Fragrance solution or fragrance emulsion in sauna and steam bath?

Fragrances are deployed in saunas or spas to surround visitors, because fragrances influence our mood and health.

However, if fragrances for sauna, wellness, and spa areas need to be purchased, the range is huge. One of the decisions that have to be made is whether alcohol or emulsion-based fragrances should be used. These differ on a number of points, which we would like to explain:

In a fragrance solution or fragrance concentrate, the essential oils are dissolved in alcohol. Due to their composition and the substantially continuous evaporation process, alcohol-based fragrance solutions can be used very economical and efficient. They are fully absorbed and quick by the steam. Contact times are low. Residues only occur, if the steam-contact-time is chosen too short or if the dosage is not matched to the steam flow.
Excess-amounts of the solutions are also absorbed quickly. The specific aroma of the essential oil reaches the steam bath cabin unadulterated. The fragrance concentrate and the fragrance solution evaporate in the sauna on the stone without leaving any residues the aroma remains stable and can spread throughout the cabin with the steam.

On the other hand, the shares of the essential oils in fragrance emulsions (fragrance milk) are dissolved with the help of an emulsifier and water. Because emulsions are mostly manufactured in a combined system, a high share of emulsifier is necessary.
The evaporation process for fragrance emulsions is significantly more unpleasant since the water share only evaporates incomplete, the emulsifier (up to 20 % of the emulsion) not at all. The not evaporated share of the fragrance emulsion remains standing in the pipe and impairs the steam flow or runs as greasy distillate out of the valve into the cabin. Since a greater part of the essential oil is attached to the emulsifier or to the emulsifier-water-mixture, this share of it drains off unused together with the distillate. In saunas an emulsifier-layer remains on the stones.

To receive the same fragrance intensity, the consumption of the application quantity can be increased by a multiple compared to the solutions. The usage may be further reduced if the dosage arrangements are not favorable, i.e. if the steam contact times are too short. Alcohol-based fragrance solution enables a quality monitoring using simple methods, in comparison to emulsions, where monitoring is practically impossible. Therefore in emulsions can be incorporated shares of inferior quality essential oils (so-called “terpenes”) as well as inadmissible emulsifiers (i.e. technical emulsifiers). If used, this can lead to skin irritations and reddening of the mucous membrane subsides.

Not homogenized emulsions tend to unmix fast, which means that the oil and the aqueous phase separate, the oil floats on top of the emulsion. If they are unmixed they won’t get completely consistent again, not even by subsequent mixing (intensive shaking). Due to phase-separation significant quality differences in the fragrance supply of the cabin occur, since the watery phase doesn’t contain any essential oil, the layer floating on the surface however, consists of essential oil shares. Additionally, the different composition of the phases leads to adhesion of the steam pump and the steam valve.

Also the inherent odor of the emulsifier can superimpose the specific aroma of the essential oil. Furthermore, the emulsifiers and water-based solutions often distort the typical nature of plants and reduce their characteristics. Immediately with opening of the fragrance emulsion containers, contamination starts, which is accelerated by storage in warm rooms. This can be delayed by adding preservatives. Therefore Emulsions are durable for six weeks.

Alcohol-based fragrance solutions and fragrance concentrates don’t have this contamination problem. They stay stable in their mixture and the same in their odor intensity, even if a container is in use over a longer period.

The use of fragrances in saunas, steam baths, hot air- and aroma cabins support the characteristics of the application. Therefore, attention to the fragrance solutions for containing mostly natural essential oils should be paid. Alcoholic solutions intensify the characteristic radiance of the essential oils and support their properties while the nature of the plants is preserved.

This means summarized: for a very good reason Kemitron only uses alcohol instead of emulsifiers (emulsion or emulsion-milk) as fragrance-carrier for its Aromee products: with a very good fragrance development, alcohol supports the quality and leaves no residues on the sauna stone or the pipes of the steam bath.