DIY Fragrances

Vanilla is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve made some vanilla-infused vodka (great for milkshakes!), a double vanilla cake, and a savory roasted chicken with vanilla bean. And this is just one in a series of essential oil posts.  Check out the rest here.

The idea of creating my own fragrance slowly developed over the past year or so after buying a vial of Victory Wolf. A few things about that purchase : a. it does smell just like a campfire! b. I would have never thought to create a fragrance that smells like smoke, but that inspired me to think outside of the “normal” perfume scents, c. I always thought that perfumes contained a bit of hocus pocus, and maybe they do, but with that purchase I realized that they can be just essential oils in a carrier oil.

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This is our first foray into blending essential oils, so we are by no means experts, but happily, our three blends turned out beautifully and we’re excited to share them today. Throughout the post we provide links to a few resources we found helpful for learning about blending essential oils to create fragrances.

With vanilla as our ingredient of the season, we thought it would be the perfect base note to build upon while trying to create some DIY fragrances. Going into this project, my plan was to create three distinct scents: something minty/fresh, something floral, and something spicy & citrus.

Blending Essential Oils

Before I started blending, I did some research and kept coming across a few rules of thumb.

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  • Start small and slow. Don’t put too many drops of any one oil in your mix, and preferably, add a drop at a time until you create a blend you like.
  • Expect to spend a couple of weeks developing each blend. As the oils mix together, the combined scent will mature and will not necessarily smell the same as the first day you blended them. Some oils will evaporate quicker than others. Some oils are weaker than others, and over time you’ll realize that you may have to add more to create the right balance.
  • Essential oils can be grouped into three categories : top, middle, and base notes. The top notes evaporate quickest (these smells are likely to be more prominent when you first put a fragrance on), whereas the base notes are the slowest to evaporate (these smells will linger the longest after you’ve applied a fragrance). As expected, the middle notes are somewhere between the top and base in their lasting power. You can read more about the categorizations here and here.

With information from the two sites just listed and others that came up in a search for “blending essential oils”, I just started experimenting.

Types of Perfumes

After you’ve created an essential oil blend that you like, you can turn it into an oil-based, a water/alcohol-based, or a solid perfume. I made oil-based fragrances, which are the simplest of the three (in my opinion), so that’s what I’ll speak to below, but you can easily find information online to turn your essential oil blends into other types. **You could also use your blends to create room fresheners as we’ve done here and here.

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You have the freedom to choose among carrier oils for this project, but keep in mind that you want something with little smell so that it doesn’t interfere with the fragrance you’re creating. Jojoba oil and liquid coconut oil (chemically changed to remain liquid and without any lingering smell of coconut) are two commonly recommended oils. I used the liquid coconut oil and am happy with it.

Smell Like Live Seasoned

Knowing that I wanted to make carrier oil-based fragrances, I picked up three 10 ml roller bottles, and mixed my essential oils directly in them. As suggested above, I started out small and slow. I knew the general scent or idea I was going for and slowly tried to build the mix until I was happy with what I smelled.

After blending a few drops, I would let it sit for a day or two, open the vial again and adjust the blend (if necessary). At first I smelled them every day because I was so excited, but then I let them sit for a few days at a time as I became confident with what I had created. Towards the end I was opening the bottles to give them a smell because I liked them, not because I wanted to make any changes, and this is when I knew I was done!

Before adding a new scent to the mix, I would open the essential oil and hold its vial next to my mixture see if I liked the smell combination. It’s an easy way to test without adding a drop and then ending up with something you don’t like. I kept a paper by each vial, and would add a mark every time I added a drop of a particular oil. In the notes below, I’m just giving you the final blends.

To make any of the perfumes below, place the essential oils in a 10 ml vial and then fill it with carrier oil. The essential oil to carrier oil rations below make for a relatively light perfume. If you want something stronger, just increase the quantity of essential oils until you’re happy.

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Blend 1 : Tobacco & Peppermint*

While I was going for the scent of tobacco and peppermint with a base of vanilla, I didn’t use tobacco essential oil (although that is available). I ended up using something more exotic : fossilized amber. It smells amazing, like leather and tobacco, and a little bit dusty. Perfect for a musk, and perfect as a substitute for tobacco. The only problem, and I don’t really consider it a problem is that it came off as really weak against the peppermint, so I ended up using quite a bit.

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Blend 2 : Floral

After making our floral lip balms, I was really excited about the idea of attempting more floral blends, in particular something using rose essential oil. BUT, this being an experiment and all, my end result was a lot simpler than I expected. Basically, I blended lavender and vanilla, loved it, and then didn’t want to add anything else. It’s such a nice, calming sent that I didn’t want to mess with it, and thought it would make a great blend to apply when I need a little more mellow in my life (I’m the momma of a 1 and 3 year old, mellowing is required). That said, I did leave some room at the top of the bottle with the idea that I may eventually add some rose or geranium oils to the mix.

This is obviously the lightest perfume of the bunch with only 8 drops of essential oils. I’ve been using it in the evening when I wind down and find it to be a nice strength, but again, feel free to up the oils to get a strong scent.

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Blend 3 : Citrus & Spice

This is the blend where I went in without any end-goal in mind other than incorporating our black pepper essential oils with something citrus. In the end, I created a fragrance that’s light and fresh, something that seems so perfect for wearing on warm spring and summer days.

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And that’s it! With a few essential oils and some time, you’ll be able to create your own signature scent.

If you’re still feeling a bit nervous or unsure about where to start, stand in front of the essential oil display. Pick a scent you know you love. With a vial of that essential oil open in your hand, open up another scent you *might* like – waft them both under your nose. Do you like the combination? If so, you’re onto something, if not keep experimenting.

* Please tell me you know where I got the tobacco & peppermint idea from! Leave your guesses in the comments and maybe there will be a special prize for the winner. If you need a hint, there’s something hidden in this post that may help.

*Post contains affiliate links.
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7 thoughts on “DIY Fragrances

  1. Katie!!!!!! You are my hero! I have been contemplating buying oil perfumes but never ever thought of experimenting with making my own. You rule!!

    • woohoo! It’s too bad we didn’t think to start experimenting at Christmas – I feel like this is a great project to do with others as you brainstorm combinations and smell each other’s creations!

  2. Tabacco and peppermint= The Parent Trap! Sorry I’m like a year late here… Was the citrus blend the one smelling of campfire??? That is precisely what I’m trying to recreate… Any ideas?

    • Ahhh, Bridget – I’m so happy to know that there are other Parent Trap lovers out there!

      I haven’t achieved a true campfire smell with any of my blends yet, but that vial of Victory Wolf fragrance that I bought is spot-on! Unfortunately, I don’t have many suggestions at the moment. I’ve seen some essential oil companies selling their own campfire blends, but I haven’t tried any yet. I would like to make my own, and I think having some of the fossilized amber with some pine essential oil would be a great starting point.

      Good luck, and if you hit on something you really like, we would love to hear about it!

      • Will do, Katie! Have you smelled “By the Fire” by Replica? Holy moly it’s awesomeness! I got it as a sample in my Sephora order. If you have a Sephora store near you, totally worth a trip just to get a sample of this. If I find a good combo, I’ll post it here! 🙂

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