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  1. #1

    Default Just starting out DIY help!

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    Incoming wall of text-enjoy if you are bored and want to help (I will try to keep it short though).

    I am new as stated in the universe of perfumes and just ordered about 80 different essential oils in a perfuming kit (only about 2ml each). I wanted to order many different kinds to see what I am dealing with and to train my nose upfront. Also, the smaller kit did not come with what I have seen as important oils used in many fragrances (ambergris, vetiver, tuberose etc). Oddly enough however, it did not come with any bergamot oil, or musk. I will have to buy these from some other place.

    Anyway, I wish to post exactly what is supposed come so that more experienced people here can tell me where they would typically put them in the mix (top, middle, base) and how much of each actually goes into each destination (does more go to top than middle etc GENERALLY). I hope whatever I come up with is long lasting with good silage (I don't like fragrances that have no power what is the point). So here is the list of oils

    cedarwood, vetiver, grapefruit, champagne, passion fruit, watermelon, yuzu, amber, peanut, sunflower, lemongrass, tuberose, orchid, loganberry, apricot, mint leaves, heather flowers, linden blossom, lemon, elderberry, ginger root, water flower, lilac, peach, myrrh, lily, strawberry, tomato vine, fig, pomegranate, green tea, willow tree, hyacinth, aloe vera, grass, apple, leather, sugar cane, pear, vanilla, oak moss, sage, sweet pea, fennel, rosemary, tulip, ambergris, tuscan wine, tumeric, dill weed, frankincense, wood barks, bamboo, nag champa, cucumber, lychee nut, bay, hydrangea, earl grey tea, pear berry, victorian rose, geranium, pine, banana, plum, hazelnut cofee, exotic tea leaves, cinnamon, honeydew, orange blossom, sandalwood, gardenia, cantaloupe, pumpkin, baby's breath, cherry, balsam pine, yarrow

    I don't know how to combine any of these on my own to make something that I know would actually smell great. I just want to smell each individually so that I would know how these things smell (some of them I have no idea how they actually smell).

    I spend most of my time on another site where you can search fragrances by note filter search engine to get an idea, and using that engine I can try to copy or mimic certain fragrances. However, the lists are not that accurate because I know manufacturers leave out much of what is actually put in there fragrances. Nevertheless the site is a good research tool.

    So that is basically it for now...I know I will need to get more alcohol and water because the kit only comes with about 2ml of each so, I probably won't be making a lot of anything, only smelling things. Kit also comes wit pipettes, bottles etc. In all I will probably have fun putzing around for a while trying to make something that smells profound, perhaps only to me.

    Have at it, I wanna know what you know!
    Last edited by socalwoman; 21st November 2011 at 06:54 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Just starting out help!

    OK well there is a lot here . . . what you are really asking for is a full-on training course in perfumery - a bit of a tall order in one post I'm afraid!

    However let's see how much we can cover:
    First up can you tell me where you bought the kit? Some of those oils are probably natural (such as yarrow), some can't be (such as hydrangea, which in any event is unscented) and some could easily be either (such as Grapefruit). Some make very little sense to me - Early Grey Tea for example could be the Bergamot you thought you were missing as that is the scent used to make Early Grey Tea, but then again it could be a complex accord including a tea scent as well.

    I'm hoping therefore that the kit comes with a description of exactly what you are getting in each case - a natural oil, a synthetic or a blend and at what dilution.

    With the above caveat I'm going to have a go at listing out your ingredients with categories and see how far it takes us:

