tree, Thyme

Base notes are at the other end of the spectrum. They have heavier and slower moving molecules and take much longer to evaporate. They will inform the character of the blend after the other notes have dissipated.

Base Note oils tend to be slower, often warmer, often more relaxing. Many wood oils, such as sandalwood, are base notes, but this group also includes very different oils such as ylang ylang and ginger.

Base Notes – Cedarwood. Cinnamon Leaf. Clove Bud, Frankincense, Ginger, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang

Middle Notes are, as the name suggests, between top and base notes in terms of their energy and volatility. They are often very balancing oils, although some can be relaxing and some stimulating. Many herb oils fall into this category, such as lavender, rosemary and marjoram.

Middle Notes - Black Pepper, Roman Chamomile, Cypress, Fennel, Geranium, Lavender, Marjoram, Peppermint, Pine, Rosemary, Spearmint

You may find some oils are sometimes stated to be in one category and sometimes in another. There are some oils that are almost on the line between one group and the next, so that they are interpreted as being, say, a middle note in one book, and a base note in another. A typical example is clary sage, which is sometimes referred to as a top note and sometimes as a middle note. Bear in mind that the categories are not sharply and distinctly defined. But are more in the nature of 3 areas of a continuing spectrum.

Notes become important when blending to create a blend that smells balanced at the beginning and continues to do so as the various molecules dissipate. The best blends will usually contain a mixture of all three notes, although it is possible to blend just top and middle notes (lighter and shorter lived) or middle and base notes (heavier and more intense). It is rare that a top and base note will blend harmoniously, although it can sometimes happen. The blend we use in our Patchouli and Lime Soy candle is a rare example of this.

Remember, just because you take a top, middle and base note, they won’t necessarily blend well. You still need to consider the all over character of the oils as well as the purpose for which you are blending. But having regard to the particular “notes” of the essential oils you are blending will help to create a more attractive blend and one you will enjoy smelling.

(Caution - Always bear in mind any cautions attaching to particular essential oils. Also refer to the genera cautions for the use of essential oils. See this article for more)

Author's Bio: 

Wendy Mackay is a qualified Aromatherapist and member of the International Aromatherapy and Aromatic Medicine Association (IAAMA). Wendy and her husband David run Essence of Wellbeing a successful Aromatherapy & Massage Supply and Pure Natural Skin Care business, based in Mornington on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula in Victoria Australia.

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