If you are not making unscented soap or using herbs for your scent you really only have two options (well not really just two, but we will talk about those later) to use to scent your soap. You can use Essential Oils or Fragrance Oils. Today we will talk about Essential Oils.
Essential Oil Here are several definitions of essential oils you will find on the world wide web.
•An essential oil is a concentrated, hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants.
•Aromatic liquids extracted from flowers, grasses, fruits, leaves, roots, or trees. The oils maintain the odors and tastes, and thus the essence, of the plant they are extracted from.
•Aromatic volatile oils extracted from the leaves, stems, flowers, and other parts of plants. Therapeutic use generally includes dilution of the highly concentrated oil.
•Oily or non-oily, volatile aromatic substance constituting the chemical principle of the plant, extracted by distillation or expression.
•An essential oil is the volatile material derived by a physical process (distillation or expression) from odious plant material of a single botanical form and species.
Essential oils do not have anything in common with each other, other than than they lend their plant material to give a scent. There are no common chemical properties, but many of the explanations use the same wording. So lets explain the explanation.
A distinctive scent, or essence, of a plant makes an oil "essential". So Essential Oils are "the oils of a plant".
The chemical definition of hydrophobicity is the repelling from a mass of water of a molecule. The molecules are non-polar and tend to cluster together. Examples include fats, and greasy substances.
Volatiles are chemical elements and compounds with low boiling points, that change. In this case volatility is the tendency of a substance to vaporize.
This is a chemical compound that has a smell or odor and known as a fragrance or flavor. The compound has an odor when it is volatile so it can be transported to the olfactory system and it needs to be high in concentration so it reacts with the olfactory receptors.
This means an Essential Oil is a liquid that comes from heating plant material and changing or vaporizing the chemical compounds of the plant. This is most commonly done by steam in a distiller. As the heated water, or steam, passes through the plant it vaporizes the compounds and flows through a coil. The vapors then condense back to a liquid where it is collected. It most often is clear and not oily at all. Before the discovery of distillation, plant material was pressed to get the oils. Most citrus essential oils are still cold pressed and because the oil comes from the peel, there is a lot of it, it is easy to grow and harvest, the cost is less. Flowers contain the least amount of volatile compounds so cannot be cold pressed. They are too delicate to be steamed so a solvent is used to extract the oils. It takes a lot of flower blossoms to make a floral essential oil so they are typically the most expensive of oils. One ounce of Rose Essential Oil can cost $700. I use 6-8 ounces of scent in every batch of soap! That would be one expensive bar of soap.
You can purchase Essential Oils many places. My favorite suppliers are the following. They have great quality oils, purchase from fair trade countries, have the best customer service, and have the information you need to make informed decisions.
New Directions Aromatics
Essential Oil University
Many sites aid you in blending techniques. Here are a few of my favorites. You can also purchase oils from these suppliers.
Sydney Essential Oil Co
And one last fun site!