How to make perfume a beginners guide

make fragrance

Want to make fragrances at home but aren’t sure how?
Follow our easy ‘how to make perfume : a beginners guide’

So you want to embark on the path of fragrance creation. That’s great! For some the task can seem a little daunting, but don’t worry, our step by step guide is here to get you started and will help you make your nose happy. Here we go…

STEP 1: Get yourself a scale

Get your hands on a small scale – never use drops! Measuring your ingredients in grams is a lot more accurate when you want to make and recreate your formula.

 

Drops may seem easier, but it’s very hard to get the same amount of ingredient in every drop. Before you know it, you can end up with a rather interesting formula that will be quite difficult to tweek and difficult to recreate!

 

You don’t need to invest in an expensive Lab scale to start of with. A small 0.01gram precision scale will be enough to start and you can upgrade to a 0.001g precision scale later. You’ll find plenty of mini scales online from £20 to £40, but if your budget allows, you’ll find a professional scale at an entry price of around £400-500.

STEP 2: Source your ingredients from reliable companies

Get yourself some good ingredients: industry standard perfumery ingredients are hard to find when purchased in small quantities so this step will require a bit of research, especially if you want to ensure you get ingredients of the highest quality. If you are not a professional fragrance maker, you’ll be limited on where to find reliable sources. Most fragrance material suppliers will deal with companies only, however, we find two very good companies that sell to the end consumers: Pellwall is an excellent source for molecules and Hermitage Oils for natural.
There’s a really big focus at the moment on natural ingredients, but don’t forget to explore molecule options as well as natural extracts (they’re essential to the perfumer organ!). If you can, keep your ingredients chilled in a fridge (or coolers) to ensure their longevity.

 

EPC Sets

If you don’t know where to start, EPC has ingredients sets to help you make your fragrance and will let you smell some key perfumery ingredients before you invest in bigger quantities.

 

>> Find out more about our Perfumery Ingredient Box Sets

STEP 3: How to formulate

Think about your brief first! 

Now comes the creative part. When you’re at this stage, really think about what you want to create, this is called a “brief”. What type of scent do you want to make, is it floral or woody or a combination of both? Do you want to make a light, airy fragrance or a deep, sensual scent? Do you want you fragrance to star one or two single notes (i.e.: Rose or Cedarwood)?  Think around all of these things and more, or simply about a creative story or memory you’d like to achieve.

 

How to write a Formula “the correct way”:

Spend a bit of time at this stage so you’re focused on your end perfumery goal. A formula is typically written out of 100% (or out of a total of 1,000 or 10,000 when you are more advanced). Keeping a clear consistent total allows you to understand the impact of each individual ingredient within the overall formula as well as helping when it comes to reworking your formulae.

Top tip: Always write your formula down – we’d hate for you to loose the formula that made you irresistible!

 

Step 4: Evaluate and rework your formula

Smell on Scent Strips not from the bottle: 

Once you’ve weighed your first formula, give it a gentle shake and evaluate the result on a scent strip (the paper types you find in fragrance retailers). Scent strips come in all shapes and sizes : large blotters, tapered strips, paddled strips and standard strips. To start off with standard strips will do just fine. If you buy pointy scent strips, dip your scent strip on the pointy end and smell it without touching your nose.

 

The rework stage:

Once you’ve assessed what’s good and what’s less good, you’re ready for a rework of your idea by tweaking the formula. And so on… Until you’re happy (sometimes it can take hundreds of trials to get it right, so be patient!).

 

STEP 5: Dilute your ingredients or composition

You’ll need to also get yourself some perfume alcohol (the solvent – this will be different based on whether you want to make a candle or a room freshener). If you don’t hold an alcohol license (which is unlikely if you are a casual maker), we find Mistral ‘s perfumer’s alcohol to be reliable and of high quality. For beginners, and in order to waste less ingredients, we recommend to pre-dilute your ingredients at 10% to make things a little easier.

 

Dilution in alcohol is an essential step as it makes smelling fragrance much more approachable, while smelling a blend of ingredients pure will feel overwhelming and compact.

 

How to diluting your ingredient or composition:

But how do I dilute to 10% ?! This involves some basic math but we know it’s not always as easy as it sounds… 10% in alcohol means you will dilute 1g of your ingredient or composition (pure) and add 9g of alcohol (so the total is 10g). If your ingredient is very powerful, you may even want to dilute it at 1% in alcohol. So essentially, that means 0.1g of your ingredient that you complete with alcohol up until you reach 10g.

Remember to have fun

  • Don’t be afraid to try, try, fail and try again – perfumery is a road of trial and error.

 

  • These steps are only the start of a long learning journey into this fascinating subject… Books in formulation are a rare find and most perfumers will have trained for years in a perfumer school or within the industry.

 

  • At EPC, we believe having an untrained nose shouldn’t prevent experimentation with fragrance and welcome an approach of perfumery at a hobby level too!

 

  • Perfumery is where science meets art. Be logical. Be intuitive, follow your nose, the ingredient that smells extremely strong just put a trace, otherwise there is good chance that it will overpower your blend.

Last point: don’t forget about maceration!

  • Leave your created fragrance for a day or so to allow it to settle and mature in it’s self. Some creations may change colour over time but this is normal and will rarely affect your scent.

Happy Experimenting!

A few tools for you from the EPC Lab

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