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Fragrance Oils. Guide to testing in Cold Process Soaps

We keep a large selection of fragrance oils which fall into several different categories, so we try to index these for you in several ways. When you go to the fragrance oils section of our on-line catalogue you'll find it first indexed alphabetically, then you'll find the fragrances duplicated into other categories based on their aroma type and source of ingredients, so categories such as 'Floral and Herbal' and 'Natural and Organic'. We do not offer comprehensive written decriptions of each fragrance as opinions will differ and fragrance interpretation is very personal, so we encourage you to purchase samples with a low cost option to purchase a sample size in the drop down choices in all fragrances.
Usually fragrance oils are suitable for aqueous and oil based applications but some may not successfully mix with oils and waxes, so if making oil based products such as balms or if using our cosmetic fragrances in candles it is advisable to test the fragrance to ensure it disperses successfully in oils.
Using natural fragrances in CP soap is usually perfectly successful as most are blends of pure essential oils and other natural aromatic materials, although we would still suggest you test yourself as we accept no liability in respect of ruined batches and/or loss of other ingredients where any fragrance oil we supply is used in CP soaps.

One of the most regular problems that occurs in CP soap making is the incompatibility of many fragrance oils, so before you waste all your materials in a failed batch of soap it is advisable to test a fragrance to ensure it is compatible.
Most incompatibility is caused by the diluent/s used to make many artificial fragrances. The worst problem that can occur is a 'seize' which is where you add the fragrance to your CP soap (usually at trace) and the whole mixture suddenly and immediately sets-up, which then leads to your continued stirring turning the whole mass into a lumpy mess which can often also partially separate from the oils. There is no way to successfully rescue a soap after it's seized.
Most fragrances use at least in part some artificial ingredients and some of these ingredients can cause other problems in CP soap making. The most common is the soap gelling faster that you might like. This is different from a seize in that the soap can be successfully made, but knowing the soap is going to gel quickly is important.


Before you waste all of your ingredients, if you want to use an artificial fragrance or maybe some kind of blended natural fragrance it is important to know how it's going to perform, so you should TEST it.
A CP soap will demonstrate problems with fragrances whatever base oils it's made from, so if you're going to make a small test batch first, don't waste expensive ingredients, just make it from basic inexpensive oils.
It's cost-effective to test several fragrances in one go, so in making a small test-batch of simple CP soap, make sure you have all the fragrances you want to test at hand, then, once your soap is close to trace, simply pour a small amount into another container (a small cup of jug maybe) and simply add a suitable quantity of the fragrance you want to test and note the results. If the soap sets up immediately it's going to be impossible to use that fragrance. If the soap takes a few seconds to start to gel, then using that fragrance may be difficut but not impossible, although you may want to avoid its use if needing time to maybe carry out a special colouring technique. Finally, if the soap demonstrates normal behavior, that fragrance is going to be simple to use in the same way as most pure essential oils are, giving plenty of time to be creative with colour etc..
This is not a complex procedure and in a few minutes you can easily test several different fragrance oils and in doing so, if you record the results you should be confident what can be used and what cannot.
If a fragrance falls into the 'maybe difficult' category, try and make a note of how quickly the mixture gels. If it's just a few seconds (5-10 maybe), then using that fragrance will require you to get the mixture to mould very quickly, so if you continue to use that fragrance in a main batch, make sure it's going to be the very last thing you add and work quickly to pour to a single mould. If the mixture takes longer (20-30 seconds maybe) then you may still have time to use certain colouring techniques or pour into multiple moulds etc..
Finally, as an alternative to making up a specific test batch of soap, if you regularly make larger batches anyway, simply use a very small amount of one of your regular batches to test any new fragrances you might wish to evaluate.