Measuring, Percentages and How Much

by Penny Keay

These subjects are all related and are asked about many times each month. So we felt is was time to review these.

When you are making massage oils or scenting lotion or creams knowing how to measure, figure percentages and how much is safe to add are important to know.

For general every day use essential oils are measured in milliliters and drops. In big industry they are measured by weight. Most of us that make just a few blends for our own personal use don’t need to invest in scales that can weigh in milligrams.

So here are a few charts to help you.
Metric measurement Decimal for ounces Common Fraction for ounces By drops (approximately due to viscosity of each essential oil)
1 ml .0335 oz 1/30 oz 20-25
2 ml .067 oz 1/15 to 1/16 40-50
4 ml .135 oz 1/8 oz (approx) 80-100
5 ml .169 oz 1/6 oz 100-125
10 ml .33 oz 1/3 oz Drops should not be counted
15 ml .5 oz 1/2 oz for blending large
29.573 ml 1 oz 1 oz amounts of essential
30 ml 1.014 oz 1 oz oils therefore no drop values
50 ml 1.69 oz 1 2/3 oz for these larger volumes
60 ml 2.28 oz 2 oz have been given.

To make blends of products by percentages here is a handy chart showing the number of drops to add to the volume of your finished products. You can use this for blending massage oils, shampoos, lotion or creams etc.

Remember to use essential oils safely always use the ½ the amounts for children and the elderly that you would use for an adult. In other words if your recipe is a 3% blend for normal adults, you should make a 1% or 1 ½% blend for children, etc.

Add the following number of drops of essential oils to your blending container then fill the container with the volume of the base product listed on the left. Mix well and let sit for 24 hours before use if possible.
Total Volume of
finished product
1% 2% 4%
1 tablespoon 3 drops 6 drops 12 drops
1 oz (2 tablespoons) 6 drops 12 drops 24 drops
2 oz (4 TBS) 12 drops 24 drops 48 drops or ½ tsp.
4 oz (1/2 cup) 24 drops 48 drops ( ½ tsp) 96 drops ( 1 tsp)
8 oz (1 cup) 48 drops ( ½ tsp)96 drops (1 tsp) 10 ml or 2 tsp
16 oz (2 cup) 96 drops (1 tsp) 10 ml (2 tsp) 20 ml (4 tsp)

The general rule of thumb in aromatherapy is to use a 2% or less dilution of essential oils when added to any finished product that is to be applied to the skin. Of course there are exceptions.

The simple thing to remember about adding essential oil to your final product is if the final product is going to remain on the skin the essential oils in the blend should be no more than a 2% dilution (or less if used on a baby or the elderly. )

If your blend is going to be used in a product that will be washed off or rinsed away, you can blend it stronger – up to a 5-10% dilution although this is not usually necessary. Products that are washed off or rinsed away include: Shampoos, Hair Conditioners, & Shower gel.

Lotion or products used on and left on the skin such as toners and massage oils should only be blended in a 1% or 2% dilution, again less if used on babies or the elderly.

Here are some general guidelines when starting blending - Remember it is always better to start with 1% blend then increase IF and only if needed :

• 1% Blend - Mixed with lotion, creams or massage oils – 6 drops per ounce of carrier base

• 2% Blend Shampoos, Hair Conditioners, & Shower gel. – 10-12 drops per ounce of product

• 1/2% Blend Added to Distilled water for use on the skin such as a toner – 3-4 drops per ounce of water.

• Less than 1/2% when used in a Facial Steam – no more than 5 drops to 2 cups of hot water.

• 2% Blend Room spray – added to distilled water or other water base for spraying – Varies with the essential oils used but it is not unusual to be as high as 50 drops per 4 ounces of water. You should use an emulsifier for making sprays.

Hope this will help you decide on how much to use in your blends. As always, if you should develop any kind of irritation, then you should discontinue use and reformulate your recipe for next time. Also, start with less essential oils and only add more to your blends as needed.


For Blending supplies visit our Bottles and Glassware page.

by Penny Keay © 2011, updated 2014

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