    cedarwood B
    vetiver B
    grapefruit T
    champagne ?
    passion fruit ? probably M
    watermelon T
    yuzu ?
    amber B (but what is it?)
    peanut ??
    sunflower ??
    lemongrass M
    tuberose M
    orchid M
    loganberry ? probably M
    apricot ? probably M
    mint leaves ? probably T but could be M if it's mint absolute
    heather flowers M
    linden blossom M
    lemon T
    elderberry T/M
    ginger root M
    water flower ? probably M
    lilac M (but almost certainly a synthetic accord composed of a whole set of notes)
    peach T (but almost certainly a synthetic accord composed of a whole set of notes)
    myrrh B
    lily M (but almost certainly a synthetic accord composed of a whole set of notes)
    strawberry T (but could be a synthetic accord composed of a whole set of notes or just Aldehyde C16)
    tomato vine M (but almost certainly a synthetic accord composed of a whole set of notes)
    fig M (but almost certainly a synthetic accord composed of a whole set of notes)
    pomegranate M (but almost certainly a synthetic accord composed of a whole set of notes)
    green tea T (but almost certainly a synthetic accord composed of a whole set of notes)
    willow tree ?
    hyacinth M (a synthetic accord composed of a whole set of notes or it could be the natural absolute)
    aloe vera ??
    grass T (either an accord or something like leaf alcohol)
    apple T (but almost certainly a synthetic accord composed of a whole set of notes)
    leather B (but almost certainly a synthetic accord composed of a whole set of notes, though it could also be something like castoreum)
    sugar cane ?
    pear T (but almost certainly a synthetic accord composed of a whole set of notes)
    vanilla B
    oak moss B
    sage B (or M if it is the essential oil rather than the absolute)
    sweet pea M (but almost certainly a synthetic accord composed of a whole set of notes)
    fennel T - probably a synthetic like estragon, but could also be a natural absolute of fennel
    rosemary T
    tulip ? most tulips have no scent but for a guess this is a middle note
    ambergris B sure to be synthetic but could be just ambroxan, just ambrarome or some combination of aroma chemicals
    tuscan wine ??
    tumeric B
    dill weed T
    frankincense B
    wood barks B (but which ones? I'm guessing this is another synthetic accord)
    bamboo ?
    nag champa ?
    cucumber T (this will most likely be trans-2-cis-6-nonadienal)
    lychee nut ? probably B
    bay M
    hydrangea ?? could be anything as I've never encountered a hydrangea with a scent
    earl grey tea T or possibly M if it's and accord
    pear berry ?
    victorian rose M but this sounds like a synthetic accord not natural rose otto or absolute
    geranium M
    pine B/M
    banana M (could be an accord or cis-3-Hexenyl acetate)
    plum M
    hazelnut coffee ? this has to be a synthetic accord - M?
    exotic tea leaves ? possibly T
    cinnamon M
    honeydew - as in the sticky stuff left behind by aphids or as in melon?! I guess the latter and that makes it an accord T/M
    orange blossom M
    sandalwood B
    gardenia M (almost certainly an accord - the natural absolute is expensive and does not smell much like gardenia flowers)
    cantaloupe T / M another melon accord
    pumpkin ? T perhaps?
    baby's breath umm most baby's breath smells slightly of sick . . . could be anything really
    cherry T/M
    balsam pine B
    yarrow B

    Probably obvious but T=top note, M=middle note and B=base note

    What proportions of those you use depends on what you are trying to make - a fresh citrus type fragrance might have very few or no base notes in it, with twice the quantity of top to middle. A heavy Chypre on the other hand will have a preponderance of base notes with probably a similar number of middle notes and half or less top notes. There are no hard and fast rules - try stuff and have fun with it is the best advice I can give you really.

    Final thought - with the great majority of scents the notes you see in the descriptions have little or nothing to do with the actual ingredients used - they are a marketing tool that tells you what you might expect it to smell like, not what went in it. It is possible (and common) for example to make a rose based fragrance with not a drop of actual rose oil. Because the scent notes say amber does not mean there is any amber in it (there almost certainly isn't: either fossilised amber or natural ambergris) so don't rely on those to guide you too much.

    Wall of text? We've hardly even started yet
    Last edited by Chris Bartlett; 12th January 2013 at 09:55 AM. Reason: corrected name for nonadienal
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    www.perfumedesigner.co.uk
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume

    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog if you wish to ask questions of me.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Just starting out help!

    Thank you for responding.

    In short I got these from a seller on ebay who claims they are all steam distilled, which may or may not be entirely true according to what you just told me. I will let you know how they actually do smell when I get them. The kit does come with some perfumer alcohol and water with some bottles and pipettes among other things.

