Essential Oils in Polymer Clay – Is a Diffuser Possible?

Have you ever thought of mixing essential oils or scented perfume oil into polymer clay to make scented polymer clay jewelry? Will it work? Do essential oils degrade polymer clay?

Mixing Essential Oils into Polymer Clay

Well, let’s address this in several parts. First, can you mix essential oils or scented oils with polymer clay? Yes, you absolutely can. Polymer clay mixes well with oil and small amounts of oil can be mixed into the clay without difficulty. It will even make the clay more soft and workable. But adding too much oil is a bad idea and will make the clay sticky. Even worse, the baked clay can seep or weep oil from the surface. Not good.

But a bigger problem here is that essential oils, plant extracts, and perfumes are very heat sensitive. Polymer clay must be baked in the oven to cure. While it doesn’t bake at a terribly high temperature, it is high enough that the temperature might degrade or break down the delicate scents in the oils. In addition, the scent will be locked in the plastic of the baked polymer clay item rather than open to the air. In short, mixing scented polymer clay jewelry isn’t an optimal way of diffusing or distributing scent into the air.

Yes, you can mix oils into the clay. But after baking, any scent will be weak and short-lived. Plus, there’s no way of refreshing the oils after they fade.

Applying Oils to Polymer Clay Jewelry

Okay, so we’ve talked about mixing oils into the clay. What about applying essential or scented oil to the surface of baked polymer clay? I’ve read on social media that doing this will degrade the polymer clay. No, that’s not likely to happen. Polymer clay is quite durable and oils don’t generally do much to polymer clay except make the surface of the plastic oily and gross. Because baked polymer clay is solid plastic, coating polymer clay jewelry with essential oil is a bit like coating your barbie with olive oil. It will get everywhere and get sticky. And nobody needs oil stains on their clothing because their jewelry was oily.

Make a Polymer Clay Diffuser Instead

Rather than applying the essential oils to the surface or mixing scented oils into polymer clay, there are much better solutions. Try making a polymer clay diffuser. The idea here is that you create a small glass or metal receptacle that can hold essential oils. You form polymer clay around the glass, allowing an open space at the top for the air to circulate and the scent to diffuse.

Glass vial containing cotton to be used as an essential oil diffuser in polymer clay jewelry.

Try using a small glass vial, such as this one. Put some cotton inside of it. Then form the polymer around the glass in a pleasing design. Then bake. Yes, you can bake both the glass and the cotton without incident. After baking, just use an eyedropper to apply drops of oil to the cotton ball. As you wear the item, body heat will warm the pendant, causing the scent to waft up and out of the diffuser. Then when the scent fades, just add a few more drops of oil.

This strategy has the advantage that you can refresh the oil or even change it when you want to switch things up. Give it a try!

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