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Thoughts on Blending and Formulations of Oils..

Jan 31, 2023

Today I would like to discuss some ideas that are related to Blending and Formulations involving Essential Oils. Please keep in mind that these ideas are based on my experience and not really based on untested theories by people involved on the entrance point of the Dunning-Krugger Chart. I like to think I am across the scale and long past hitting the bottom of the curve. With that, let’s move on to some fun topics. One must also keep in mind that from a technical point of view people that work with essential oils in formulations and blending are Aromachologists. But generally they are called Aromatherapists. In these discussions we will use the general terminology to keep the discussion in terms of what most people are more familiar with. 


The lifespan of a formulation;  There are all kinds of formulas and/or recipes with the use of essential oils. Many times these formulations/recipes will have fixed oils in them, or variations of herbs and even at times who knows what might be used in there. One of the main objects is to make up a solution of some kind that will lead to a positive solution on the finished end. Then one must look at what level the formulation is designed to operate on. When people uses the formulation as a self help item, then many times, it is a simple process to get there. At times people will use an essential oil or combinations of essential oils, along with other items to accomplish a task. With this I am thinking of maybe as a pest control product. Or as a garden plant enhancer. Essential oils work really well when used this way. Really, ,I should say if the correct oils are used to target the specific pest(s). If the wrong oils are used in this type of a process, then many times the opposite effect will manifest itself. 


As we move down the road of the essential oil world, we see essential oils being used in many commercial products. Everything from shampoos, to industrial cleaners. Speaking of industrial cleaners, we see Orange Essential Oil being one of the go to oils in anything that is formulated to cut grease and break up oils. Some other essential oils are used in various applications along these lines. However, Orange Oil is likely, by most accounts, the most widely used oil and in reality pretty much is the dominant oil of all oils produced for anything, across the board, when it comes to essential oil production. Essential Oils are widely used in candies and chewing gum. The Pacific Northwest of the US has produced essential oils specifically for this purpose and have done so for many years. The dominant ones here are Spearmint and Peppermint. Other areas of the world, such as Australia, are famous for Eucalyptus and Tea Tree oils. I might add that these oils are generally very high quality Africa is a large producer of essential oils. North Africa is a high quality producer of many oils that do well in desert environments. But as you move east in Africa you see a lot of other oils that are vegetable type plants such as Basil and Fennel, just to name a few. From that point as you continue east and north, you eventually end up in various parts of Europe and Asia, both  of which produce high quality essential oils of all kinds. But back to Africa we see central parts of Africa and especially South Africa producing really good oils. Madagascar is a huge producer of a number of various oils. South and Central and South America produces oils, many of which are real good oils but not a lot of variety. So the sources of essential oils are many and widely varied no matter where you go in the world.  


Then as we move around the circle we come across Aromatherapy. This is where many people really get serious about using essential oils. There are many disciplines/modalities, etc.,  that uses a wide range of essential oils. Within this arena, we have some specialized applications. One of which is making massive inroads is the clinical applications. For me personally, this is where I fit in. I like to float around in this arena. I find it challenging and exciting. So as we move forward in this discussion this is where we are going to focus on the clinical applications of Aromatherapy. 


In general aromatherapy a given blend that is worked up for general self help most will work over a long period of time without a lot of variation. But with clinical formulations, one must constantly review the formulations to keep them on target. One of the key points here is that, well at least myself, I build a formula around a certain set of oils with specific chemo types and within a balanced ratio of chemicals, chemicals that make up the essential oil composite. Generally there is very little room for variations within these ratios. Many of them must be balanced properly to elicit a specific reaction or task. With this there are few things that come into play. One is the mutations of the pathogen or parasite being targeted. Have they changed over time and more importantly, what are you specifically targeting? Generally, either directly or indirectly, these are some major points. With these some are positively charged and some are negatively charged. Understanding this is vital to making the difference between a so-so result and a remarkable result. Another aspect is using these oils from a proactive approach versus a reactive approach. I find either is exciting to work with, but the proactive is easier to work with, especially when it comes to a nutritional activating aspect. As a side note, and I find this comical, is to really understand what you are doing with essential oils many times when making a formulation or blend of oils to work on insects or bugs. What you need to realize that most of the time when doing this type of blend one must remember that most insects do not have a liver. So what you are really doing is feeding them sugar and a lot of metabolize of sugar through the use of essential oils. So what happens here is they intake a lot of that oil, since they don’t have a liver to break down the sugars, they ferment and turn to alcohol, and the overload of alcohol in their system is what actually does them in. Similar thing happens with cats. Although they do have a liver, they lack some of the enzymes to process the various oils, and in the end, a similar thing happen, so in reality the essential oil isn’t what kills them, it is how certain oils are processed or not processed is what does them in. BTW here, cats can handle some oils as a general rule, if dosed according to body weight, just as normal as any other animal. But certain oils have the component makeup that does not process very well for them. So that is what is really going on there. .  


