March 19, 2010

Justifying Perfume Making Hobby

No one expects golfing, boating or downhill skiing to be anything but a financial drain. Well guarded secret of sport fishing is that it is a lot cheaper to buy fish in a store. There are very few activities/hobbies that can be financially beneficial all along. Perfume making is one of them!

Not only you can economically produce hand creams, body butters, soaps, shower gels, massage oils, aromatherapy blends, sprays, bath balls, salts, etc. but you can organize family & friends events creating these. Unscented cream bases, gels, liquid soaps, massage oils can be purchased in bulk volumes affordably, while aromas can be created with just 2-3 essential oils. Nice and reasonably priced packaging is also available from multiple suppliers.

Here is an example of a family "Hand Cream Making Seminar" ;-)

Here is what we used:

- Cream Base Ultra Premium ($6/lb)
- Boston Round Clear Jar ($1/jar+cap)
- Cream/Soap/Candle Colors (got it @ Michaels, but cannot find them on their site)
- Essential oils (5-6 drops per 1 oz):
     - Dry Skin
     - Oily Skin
     - Skin Repair
     - Scars

Another idea for hand cream packaging (recipe: Lavandula Grosso + Bergamot):

This is an Airless Dispenser Clear with Silver Cap ($3) from New Directions Aromatics. It does look rather professional and can be even used as a gift!

March 13, 2010

Fragrance recipe around Nagarmotha (Cypriol) - similar to Magnifique by Lancome

Recently I received two versions of Indian Nagarmotha (Cypriol) from New Directions Aromatics and Tom's Incense. The last one appeared to be slightly stronger and deeper, so I decided to give it a try in the next formulation.

Nagarmotha is a middle note with medium odor strength (15% Naragmotha = 10% Vetiver)
Odor can be described as earthy, spicy and wood-like. Nagarmotha works as an excellent bridge between woody base notes of Sandalwood, Vetiver and middle floral notes such as Jasmine, Rose.

One of the most successful fragrances using Nagarmotha is Magnifique by Lancome.

My formula has more Jasmine and Rose and this is how I liked it. Aldehyde C9 is giving a nice lift to the perfume.

Perfume recipe inspired by Maginifique (Lancome)

Top Notes

Saffron, Warm (CP) - 2.19
Cumin (NDA) - 0.11
Mandarin (Essents) - 1.10
Cassia/Cinnamon Bark (EOS) - 0.05

Middle Notes
Aldehyde C9 (CP) - 0.01
Nagarmotha (TI) - 2.46
Jasmine (EOS) - 1.31
Rose De Mai (SEI) - 0.33

Base Notes
Rose Damascena Abs (EOS) - 0.16
Sandalwood, East Indian (NDA) - 2.63
Vetiver (EOS) - 1.64

Helpful Tips:
 - Drops Can Be Different regarding dispensing sub-drop volumes
 - How to Make a 10% Oil Dilution

March 10, 2010

Drops Can Be Different

Perfume making experiments often are made with small quantities of fragrance oils. For example, we might need to add 0.3 drops of Patchouli to a mix. It may seem that adding 3 drops of a 10% dilution of Patchouli will do the job. Not so fast! 

In the following experiment I filled small vials with the same quantity of different full strength oils as well as 50% diluted oils using pipettes. Check out the results:

1. Alcohol (44 drops)
2. Jojoba Oil (31 drops)
3. Patchouli (31 drops)
4. Bergamot (37 drops)
5. Bergamot 50% (45 drops)
6. Patchouli 50% (44 drops)
7. Labdanum 50% (46 drops)
8. Tagettes 50% (45 drops)
9. Black Pepper (38 drops)
10. Marigold (35 drops)

Once an oil been diluted in alcohol its viscosity (even for resinoids like Labdanum and Tagettes) becomes very much similar to viscosity of perfume alcohol itself.

As a rule of thumb when adding diluted oils to the formula the number of drops should be increased by adding extra 1/3 to the count.

