How to use Essential oils to scent Handmade Soap
Essential oils are used to scent natural soap
If you’re making handmade soap and want to scent it naturally, you will probably use essential oils. Essential oils are natural extracts from plants and flowers and are used in aromatherapy and natural skincare. They can be confused with ‘Fragrance oils’ which are not completely natural but can also be used to scent soap.
Below is a list of essential oils listed along with their INCI names and how much of each can be used in a batch of soap. The percentage provided should always be calculated by weight and not by volume. If you’re making a 1lb batch of soap with 4% fragrance then you may use up to 0.64 oz (18 g) of essential oil. When calculating how much essential oil to use, you multiply the total amount of your soaping oils by the percentage of essential oil you’ll be using. Once you know how much essential oil you need, you can convert the units to ml, teaspoons, and fluid ounces for your own convenience.
How to add essential oils to soap
When using essential oils in soap making, you generally add them to your batch after the soap thickens into a light to medium ‘Trace’. This happens after you add the lye-water to your soaping oils and you begin mixing. A light ‘Trace’ means the soap is the consistency of runny honey, medium is the consistency of custard, and a thick trace is so stiff that it will hold its form. If you add essential oils too late, you risk having streaks in your soap.
What percentage of essential oil can be used?
This list includes each oil’s common name, its INCI and/or Latin name, and the total percentage of each oil that you can use in a soap recipe. The percentages are the ones that I have to adhere to when making soap to sell through Lovely Greens Handmade. If you wish to blend two or more essential oils together, the total percentage of oils used should not exceed 4% of your soaping oils.
The Essential oils
Most of the oils below can be used at 3% though some are set at lower amounts. These ones are generally more sensitizing and can cause irritation if more than the permitted amount is used. Some, like Cinnamon, will even give you a headache if you smell it from the bottle. It does to me and I have to be very careful when using it.
- Amyris Amyris balsamifera 3%
- Benzoin (as a liquid resin) Styrax Benzoin 0.6%
- Bergamot Citrus bergamia 3%
- Black Pepper Piper nigrum 3%
- Blood Orange Citrus sinensis 3%
- Cardamom Elettaria cardamomum 3%
- Cedarwood Cedrus atlantica 3%
- Chamomile German Matricaria recutica 3%
- Chamomile Roman Anthemis nobilis 3%
- Cinnamon (leaf) Cinnamomum zeylanicum 1%
- Clary Sage Salvia sclarea 3%
- Clove Eugenia caryophyllus 0.1%
- Cypress Cupressus sempervirens 3%
- Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus 3%
- Frankincense Boswellia carterii 3%
- Geranium Pelargonium graveolens 3%
- Ginger Zingiber officinalis 3%
- Grapefruit Citrus grandis 3%
- Jasmine Jasminum officinale 3%
- Juniper Juniperus communis 3%
- Lavandin Lavandula latifolia 3%
- Lavender Lavandula augustifolia 3%
- Lemon Citrus limonum 3%
- Lime (only use distilled oil) Citrus aurantifolia 3%
- Mandarin Citrus noblis 3%
- May Chang Litsea cubeba 3%
- Neroli Citrus aurantium 3%
- Orange Citrus sinensis 3%
- Palmarosa (Gingergrass) Cymbopogon martini 3%
- Patchouli Pogostemon cablin 3%
- Peppermint Mentha piperita 2%
- Petitgrain Citrus aurantium 3%
- Pine Pinus sylvestris 3%
- Rose Absolute Rosa damascena 0.03%
- Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis 3%
- Rosewood Aniba rosaeodora 3%
- Sandalwood Santalum album 3%
- Spearmint Mentha viridis 3%
- Sweet Bay Lauris noblis 0.1%
- Sweet Marjoram Origanum marjorana 3%
- Tangerine Citrus reticulata 3%
- Tea Tree Melaleuca alternifolia 1%
- Thyme Thymus vulgaris 3%
- Vetiver Vetiveria zizanoides 3%
- Ylang Ylang Cananga odorata 3%
For more information on getting started with making your own soap here is the free four-part series from Lovely Greens.
Natural Soapmaking for Beginners Series