BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Soapy Saturday September 26, 2015 Fragrances

I've been wanting to do something non-bookish on the blog but couldn't think what. I'm not much for cooking, I can't garden worth a darn, and I don't sew, knit,or do anything creative. Then I remembered that I make soaps, bath salts, and sugar scrubs, and that's both creative AND crafty. Every other Saturday, or when I remember :D, I'll share some photos and recipes and chat a bit. I'm by no means an expert, it's a casual hobby, though for a few years I did have an online store. I still sell if you ever want to place an order.

One of the most fun parts of making soaps, bath salts, etc. is the the scents. There's a huge variety of scents available and if you want more scents or personalized scents then you can blend your own. Michael's carries a very limited selection of scents as does JoAnn Fabric and Crafts. To really get a good selection, you need to go online. My favorite sites for scents are Brambleberry and Candles and I admit, I don't often mix scents; I'm usually quite happy with what I find online.

ETA: Patti, down in comments, reminded me that essential oils, and probably some fragrance oils, are available at stores other than craft stores. Health food stores, some grocery stores, as well as stores such as Bath and Bodyworks may carry essential oils. So, poke around locally and online and see what you find. You do need to make sure that whatever you purchase is marked as being safe for skincare use. 

You can buy essential oils or fragrance oils for use with soaps. I buy the fragrance oils mostly but occasionally if a scent I want is only available in essential oil, I'll buy that. Fragrance oils are actually synthetic whereas essential oils are natural chemicals which have been extracted from the leaves, flowers, stems, roots or bark of plants. Essential oils are sometimes used for aromatherapy; fragrance oils apparently aren't absorbed as well due to the differences in their chemical composition. Some essential oils are extremely strong and can burn or irritate your skin if applied directly. Make sure that whatever you use has been approved for skincare use.

Some scents are mild and others are strong. When making a large batch of soap or other bath and beauty products, it's a good idea to open windows, turn on the kitchen vent, or both. I have bad asthma so if I'm making more than two or three soaps, or working with certain scents, I open the living room window (no windows in the kitchen) and I turn on the kitchen fan. There are a few scents that are stronger than I expected based on the product description and I can only make a couple products at a time before it gets to be too strong for me. There's one scent, used in the soap in the graphic above that is so delicious I have to eat before working with it because it's soooo yummy. The scent is caramel mocha coffee. It smells so darn good. But, I have to eat beforehand or I end up chowing down big time. :D I have other food-based scents such as chocolate and sugar cookie, but they don't affect me as strongly.

Now, there have been a few times when I've mixed scents, creating my own blends. There's an art to it, I'll never be a perfumer, but basic mixing isn't hard. Make sure you go light on the stronger scent so it doesn't overwhelm the milder scent(s). A friend of mine likes for me to make lavender jasmine soaps and sprays for her. I use 5 drops of lavender to 2 drops of jasmine. Since I was making this specifically for her, I made up several formulations and had her pick which one she liked the best. When not making a special order, I play around until it's exactly what I want.

Some fragrance oils come with droppers while some don't. I don't recommend using droppers that you use for food or medicine as you don't want any cross-contamination. Be sure to wash thoroughly with liquid soap, preferably unscented, and water before using with a new scent and when you're done. If you aren't worried about exact amounts, you can just pour the scent in but not only is it inexact, you waste more that way and risk spilling.

There you are; a very basic, simple introduction to fragrances for soaps.


  1. I'd love to make my own soaps and I have looked at the section in Michaels but was uninspired by the variety. I'll have to check out the sites you mention. I have a recipe for linen spray that I really like and would love to find some more tempting scents and eventually branch out to soap.

    1. I started soaping using what Michael's has but their selection is so limited. I've bought from both Brambleberry and Candles and Supplies and been happy with both but there are other companies. Just Google and browse.

  2. Hi! I'm using the second to last of the soaps I got from you a while back, in my shower this month.
    There are new age or hippie stores in major malls that carry some essential oils too. I picked up lemon, eucalyptus, and lavender in the one closest to me just last month. I don't like the lavender oil as well as sachets of dried lavender. I picked up orange oil in the organics section of Fred Meyer, a regional drug store/supermarket chain, as well.

    1. That's true. I forgot about those stores. I'll update the post.

  3. Thanks for the link and the tip, Bea, I had missed the post. I use a lot of essential oils at home. Well, I started with a lot of them and narrowed them down to a few essentials. I'd really love to make a lavender/thyme liquid soap, I may try this during the next school vacations.

    1. Liquid soap is something I want to try. Lavender/thyme is a good combo. I think I'd start with the lavender then add the thyme until the mix is just right. You might want to mix it up before you add it to the soap as the proportions will be easier to fix that way.

      Good luck!


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