Synopsis ~ How do you make perfume? Here is a plan to work at home and how to begin, how to start, and what supplies you need. Use naturals. Here is what do you need to know.
Home Perfumery – WHAT YOU NEED & WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
part 1. By Jeanne Rose, 2020
INTRODUCTION ~ So you want to make perfume? You plan to work at home and just don’t know how to begin. How do you start? What supplies will you need? Are you going to use naturals or synthetics? Do you know the difference? What do you need to know?
Home perfumery is gaining widespread popularity all over the world and is gradually moving towards the mainstream. It is especially strong as a niche scent concept in the United States of America. The use of scent as perfume cuts across gender, social, and racial classes, because it is emotional, it is physical, it is social, and it can smell divine. Annual sales of basic ingredients and perfume end products are staggering. An important driver in this upsurge in scent acceptance is due to its status of being thought a natural product with the people thinking it is low toxicity, it really works, it is very accessible, easy to do, prepare and use.
Since the beginning of recorded history, humans have attempted to mask or enhance their own odor by using perfume, which they hope will emulate nature’s pleasant smells. Many natural and man-made materials have been used to make perfume to apply to the skin and clothing, to put in cleaners and cosmetics, or to scent the air. Because of differences in body chemistry, temperature, and body odors, no perfume will smell exactly the same on any two people. The United States is the world’s largest perfume market with annual sales totaling several billions of dollars.
This article is about making perfumes with natural, botanical ingredients – only. No synthetics.
Getting to Know Your SPACE – Oils
Space, Supplies-Oils, Preparation, Recall, Focus, Time
SPACE ~ What You Need •
If you are making perfumes from natural ingredients at home – you will need to think about your basic space and equipment.
Make a space to do it. It helps to designate a special area set-aside for storing your equipment and blending your perfumes. It should be a well-ventilated, well-lit area or room. However, air conditioning is not advised as it takes the scents out of the air. Designate a specific long table or desk as your workspace and demand no one will put any food or objects on it. There should be shelves or cabinets for storing your essential scents and finished fragrances; ideally, they should be stored in a room where the temperature is about 55° (a wine-type room). Store your essential oils in glass bottles, I prefer clear glass to be able to examine and look at the colors of the oils, but they should ultimately be kept in a cool, dark storage space. All oils should be out of direct sunlight or covered in boxes. Oils/absolutes should not be subjected to changes in temperature.
The kitchen is not the best place for blending your perfumes, even though it may seem ideal because of access to cabinets, a table, sink, running water and utensils. And working around an open flame and stove burners can be hazardous as essential oils and alcohol can explode.
SUPPLIES ~ Have the correct supplies and tools at hand for blending to make the process easier and more precise. The following is an idea list of perfumery supplies that you should have at hand:
1-dozen small glass cups (2-inch) or shot-size glasses with measurement on the side
Adhesive labels – small
Air that is fresh for clearing nose; Coffee beans, salt or piece of wool may work but are NOT necessary.
Alcohol for cleaning droppers or vials; use cheap isopropyl EtOH; then rinse with clear water and dry, Alcohol for rinsing, a quick Grape spirit rinse using scent-free alcohol. www.organicalcohol.com
Alcohol for dilution — cane, corn, pear, wheat or grape depending on the odor being diluted.
Apron or Lab coat to wear over your clothing and shoes that cover your feet for protection.
Bags – small to medium to large plastic Ziploc bags
Beakers for measuring from 5 ml to 150 ml
Books – The Aromatherapy Book, Application & Inhalation; 375 Essential Oils & Hydrosols; Natural Botanical
Perfumery Workbook, by Jeanne Rose to give you the basic information on the essential oils & absolutes.
Bottles and Vials – you will need a varied selection of clear, colorless bottles and vials, particularly the
½-dram, 1-dram, 2 -dram, 4-dram vials from Acme Vial in California. Also get the orifice reducers.
Bowl – small (I prefer thin glass bowls on the smaller size)
Clock with a second hand or a timer
Cotton balls – get the larger size or the flat cotton discs
Glass vials or bottles (various sizes) – see above
Labels – small ones. Label everything with contents, your name and the full date (include the year).
Measuring spoons or ear scoops (wooden or metal spoons to scoop out earwax, but you use for concrètes)
Pen and notebook or pad for writing down everything that you do.
Pencil/s – Pencils are needed to write labels as essential oils can dissolve ink or ball point markings.
Pipettes or droppers (plastic or glass). Find and use the ones that you prefer.
Scale, digital – to measure weight precisely to 0.005
Scissors, sharp of a small size
Stirrers, glass works well or glass drink stirrers.
Towels, both paper and cotton
Vocabulary of Odor Kit© – to be able to describe odors. You will want to start with the
“Basic 7 Vocabulary of Odor Kit©” and then graduate to the full
“Advanced 28 Vocabulary of Odor Kit©”. Available only from JeanneRose.com
Water or bowl of water
Alcohol, Neutral grape and grain spirits (for making perfumes, colognes, splashes)
Bases (make and keep as many as you want, label them fully with the ingredients)
Carrier oils (for alcohol -free perfumes)
Distilled water (for making splashes)
Alphabetical – Keep your products/oils/bases/accords in alphabetical order or by style you prefer.