In case of Patchouli we should actually add 4 drops of 10% dilution instead of 3 drops in order to match the required 0.3 drops of undiluted Patchouli (3+3/3=4).

Also if you are using the tip of the vial cap to dispense diluted oils like it is shown in the picture:

it is necessary to double the number of drops.

Example, if you need to add 0.3 drops of Patchouli and you are dispensing a 10% dilution of Patchouli from a vial using its cap instead of a pipette, you should actually add 6 drops!

Have fun counting!

Aroma vs. Perfume

Q: So, what's the difference between aromatherapy recipes and perfumes?
A: Concentration

If your perfume creation smells like "body shop type" do not hurry to discard it. First try to dilute it in perfume alcohol at least 1:10 or even 1:100 and test again. You might be surprised with the result!

Our senses of vision, hearing and touch generally work better when there is more light, more sound and more pressure. And being uncertain about our own ability to perceive scents we tend to try ever higher concentrations of essential oils and aromatic compounds.

But "more" does not necessarily work the same for senses of taste or smell. When you take a small bite of an apple you would feel the taste almost the same if you would dare to stuff your mouth with 10 times the amount. 

In one of my previous posts about Odor Slope we already had seen that odor intensity does not grow that much with the increased concentration. Since that may sound rather technical, I would like to invite you to repeat a very simple experiment (shown above).

Add just one drop of an essential oil to 5 ml of perfume alcohol. And then compare scents (full strength and highly diluted) on blotters.

Maybe your sense of smell is not that bad after all? ;-)

March 8, 2010

Making Labels for Perfume Samples

As weekend perfumers we recognize the importance of keeping track of experiments with perfume formulas and their variations. While for the most part we don't have too much pressure with respect to making our samples look professional there are some simple tricks that can make our roll ons and sprays look elegant.
A very basic labeling machine can make our life a lot easier. I am using DYMO® LetraTag LT-100 Plus Handheld Label Maker ($32) to print white or transparent labels. These labels are water/oil/alcohol resistant. You can select the letter size, print on two lines and add special symbols.

There are fancier models available but even the basic one can do a very good job.

Also here are some links to my favorite roll on dispensers (good for oil perfumes) and spray misters (alcohol based perfumes).

February 28, 2010

Perfume Recipe in the Family of Amarige Mimosa 2007 by Givenchy

Recently I received Mimosa Absolute from The Good Scents Company and was so amused by the consuming comfort of mimosa that I could not resist developing a perfume around it.

Historically there are several dimensions how mimosa can be incorporated into a perfume. For example both Bvlgari Pour Femme and Amarige Mimosa de Grasse Millesime by Givenchy add sweet and fruity perspective to mimosa.

But I felt captivated by how mimosa plays with Vetiver, Jasmine, Neroli and Rose Geranium in Givenchy Harvest 2007 Amarige Mimosa.

So, here is my take:

Important Note:

Mimosa Absolute cannot be dispensed by drops and must be diluted first in perfume alcohol. It is rather difficult to have a consistent concentration of such dilution. The above formula is referring to undiluted Absolute (intensity: 5% Mimosa Abs = 10% Vetiver Oil). So, when repeating the formula please verify Odor Intensity of diluted Mimosa Abs and update the formula accordingly.

Mimosa Sun Fragrance Formula
Top Notes
Rose, Geranium (EOS) - 7 drops
Neroli (EOS) - 4 drops
Mandarin (Essents) - 1 drop
Heart Notes
Mimosa Abs (TGSC) - 11 drops
Jasmine (EOS) - 3 drops
Ylang Ylang (EOS) - 1 drop
Lilac (TGSC) - 1 drop
Lily (CP) - 3 drops
Base Notes
Vetiver (EOS) - 6 drops
Sandalwood (EOS) - 5 drops

February 24, 2010

Aroma Library Storage

If perfume making is just your hobby most likely you don't have a dedicated room where you can nicely arrange all your aroma treasures on shelves along the walls. As weekend perfumers we must find a way not only to store all the oils neatly out of sight but to be able to pull collection quickly out when we get just a couple of hours for our hobby.

