How To Make Perfume At Home
How To Make Your Own Perfume With Step By Step Instructions
I love making my own perfume at home! Ever since I've first started to collect essential oils when learning about aromatherapy, the idea of making my own fragrance has started to tickle my mind more and more until I gave in and really learned the craft!
With the too much increase in price of commercial brand blends, many of us have become interested in learning how to make homemade ones that smell nice. While it's not as simple as putting ingredients 1, 2 and 3 together and mixing it well, the results can be extremely rewarding if you do spend your time learning to do it the right way.
Granted, your blend or mine might not smell the same with a designer $100 fragrance (afterall those have been made by real 'noses', perfumers who work in expensive laboratories to make their coveted concoctions), however you can create something simple that smells nice and can be worn outside with pride.
You can wear your own scent or make it into a gift for loved ones and friends, the choice is up to you. All you need is a bit of time, some necessary supplies and a few proven recipes that you should follow to the letter. Learning to create your own scent is hard work, but fun, much cheaper than buying a brand one...and most of all it's not impossible!
So if you're looking for instructions on how to make perfume at home, you've come to the right place. I will show you my own way of doing it, give you links to awesome tutorials (video and written), list of ingredients as well as resources of supplies (essential oils, fragrance bottles, tools, etc) that I'm using when I'm making my own parfums.
The Fragrance Wheel
Before you start making your parfum you need to be aware of the fragrance wheel, which is basically a way to classify them based on their scent type. For example some people love citrus scented perfumes while they had woodsy ones, and others have as favorites florals, while they can't stand the oriental ones or the gourmand ones.
This is why it's important to have a fragrance wheel around when working with aromas, so know what types of oils and fragrances to add to your own mix.
I prefer commercial ones, they're professionally made and smell better
What Type Of Parfums Do You Want To Make?
If you want to learn how to make natural perfume, click the link, if you want to make regular parfum including also synthetic components, read on.
The Book That Got Me Started
A book that I come back to over and over again - great for learning to make your own perfume with tons of easy recipes with easy ingredients (also lists places where to buy tools and ingredients from).
Top, Middle, Base Notes
Each blend is made of various fragrant notes that are harmoniously combined together to create the aroma bouquet that makes up the final product. In perfumery we can define 3 main fragrance notes: top notes, middle notes and base notes.
Before I explain a bit more about these notes, just think back to a moment in time when you were sniffing some aroma at a department store. Initially you had a rather strong aroma (usually fruity, citrus or something equally fresh).
After a few minutes this smell would settle and turn into something less pungent, but more mature and long lasting. Finally after about 30 minutes you might have found yourself surprised by yet another aroma that was just started to come through , this time a rather rich and maybe sweet scent that would last the longest.
Each of these three (in some cases more) scents that you could feel would make part of either top, middle or the base notes.
- Top Notes
The top notes are the first ones you usually feel when coming to contact with aroma. They are also the first to evaporate. Perfumers work a lot of time on getting the top notes right, since these are one of the greatest decision maker when buying a fragrance. Most people will not stand still for half an hour in the department store to wait for the entire bouquet to evolve: they buy based on what they feel right away.
Top notes are usually quite vibrant, strong and fresh, giving the scent the intensity that people know them most for.
Examples of top notes are lemon and other citrus scents, light fruits and various herbs
- Middle notes
Middle notes (also called modifiers, or heart notes) appear once the short lived top notes evaporate. They form the main body. They usually last the longest and these are the ones that add the beautiful complexity to a blend that make it so interesting, unusual and exciting.
Examples of middle notes: eranium, rose, lemongrass, ylang ylang, lavender, heliotrope, coriander, nutmeg, neroli and jasmine.
- Base notes
Base notes are the 'fixatives', they bind the various elements into a wonderful bouquet. These are the ones that keep the top and the middle notes from evaporating too quickly. Base notes are also the thickest and strongest smelling scents, so in most cases they should be used only sparingly, to avoid overpowering the parfum with their own aroma (I've done it many times, it's quite an easy mistake to make).
Examples of base notes: cedarwood, sandalwood, vanilla, amber, oakmoss, patchouli and musk.
What Types Of Scents Do You Like?
Before making your own perfume, you need to know about the different perfume scents, so when you choose the materials for your fragrance, you choose based on what YOU like (or the person for whom you make it).
What Types Of Scents Do You Like?
These are the various combinations of the top, middle and base notes blended together. They form the structure, the skeleton of the fragrance itself, which can be later on refined as needed.
Main Supplies And Ingredients
Oils that you can use
There are 4 types of oils that you can use to make your own aroma at home: pure essential oils (which are also used in aromatherapy), aroma chemicals and synthetics, animal products (used less and less due to endangered species) and carrier oils (or alcohol).
Essential oils are made from natural plant extract using various types of extraction, such as expression, steam distillation and solvent extraction, depending on the type of plant.
It is especially important if you make natural mixes to buy only 100% pure essential oils. A separate, yet related category of essential oils is absolutes. They are not used in aromatherapy, but they are quite heavily used in perfumery.
Aroma chemicals are basically synthetic chemicals with smells that have been separated from essential oils and from chemical sources. Synthetic components can include terpenes, coumarin, linalool, calone, pinene, benzene, etc.
While years ago animal components have been a major part of a fragrance, these days due to strict FDA regulations on fragrance making and cosmetics, along with the danger of extinction of many animals, these have been gradually replaced by synthetic blends that smell relatively the same.
