Thursday, January 6, 2011

Why Mix Essential Oils or Hydrosols

Since starting the Hydrosol Mix of the Week series on this blog, I've been asked a few times what the purpose of blending hydrosols (or essential oils) is.
Although it may look like mixing is just trying to find out 'who likes who', it is a quest to optimize and strengthen the characteristics of each part. Blending creates a synergistic effect that makes a difference in how well a product works, as well as being instrumental in how a product smells.

The Function of the Oils
Example: Lavendar essential oil can stand alone just fine. It is antibacterial and will promote healing. It also has a fresh, clean smell. However, blending Lavendar with Tea Tree (which adds both antiviral and antifungal properties) will enhance the healing power of both oils, creating a more powerful product. This mix would be great in a salve for small cuts and scrapes. The medicinal-like smell of Tea Tree with Lavendar's freshness also creates a more 'serious' scent. Now, try mixing Lavendar with Rose and the function (and scent) takes an altogether different direction. The possibilties are almost endless.

Perfume Components
Some essential oils are used for composing perfumes, and can change character completely, depending on what they are blended with. A deep, musky-smelling oil that may seem a bit boring on it's own may be the perfect background 'scent anchor' for other oils. A sweet scent that may seem a bit cloying on its own can 'step back' in a blend, offering a subtle spiciness to the right mix. I've experienced all kinds of 'magic' working with these precious oils and waters – sometimes also with less fortunate results. Occasionally 2 strong (and otherwise lovely) scents will 'cancel each other out' or, worse, 'fight each other and get ugly'. I've seen mild-mannered scents turn into center stage show-offs, and vice versa – both ruining the mix.

The Waters
Working with hydrosols offers similar challenges – both in regards to scent and function. And yet, mixing hydrosols is 'a whole other ball game'.  They will often surprise me by behaving completely opposite to their essential oil counterparts. And, as with the oils, the combinations (and outcomes) are almost endless. It is a fascinating and educational process to create the perfect blend of function and scent in one, all-natural product. I still get excited about every  ingredient, mix and product I do.

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