Help! My DIY Lotion Bars Smell Weird
February 13, 2020 10:17 PM   Subscribe

So I made lotion bars today, and they smell weird, even though I added the amount of essential oils suggested in the recipe. (They smell sort of industrial-- a little bit like the shea butter and beeswax that I used.) How do I make some bars that smell nice?

I combined a half cup each of beeswax, shea butter, and fractionated coconut oil (after melting the solids in a double boiler). I took the mixture off heat and added 24 drops of essential oils (lemon, bergamot, and lavender). I poured the mixture into silicone molds and let the bars cool. Where did I go wrong? Do I need lots more fragrance? Or different essential oils? What will overcome the industrial smell?
posted by tuesdayschild to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I personally hate the smell of shea butter, so it could be that.

I am an over scenter when making things, I usually add more than the recommended amount. That being said, essential oils in higher amounts can cause skin irritation, depending on the oil so make sure you're careful with it.

The ratios are what's important for balance of smells: so if it's 1 drop lemon to 2 drops beramont and 3 drops lavander (I just made that up the point is that there is a ratio) it should keep the same smell profile. If it smells fine when mixed alone it's likely the shea your smelling imho. When you mix the essential oils without the ingredients does it smell right to you?

You may want to play around with the oils to see if there is a combo you like more. Once you know what combo you like, you can scale it up to the whole batch.

Sometimes when using the bar it smells a little different . You may want to try it out to see how it performs before giving up on this batch.
posted by AlexiaSky at 1:34 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]

Just a guess: the essential oils you used may have evaporated due to a lower flashpoint than the temperature of the beeswax and shea butter combo. Beeswax melts around 150+ F and citrus oils, like lemon essential oil, have a much lower flashpoint.

You can try remelting and using other essential oils, such as lemongrass. Let the mixture cool as much as possible while allowing you to still stir your essential oils into it. It's possible you didn't add enough essential oils for the quantity of lotion bars you were making. The easiest thing would be to try remelting and adding more.

Here is a random flashpoint chart of some essential oils. You would need to look at the flashpoint of each essential oil.

I tried making a Christmas scented soap last fall, and used cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger essential oils. The cinnamon stuck around, but the nutmeg and ginger evaporated as soon as I added them to the hot soap mix, as I'd cooked it in my crock pot. Live and learn.

The other alternative is to use fragrance oils, which also have flashpoints, but may be higher than delicate essential oils.

They also sell unscented shea butter, FYI.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:09 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]

Is your shea butter refined or unrefined?

I've found that unrefined shea butter lends a musky funk to everything. I haven't had success increasing the essential oils to compensate, unfortunately. But it looks like AlexiaSky might have!
posted by Guess What at 7:23 AM on February 14

Follow up in case some future DIYer has the same question: Turns out I used unrefined shea butter and that's why the bars had a nasty burnt smell. I got some refined shea butter, repeated the process (also doubled the essential oil amounts) and I have good lotion bars now.
posted by tuesdayschild at 7:43 AM on February 27

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