Fragrance oils are a great way to add a personal touch to your homemade soap. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Markhillary.
Scenting your homemade soaps is a great way to personalise your soaps, but with such a wide variety of options is a matter of personal preference.
There are two varieties of oils that can be used to scent soap: fragrance oils, and essential oils. Either can be used, according to the preferences of the soap maker. This article will give an idea of the benefits of each type of oils, but for our comprehensive post on essential oils, fragrance oils, example oils, their properties and quantities to add to your soap recipes, please click here.
Fragrance oils are made from a mixture of aroma chemicals. They are commonly used when there is no essential oil available for a particular fragrance, or when the essential oil is far too costly or environmentally irresponsible to use.
Unlike essential type oils, fragrance oils can be part natural and part synthetic, or all synthetic.
Fragrance oils are usually thinned with diluents, to help thin out the compounds and create some uniformity of pungency across the spectrum of fragrance oils that are available.
Essential oils, on the other hand, are all-natural fragrances that are taken from various plants and herbs. The oil can come from any part of a plant, but are most often taken from the flowers and leaves.
Many essential oils are associated with a particular benefit or effect, and they are often used in aromatherapy. It takes many (sometimes thousands) of pounds of a plant to make a pound of essential oil; because of this, pure essential oils are much more expensive than fragrance oils.
Deciding which one to use is a matter of preference and can depend on a variety of factors. If cost is an issue, fragrance oils might be a better option than essential oils; as with most things, there are different grades and the better ones tend to be more expensive.
There are some well known scents can only be found in fragrance oils, because there are no natural blends to match them. The cons of fragrance oils are that they don’t tend to last as long as essential oils, because they are diluted and the alcohol in them evaporates quickly.
Pure essential oils are undiluted, so they tend to be stronger, and last longer in soap. There are some scents that can only be found in these oils and simply cannot be mimicked by synthetic compounds. Essential oils are also easier for those new to soap making oils, because the additives in fragrance oils make the soap batter prone to seizing.
Essential oils made from plants that have beneficial effects are known to retain those effects, and pass them on to your soap as well.
If you want your essential oils to retain the vitamins and antioxidants they possess before soap making, it is best to use the cold process method. Add them at trace – the heat from the hot process method can break down these nutrients and destroy their ability to nourish your skin.
Another problem with essential oils is that they are volatile, and while they are long lasting in soap, they evaporate quickly when exposed to air, so the process of mixing them into the soap must be expeditious.
As previously stated, there are pros and cons to both oils, and which product you use to scent your homemade soap will be a matter of personal preference.
As with all other aspects of the soap making process, learn as much as you can about the fragrance or essential oils you plan to use, so that you can make an educated decision about which one to add to your soap. Remember to read our full, comprehensive post on fragrance oils and essential oils by clicking here.
Regardless of which one you choose make sure that it has been tested and proven safe for use in soap making. If you are making soap for someone you know, you may want to do a test to see if the intended recipient is allergic to the substance.
Take the next step
Make sure you download our FREE comprehensive beginners guide, ‘How To Make Soap At Home’, by clicking here.
If you are ready to get serious about soap making, we have a special offer on our Soap Making Ebooks range, with a risk free 60 day money back guarantee! Also available for Kindle, iPhone, iPad, Android and all major Ebook reader platforms.