Originally Posted by tourmaline
Natural perfumer Mandy Aftel in her book "Essence & Alchemy" says that she's tried using high-proof vodka for perfume-making but has found it to be 'useless'. Not sure why she says that, I use Everclear and it suits my needs perfectly.
I think this is a question of definition of terms. If you think of vodka as a drink (and in another part of my life I mix and drink a lot
of cocktails, so I do) then you would most likely think of it like this:
Cheap vodka is 37.5% alcohol or less (75 proof)
Good vodka is 40-45% alcohol (80-90 proof)High Proof vodka
is 50-60% alcohol (100 to 120 proof)
Exceptional strength vodka is 65-95% alcholol (130-190 proof)
Very few vodka's are made routinely at higher alcohol than about 60%, their widespread availability is quite recent and they are not really suitable for drinking except when diluted in something non or much less alcoholic (you could for example use Balkan vodka at 80% alcohol (160 proof) to make a Cosmopolitan that was stronger than a conventional martini . . .).
I'd guess Mandy Aftel was thinking in those terms when she described high proof vodka as useless - and she would be right - anything less than 80% alcohol isn't going to dissolve enough of most oils to be any use as a perfume base.
If you can get 190 proof it will work perfectly well - just think about the chemistry - all that is missing from 190 proof vodka compared to the stuff used in mass-market perfumes is the additives to make it undrinkable (usually bitrex and something to make it poisonous), so why wouldn't it work?