20 BEST Essential Oils to Scent Soap Naturally (You'll Want to Save This!)
When I first began my soap making adventures and experiments, I really had no clue about anything. I knew I wanted to make "natural" soap, without dangerous chemicals. One thing I discovered fairly early on, before I spent too much money on "fragrance" oils, is that when you are scenting soap, the ONLY natural way to do it is by using essential oils.
Essential oils are real plant oils, unlike fragrance oils, which can contain artificial scents, dangerous chemicals, and many unknowns. The FDA doesn't require all ingredients in fragrance oils to be listed, so many dangerous toxins can fall under an umbrella ingredient. The bottom line is if you want natural soap, to make or purchase, you'll have to be sure it's scented only with essential oils!
I wasn't very familiar with essential oils when I began making soap, years ago. I knew they worked for medicinal purposes, and I had been using them this way for quite a while. However, I didn't know about how to blend them, or which ones to use for making soap. I also discovered that essential oils are SUPER expensive for making soap because you have to use rather large amounts. A few drops will not work.
So here is my list of the best essential oils to use to make delicious smelling soap! I've chosen my favorite oils by how well they blend with other oils, how well they smell on their own, and except for a couple in the list, most are (for essential oils) on the reasonably-priced end.
FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you! Thank you, Heidi
Where Should You Buy Essential Oils for Making Soap?
I'll tell you what. Essential oils cost a lot. Especially GOOD ones. So, even though I use high quality therapeutic grade essential oils for healing, medicinal use, and massage (directly on skin with a carrier oil), I just couldn't afford to use these kinds of essential oils in my soap.
So....I searched the world over for essential oils that were still of good quality, but that were more affordable than buying little 10 mL bottles of oils for $20! I started out buying my oils in 2 ounce bottles--again, because of money.
Then, when I started making larger quantities of soaps, I purchased my most common essential oils in 16 ounce increments, and this saved me even more money in the long run.
After searching and experimenting, Starwest Botanicals is my favorite company to buy my soaping essential oils from! I hope you'll check them out! Starwest Botanicals also has a great selection of herbs and herbal products--I think they are pretty amazing! That's actually my favorite place to purchase any oils or herbs for cooking or medicines.
Favorite Essential Oils for Scenting Soap Naturally
Anise is quite strongly scented and will give you a licorice scent. So if you are a person who enjoys the scent of black licorice or star anise—this is for you!
Mmmmm….Sweet and vanilla scented, Benzoin is so good for your skin. However, it can be difficult to use because it is highly viscous. You’ll have to warm the bottle in hot water to get it to flow reasonably enough to use.
Bergamot is a citrus oil and has a relaxing scent. There’s a tinge of floral in bergamot. I don’t use this much because I find it to be on the expensive side.
Pretty much everyone knows what cinnamon smells like! :-) As stated earlier, just be aware that some people are sensitive to cinnamon. Go easy on this oil.
Clove is an oriental scent, quite strong, and should be combined with other oils. It’s another oil that may cause skin sensitivity, although medicinally, it is used as a numbing oil for tooth and mouth pain.
A clean, uplifting, and refreshing scent! It also has some terrific medicinal qualities, and if you experience allergies or sinus issues, using Eucalyptus soap in your shower can really help! You should be careful about using this essential oil on children under the age of 12. In soap, it is highly diluted, but you still need to take care. Best thing, as always, is to check in with your medical doctor.
Frankincense is an expensive oil, but I’m including it here because it is just so wonderful! It has a piney/turpentine -ish scent, and has long been used as a healing oil. It’s truly an oil that benefits your skin, especially mature skin.
Grapefruit is a super uplifting and happy essential oil! It’s also thought to help with fat deposits and cellulite. Used with Rosemary, it is a great combination for acne or especially oily skin.
Lavender is arguably the most used essential oil scent in soap making! It’s inexpensive (relatively), and it smells wonderful. It is highly relaxing and soothing to the skin.
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Lemon is another common scent that most people really love. Lemon, like many of the citrus oils, will not last long in soap. Using a touch of Patchouli in the blend helps ground the scent, keeping it in the soap longer.
Lemongrass has a lemony scent, and is very helpful for emotional balance. I like to use lemongrass along with lemon essential oil because the scents are similar, and I’ve found it helps the lemon fragrance go a lot further in the soap.
This oil is calming for people, especially children. If you’ve smelled a mandarin orange, then you know what this scent is like. It’s not quite orange, and it is lighter and sweeter.
