Essential Oils · Oils Education · Tinc Botanica

Top, Middle, and Base Notes

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Hi guys! Today I want to talk a bit about top, middle, and base notes in essential oil blends.

I’ve found that blending oils is both a science and an art: I’m a scientist when looking for “just the right” combination of oils to blend together. And I put on my artistic hat when determining what that “just right” combination is in the first place. After all, smell is so very personal. What one person calls the “perfect” aroma, is overpowering or too weak or simply “not right” to someone else.

When I was only blending for myself and my family, it was far simpler to find the blends that made us all smile. I just used my intuition and previous experience to guide the way. If my husband thought a blend needed a touch more or less of this or that, I could quickly customize. BUT. When creating blends for the public, as I am now endeavoring to do, I’m finding that it’s far more effective to think more critically about the top, middle, and base notes in a blend.

According to The American College of Healthcare Sciences website, these notes are defined as:

  • Top Note: This is the first noticeable impression in a blend, and is often the characteristic feature of the oil. It springs swiftly from the aroma, has a sharp tone, and does not last long.
  • Body or Middle Note: An essential oil that is a middle note will last for longer (about one to two hours) on a perfume testing strip. The middle note of a blend can also be referred to as the “heart” or “bouquet” of the aroma.
  • Base Note or Fixative: The base note within a blend appears much later than the first two notes. This is the note that gives a blend staying power. The base note can appear a few hours or even a whole day after the perfume testing strip is dry. Also called the dry out note, this note helps you discern the lasting ability of your essential oil blend. Effective blends with powerful base notes help soaps maintain their fragrance. (Reminder: don’t confuse base note with base oil. A base oil is a fixed oil used to dilute essential oils.)

Knowing this, I am mindful to include oils from all three of these categories when designing my tinc botanica blends.

According to Eden Botanicals’ website, top notes should comprise approximately 10-30% of your blend. Examples include:

Basil, Bergamot, Eucalyptus, Fir, Grapefruit, Juniper, Laurel Leaf, Lemon, Lime, Mandarin, Neroli, Orange, Peppermint, Pine, Rosewood, Sage, Spearmint, Tangerine, Verbena, Yuzu

According to the same source, middle notes should be 30-60% of your blend. Examples include:

Angelica, Black Pepper, Cardamom, Carnation, Cassie, Clary Sage, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Coffee, Cypress, Fir Balsam, Geranium, Ginger, Helichrysum, Jasmine, Lavender, Lemongrass, Lotus, Orange Blossom, Rose, Rosemary, Ylang Ylang

Finally, the base notes should be 15-30% of your blend. Examples include:

Agarwood, Amber Oil (Fossilized), Ambrette, Amyris, Cedarwood, Clove, Frankincense, Myrrh, Oakmoss, Orris Root, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Tobacco, Vanilla, Vetiver, Violet Leaf

Pretty exciting stuff, huh? Call me an oils nerd, but this scientific approach to blending makes me super happy. I find the entire process absolutely fascinating. And as I mentioned above, the process is also artistic…after all, I don’t just haphazardly choose from all three notes categories and call it a quality blend! No, determining which oil pairs best with which oil — and for which purpose — is very much a creative endeavor.

And I’ll tell you what: the more I learn and the more refined my blends become therefore, the more passionate about oils I become in return. I can only hope my joy translates well enough to each of you 💗

Stay tuned for more oil joy from yours truly soon!




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