What Oils/Absolutes Should you have to START?
This Is A Simple Supply List to Start With…
1.Bergamot, I prefer the whole Bergamot not the bergaptene-free. – SD
2.Cardamom – SD
3.Cedarwood, Atlas – SD
4, Champaca CO2 or Osmanthus CO2
5.Clary Sage, Russia – SD
7.Frankincense CO2, India
8.Geranium Abs (Pelargonium x asperum) Egypt or SD Pelargonium graveolens from Madagascar
9.Grapefruit, CP, Pink or white
10.Jasmine Abs, India
11.Lavender Abs or high-altitude SD Lavender
12.Neroli Extra, – SD
13.Labdanum Abs (diluted 50/50)
14.Orange, Wild or another citrus – SD
15.Patchouli, Dark is best. Lighter color Patchouli has less scent. – SD
17.Rose Abs, Morocco
18.Spikenard, Green or Vetivert – SD
19.Vanilla Abs (you may need to do a 50/50 dilution on this one)
20.Ylang Ylang Complete, Fine – SD
ABS = absolute; CD = cold-pressed; CO2 = cold-pressed; SD = steam distilled
These 20 are good to start with but there are hundreds more that you can add. I prefer to use only pure and natural plant matter; the best that is available. I buy by quality and not by price and recommend you do the same. Mail-order. www.primafleur.com and www.edenbotanicals.com are my go-to and recommended places.
The above are the oils that are available to use in the JeanneRose Natural Botanical Perfumery class. You may choose to have all or only some of these in your perfumes. This is an expensive undertaking so choose well. It may be best to dilute all your oils/absolutes to 50•50 with95% neutral grape spirits. That way you can blend and then at the end after your perfume has aged, just add an equal amount of the 95% neutral spirit to have a 25% blend of your perfume. Just right for application or can be further diluted to 10 or even 15% with the addition of more alcohol. Always age your perfume before making the decision. You can always dilute but you cannot make it stronger.
Have paper towels handy. You will need scent blotters, pipettes, a pen, pencil and your notebook. Do not wear any scent on your body and tie your hair back. Dress appropriately as if you were in a lab setting with your arms and shoulders and feet covered (against harmful lab spills).
Train the Memory by Developing the Limbic System through Smell
Know your oils/absolutes/concretes by their name, smell and intensity.
Throughout Steps 1 Through 6, Take Notes.
Step 1. Less is More. To get the full spectrum of odor you may wish to dilute everything to 50•50 with the appropriate type alcohol.
Step 2. Before you start to blend, you will want to get to know your library of scents. Learn the Basic 7 Vocabulary of Odor© and the Advanced Circular 28 Vocabulary of Odor©. Read and memorize Chapter 3 of 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols called “Essential Oils are More Than Stinky”. This will tell you how to use the Advanced Circular Vocabulary of Odor©. You will need the “Advanced 28 Vocabulary of Odor Kit©” to properly do this and of course, natural odors to work with. (Use the chart)
To do this you will need your scent blotters/fragrance strips. Start with up to 5 oils. Write the name of the oil on the scent blotter. Also, write the time you used the scent blotter/strip and the date. Put one drop of oil on the strip with its name on it (or dip your strip 2 ml into your selected oil). Smell the strip briefly and note the fragrance. Imagine it as a color. Imagine it has a personality. Record your impressions on the chart. If you did not know the fragrance name, what would you call this fragrance? Sniff it again with your eyes closed. Do you smell or see anything different? Write this down in your notebook and note it on your Vocabulary of Odor© chart. Now put the strip away, label, and give you nose a chance to recover. Repeat for each scent/fragrance you examine. Describe them in words by your classification; by their Volatility, Strength, and Intensity. >See below<
You’ll want to do this exercise in stages. No more than 4-5 individual oils at a time. Save your other oils for later in the day, or the next day.
Step 3: After 30 minutes, go back to each scent. Smell. Are there other notes in the fragrance that you recognize? Record your impressions and any changes that you notice.
Step 4. Go back to your original 5 strips. Cover the names and pick one. Smell. Do you recognize the fragrance? Repeat this with the other 4 scents. Familiarize yourself with your fragrances this way, until you can recognize each scent by name without looking at its bottle. “By their scent you will know them” …Jeanne Rose 1979
Step 5: Two hours later, go back to each strip. Pick one and smell. How has it changed?
Step 6: The next day, go back to each strip. Pick one and smell. Has it changed? How has it changed?
You are learning the effect of dry down on each scent and how it may operate in your finished perfume.
Step 7: Let your scents rest, if making a blend, let the take time to integrate and to become a perfume. This does not happen in the moments that it takes to mix a drop of this or a drop of that.
TIME ~ It takes time to make a good perfume.
As George Askinson said, “It is not the number of oils that determines the fineness of a perfume, but the manner in which certain odors are combined”
. …Perfumes and Cosmetics — Their Preparation and Manufacture
By George W. Askinson, Dr. Chem.1865
The Entrance to Laurie Stern magical home perfumery – photo by JeanneRose