Blending oils for massage enables you to alleviate various physical and emotional symptoms in a single treatment, and while the combination of therapeutic properties is of prime importance, the value of the fragrance should also be taken into account – no-one enjoys taking unpleasant medicine, so don’t underestimate the beneficial effects of a pleasing and sweet-smelling odour when mixing your oils.
The ratio of essential oil to carrier oil may vary, but as a general rule 2.5% dilution is recommended. To work out how many drops of essential oil you will need in a container, simply divide its capacity by two.
When essential oils are used in aromatherapy different oils are combined to increase their therapeutic effect. As you become more practiced at the art of blending you will begin to develop a nose for compatibility and you will be able to judge the best blend for your requirement by its aroma.
When essential oils are blended, a chemical reaction occurs and the oils combine as a new compound. The proportions of each essential oil in a blend can be vital to the effectiveness of the remedy as a whole. For example, when lavender is added to bergamot the sedative qualities of bergamot are increased; but if lemon is added to bergamot then its uplifting, refreshing aspect is enhanced. Some oils blended together have a mutually enhancing effect upon one another, so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, this process is known as synergy.
Understanding Aromatherapy Notes
An aromatherapy oils fragrance is often known as its note. Essential oils are categorised by top, middle and base notes. This is the way perfumers categorise scents, using different combinations of notes to create a new perfume. A good blend combines an oil from each category, and each oil is classified according to its dominant characteristic. You will eventually develop your own nose for which oils relate to each note, but in general the fresh, herbaceous oils such as lemon eucalyptus, or ti tree are good top notes. The floral oils and some herb oils make up the majority of middle notes, while woody, resinous oils form the base notes. There are however some exceptions. Rose and jasmine are unusually heady fragrances, and although they are floral oils they are usually considered to be base notes.The key to making a great blend is striking the perfect balance between the notes, with a good blend combining oils from each note.
Because they evaporate quickly, most blends should contain a higher percentage of top-note oil to middle-note and base note oil.
The top note has a fresh, light quality that is immediately apparent, due to the fast evaporation rate. They have antiseptic and antiviral properties. They are good cleansing oils, and have an uplifting effect on the mood and the emotions, making them good for providing a quick energy boost.
Fresh herbaceous oils like lemon, eucalyptus, or ti tree are good top notes.
The middle note is the heart of the fragrance, which usually forms the bulk of the blend, whose scent emerges some time after the first impression. They are generally warm, rich and powerful scents whose aromas may last for two to three days. They affect most systems of the body, making them healing and relaxing oils. Middle notes are good for healing that requires attention over time, such as respiratory or muscular problems. They are also good to use for conditions that recur, such as migraines, PMS and painful periods.
The floral oils and some herb oils make up the majority of middle notes.
The base note is a rich, heavy scent that emerges slowly and lingers. It also acts as a fixative to stop the lighter oils from dispersing too quickly. Base aromas are generally soothing scents which evaporate slowly and can linger for anything up to a week. They have a strong effect on the mind and emotions, making them good for relaxing your mood. Base notes can treat a range of conditions from dry skin or oily skin to circulatory and digestive problems, to boosting a low immune system. They also have aphrodisiac properties.
Woody resinous oils form the base notes.
“Creative blending is an aesthetic alchemical process… learning to ‘listen through the nose’. To listen is to be receptive, to be empty. Every drop shifts the orchestrations of olfactory vibrations, the ‘song of the blend’. A blend is not made at once, rather it evolves, it organically grows and interacts not only within the essential oils, but also with the blender”