Most of the oils come in bottles of different sizes (5ml-30ml; 1/6oz-1oz) as we get them from different suppliers with labels on sides. We can use 3/4" and 1/2" round labels to mark bottles caps. This way we can efficiently store them in a box and quickly find particular bottles.

The following plastic box (Plano 3700 Series Deep Stowaway @ Canadian Tire - $8.99) closes up tight and is perfect for majority of amber bottles. Plastic inserts allow you to change the size of compartments easily to ensure oils are not loose. Similar oils (herbal, floral, fruity, woody, oriental, gourmand, etc.) can be placed in the same row and even sorted alphabetically for fast retrieval.

For taller bottles (or bottles with screw on pipettes) you might use a combination of Rubbermaid See-Through Snap Case - 6.8L (on sale $8.99 at London Drugs) and 4 smaller trays (Rubbermaid Drawer Organizer - $3.49)

Both types of boxes would fit nicely into a Plano Fishing Tackle Bag (I bought it at Canadian Tire for like $20, but I cannot find it in their online catalog now). Two Plano 3700 plastic boxes would fit nicely also into Plano Guide Series Tackle Bag, 3750 (price: $70), but keep in mind that it would not fit Rubbermaid 6.7L Cases.

Finally you can even use thin plastic tackle case to store plastic pipettes, vials and bottles with carrier oils on top of the other two cases.

This kind of aroma library organization proved to be effective, compact and easy to manage.

Please do not hesitate to share your experiences and ideas regarding storage of essential oils and aromatic compounds.

Dispensing Oil Drops

Sometimes fragrance formulas might consist of 20-50 different essential oils and aromatic compounds. That is why proper dispensing of particular number of drops of ingredients is very important. Can you imagine spoiling the formula by overdosing one of the last elements... Well, occasionally it may bring you a success (ex., creation of Chanel N5) but for the most part you would just waste cherished time.

First of all - WARNING:

DO NOT use passive built-in droppers (first option on the photo). While this setup might be acceptable for some applications (such as dispensing oils into a burner or mixing fragrance into a massage oil base) this is entirely unacceptable for perfume making because speed of dispensing drops is highly unstable.
Built-in (screw on) glass pipettes or disposable plastic ones produce much better (stable) results.

You can find different pipettes, but so far I prefer small ones available from Creating Perfume (price: $5 for 50 pipettes).

Sometimes, when you are doing a lot of mixing you can also use standard plastic straws. The ones sold in Ikea are rather thin and semi-tranparent ($1.99 for 200) making them an excellent option for dispensing oils.

Here is a short video explaining how you can use straws to dispense oils:

Have fun with you creations!

February 21, 2010

PMS Relief Oil Recipe

Most PMS Wellness aromatherapy recipes are simple floral combinations of Neroli, Clary Sage and Rose Geranium. I didn't find that combination to be soothing enough and decided to build a recipe on a quality woody base of Patchouli and Vetiver, add traditional floral dimension using Jasmine, Ylang Ylang and Rose Geranium. Clary Sage and Roman Chamomile give depth while a hint of Melissa finishes the formula with a light top note.

The following proportions are designed for a 5ml container (fill up the remaining space with Jojoba Oil to provide stability to the PMS Relief Oil):

  Melissa (EOS) - 1 drop

  Clary Sage (EOS) - 16 drops
  Chamomile Roman (EOS) - 6 drops
  Ylang Ylang (EOS) - 2 drops
  Rose Geranium (EOS) - 46 drops
  Jasmine (EOS) - 7 drops

  Vetiver (EOS) - 33 drops
  Patchouli (EOS) - 46 drops

Let it bring peace to your home especially during those days when you need it the most ;-)

February 17, 2010

Studying New Perfumes and Sourcing Perfume Samples

Exploring new perfumes in a department store might be an exciting experience or … it can turn into a frustrating one. Here are some tips how to make the most out of your perfume exploration trip:
  1. Use blotters; don’t spray anything on your body.
  2. Clearly mark blotters (do not rely on your memory to recall which perfume is on which blotter).
  3. Record your first impression on a scale 1-10 on the other side of the blotter (so that you can later test it again without being influenced by an earlier rating).
  4. Keep all blotters even if you didn’t like some perfumes at first site.
  5. Test again in an hour or two by sorting blotters by how you liked perfumes. Now you can assign your final rank on the scale 1-10.
  6. Sometimes you may wish to revisit blotters in half a day to study perfume dry out (base notes). Majority of modern perfumes would not change much though.
From my personal experience I find it rather difficult to study more than 5-7 new perfumes at a time.

