How to Dose Essential Oils in a Formula
In connection with this previous post, today's subject details a bit about why precision is so important when making formulas for skincare products.
We're going to touch on something some DIY'ers hardly even give a thought – how to dose essential oils in a formula.
You: Seriously, Lise? We need lessons in counting drops?
Me: You mean you're measuring by the drop?
By the Drop? Please Stop.A lot of people measure out essential oils by the drop when making a product for personal use (or in very small portions for friends and family).
It's totally understandable, "It's a super small batch and it's just a few drops."
Nevertheless, it is inaccurate to measure essential oils by the drop.
Why This Even MattersYou might be shaking your head by now and wondering why this matters at all.
It really sounds a bit like overkill.
But picture this little scenario:
Let's say your family and friends have fallen in love with your product and demand is growing. Wonderful! You need to make bigger batches to accommodate everyone. Maybe you are also now considering selling your product through an online shop or at markets.
If your formula is not 100% precise, then you have no idea what percentage essential oil is in your product. If you upsize your formula by simply multiplying the drops of essential oil, you might exceed recommended dosage and your product may even cause harm to a customer.
As tempting as it might be to assume all essential oils weigh the same, this simply isn't so.
Because of a little something called density.
That Little Something Called Densityright here, but this picture kinds of explains it all.
See how the different oils in this graduated cylinder are 'layered' and not mixing? That's because each oil has a different density.
Even if you measure out the exact same volume of a few different oils and weigh each one, and even if you have been super-duper careful and poured up EXACTLY one teaspoon, the oils will not weigh the same unless they happen to have the same density.
This is why it is not accurate enough to measure essential oils (or any oils) by volume.
Ingredients – even single drops of essential oil – should always be measured by weight.
Putting it To the TestLorraine Dallmeier – Owner and Director of Formula Botanica – did her own comparison test. She measured the weight of 20 drops of several essential oils and recorded the results.
The difference in weight was a real eye-opener. Her test showed twenty drops weighed as low as 0.35 grams and as high as 1.05 grams.
Now, imagine upsizing your essential oil blend for a batch production by counting drops. That could be asking for a bit of trouble, couldn't it?
Today's tip: always measure by weight!
Read Lorraine's post and test results right here.
Which ScaleSince you ask: I use a jewelers scale for measuring minute amounts. Here's the one I have been using the last couple of years.
Do TellAre you a 'by the drop' person or are you measuring your EO's by weight?
Density Illustration courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
I have to confess that I'm becoming lazy when I make soap, and I tend to use 10 ml essential oils/fragrances per 500 g of oil (not soap, oil), but that's just me.
@María - When I am doing something for personal use, I am also a by the drop person. All of my earlier scent blends were created by the drop. I'll bet what you call 'getting lazy' is mostly because you have been doing this so long you know exactly what you're doing. That's not lazy, that's experience! :)
@Paula M - Isn't it the greatest little scale? I do what you do as well - smaller batches for personal use, I'm a by the drop person. :)
Thank you for the informative post! I know that Essential oils should only be about 1% to 2% of the total product blend. I've started making 42g lotion bars in semi-medium batches, so blending 33 1/2 ounces of butter at a time and then pouring into mini molds. I add in 7g of essential oil to my 33 1/2 ounces of butter and I've had pretty great results thus far. Am I on the right track when it comes to weighting out my essential oils at an appropriate dilution? Or could I add a bit more essential oil to the overall batch?
Let's do the math and have a look:
33,5 ounces equals 949,7 grams. Let's round up to 950 grams.
1 % of that is 9,5 grams.
You are adding 7 grams so it looks like you are keeping within the general safety limits with your essential oil amount.
Of course, the 1-2% max is a general rule. Some essential oils have a much lower recommended max dosage, so you'll have to look at the recommended percentages of each of the oils in your blend to be sure. Best of luck with it!
