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Essential oils are very strong and if you want to use them for massage or for the skin they must be diluted. Unlike essential oils, carrier oils do not evaporate when they are heated and so they are sometimes called ‘fixed’ oils.
There is a wide choice available, apricot kernel, avocado, evening primrose, grape seed, peach kernel and sweet almond. Jojoba is really a liquid wax but can be included for our purposes.
While they vary greatly in price do not be tempted to compromise. Always try to get ‘cold pressed’ oils, sometimes called ‘ extra virgin’ from a reputable supplier. Which oil you decide to use is really down to personal preference. Some have a distinct fragrance of their own while other are quite bland.
Carrier oils tend not to last as long as essential oils once they have been opened. About three months is an average after which they go rancid. This is a process called ‘oxidation’ where the oil combines with air and develops a rather unpleasant smell just like the chip pan oil that has been left too long! Adding 10% of wheat germ oil will make your mixtures last twice as long. You can usually buy small quantities of carrier oils so that you do not waste them. Keep your bottles as full as possible to eliminate air and keep them in a cool dark place.
Blending oils is something of an art but we all have to start somewhere. It is vital that for use on the skin or as massage oil, essential oils have to be diluted. This will usually be done in a carrier oil although creams and shampoos can be used as well.
The maximum concentration of essential oils for adults should not exceed 2% and for children under fourteen, 1%. This sounds complicated but is quite simple to work out. The size of a drop from an essential oil bottle is remarkably uniform which is handy. 100 drops of oil equals 5mls or one teaspoon. So, for a 1% dilution you would use 1 drop of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier and for a 2% dilution, 2 drops. Easy isn’t it!
A 5ml quantity is enough for a face massage and a full body massage would take about 25mls so you just add drops of essential oils accordingly.
In perfumery, oils are classified as top, middle or base notes according to the rate at which they evaporate and how strong they are when blended. This becomes quite complex but I will try to simplify it.
The citrus oils are usually ‘top notes’, the woody oils are ‘base notes’ and herbaceous plants are ‘middle notes’. To obtain a nice balanced blend you should try and use oils from different sections together, for example one top and another middle, or one top and a base, or one from each. As a very rough guide I would suggest you use them in the ratio of 1,2 and 3, that is three drops of a top note to one drop of a base or two of a middle note.
The best way is to experiment. Try small quantities to start with and make sure you make a note of how many drops of each essential oil you have used. Don’t forget start gently. You can always add more oil but you can’t take it away.Use more than three essential oils together or your blend can become non-descriptive and difficult to recreate.