Carrier oils (or base oils) are used a lot in natural blends, and one of the main reasons is that essential oils are too strong undiluted to be applied to the skin directly. Many perfumers use alcohol instead of carrier oils to make their own fragrances, however in many parts of the world high-proof food-grade ethanol is simply not available, so the perfumer usually resorts back to carrier oils such as jojoba oil or sweet almond oil (my two favorites).
So what type of alcohol can be used here? Don't go out and buy the first alcohol you see in pharmacies, as that is not suitable for perfumery!
If you make your own fragrances, you can use grain alcohol, but do not attempt to sell it, especially if you live in the US or EU, as you can get a hefty fine for it!.
My Small Collection Of Essential Oils And Carrier Oils
Here are just some of the essential oils I use at home to make my own fragrances and for aromatherapy.
You can also see here the larger bottles which hold the carrier oils - these oils are usually cheaper than pure essential oils, hence they can be sold in larger quantities. Excuse the mess on one of the labels, the oil once got spilled a bit and it hit the label.
You can also see on top the pipette I use to measure how many oil drops to put in the bottles bottles when mixing up the notes.
Essential Oils You Need
Rather than buying the essential oils one by one, it's easier (and more cost effective) to get a starter set that contains the most popular oils used in perfumery and aromatherapy.
Stores Selling Aromachemicals
Most Important Supplies
Except for the actual oils, essences and alcohol, you also need various supplies and tools to create your first EDP. There are many supplies that you can get, however initially start with just the basics, expanding as you go along and learn more.
* Scent strips
* A measuring cup
* Roll-on bottles
* Cheesecloth or paper coffee filters
* Distilled water
* Journal or notebook for record keeping (essential!)
Good to have, not necessary early on
* Shortie vials
* Glass bottles
* Essential oils
* Fragrance oils
* Carrier oils or 100 % proof vodka
My tester strips - I couldn't be without them
Always Have A Journal During The Process
When making a new blend always write down the ingredients (name and exact no. of drops / ml) and track the evolution of the scent over time.
Crystal Jewel Parfum Bottle
While this is not a must, once the parfum is ready and you're happy with it, you can transfer it to a beautiful bottle - these bottles are not expensive at all, and they are perfect for decoration as well - not to mention they're just perfect as gifts: a handmade blends in a crystal bottle...
I like this crystal perfume bottle, it has a gorgeous design and very intricate details. Perfect for any collector or fragrance lover!
Steps To Make Your Own Parfum
When making perfume at home, there are different ways to mix the components together. Some people add each oil to 10% alcohol and then blend those together, while others create mixes of each note (top, middle and base) before bleding them together and adding the alcohol as a final ingredient. The steps below are based on how I've learned to make my own EDP.
- Make a list of all the materials and ingredients you need so you have everything ready.
- Start blending the base notes together, drop by drop.
- Next blend in the middle notes, again drop by drop. Stop to smell after each drop (you're also learning to develop your 'nose')
- Add the drops for the top notes in the bottle.
- Finally add the drops of carrier oils or ethanol alcohol (vodka, etc) to stabilize your mixture.
- Now is the waiting and adjusting period. You need to wait for a few weeks and check on the blend now and then to see how it develops. Adjust it as necessary with an extra drop or two of oils.
- While waiting, think up a name for your mix :)
Books That Teach Making Your Own Parfum
Each of these books have been handpicked due to the value they bring to perfumers. From learning how to make your own, how to understand the various scents and what is the actual science behind it all, owning these books on your personal book shelf will be an indispensable exercise in your new life of a hobbyist.
I love the books and it's been more than once that I actually picked one or the other for consultation for recipes, tips or ways to do this or that step.
How Much Essential Oil To Use?
A bit about ratios
So you have all your ingredients ready for making your perfume at home. So now comes the question: how much to use of each oil? What are the right ratios?
When starting out I recommend the following ratio:
* 2 parts base note
* 1 part heart note
* 1 part top note
I've also seen ratios as follows:
* For natural fragrances use 25% top, 20% mid, 55% base
* For others use 15-25% top, 30-40% mid, 45-55% base
What I also recommend is to start by making parfums based on recipes that you find online or in DIY books. Each recipe will give you exact measurements of ingredients. Once you are beyond the very basics, you will develop your own instincts on how much oil, water and alcohol to add to your own blend.
What Is A Signature Perfume?
A signature perfume is one that is usually associated with a person. Think of your grandma or mom and imagine which is the scent she is/was wearing most often. That is her signature blend.
Useful Resources For Making Your Own Parfums
I love all these resources and have listed them here from my own bookmarks. They're not just basic tips on making parfums (EDP, EDT, etc) - you can learn that all on this very page. They're in fact various recipes for all kinds of yummie blends. It's very important what ingredients you use and how much to put from each ingredients to get the result you're looking for. Making your own homemade one is easy and each time you can try another recipe just to practice and get something else fun to put on your skin - or to give as gift away.
- Homemade EDP
Great primer on making your own scent with useful photos as guidance
- Natural Parfum Making Recipe
Make your own natural blend with these easy recipes
- Fruity Santal Recipe
Fragrance for men imitating the CANNABIS SANTAL EDP by Fresh
- Commercial Formulas
An interesting (English) page on a Russian website that lists the main ingredients of many commercial blends. Not for the beginners, but fun to try to recreate them.
- A Practical Guide For The Perfumer
A downloadable (legal) pdf version of the book by Dussauce which lists several recipes to reproduce with essential oils.
- How To Make Simple Blends
A few basic recipes
- Sweet Honey Water : Great Recipe from the 17th Century
Interesting recipe from an by-gone era