Making your Own Perfumes 
Wednesday, August 29, 2012, 09:23 PM
We've all had the experience. We've gone out into the garden on a lovely summer day and smelt the roses. They are so beautiful that we've gathered some rose petals and put them in a bowl in the house. For an hour or two we seem to have brought the perfume of a summer day into the room. But the perfume never stays. Within an hour or two it's gone. How do perfume manufacturers capture fragrances?

The art of perfume making is an old one. It is both extremely complex and surprisingly simple. With a little practice it is something that you can do at home with very ordinary equipment that you probably already have about the house.

What you smell in your rose petals is an essential oil. These are volatile substances that are sensitive to heat and light. When you brought the petals into the house they were still giving off their essential oils but these soon dissipated. In the garden the plants continue producing essential oils and each day they give off more of this precious perfumed substance.

When you make perfume you are trying to catch that essential oil and prevent it from dissipating into the air until it is applied to your body. The heat of your body then makes the essential oil give off its perfume.

First you need to extract the essential oil. That can be done by soaking the petals in alcohol. A bottle of vodka is the handiest and purest form of alcohol available to the do it yourself perfume maker.

Instead of putting the petals into pretty bowl soak them in vodka overnight in a glass bowl with a lid. Always use glassware when making perfume because it does not react with the essential oils. You must also protect your perfume from heat and light. So keep it cool and in the dark as much as possible.

Filter the finished product through muslin or a coffee filter and store it in a dark glass container. You can then use it to mix with other extracts or simply add it to a carrier oil such as almond oil.

I said that making perfume was both complex and simple. Well the complex bit comes now. The blending of perfume is the complex part of the process. The perfume you buy is blended from a mixture of essential oils. There are top notes and deep undertones in any perfume. They come from different oils. You have to learn what each one does.

Mixing a perfect perfume requires a trained sense of smell. You have to train your nose to work like the nose of top perfumier if you want to make the best perfume at home.

Learn what the different essential oils smell like. You can buy them at specialist retailers and at healthfood shops. Some are more expensive than others. But the basics are quite cheap because you only need small amounts. Just two or three drops will be enough. The only one you may use in larger quantities in lavender oil which is a good old standby in any perfume.

Get a range of ready prepared essential oils and begin to experiment with perfume making. You can also extract your own from plant materials that you collect but there is no reason to limit yourself to these. A few exotic oils such as ylang ylang and neroli will add their distinctive note to your home made perfume.

- Abhishek Agarwal


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