We’ve had a busy couple of weeks. We were supposed to have company at the end of August, but the prospect of Hurricane Irene rescheduled things to this past weekend. Consquently, I’ve been in a holding pattern with my soap production.
I did get a chance to make a 12-bar test batch of 12 different essential oil blends.
Lavender Oil – A Lasting Symbol, a Fading Fragrance
The natural versus synthetic issue isn’t going away anytime soon, and frankly, both products have their virtues and drawbacks. Essential oils are plant derivatives, and can vary greatly in quality and potency. While they may also have therapeutic benefits, essential oils are frequently contraindicated for use by pregnant or nursing women, as well as people on certain medications. Additionally, and most importantly for the soap maker, some essential oils can cause an allergic reaction called contact dermatitis. Remember, technically, poison ivy is “natural” – but you wouldn’t want it on your skin!
Synthetic fragrance oils have the advantage of being consistently produced in a controlled setting, so a bad year for lavender won’t affect the quality of the fragrance oil. However, synthetics can also cause allergic reactions, and let’s face it, essential oils have way better PR. No one waxes poetic over the energizing scent of methyl salicylate, but Wintergreen LifeSavers wouldn’t be the same without it.
Orange Oil – Lovely, but Fading Fast
I must say, the essential oils were a joy to work with. Sometimes blending fragrance oils gets to me – like spending a little too long in the Perfume Gauntlet at Macy’s. But after 10 days, there is a noticeable decline in potency, especially in the lavender and citrus blends.
I used a 40/42 Lavender Essential Oil, and a 10x Orange Essential Oil.
In case you’re wondering about quality by supplier, most of my oils are from Bramble Berry, but a few are from Mountain Rose Herbs and Majestic Mountain Sage.
Since I’m keeping it palm-oil free, I used a formula that’s simply Olive Oil, Coconut Oil and Castor Oil. It produces a very mild, white bar that has almost no odor of its own.
The Essential 12-Bar Testing Mold; Soaps Captured in Gel Phase
These are the blends I tested, with notes on the scent after 10 days on the curing rack.
1. Lavender Peppermint – lavender is fading fast. used a lower peppermint to lavender ratio, and the mint is still there, but overall scent is diminishing quickly.
2. Lavender Peru Balsam – same as the lav/peppermint blend – the peru is stronger than lavender, but also fading.
3. Rosemary Peppermint Spearmint – this blend appears to have good staying power – all three oils together are nice and strong. they’ve mellowed nicely
4. Rosemary Tea Tree Eucalyptus Anise – this blend also appears strong – the eucalyptus is the faintest one, but it’s still there.
5. Anise Orange – this is nothing but anise now, but it is good and strong. can see why this is often used in odor-killing soap formulas.
6. Grapefruit Orange – both scents are fading fast, although they’ve blended nicely.
7. Cedar Fir – fading fast, too, but still a little woody – it’s probably the cedar.
8. Geranium Fir – this is nothing but geranium now, but it’s holding up okay
9. Geranium Cedar – same as geranium/fir – not much left of the fir
10. Bergamot Basil – this is nothing but basil now – no trace of orange to it
11. Litsea Thyme – this citrus is strong – so is the thyme.
12. Litsea Black Pepper Thyme – same as above, a little less thyme a little more “lemon pledge”.
So of the 12 blends tested, the following have good sticking power in CP:
- Rosemary, Peppermint & Spearmint
- Rosemary, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus & Anise
- Thyme & Litsea
Peppermint Oil – Not Going Anywhere
The individual oils that I found to have good stick are:
- Tea Tree
I’d love to hear about any experiments or testing you’ve done with essential oils. You can leave a comment here or at my Facebook page.
I also highly recommend this post by Lori at the Nova Studio on her Top Ten Essential Oils.