    Anyway I have been learning a lot so far from the resources on this site and hopefully you can help me get started since you are a perfumer (nice site).

  4. #4

    Default Re: Just starting out DIY help!

    Steam distilled baby's breath? I think we can be conclusive that whatever else these are they are absolutely not all essential oils (steam distilled by definition).

    I've just noticed that's twice you've mentioned water - you don't really need that in a perfume - if you want to add some keep it to 5% or less to avoid cloudiness. A good perfumer's alcohol is an ideal base though - check what's in it when you get it.

    Happy to help where I can and glad to know you like the website - thanks.
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    www.perfumedesigner.co.uk
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume

    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog if you wish to ask questions of me.

  5. #5
    Basenotes Member Time Left's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just starting out DIY help!

    Hi Smellington,

    Congrats on taking the plunge into a very fun hobby. I started with a kit from the perfumer's apprentice, and have been buying chemics, oils, and materials from many sources. It is addicting. One thing Chris did not mention is when you blend scents, oils, or whatever WRITE IT DOWN!! Nothing more frustrating than creating a wonderful frag and not knowing how to make it again. Also, weighing each ingredient is the most accurate way to recreate your favorites. Most liquids can change in volume due to atmospheric changes, but not so much the weight. Enjoy your (our) hobby. And by the way, heeding Chris's advice actually saves time and cash, we novices are lucky people of Chris's calibur freely share their knowledge with us!
    All are headed to that undiscovered country, to which once born, no one has ever returned. Life means death, the end is certain, the journey through life is not. Enjoy the journey and love as much as you are capable of, anger slowly and never with intent to harm another. I am dying of an unknown primary (cancer) and I hope you heed my words, love, love, love life and surrender often to it.

  6. #6
    Basenotes Member Time Left's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just starting out DIY help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bartlett View Post
    Steam distilled baby's breath
    I do believe you can go to prison for making this.
    All are headed to that undiscovered country, to which once born, no one has ever returned. Life means death, the end is certain, the journey through life is not. Enjoy the journey and love as much as you are capable of, anger slowly and never with intent to harm another. I am dying of an unknown primary (cancer) and I hope you heed my words, love, love, love life and surrender often to it.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Just starting out DIY help!

    I surely do appreciate all of the feedback. I do realize my questions were all over the place and very tall orders. I also understand that this appears to be some sort of "secret" hobby or art that you either stumble on or miss...I happened to be in a mall one day and started smelling fragrances with my wife when it hit me; how on earth was this smell made!?.

    Anyway, my order FINALLY got shipped yesterday, and probably will take a while to get to me due to holiday. As for the distilled baby's breath oil, I believe it is an actual type of plant as I had to Google it at first in disbelief. As for ALL of the oils being distilled, I am not sure if it is true. I have been researching and found that some of those are usually solvent extracted like the oakmoss and rose/jasmine etc...Today I ran into a local herbal store with a funky dog inside. The store did have a small variety of essential oils from the Now foods company so I smelled all of them. All of them said they were steam distilled, even the rose absolute and some others I thought had to be solvent extracted and cold pressed (although some on the website do seem to indicate the proper method). So I guess it will just be a mystery until I get my oils.

    Anyway, another question for whoever reads this. If you use jojoba oil as the carrier, can the perfume be put in a sprayer and sprayed instead of dabbed on skin, or will it be too thick to actually spray out properly.

    One more question actually. As far as concentration goes, if lets say I want to make a edt of say, 5% oil in an ounce. If one ounce is 30ml, the whole lot would only contain about 1.5 ml? Or do I just add to and smell until it is what I want it to be (I read that I need to let the oil sit for a while after blended and when the alcohol is added to let that sit for a long time too, but I am not sure if this is the same if using jojoba oil.)

    Or to put it another way, what do you do with your oils to get the strength you want.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Just starting out DIY help!

    Quick answers as I've a train to catch today and a few things I must do first . . .

    Jojoba - my key recommendation is don't use it. It goes off in a year or two and there are much better alternatives such as Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (aka fractionated coconut oil), DPG (di-propylene glycol) and others. None of these can be used in a sprayer however.

