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How to Use Essential Oils in Homemade Soaps for Aromatic or Therapeutic Purposes

Updated on August 5, 2017
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The simple soaps made by Dolores are popular with friends and coworkers. She has sold her soaps at a local boutique.

Home made soap
Home made soap | Source

The Use of Essential Oils in the Past

Essential oils and aromatic plants have been used since ancient times for medicinal, therapeutic, cosmetic, and religious purposes.

Vedic Indian literature from 2000 BC lists more than 700 aromatic botanical materials. Chinese records dating back 4,000 years mention therapeutic and religious uses of essential oils and aromatic plants. In ancient Egypt, papyrus records mention medicinal herbs during the time of Khufu (2800 BC) and around 2000BC recommend using oils, incenses and perfumes in temples, for embalming rituals and for medicinal and cosmetic reasons.

Today, essential oils are still used in much the same way. Aromatherapy practitioners, perfume, and incense makers use essential oils to enhance or encourage moods. People who make soap at home use essential oils for aroma and their cleansing abilities. High quality cosmetic lotions that use essential oils to condition skin are far superior to those that use synthetic oils. Some essential oils are good for moisturizing, others for drying oily skin, while others help to heal wounds, clear up acne, reduce rashes, or repel insects.

Blending Essential Oils

How To Blend Essetial Oils

When blending essential oils, you want to produce a pleasing aroma that lasts a long time. Creating a harmonious balance of oils will give you a unique and pleasant aroma.

Essential oils fall into three basic categories called notes. Top notes are light, fruity, or flowery. Base notes are more pungent and spicy, while middle notes fall somewhere in between.

In order to prevent one note from overpowering the rest, use a simple formula:

  • 3 parts top note
  • 2 parts middle note
  • 1 part base note

Experiment with essential oil combinations by placing a drop of your intended base, 2 drops of the middle note, and 3 drops of the top note on a cotton ball. Place the ball inside a baggie or glass jar and test it later. Remember to label your combinations so that you don't forget which essential oils you have used.

Attempt several combinations. You may not like them all. You can even name your own unique blend of essential oils for a distinctively original scent. 

Following are some essential oils and their properties.

Lavender distillery early 1900s
Lavender distillery early 1900s | Source

Anise Seed - a lovely, fresh and fragrant scent reminiscent of licorice. Some people claim that those with sensitive skin should avoid it, but I make an anise soap especially for a woman with extremely sensitive skin who loves it.

Star anise can be good for muscular aches and pains.

Balsam oil - It's the clean fresh smell of the north woods or the smell of Christmas, a high or middle note with antiseptic properties. Balsam oil is light and fresh, not as medicinal as pine oil. Balsam oil blends well with cypress, sandalwood, and cedarwood.

Basil Oil is a top note with a fresh, sweet, spicy scent that blends well with bergamot, sage, or lime.

Bergamot Oil has a light, orangey aroma often used in perfumes. Bergamot helps relieve acne, eczema, insect bites, and is an excellent insect repellent.

Cedarwood oil is a woodsy, balsamic low note fragrance. Cedarwood repels insects and should be avoided during pregnancy. I like how it blends with rosemary oil.

Chamomile Oil has a warm, sweet, subtle, herbaceous scent often used in shampoos and bth products. Used to wash blonde hair (yes, you can wash your hair with homemade soap), it brings out the highlights. Chamomile oil is good for insect bites, rashes, acne, sensitive skin and sunburn.

Clary Sage is an earthy, pungent base note. Clary sage can be strong so use it in small amounts.

Cypress Oil has a woody, smoky scent and is beneficial for oily skin as well as being a good insect repellent.

Eucalyptus Oil has a strong, fresh scent and has antiseptic, deodorizing, and anti-fungal properties. Eucalyptus oil fights dandruff. Several types of eucalyptus oils are available including peppermint eucalyptus, whichis spicy and minty and blue gum eucalyptus with a somewhat harsh and woody scent, good for muscular aches.

Frankincense is an ancient aromatic herb used for incense and for rejuvenation. It is an anti- inflammatory middle note that combines well with orange, bergamot, sandalwood. lavender, basil, and cinnamon.

Ginger Essential Oil is a warm middle note, fresh and spicy with antiseptic properties. Often used in man's fragrances, ginger oil may cause irritation in some sensitive people.

Grapefruit Essential Oil is a high note that is delightfully refreshing but does not last. It is good for the treatment of acne and as a skin toner and antiseptic.

Jasmine Essential Oil has a rich floral scent, a top note that blends with most other oils and is often used in perfumes and soaps. Jasmine has mood elevating properties.



Lavender Essential Oil is a refreshing fragrance that promotes healing. Depending on its origins, various lavenders can smell quite differently. Lavender is an insect repellent and a high note that blends well with many other oils.

Lemongrass Essential Oil is a delightful top note with a citrusy, herbal scent. It may seem a bit medicinal if over used. Blends well with lavender for a fresh, clean scent.

Lemon Verbena Essential Oil is a pleasant scent that is a fresh and fruity top note that is said to relieve anxiety and insomnia.

Lime Essential Oil is a fruity and sweet high note that is good for the treatment of acne, oily skin, and insect bites. It blends well with basil and is often used in perfumes.

Myrrh Essential Oil is a low note with a rich, spicy aroma. It blends well with frankincense, sandalwood, minds, and lavender. Myrrh has astringent and anti-fungal qualities.

Patchouli Essential Oil is a deep, exotic low note with a rich aroma that has staying power. Patchouli is good for the treatment of acne, athlete's foot, dermatitis, eczema, and fungal infections. It is an aphrodisiac as well as an insect repellent. Patchouli oil is a bit pricey, but since it is a very strong aroma, you can go light on it.

Pine Essential Oil is strong and  fresh with a slightly medicinal scent. It smells a bit too much like a gas station bathroom to me.

Peppermint Essential Oil is a stimulating, refreshing top note that can be a bit overpowering if used with a heavy hand.

Rosemary Essential Oil  is a wonderfully refreshing middle note with antiseptic properties. Rosemary essential oil assists in the treatment of acne, dandruff, greasy hair (you can wash your hair with homemade soap),  and promotes hair growth.



Sandalwood Essential Oil has been used for 4,000 years in perfumes and incense. It is a low note with a soft, woodsy, long lasting aroma and is good for chapped, dry skin, acne and is also a moisturizer.

Spearmint Essential Oil is a warm, spicy mint with astringent and antiseptic properties. Spearmint blends well with jasmine, basil, and rosemary.

Sweet Orange Essential Oil is a lovely, light top note that dissipates quickly so you need to use a little more of this essential oil than usual if you want it to last. Sweet orange blends well with many different scents. I love the way it pairs with clove oil.

Tea Tree Essential Oil is a warm, fresh, but sometimes medicinal smellling odor that blends well with spicy oils and combats dandruff, acne, athlete's foot, oily skin, rashes, and insect bites.

Ylang-Ylang Essential Oil is a top note with a sweet floral scent and has a hint of spice. Ylang-ylang has antiseptic properties and is often used in high grade perfumes.


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