Many times a given company will acquire a formula in some way and they will exploit that for years with no consideration to anything other than hype. At times it is warranted and at times it just is nonsense. But the main problem here is that most plants will not remain the same as their contribution to the essential oil components of the donor plant. Will change over time, many times from year to year. Most of the time you can get a plant growing in a particular environment being close to being similar from one year to the next. But when you compare the same plant/same area over the course of several years, many times the variance will be too far out of range to be of proper use in a formula over a longer period of time, as far as clinical applications are concerned. So one must continue to review a clinical application of a formula at least ever two years and revise/rebalance the ratios based on the new testing results. At times, one may have to review and then yearly, if factors are known that would warrant the review. Does that make sense?  Along these lines, the question arises of what do you do when an oil or the chemo type of an oil used in a blend, is no longer available in the essential oils markets? Do you trash the formula? Or do you take the values of that oil and find another oil that will work. The next step here is that you have to then retest the oil as to the targeted application. Even though the “math” works out, sometimes in practice, it doesn’t.always work out. But then again, sometimes it works really good for the application, but then it works even better for a different application that is outside of the target zone. This is usually, shall we say, right on!. 


When I use the term, balance out the oil or some description along those lines, it can mean several different things. For example, we have to make sure the oil will work as intended. Many times to make that work we have to alter the amounts of the different oils in the blend, especially when we have to substitute a different oil. Then at times that might mean to alter the order of the blending of specific oils. The reason for this has a lot to do with the bonding aspect of certain components. Sometimes you don’t want a bonding to take place with certain components of the oils, and at other times you count on a bonding to take place to make it work out as intended. I know that many people doing essential oils will not take into account the role pH will play with the whole blending deal with essential oils. I am here to say that you must respect this or it will come back to haunt you and haunt you big time. Lastly, along these lines, you need to know the actual people that you are dealing with when it comes to the use of the oils. Things like their diets, as a general rule. It can be as simple as the whole Omnivore/Vegetarian/Vegan aspect for certain types of blends. Then age comes into play big time with some targeted bends. 


As life moves along, many times companies, as aforementioned, will use a formula for years and years. What happens here is that over time those formulas just do not work out very efficiently. One of the main things that happens on their end is they purposely substitute oils based on cost. IE: they cheapen the blend down. With new people coming in the front door and the old people going out the back door, many times people don’t know the difference. At least for a while they think they are getting away with it. But eventually they fail. But in reality this is really one of the most common forms of adulteration of the oils. What I have noticed is that once a company does this, they are doomed for failure and they do fail. Believe it or not but the main adulteration of essential oils is by the use of water. Some of the smarter ones that do this will also add certain types of surfactants if you will, in order to make it difficult to observe. But as with all types of things, the more complicated it is on one side, the easier it is to figure out on the other side. In these cases, a lot of the newer methods devised to detect these adulteration, do not work well. So you have to go with old school methods. Usually you will be able to detect it this way. 


Well, this looks like this discussion has gone on way too long, I just wanted to share with you some of the aspects of working with essential oils. As I mentioned earlier, I like, well I should say love, working with the whole Aromachology of essential oils. 


As we bring this discussion to a close, I want to bring attention to the fact that in the past, a lot of the Aromatherapy was centered around the foo-foo stuff. A lot of weird mixed in with some factual material. But as more people come on board with aromatherapy, most of these people are good, solid rational people and things have moved more towards scientifically based factual teachings. In this discussion I have tried to discuss some of the background aspects to the formulations and blending of the Aromatherapy. I used to watch how others did this and eventually I just moved to doing my own thing. I believe that I am being scientific about it in the approach. Bottom line with me is this; Does it work as intended? 

Thank you for your time and interest. KK



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