    If you want to spray your perfume I can suggest only two good alternatives: ethanol at a very high percentage purity - ideally 95.6% but at any rate not less than 85% at the least (that's alcohol by volume not proof). Cyclomethicone - a type of silicone oil that evaporates quickly - I would use this only if you can't use / obtain ethanol as it isn't as good.

    Concentration - your calculation is correct when measured by volume but perfumes concentrations are done by weight and because the specific gravity of the various liquids varies a great deal that can make a big difference. You can manage by volume to begin with but if serious you'll need to invest in some good scales.

    If you are making for yourself by all means adjust the concentration until you like it. Aim for between 5% and 30% aromatics - the latter is strong - the sort of stuff sold as 'pure parfum' and similar mis-nomers. I usually recommend 10% as a place to start.

    Waiting after blending - some people swear by it others think it unnecessary - I find most blends improved over the first few days after you make them but it's very rare for anything radical to change.

    Finally on baby's breath - sorry - I didn't intend my remark to be anything other than amusing: there is indeed a plant with that name. Nevertheless I'm quite certain several of the things on your list are unavailable as essential oils and some that are unavailable as absolutes too.

    I still rather like the gothic, Suskind-style image of boiling down babies for their breath though . . .
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    www.perfumedesigner.co.uk
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume

    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog if you wish to ask questions of me.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Just starting out DIY help!

    Chris is being super helpful as always. I'll just give one advice
    trial and error, get lots of notes.

    have fun.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Just starting out DIY help!

    update!
    --------------
    I have received my oils a few days ago and have been tinkering around with them. Unfortunately, whatever I am blending together does not smell as I wish it would (no surprise). The smells of the oils themselves are VERY questionable, as some smell rather good and fresh and real. Some of them are extremely fake/medicine smelling. Some are odd and I don't know why or how I would even use them. Sadly, the lemon oil is almost gone and must of spilled during shipping.

    I guess I would like to mainly know how to make something that smells decent. If someone can answer these questions I would be grateful...as I would rather not invest anymore money until I have some type of confidence that I can make something nice (out of 78 different oils I should be able to)

    1. Fragrances are thought to have base, middle, and top notes. How much do you use for each of these generally? Does it depend how strong the oils smell or last? I only have droppers to measure and I use the super small ones. I generally measure how many drops I am using for each oil and write it down for now. I imagine since top notes are lighter and the oils are usually lighter I would use more (in my case more drops) than say the middle or base notes as they are very strong.

    2.How do you start to build your fragrance? For example if my wife wants a fruity-floral, would I start with the base, middle, or top notes first?

    3. How do you test your blends to see the progression. I have been taking a drop of my blend and then adding a couple drops of alcohol to it then test it on paper.

    Any one got a simple template I can go by, or better method. I tried to make something that smelled manly today but it came out smelling 'old ladyish' or unisex. Basically everything I blend smells like medicine or soap. I just don't know how much to use and how to blend. Sorry for all of the questions but this is much more difficult than I thought it would be!

  11. #11
    Basenotes Member Time Left's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just starting out DIY help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Smellington View Post
    update!
    --------------
    I have received my oils a few days ago and have been tinkering around with them. Unfortunately, whatever I am blending together does not smell as I wish it would (no surprise). The smells of the oils themselves are VERY questionable, as some smell rather good and fresh and real. Some of them are extremely fake/medicine smelling. Some are odd and I don't know why or how I would even use them. Sadly, the lemon oil is almost gone and must of spilled during shipping.

    I guess I would like to mainly know how to make something that smells decent. If someone can answer these questions I would be grateful...as I would rather not invest anymore money until I have some type of confidence that I can make something nice (out of 78 different oils I should be able to)

    1. Fragrances are thought to have base, middle, and top notes. How much do you use for each of these generally? Does it depend how strong the oils smell or last? I only have droppers to measure and I use the super small ones. I generally measure how many drops I am using for each oil and write it down for now. I imagine since top notes are lighter and the oils are usually lighter I would use more (in my case more drops) than say the middle or base notes as they are very strong.

