Soap Making Technique ~ Scent

Soap Making Technique Scent

The sense of smell is so powerful it can affect our thoughts and emotions on a very personal level and become attached to life-long memories.  Scent is also one of the most noticeable qualities of good handmade soap.  This mesmerizing aromatherapy effect can be achieved by using essential oils, natural fragrance oils, or fragrances.

Essential oils are extracted from plants and flowers and many are known to have skin healing and soothing properties.  You’ll generally only use about 0.7 to 1.0 ounce per pound of oils in your soap recipe, and it’s important to only use essential oils that are safe for skin.  Make sure the soaps are labeled well because some people have allergies to certain plants.  Popular essential oils in handmade soap include vanilla, mint, lavender, lemon verbena, jasmine, and sandalwood to name a few.

Natural fragrance oils are the more organic alternative to fragrances, which can have a high number of potentially harmful chemicals like parabens, phthalates, sulfates, or petrochemicals.  Natural fragrance oils are made from a blend of plant and other natural aromas and often give handmade soap a very true-to-life scent while keeping the benefit and appeal of an all-natural product.  These are best for melt and pour or hand-milling methods of making soap because the natural fragrance doesn’t always survive through the extremely high pH of the cold or hot process methods of making soap.

Fragrances have the largest selection of scents and can stand up really well through the different methods of making soap from scratch.  They can be found in scents that are earthy and natural, fruity, sweet, masculine or feminine and even replicas of popular bath and body brands and retail perfumes and colognes.  Fragrances tend to be inexpensive and plentiful, but they also have a not-so-great reputation when it comes to health and safety because of the chemicals.  Since soap is a “wash-off” product, most people aren’t too concerned or worried about the potential risks, but make sure your soaps are labeled well for those who prefer to avoid artificial fragrance.

Some scents (especially fragrance oils and fragrances) can affect your soap mixture and cause the process of trace to speed up to the point where the soap “seizes” in the pot you’re making it in, and turns close to solid before you can even get it in the mold.  If this happens to you, work as fast as you safely can to get that soap in the mold.

Read reviews of scents when possible and make note of any fragrance that causes issues so you steer clear in the future.  Some scents also affect the color of your soap, such as vanilla which will add a light to medium brown tint.  Other fragrances and essential oils are colored and may also affect the color of the soap.

There’s a lot that can be learned about using and making scents; there is an art and a science behind being able to blend and even create fragrances.  Whether you choose one-note scents or learn how to make your own custom fragrances for your soap, it will definitely be one of the reasons you may find your supply or stash of handmade soap disappearing surprisingly fast.

Peace, Love, and SOAP! :)