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USING ESSENTIAL OILS IN SOAPMAKING: ANSWERS TO COMMON QUESTIONS
🌸How do I anchor the aroma or get the scent to stick when using essential oils in soapmaking?
Using particular base oils can affect the final scent of cold or hot process soap. Natural (or non-deodorized) butters, such as shea butter and cocoa butter, can heavily affect the fragrance in cold soap. Before “officially” going palm-free with my soapmaking, Some oils have a strong scent of their own, such as neem oil, which also needs to be considered when choosing to use essential oils in soapmaking.
We would recommend to always use well-rounded essential oil blends in soapmaking, ensuring that a blend is “anchored” with middle and base notes rather than leaving flighty top notes on their own.
🌸How much essential oil should I use for scenting soap?
There is absolutely no blanket answer for how much essential oil to use in soapmaking. It depends on the method of the process (cold process, hot process, melt and pour, etc.) as well as the essential oil itself. The most professional way to calculate the amount of Essential Oil needed is to use Essential Oil Calculator.
🌸Should I expect discoloration when using essential oils in soapmaking?
Essential oils don’t tend to have as many issues with discoloration as fragrance oils do, but it can and does happen!
A folded orange essential oil can give the soap a light yellow to peach hue, while dark patchouli essential oil can lend a yellow or pale tan color to soap.
A good way to determine if an essential oil will affect the color of the soap itself is to look at the color of the essential oil! If an essential oil is darker than a pale to medium yellow, you can usually expect a minimal amount of discoloration.
🌸How can I get vanilla, almond, chocolate, or coffee scent using essential oils in soapmaking?
Another common misconception about using essential oils in soapmaking is that it’s not possible to mimic a lot of fragrances out there. While you won’t find cucumber or banana essential oils (because they don’t exist), you can create essential oil blends to evoke a wide variety of scents with a lot of practice.
You can create blends with notes of vanilla, almond, and coffee using essential oils, absolutes, and CO2 extracts
Vanilla oleoresin can lend a somewhat balsamic and resinous vanilla note to a blend. (It does discolor in soapmaking.) Peru Balsam essential oil can also be used to bring a lightly spiced but warm vanilla note to a blend. (Peru balsam should be used in extremely low amounts, and be labeled appropriately as it is a skin sensitizer.)
The bitter almond essential oil can be found at a few suppliers, but due to DEA regulations, it must be diluted with a carrier oil. Even though it is diluted, no adjustments to usage rates should be made (aka you should not use double the essential oil because it is diluted.)
Using natural cocoa butter in soapmaking definitely pulls a chocolaty scent through. I can usually detect cocoa butter in a recipe in as little as 5% of the formula, but most soapmakers tend to report a scent of around 15% to 30%.
I like to use a little aged dark patchouli essential oil and pure balsam essential oil to scent cocoa butter soap to support the chocolate scent. (Add in a dash of orange or peppermint for a truly delish concoction!) Cocoa absolute is available and does hold in a blend in soapmaking for awhile. However, it is extremely expensive and not likely something you will want to use. You can also use melted bittersweet baking chocolate, but the soap will discolor dark brown and may have brown lather depending on the amount used.
Coffee bean absolute (Coffea arabica) can be used in soapmaking for a freshly roasted coffee fragrance. Pairing the absolute with triple-brewed coffee as a water replacement and natural (non-deodorized) cocoa butter helps to push and round out the coffee scent.