Lori Nova’s Top Ten Essential Oils

Big thanks to Lori Nova from The Nova Studio for this Guest Blog. Lori is going to be teaching her amazing swirl technique and colorant class at the Soap Intensive Weekend at Otion this year. Class attendees are in for a huge treat. Lori’s Guest Blog is below:

While preparing for my upcoming 2-Day Soap Making Boot Camp, I began to realize that there are some essential oils that are crucial to me for Cold Process Soap Making. Even though I occasionally use oils that are not on this list, without these oils I would be hard pressed to make amazing soap at an affordable price.

The reasons that I use/choose these oils time and time again is…

1) they smell great in CP soap,
2) they are reasonably priced and I can afford to buy a 16 ounce bottle of them, and
3) many of them blend well with each other, creating dozens or more of possible combinations.

Here’s my Top 10 List:

1: Lavender(use .7 ounces per pound of oil/fat)
2: 5-Fold Sweet Orange (use .5 ounces per pound of oil/fat)
3: Petitgrain (use .5 ounce per pound of oil/fat)
4: Lemon (use .9 ounces per pound of oil/fat)
5: Litsea Cubeba (use .5 ounces per pound of oil/fat)
6: Spearmint (use .5 ounce per pound of oil/fat)
7: Lime (use .9 ounces per pound of oil/fat)
8: Peppermint (use .5 ounce per pound of oil/fat)
9: Rosemary (use .5 ounce per pound of oil/fat)
10: Anise (use .5 ounce per pound of oil/fat)

My favorite COMBINATIONS with these ten Essential Oils:

~Lemon & Litsea Cubeba
~Lavender & Litsea Cubeba
~Lavender & Any Citrus (Orange, Lemon, Lime, etc.)
~Lavender & Any Mint
~Lavender & Rosemary
~Rosemary & Lemon
~Rosemary & Spearmint
~Lime & Spearmint (aka Mojito)
~Anise & Lavender
~Anise & Sweet Orange
~Petitgrain & Sweet Orange
~Peppermint & Lemon
~Peppermint & Spearmint (aka Doublemint)

How to figure out how much essential oils to use in Cp soap making:

Refer to “my list” above about for how much is recommended to use per pound of oil/fat.
How many pounds (of oil/fat) does your recipe have?
Let’s say you are making a 4-pound batch of oil/fats (fyi – 4 pounds = 64 ounces)
You multiply 4 x the amount of E.O. recommended.

To demonstrate, I’ll use Anise & Lavender.
Anise is recommended at .5 per pound of oil/fat.
So… 4 (lbs of oil) x .5 = 2.0 ounces of Anise (if you were using only Anise for the entire 4-lb batch).
and 4 (lbs of oil) x .7 = 2.8 ounces of Lavender (if you were using only Lavender)
Since you are using a combination of oils, divide each by 2.
So for Anise, it’s 2 divided by 2 = 1 (ounce of anise for the whole batch, in combo with lavender)
So 2.8 divided by 2 = 1.4 (ounces of lavender for the whole batch, in combo with anise).

So the end result for an Anise & Lavender Soap would be:
1 ounce of Anise AND 1.4 ounces of Lavender

Remember – these are guidelines for Cold Process Soap Making only and this is only a place to start. After making your first batch, if it comes out smelling more like one oil and you want it the other way around, feel free to adjust the amounts until you find exactly the scent you are looking for.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post and find it helpful in scenting your Cold Process soap.

Please feel free to post a comment below and share your favorite “can’t live without” essential oils for CP soap making and also the combinations you love the most.


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  1. Kelly says

    This is such great information! What is the rule of thumb for essential oils in hot process? Would I use the rebatch option on your calculator? I know it says with hot process you don’t have to use as much fragrance. I don’t want to waste any precious oils if I don’t have to! Thanks so much!

    • says

      Good morning, Kelly!

      We typically keep our hot process recipes at the same fragrance/essential oil rate as our cold process recipe but if you are worried about losing some of the scent/properties, I’d use the lower amount that you find on the fragrance calculator and then go up from there until you find that sweet spot that works for you!

      Fragrance Calculator: http://www.brambleberry.com/Pages/Fragrance-Calculator.aspx

      In theory, you can use less because there no active lye when you add at the gloppy oatmeal stage but I like a strong scent, so I don’t decrease all that much.

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  2. Liza says

    I want to know where I can find essential oil, mixing guide and a lot more info on max usage for essential oils.

    • says

      Hi Nancy!

      Lavender Essential Oil has always worked great for us in Cold Process Soap. Sometimes swell and heating up of the soap is caused by soaping at too high of temperatures.What was the recipe you were using, I’d love to help you troubleshoot what happened! =)

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  3. Ornitte says

    How do you use citrus essential oils without a fixative? Anytime I’ve tried, the smell disappears within a few days.

  4. Rose says

    I just made a peppermint EO soap and it smells so good! Thanks for all the great ideas, sometimes I get a roadblock and can’t think of great combos!

  5. says

    I use Anise to make fisherman soap…I just made a fennel,lemongrass, rosemary soap with 2 jars of smushed baby carrots, and poppyseeds, it smells so good, I want to make more fennl soaps, my entire kitchen smells divine….like a nice clean scent.
    I always love lavender….

  6. says

    I just started making cold process soap. The first batch I made turned out wonderful. However I did not add scent to it because I plan to french mill the soap. I will add these blends to see how they are. I took notes on this blog. Thank you.

  7. Merryn says

    Right now Lime is my favorite EO for soaping. It’s fresh and clean and works for both Men and women. It holds up well too.

  8. Patrice @ The Soap Seduction says

    What a great post! I’ve been so intimidated by essential oils for some reason. This is just the confidence booster I needed:-D

  9. Salameander says

    Thanks so much for this post. I’m really new to soap making and I appreciate experiential advice such as this. Wish I had the chance to attend workshops too, but they’re rare, if not non-existent in this part of the world.

  10. Vinca Leaf Quilts says

    OMG, thanks for posting this! 😀 LIke I need more scents, but this is inspiring!!!

  11. Peggy says

    I wish I lived closer too! There needs to be something like this in Geogria. I appreciate the advice regarding EOs; It’s helpful to have a practical “must have” list. Also, I too am looking for a mold like the one pictured.

  12. Allyson says

    I am so envious. I wish i lived in CA. I would luv to take the boot camp!!

    The essential oils/blends is very helpful.

  13. Body Natural Soap says

    Great info. I Need to start keeping track of scents and how much to use. Essential oil are not inexpensive and I probably waste way to much.

  14. Salome says

    Thanks for posting this information! I love using essential oils but usually in milled soap. I’ve been wondering about the use and amounts in CP so this is very helpful.

    BTW, I have been looking for a mold like the one shown in the picture. Where can I find one?


  15. Soap Kitten says

    This is great. I often forget how much essential oil I need to use. I’m constantly referencing, which I guess isn’t a terrible thing. My fave essential oils, not to sound generic, is lavender. I find that it mixes well with rosemary and lemon.

  16. katw0man says

    invaluable invaluable
    thank you so much!

    i recently opened my anise that
    i’ve been rat holing for 10 years

    it smelled divine…and said
    i must use this one day….