My Chat with Susan – Natural Variation? 6

A few weeks ago I had a chat with Susan. She called about Litsea Cubeba. She was worried about a bottle of essential oil she had received from us and thought the scent was off. As we chatted about Litsea Cubeba, and all other natural products, the changes in a natural product became the focus of our conversation. Rain, temperatures, seasonal weather patterns, soil content are the primary reasons for changes in lot to lot of a natural product. Unfortunately, natural products can vary quite a bit – and they do!

We sent Susan a few older samples of Litsea Cubeba for her to review. One sample for Susan to review was from 2012. I know you are thinking that our library of past scents must be crazy old to have something from 2012. Well, I get to admit here and now that this sample is a young’un from our archives. Some samples have gone all the way back to 2000. Susan also got a sample from 2013 and two recent lots from 2017. All of these samples are different – yet, all of these samples are still Litsea Cubeba, a natural product with normal variations.

After Susan received the samples she reviewed each sample and made some notes. I learned she has soapmaking notes for her batches going back 20 years. It is wonderful that she has made soap for at least 20 years and absolutely amazing that she has notes detailing 20 years of her work. While Susan was working with the Litsea Cubeba she had the cap off of the recent bottle for 15+ minutes and started to notice the essential oil was changing. Off- gassing happens when essential oils have a bit of rest with a cap opened. The off smelling volatiles are whisked away by the air and the remaining volatile oils are what we associate with the “true” odor of an oil.

This off-gassing is exactly what I was discussing with a mint grower during a recent visit. A freshly distilled mint oil will contain what the industry calls “still notes” which needs to be driven off for the odor of peppermint to come through. Allowing the oil to have some time for this volatile to be driven off is time well spent. All oils need this waiting time. Wine needs time. Cheese needs time. All of our best works need time.

If you take anything away from today’s blog then take away that written notes are vital, essential oils vary, constituents are volatile and time makes everything better.


VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

About Tina

I started in 1996 with the help of my husband. Now I get to help people make all kinds of soaps and bath and body products. I think my favorite things to make are lip balms and lotions/creams. Of course I get most of the soap technical support questions because that is my strong knowledge area. Glad this blog is here!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

6 thoughts on “My Chat with Susan – Natural Variation?

  • Kelly

    Tina –
    Thanks for the post! Good info, and really interesting!
    I’ve always tried to re-cap any open bottle of EO as soon as I can, because I kind of thought that they would evaporate quickly…
    But now Susan’s experience makes me curious – if there’s a bottle of EO that I don’t really like the scent of… should I try leaving the lid off for ~15-30 min. if there’s a possibility that the scent will improve with the exposure to air?

    VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    • Tina Post author


      Essential oils and fixed oils are the two I think benefit from a good airing out, if you will. One of the worst thing to smell is an off odor in something we know, such as peppermint. If it doesn’t smell normal then I would certainly give it a few minutes with the cap off. Then come back tomorrow and test again. Fixed oils can sometimes do this too. The most pungent lanolin I have smelled was in a closed container during hot transit. It smelled terrible. The cap off for a few hours made all the difference. Just make sure to vent some of these to the outside!


      VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    • Andee

      Not as a general rule. If you are making your own, then absolutely! If you are buying from a supplier like us, then it should not be necessary. When you get a new bottle of essential oil you are familiar with and open it, if you think it smells off then I would open it and let it off-gas for 5-10 minutes. After that, try smelling it again tomorrow.

      VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)