Essential Oil Middle Notes: Blending a Masterpiece
By Caryn Gehlmann
Are you ready for some “classified” information about essential oil middle notes? I’m using the term classified as something “arranged in classes or categories.” While that may not sound interesting, understanding how scents are classified is the key to unlocking your own essential oil masterpiece blend.
The majority of people don’t spend much time thinking about smell. When thinking about their five senses — seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling — many say that if they had to lose one sense, they’d choose to lose their sense of smell.
English chemist and perfumer, G. W. Septimus Piesse stated:
“Of the five senses, that of smelling is the least valued, and, as a consequence, is the least tutored; but we must not conclude from this, our own act, that it is of insignificant importance to our welfare and happiness.”
As someone who is interested in essential oils and blending, you already appreciate that your sense of smell is significant to your welfare and happiness! Did you know that in the 1800s, Piesse developed a method for classifying scents according to notes, like in a musical scale? Today we have scent notes in these three ranges — top notes, middle notes, and base notes.
Now, it takes time to masterfully combine musical notes into a pleasing tune. Likewise, it takes time and practice to master the art of creating well-balanced aromas that please our noses. Yes, in the process you might hit some wrong notes and come up with an aroma that’s cloying, overbearing, or funky. But in time, you’ll develop masterpieces that become your signature scent(s) that help define your uniqueness.
Why is knowing about essential oil middle notes so empowering?
Essential oils are like music in another way… many songs use the middle notes extensively, with occasional high notes and base notes added. Similarly, we frequently use essential oil middle notes when making blends! Middle notes usually make up 50 to 80% of a blend.
What do middle scent notes do for a blend?
- They create the body of the blend, used to “round out” “bring together” “smooth”; if a blend smells “spikey” a middle note can often bring it all together.
- They are warm, round, and soft.
- Middle scent notes allow the blend to unfold after application, anywhere from a few moments to three hours.
Partial List of Essential Oil Middle Notes
Now that you know the secrets of essential oil middles notes, it’s time to reveal which ones they are. Generally speaking, middle notes come from the middle of the plant — such as leaves or needles. Since their placement is sometimes subjective to the other oils used in the blend, let’s break them down into three lists… (Please be aware that this is a partial list, there are many other middle notes to choose from.)
Here are some “Top Secret” recipes that will definitely excite your nose. You should know that many consider Neroli a TOP note, since it’s from the blossom on the Orange tree. However, when blending I consider it to be a TOP MIDDLE, due to its scent throw and the length of scent duration. Let’s concentrate on this essential oil middle note — Neroli — and add top and base notes to create sensational results.
Add the oils to a lotion like e3’s Rest and massage it into the back of your knees or back of your neck. This starts out as very fresh and fruity, but later becomes more woody and balsamic.
This is a very faint, elusive aroma that makes people feel happy just being around you. Make a spritzer. Spritz it high in the air and walk through it, with your eyes closed, before you dress.
This is your secret weapon blend for boosting your confidence! Make a roll-on you can take with you wherever you go!
Can you see how easy it is to start with one essential oil middle note and then add a top note or base note to balance the blend? Of course, you’ll want to trust your nose, as you create your blend. Add a drop, then sniff.
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Thank you for the photo Michael C