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Fragrance & Essential Oils
Do you have a question to submit to Soap Teacher? We cannot answer questions by email but we can include many questions with answers to this website.

Please email your question to questions@soapteacher.com

 Are all fragrance oils clear?

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No, fragrances can vary greatly in color. They can be dark brown, amber, yellow, orange, green, clear. The color is related to the combined ingredients.

 Are EO's safer than FO's?

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Not necessarily. Since EO's are all natural and not chemically manipulated, they may not be as stable in some applications. You will also find that if someone has an allergy to a certain plant, the reaction may be exaggerated with the essential oil since it is a concentrated form of the plant material.

 Can all fragrances be used in soap making?

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In most cases, fragrance oils can be used in soapmaking. If a fragrance contains a high percentage of alcohol, it will cause cold process soap to seize. Some fragrance oil ingredients may cause melt and pour soap to cloud. Above all, the fragrance oil ingredients need to be RIFM approved for skin contact.

 Can any fragrance oil be used in any application?

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You really want to use a fragrance that has been approved and formulated for your specific application. For example, oil based fragrances will float in a linen spray. Candle fragrances may contain ingredients that are not approved for skincare products. Following your suppliers guidelines will help protect you from liablity claims.

 Can I blend my own fragrance oils?

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Yes! This is a great idea and allows you to have a scent that is 100% all your own.

To blend your own scent, gather several plastic droppers and paper towels. Drop different fragrances next to each other on the paper towel. Allow the towel to sit for 1 hour. Take the towel to another room and this is how your blend will smell. Using this technique will save you money because it allows you to tweak your blend without using large amounts of fragrance oil.

 Can I use fragrance oil directly on skin?

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Most companies that sell fragrance oil for soapmaking, sell a very concentrated version formulated manufacturing products. Applying this directly to the skin will likely cause a chemical burn.

 Explain Fragrance Oil vs. Essential Oil.

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An essential oil is derived from a fruit, leaf, root, stem and/or flower. It can be steam distilled or cold pressed. Some companies use solvents to extract their oils. Your supplier can tell you what they carry.

 Fragrance Oils & Trademarks

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A trademark can protect words, names, symbols, or colors that distinguish goods and services from those manufacturered or sold by others. Trademarks are granted and managed by the federal government. When an applicant applies for a trademark, they must specify a classification category or catagories. For example, a fragrance name can be trademarked for a finshed candle, lotion, soap, etc. When buying a "type" or "compared to" fragrance oil you are taking the responsibility to know if your final product will infringe on a trademark. You can search active trademarks by going to www.uspto.gov

 How much fragrance do I use in soap?

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The amount of fragrance oil will vary from scent to scent. In general the guidelines are as follows:

MP Soap - 3% CP & HP Soap - 5%

 I want to know the specific ingredients of my FO.

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Fragrance oil formulas are proprietary. This means that the specific formula and ingredients are the property of the fragrance manufacturer and do not legally need to be disclosed to the public. Most companies will not disclose them because they do not want another manufacturer duplicating them.

 What are "Extreme" fragrance oils?

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There are many terms that have popped up over the last few years. They include, among others "Extreme Concentrates", "Manufacturers Grade", and "Perfumers Grade". These are terms not generally recognized by the flavor and fragrance industry. They are terms that have been utlized by on-line distributors in attempt to explain different fragrance dilution percentages and price structures.

 What does EO mean?

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EO is a common soapmaking abbreviation for Essential Oil.

 What does flash point mean?

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Every flammable liquid has a vapor pressure, which is a function of that liquid's temperature. As the temperature increases, the vapor pressure increases. As the vapor pressure increases, the concentration of evaporated flammable liquid in the air increases. Hence it is the temperature which determines the concentration of evaporated flammable liquid in the air under equilibrium conditions. Different flammable liquids require different concentrations of the fuel to be present in the air to sustain combustion. The flash point is that minimum temperature at which there is enough evaporated fuel in the air to start combustion.

The fire point of a liquid is the temperature at which it will continue to burn after ignition for at least 5 seconds. At the flash point, a lower temperature, a substance will ignite, but vapor might not be produced at a rate to sustain the fire.

 What does FO mean?

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FO is a common soapmaking abbreviation for Fragrance Oil.

 What is Fragrance Oil?

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Fragrance Oils can be a mixture or combination of mixtures of natural and synthetic materials. Synthetic ingredients are manufacturered through chemical process. They are "man made".

 Who is RIFM?

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RIFM stands for the Research Institute of Fragrance Materials.

This agency performs independant testing to see if the ingredients that go into fragrance oil produce allergic reactions. They make recommendations on what levels these ingredients should be used in products. They list and "delist" ingredients each Decemeber based on their research. Manufacturers follow their guidelines closely.

 Why are some fragrance oils so expensive?

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Sometimes a formula is very complex and requires ingredients that are more expensive. This commenly happens with Designer Types. A designer type fragrance can have over 100 ingredients that make up that one scent.

Fragrance oils can also be more expensive when a certain outcome is trying to be achieved, such as trying to get a strong candle throw. In this situation, the fragrance chemist is trying to get a perfect blend of top, middle and bottom notes that compliment each other. He does not want one to "burn off" and go undetected while burning. All of this is complicated by only being able to use ingredients that are proven safe by RIFM.

Some fragrances contain natural ingredients that fluctuate as a commodity. As of this date, sandalwood is over $800 a pound due to political unrest in the country it is harvested. A fragrance oil may contain a small amount of natural sandalwood and thus this formula would be more expensive than a completely synthetic formula.

 Why are some fragrances stronger than others?

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There is not one answer for this question.

A good fragrance has a blended aroma of top, middle and bottom notes. Fragrances can smell strong out of the bottle but not perform in soap because they are "top heavy" and lack depth that your nose cannot detect. On the other hand, a fragrance can smell less than impressive out of the bottle but perform well in soap because it has a good blend of top, middle and bottom notes.

Last, when a fragrance formulator blends a fragrance oil they are given a target price point. One fragrance may have thousands of formulas with prices from $5.00-$50.00 per pound. In general, the higher the price, the stronger the fragrance oil will be.

 Why do some fragrances discolor a product?

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Fragrances have ingredients and some of those ingredients have a natural color.

 Why do some fragrances turn brown?

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Vanilla based fragrances will always turn color...the more vanilla, the more likely the soap will eventually turn dark brown. The color change can occur from days to weeks to months. It is most often associated with the vanilla level in the fragrance oils. It is an inherent property of the ingredients. There is a product on the market called "Vanilla Color Stabilizer". This product is added to MP Soap and it will stop a vanilla fragrance from turning brown. It does not work in CP or HP Soap.