    2.How do you start to build your fragrance? For example if my wife wants a fruity-floral, would I start with the base, middle, or top notes first?

    3. How do you test your blends to see the progression. I have been taking a drop of my blend and then adding a couple drops of alcohol to it then test it on paper.

    Any one got a simple template I can go by, or better method. I tried to make something that smelled manly today but it came out smelling 'old ladyish' or unisex. Basically everything I blend smells like medicine or soap. I just don't know how much to use and how to blend. Sorry for all of the questions but this is much more difficult than I thought it would be!
    Hi Smellington,

    Some of the aromas/odors of raw essential oils are nothing like the living flower/bark/resin that they come from. i.e. genet(broom) Some do smell medicinal or camphor like. The chance that you have fake oils is rather true, and even for experienced perfumers this happens to them too. Although I believe if it smells great, I have no problem using it and calling it by it's label. (Oh, I am not an expert)

    Have you diluted any of your E.O.'s to a 10% dilutions or even 1%? Most perfumers work with diluted oils to try out different blends they are developing. Most oils will dilute in ethanol, (not always alcohol) and should be 95% pure ethanol. Some folks use vodka, but I believe this does not work real well with oils. There are some oils that need DPG or PG to be put into solution and this can be found out several ways, trial and error or research. There is also making your own alcohol/ethanol from scratch with a moonshine still. You can buy alcohol here in the US at:
    http://organicalcohol.com/organicalcohol/how-to-order/]
    http://www.snowdriftfarm.com/perfume.html

    Making a blend is different for every perfumer out there. Most start with an idea or customers idea of what the final frag will be like, then they spend (sometimes years) and lots of money making it just right. For us home perfumers, I look for books and websites that have formulas in them and try putting some of those together. I sort of know what I like now and those oils disappear faster than the others. Make sure you write it down. As far as top, mid, bottom notes, some frags are single notes only, while others may have only 5 components in them or 100's. I usually start with the bottom notes and finish with top note, but not all my perfumes have all three notes, sometimes just bottoms and mids or tops only. There are no hard rules other than to experiment. You are in charge.
    http://home.earthlink.net/~skinesscentuals/Form.html
    http://paragonperfumes.com/Site/The_Rogue_Perfumer.html

    Testing my frags is done when I have a complete blend. I usually give it 24 hours before I fully evaluate it. I never use water, only ethanol for my carrier agent. The approval of an outside person is best. My most cherished affirmation of a frag well done is, a mother (my mail lady) told me her daughter stole her sample of perfume I had given her and she would like another sample. I considered that quite a compliment.

    PM me and I will share my best frag formula to date. One all the lady's love and some men too! It's based on Fragipani, Dossinia, coumarin, sandalwood and a few others. You know sharing formulas is a sacred trust and not to be shared with anyone else, unless you have the creators/perfumer's permission. Oh, btw, I have many soapy, dishwater, dryer sheet, shampoo smelling mistakes that my wife and I laugh at when we sniff them, but none have been thrown away.
    All are headed to that undiscovered country, to which once born, no one has ever returned. Life means death, the end is certain, the journey through life is not. Enjoy the journey and love as much as you are capable of, anger slowly and never with intent to harm another. I am dying of an unknown primary (cancer) and I hope you heed my words, love, love, love life and surrender often to it.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Just starting out DIY help!

    Excellent, excellent advice there that I agree with entirely. However I have one reservation: if you two have not yet exchanged PMs - don't!

    Save the magnificent gift of a successful formula for later, first learn a bit more through trial and error - if you have a guide through the maze you will know precisely the way the guide led you, but if you stumble through on your own you will learn it's shifting patterns yourself and be able to find your own way sooner and more surely. Then you will be able to appreciate the formula as an alternative that you'd not previously thought of - a stimulus to your creativity not an inhibitor of it.

    Oh and Time Left, this:
    . . . a mother (my mail lady) told me her daughter stole her sample of perfume I had given her and she would like another sample. I considered that quite a compliment.
    is indeed a top class compliment: congratulations!
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    www.perfumedesigner.co.uk
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume

    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog if you wish to ask questions of me.

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