Studying perfumes in a department store might be a good start, but more often than not I feel intimidated by proactive sales people (especially if I don’t plan to make a purchase at the time). Also at a later time I might want to revisit particular perfume (or particular type of perfumes) in search for new discoveries and inspiration.

For these and other reasons I prefer to actually get perfume samples (1-2 ml vials) and study perfumes in the comfort of my home. Some stores would give you samples generously, but for the most part I would simply source them online (priced $1-$5/sample).

Here are some starting points:

FragranceX (samples)

FragranceNet (vial on card)

Scent Monkey (1ml samples)

Beauty Encounter (women’s / men's

Parfums Raffy (women'smen’s

eBay (samples)

Please feel free to add other sources as comments to the post.

February 2, 2010

Odor Slope: Concentration and Intensity

Normally as concentration of an odor increases so does the intensity of the scent.

Function that describes correlation between odor concentration and perceived intensity is called Odor Slope and looks like:

Concentration^Odor Slope=Intensity

For example, Musk Xylene has Odor slope of 0.30 that means that in order to achieve a 2 fold increase in odor intensity concentration should be increased 10 times!

While Odor Slope variations can be rather pronounced, it is generally Ok to use 0.30 as the average value.

But relationships between concentration and intensity of odors are rather different. For some essential oils intensity of the odor may noticeably increase with higher concentration of the odorant, while for other oils change in intensity may not be so obvious.

Low-slope odorants at first may appear as week in 100% concentrations, while higher-slope seem overpowering at full concentration. Comprehensive tables for Odor Slopes are hard to find (if you know a good reference, please add it here as a comment).

What is important to understand though is that when you double concentration of an odorant its intensity on average will be increased by mere 23% (2^0.3=1.23).

Have fun with your creations!

January 24, 2010

Perfume Recipe ala Cantata by Yves Roche

Yves Roche introduced Cantata perfume probably 15 years ago and after a short period of time replaced it by a new line of perfumes as they would normally do. I know several people who still remember this particular perfume and they even contacted the company with a request to re-introduce Cantata but without much luck.

Anyways, I decided to give it a try and reproduce Cantata based on some sketchy descriptions and my personal memory of that fragrance. As it is true for every fragrance formula using essential oils and aromatic compounds - you consider your project rather successful if you manage to get the main theme of the perfume. To my surprise the following perfume recipe rather closely resembles the main character of Cantata, which is driven primarily by middle notes and the wonderful combination of Jasmine, Osmanthus, Plum and Cedar.


  • jasmine EOS - 0.3 drops (3 drops of a 10% dilution)
  • orris TGSC - 1.5 drops


Please do not hesitate to suggest how can I further improve this formula. Have fun!

January 18, 2010

How to Make a 10% Oil Dilution

One might think this is a trivial question…

But weekend perfumers are so addicted to measuring everything in drops that very often simple dilutions are also done by counting drops. And this is a rather serious mistake, because size of a drop depends on the surface tension of the ingredient (especially great the difference between the drops of alcohol and essential oils) and as the result we can get a dilution which is substantially different from what we intended to achieve.

And since most of weekend perfumers work with very small amounts of materials the best metrics would be volume.

