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Nadia writes, "I have a question pertaining to Grapefruit EO. I LOVE the grapefruit Zum Bar from Indigo Wild and have tried to do a soap with that scent; however, I just can't get it to stick. Do you have any sugestions on how to get a good Grapefruit EO soap?"
When I was making soap commercially, one of my most popular "simple" scents was "Simply Grapefruit." It was (at first) scented with just pure grapefruit essential oil. But, as Nadia is also finding, citrus essential oils, and grapefruit especially, are really prone to fading quickly. I was having bars of soap with scent that lasted only a few months.
Part of that is just the nature of essential oils...and citrus essential oils. As mostly top notes, they are never going to stick in the soap as long as heavier, spice and base note essential oils are going to. That's part of their magic and delightfulness - the light, airy, bright and fleeting nature of the scents. But there are a few things to do to help ground these flighty scents and keep them in your soap longer.
- Blend! Even a little bit of a middle note or especially a base note will help anchor the scent. Just as much as 10-20% patchouli or clove or benzoin will help. You'll hardly notice it in the blend - and it really helps the citrus to stick better. Benzoin will give you a nice vanilla note to your grapefruit; Patchouli an earthy note; Clove a sweet and spicy note.
- Use some litsea cubea (may chang) essential oil in the blend too. For some reason, using a bit of litsea cubea essential oil helps too. Litsea smells a little bit like lemongrass - a heavy lemony scent - so don't use too much. Use 10-20% in the blend. This too helps anchor the scent.
- Add some clay. I've had mixed results with this one - but some soap makers swear by it. Adding clays like bentonite and kaolin to the soap seems to help anchor fleeting scents as well.
Using any (or all) of these techniques will help anchor your citrus essential oils better in the soap. As I said, no matter what you do, they're not going to last as long in soap as the heavier oils do. But you should be able to extend the scent life from just a few months to perhaps six or more. Just let your customers know that because you're using only natural essential oils that they need to use the soap soon. They'll come back for more!
Mailbag Monday is a feature on the site where I share readers' questions and the answers. You can ask questions about candle making, soap making, or any of the related crafts that we engage in. Just email me with "Mailbag Monday" in the subject line. You can also check out previous questions I've answered in the Mailbag Monday Archive.