Thank you! Yes when I'm formulating I measure in ounces so when I was going through my notes last night I tried to convert everything to grams. Sorry I missed one and had you do all that math! But it looks like I should just convert over and measure in grams in the first place!
The formula I follow contains among many E.O 10 mg of Pogostemon Cablin and 25mg of pistacia lentiscus. The scale should be precise to the milligram. Accuracy will determine whether the suppositories will represent a health hazard or be inefficient because it's used internally. Such small weights can actually be smaller than a single drop.
If I blend oils by volume, for example I pour a 5ml EO bottle onto a 100ml carrier oil bottle, can I scale up by simply mutiplying volumes? Why do I have to turn to weight? Thanks for your useful blog
Every oil has its own density (oils don't weigh the same if measured purely by volume). If you measure out 100 ml of different oils and then weigh each one, you are going to get different weights. The difference is not enough to matter in a very small batch size, but matters a lot when you scale up.
So say your making a 200oz hair care product with essential oils, dried herbs and powders. Is 10-12% of essential oils (10-15 different oils) too much for that large batch. Each would go in at 0.2g. Is that total percentage too much for a batch that size? Thank you so much.
Your question mentions grams, ounces and percentage and that's probably what is making it confusing. I'm not even completely sure of your question because there are 3 different forms of calculation.
You said you wanted to add 12% EO's to a 200 oz batch.
12% of 200 oz is 24 oz – that is a very high percentage of essential oils.
But you also said you want to add 0.2 g of each oil. If you have 10 oils at 0.2 g you have a total of 2 grams. 200 oz is equal to 5.670 grams. 2 grams added to that is 0.035%
Could you rephrase the question?
I see now how I was confusing to you and myself. So carrier oils are 65% herbs/powders 30% and essential oils 5%.
Is that too much essential oils for a formulation. And do you measure just how much carrier oils are being used the 65% or the total infused end product? What’s the max of EO for a formulation? I’ve read 2%.
I hope this is less confusing.
Thank you so much for your time as well. I really enjoyed your post.
For 10 g of product, you need 0.1 g of essential oil blend.
0.1 g EO's to 9.9 g oil gives you 1% EO's in oil.
Hope this helps!
this blog has been very infomative. Hope is not too late to get my question answered. :)
ive been making my own bodyoil for skin tighting and its been working great bue now i want to scale up. I am counting about 10 drops right now of each oil and a carrier oil in 2 Oz bottle. How can i come up with the perfect formula for scaling? You also mentioned you tech this? How can we learn more.
Thanks for your time
i bought digital scale 0.1 grams to maximum of 500 grams for measuring essential oil, is it ok to use 0.1 grams digital scale?
and is it ok to measuring 0.6 grams liquid in that digital scale?
Your scale should be able to weigh a single drop.
I hope this comment finds you in good spirit. I have just started with creating facial creams. using natural ingredients such as essential oils. Whats the relevant/recommended weight that one can use when adding the fixed and carrier oils on a 20 liter container or bucket full of raw coconut butter. I hope I'm making sense. Thank Nelly from South Africa
Wow. Your patience with explaining this to us mere mortals out here is exemplary. The dilution ratios has been confusing for me, but reading through the comments with the same questions being asked 10 different ways, and your consistent, detailed responses really helped me to wrap my head around it.
The first step for me will now always be to make sure I'm measuring in the same system, to start! Then, as needed, calculate the conversion to grams. These 2 steps alone are a total game changer as the rest is fairly straightforward arithmetic (and there's always the internet if I need backup).
As an aside, what the heck are all the other experts doing out there, because, the ways you explain it, it's actually far less confusing than just about everyone else I've seen makes it out to be. Can you please teach them how to teach us lol.
It's clear that you have total understanding of the concepts here, and yet not a drop - or even a microgram - of condescension or annoyance comes through. In addition to being near miraculous, it is a very real gift to us all. As you know, making it accessible helps folks be safer and more effective. Thank you.