So, here is what we will need to dilute French Lavender to 10% using Perfume Alcohol:

  1. Vial & Cap
  2. Perfume Alcohol
  3. Scotch Tape (to protect the label)
  4. Pipette
  5. Self-Adhesive Labels (1/2” x 3/4”)
  6. Ruler
  7. Fine Permanent Marker
  8. Essential/Fragrance Oil (not shown)
Step 1: Mark the vial and protect the label with a piece of tape

Step 2: Using ruler and a permanent marker place marks at 45mm and 50mm on the vial

Step 3: Fill up the vial with alcohol up to 45mm mark

Step 4: Use disposable pipette to add essential or fragrance oil up to 50mm mark

Step 5: Seal the vial and flip it dozen times (trapped bubble will help to mix the oil and alcohol)

Step 6: Now you can use marked toothpicks to compare the strength of the diluted oil with Vetiver Etalon (see Weekend Perfumer’s Sniffing Technique).

Good luck with your creations!

January 15, 2010

Normalizing Odor Strength or 10% Vetiver Rule

Most often than not mixing different aroma ingredients produce best results when mixed oils have the same odor intensity and no particular element stands out. Otherwise the whole accord appears to be unbalanced and unsophisticated.

Odor intensity of essential oils and aromatic compounds vary greatly. For example, it will take over 100 drops of Sandalwood Oil to balance just 1 drop of Cistus (and this is even without taking into account effect of Odor Slope which will be discussed later).

In order to create even simple mixtures knowledge of Odor Strength of all the ingredients in the formula is of the utmost importance. That means that you should study you own aroma library well before attempting complicated combinations. This will save you a lot of time, material and you will avoid a whole bunch of frustrations that a weekend perfumer is predestined to face anyways ;-)

Most of the time information about Odor Strength of oils is limited to “strong/medium/weak” ratings. Obviously, this is not enough. My search for authoritative sources of such information didn’t produce much except repetitive statements that it is very subjective and that even the same oil from multiple suppliers might have drastically different Odor Intensity. Even knowledge of Vapor Pressure and Molecule Weight are not very helpful, because human nose processes smells in rather unpredictable ways.

First we should choose particular oil that will be used to compare with all the other oils in the library. I would recommend VETIVER.

There are several reasons for choosing Vetiver as a benchmark for normalizing Odor Strength of essential and fragrance oils:
  1. Its own Odor Strength is in the middle of the spectrum;
  2. This is a distinct BASE note and it will last on a blotter for a long time without much change to perceived Odor Intensity;
  3. It has a very distinct Odor, which can be described as deep smoky-dry, earthy-woody and slightly sweet. It is easier to recognize Vetiver in simple combinations.
  4. And finally, this is a rather common and affordable ingredient. Most supplies will have Vetiver in their stock.
The process of comparing Odor Strength for oils is based on Weekend Perfumer’s Sniffing Technique using ordinary toothpicks instead of blotters as it allows a lot better precision and easier handling.

10% Vetiver Etalon
Please mark the first toothpick in a special way and dip it 5mm (1/4 inch) into undiluted Vetiver oil – this will represent Odor Intensity of a single drop of a 10% Vetiver dilution (5 cm / 2 inches of a toothpick absorbs 1 drop of an oil).

Note: majority of oils should not be smelled directly from bottles as it may temporarily reduce your ability to perceive odors.

Studying Your Aroma Library - Testing Oils
  1. Dip new toothpick 5mm deep into the oil and compare it to 10% Vetiver Etalon. If oils appear to be of similar intensity, it would mean that 10% Vetiver = 10% Tested Oil
  2. If Tested Oil appeared to be weaker, then try to dip it 10mm and compare results again. Repeat the process until similar intensity has been achieved. Every 5mm represent 10%. So, if Tested Oil produced similar intensity at 30mm dip, that means that: 10% Vetiver = 30% Tested Oil
  3. If Tested Oil is weaker, you may try to dip new toothpick less than 5mm, but that process becomes a little tricky. I would recommend making a 10% dilution of the Tested Oil using Perfume Alcohol. Then each 5mm will correspond to 1% of the Tested Oil. For example, if 10mm dip of a 10% dilution of the oil produced a similar Odor Strength to the Etalon that means that: 10% Vetiver = 2% Tested Oil.
  4. And if 10% dilution is still too strong to provide precise results, continue with further diluting the oil down to 1% and do the testing. Some oils such as Oakmoss (EOS), Leather (TGSC), Rose De Mai (EOS), Violet Leaf (E7) and others require 0.1% dilutions not to overpower 10% Vetiver Etalon!

