When it is thicker than water: 6 tips to work with thick aromatic oils

If blending essential oils involves a lot of quintessential things, working with thicker oils involves more than that. Not all oils are of water-like consistency. There are some which are thicker than water in viscosity and are very difficult to handle. A few are even solid at room temperature so much so that you need to first bring them to a workable consistency to use them. Some steam distilled oils like Patchouli, Sandalwood, CO2s, absolutes, balsams and resins are of a solid consistency which makes it difficult for aromatherapists to prepare the oils for working.

Working with thick aromatic oils: Many resins, including Benzoin, are often thicker and more solid in room temperature. You can bring such oils to a workable consistency if you know the trick of the trade. But this is easier said than done as you need to bring an oil to a workable consistency without losing any of its therapeutic properties and this is not easy. The general way to come of the “thickness” of essential oils is to heat them. But heating plainly seldom helps as oils can vaporize or lose their originality when heated.

Below are a few tips to work with thick aromatic oils:

1. Water bath technique: While heating on the stove plainly can be simple, heating using this technique can be different. This is because it retains the aroma, quality and properties of the oil intact without any adulteration or evaporation. To follow this technique, gently heat the bottle containing essential oil in a warm water. Do not place the bottle or pan containing bottle directly on the stove. Instead, pour warm water in a pan and keep the bottle in it for 10 minutes. Keep changing warm water as and when it is cooled. This method can keep the oil’s quality intact and at the same time, bring the consistency of the oil to a workable level. You can use this method to work with resins, balsams and thick CO2s. This technique can be used even to open bottles that are difficult to open. If your Patchouli or Olive oil bottle is difficult to open, place it upside down in warm water for 15 minutes. The bottle will open after the water bath treatment.

2. Heating with triple boiler: Though heating with double boiler helps, heating with triple boiler helps more. Place your small bottle of oil in tea cup with a some warm water. Place the tea cup on a large container of warm water and heat accordingly.

3. Measure by weight: When your oil is warm, it is difficult to weigh it drop by drop. Avoid doing so and measure by weight. You can use a digital scale that has a tare reading, to allow you to measure only the content of oil in a bottle.

4. Warm carrier oil too: What will happen if you pour a warm oil into a cold carrier oil? You will get blobs instead of therapeutic oils. To avoid this, warm your carrier or blending oil too.

5. Alcohol is better: Often, alcohol is better than carrier oil. Some oils do not dilute in carrier oils too. But all oils can be diluted with alcohol and this is the advantage of using alcohol with beeswax and cocoa.

6. Warm water tray technique: If you want to do things at one go, heat all the oils you want to heat/dilute or bring to a workable consistency by placing their bottles in a tray of warm water. This is especially useful if you are blending two oils and want both to be in the same warm conditions.