I’ve used Blood Orange and Sweet Orange. Both are good! Orange essentialoil has a joyful citrus scent! As in other citrus oils, it will not last as long in soaps, so using another oil to help “ground” it, like Patchouli or Lemongrass will help.
This is one of those love it or hate it oils! Personally, I love Patchouli. It starts out strong, then fades into a lovely exotic scent. It helps weaker essential oils to last longer in the soap. So, even if you use a bit in your Pine or Citrus soaps, it will smell just fine! It blends well with these scents.
Oh, my goodness—this is one of my favorites. It’s cooling (literally) on your skin, so it’s a great summertime scent. It is very stimulating, so take care using on children (always see a doctor and ask if it’s ok) or for people with heart issues.
Rosemary has a woody-green scent, and it is also stimulating. It should be used with caution or not at all around people with heart issues, for young children, or people with nerve issues. Seek advice from a doctor any time you use essential oils.
Spearmint is sweeter than Peppermint, and much more mild. I love spearmint, and if you’ve ever tasted a spearmint leaf, then you know what I’m talking about!
What can I say? Tangerine essential oil just flat out makes a person happy. It really does. Like the other citrus, you’ll need to ground it using a stronger oil, like patchouli or lemongrass.
Tea Tree Oil:
One of my favorites, I used to think it was stinky! But blended the right way with other oils (like Eucalyptus, the mints, and patchouli), it is lovely. Tea Tree essential oil is an antiseptic, antifungal, and all-around anti-microbial. In fact, it can be used to treat stubborn toenail fungus! In soap, it’s beautiful.
Wintergreen has analgesic properties, and may help with joint pain relief, especially when used in salves. In soap, like most essential oils, it is mainly for the scent. It as a strong and powerful kind of “icy-hot” scent. If you’ve tasted wintergreen gum, it’s the same scent!
How Much Essential Oil Do I Need to Use?
This was a question I had when I first started making soap that was SO HARD to find an answer to! Different oils have different strengths, obvs, so you'll need to take that into account. Cinnamon essential oil, for example, is STRONG, while Lemon essential oil is not so much. If you are blending oils, go light at first, then make adjustments. You'll soon find the right combinations for you. I am really big on experimenting, I'm sure you can tell.
Based on my own experiments, I'm going to give you some very general guidelines here, because scent is such a personal thing. Some people like heavily scented soaps, and others...not so much! I tend to go heavy on my scents because I just like it that way. Also, in terms of using oils like Eucalyptus in my soaps, I'll get the benefits on my sinuses in the shower with a more heavily scented bar.
I have never gotten into the "perfume" aspect of blending oils with the top, middle and base notes. This is because I just think scent is a very very personal thing, and what I smell is not going to be what you smell, right? I can hand a bar of soap to one person, and they LOVE it, while another just says, "Meh." So experiment and find out what YOU like!
My basic guideline for my own soaps is to use an ounce of essential oil per pound of soap. So, if you want a lightly scented bar of soap, I'd cut that amount in half to start, then play around with amounts from there. If you are blending, pay close attention to how strong the essential oil smells. Go light on strong scents like Cinnamon, Clove, Patchouli, Peppermint, etc. You can go a little heavier on lighter scents like Lavender, Lemon, Orange, and Tangerine.
Final Thoughts on Using Essential Oils to Scent Soap
There is an incredible difference between soaps scented with artificial fragrance oils and soaps scented with essential oils. Your brain can pick up the benefits from the plant compositions in the natural essential oils, without any doubt. If you want to make truly natural soap, you'll have to opt for essential oils!
What are your opinions on essential oils versus fragrance oils?
I hope this list is helpful to you! Please let me know if you want more information!
Here are some related articles about making soap you might be interested in: How to Make Hot Process Soap, Here's a Soap Recipe You Can't Live Without!, Using Herbs & Clays to Color Handmade Soap. Enjoy!
Hugs & Self-Reliance!
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Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. In no manner, stated or implied, is any statement in this article, elsewhere on the blog, or in any product meant to cure, treat, diagnose, or prevent any illness. Please seek medical advice from your doctor. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. All statements herein are simply my personal opinion based on study and experience in my own life.
P.P.S. Take a look at my newest eBook on How to Make and Customize Hot Process Soap! It's 88 pages of detailed instructions, photos, recipe ideas, and important information!