The Use of Essential Oils
Throughout human civilisation we have explored and understood the latent properties within botanicals, herbs, fruits, and vegetables. In medieval times, willow bark was known to cure pain (we now know it contains an aspirin compound). There are numerous proven benefits whether from whole plant remedies to extracts. The use of Essential Oils in soaps also provides an aromatherapy benefit. But how much is safe?
What is an Essential Oil?
Essential oils are aromatic, volatile liquids obtained from plant material through steam distillation and named after the plant from which they are derived. Due to the production of an essential oil the resulting compound is very concentrated and care must be taken.
Why include essential oils in soap?
Soap crafters are usually looking to create natural skincare products which include many pure benefits. Creating a bar of natural ingredients is at the core of most handmade soapers. This means not using synthetic or artifical ingredients - such as lab produced fragrance oils.
Through connecting the art of science and nature, soap becomes a vessel for a wide variety of natural remedies for the benefit of the user. Essential oils may be varied in their proven effects but we believe that using pure and natural ingredients lie at our core values.
Due to the volatility and saponification process, essential oils will naturally fade in soaps over time - particularly those that fall into the high note spectrum. As a rule of thumb the total amount of essential oils should not exceed 3% of the soap recipe. Some essential oils should not exceed 1% or 2% of the total recipe. As all soap recipes have to be certified by a chemist, in accordnance to EU cosmetic laws (which still apply post-brexit), you can rest assured that the soap will contain recommended and safe levels of essential oils.
Blending Essential Oils
Essential oils are used in aromatherapy and there is an art to blending scents together. Essential oils are usually classified as top, middle and base notes. As a general rule of thumb, you want one of each note to ensure the longevity and balance of the blend.
Top Notes: Tend to light and uplifting but are highly volatile and give the first impression of the blend. Do not usually last very long!
Middle Notes: These normally give body to the blend and may take a couple of minutes to establish their scent. They are normally warm and soft fragrances.
Base Notes: Their fragrance can be described as 'heavy', 'rich' or 'intense' and will be present for a long time. They are normally relaxing in nature and are typically the most expensive.