I have summarized results of my tests of my own library of essential oils and aromatic compounds in Clearly, this is an ongoing process as rather often I would review my own findings at a later date and I would suggest to consider data regarding Odor Strength only as a guideline for your own discoveries.

Ok, and here is the main treasure: continuously updated table of Essential Oils and Aromatic Compounds in Google Spreadsheet format.

Good luck with your weekend creations!

January 13, 2010

Perfume Formula Inspired by Anouchka (Revillon)

Anouchka by Revillon is a Chypre-Fruity feminine perfume which is marked by active use of aldehydes. Personally I am not a big fan of waxy / soapy perfumes, but I am taken aback by unorthodox combination of floral and fruity notes and developing complexity of that perfume. Another element that is missing from my recipe is Cistus. Dry accent is being promoted through the use of Vetiver instead.



Top Notes:

Middle Notes:

Base Notes:

December 21, 2009

Perfume Recipe Insipred by Pi (Givenchy)

Pi by Givenchy is one of my favourite perfumes. I adore effective combination of sweet and herbal notes. Anise presence changes the aroma and makes it round together with Rosemary. If you are sensitive to Tarragon you may choose to reduce it down to 2 drops.


  Basil (1%) - 6 drops
  Rosemary (10%) - 2 drops
  Tarragon (10%) - 3 drops
  Mandarin (10%) - 8 drops

  Neroli (10%) - 3 drops
  Rose, Geranium - 5 drops
  Lily of the Valley - 1 drop
  Anise (10%) - 3 drops

  Vanilla - 5 drops
  Tonka Bean - 8 drops
  Cedar (10%) - 5 drops
  Benzoin - 5 drops
  Amaretto (10%) - 3 drops
  Sugar - 4 drops

TOTAL: 30 drops of fragrance (excluding alcohol)

December 20, 2009

Perfume Recipe - Fruity Santal

This perfume is designed for men and the main theme of Chocolate and Vetiver was borrowed from CANNABIS SANTAL EAU DE PARFUM by Fresh. The original perfume to me sounded like chopped with an axe with couple combinations standing out and I didn't like their Cannabis note at all. But it certainly captivated me with the unusual introduction of chocolate note into a dry woody base.

In my combination I decided to experiment with unusual fruity compounds replacing Cannabis in the heart note.

So, here it is - Fruity Santal:

  Bergamot (EOS) 4 drops
  Orange (EOS) 1 drop
  Chocolate 10% (NDA) 1 drop

  Fig 10% (TGSC) 4 drops
  Rose de Mai 10% (EOS) - 3 drops
  Blackberry 10% (TGSC) - 3 drops

  Patchouli (EOS) 3 drops
  Cocoa Abs 1% (E7) 3 drops
  Vetiver (EOS) - 2 drops
  Egyptian Musk (CBD) - 3 drops

December 2, 2009

Creating Perfume (CP)

Supplier of ingridients:
  • Essential Oils
  • Aroma Accords/Notes
  • Perfume Bases
  • Aroma Chemicals
  • Aromatic Compounds
  • Perfume Supplies

Juniper Tree

3303 lakeshore ave
Oakland, CA 94610

Tel: (510) 444-4650

The process of perfume making can be simple to extremely complicated. We have tried to make the process as simple as possible. Hopefully we have achieved a useful site that will help you grow as a perfumer. In time, we plan to introduce more aroma and bottle options. We want to encourage you to experiment and try new combinations. We hope you will share your successes and flops with us.

Essential Oils Store (EOS)

Supplier of ingidients:
  • Essential Oils
  • Fragrance Oils (Designer Type)
  • Flavors
  • Massage Oils


P.O. Box 87191
Canton, MI, 48187