I was wanting to know the same thing but you beat me to it lol
While I don't pretend to know if I'd have any ability at it or not, I'd truly love to be able to study perfumery some day. I studied music in university, and even though I'm no longer in that field, I don't regret a moment of my education there: it added to my appreciation and undertanding enormously.
However, compared to music, opportunities for self-study in perfumery seem almost non-existent. In music, yes, conservatory training can give you something you won't find it a book, but if you live near a well-stocked university music library in terms of books and recordings, there's almost nothing but the hands-on side of music you can't learn there. I've been interested in perfumery for some time, but on visiting a few university libraries, all I found was a few social history books and fluff coffee-table books.
Is the only option really a four-year degree in chemistry and a move to France? Or alternately, fumbling my way around with guess-work, aromachemicals, and a few liters of perfumer's alcohol? Is there any option for the serious fragrance amateur, someone willing to study with a passion but not quite ready to uproot his whole life for it? The few courses open for amatuers tend to be run by amatuers themselves ( a bit of a case of the blind leading the blind ), and I find it surprising, given the demand, that there isn't someone with professional training willing to tutor people in this field. And textbooks, well, they simply don't seem to exist bar a few pages from mid-twentieth century perfumers circulating the internet.
Ask most musicians I know about their subject and you'll get a deluge of enthusiastic information, but most perfumers seem comparatively tight-lipped.
Any ideas on how to pursue this subject?
Last edited by Sugandaraja; 1st February 2012 at 02:39 PM.
I was wanting to know the same thing but you beat me to it lol
I'm writing a book on the subject of perfume making for the serious amateur/self-taught perfumer so I think I can help. Please let me get back to you soon with more leads, I am very busy and not much time to post here (also cos this forum keeps crashing on me regularly grrrrr)
There are ways I can assure you
Perhaps perfumery is ripe for some manner of 'revolution', if a master ever went truly rogue and disclosed everything they knew. But I dare say that self-interest keeps them rather cagey, preferring keep the finer points of their art and science enigmatic. And as for DYI types like Ava Luxe, I suppose they have often learned their lore the hard way, making it more valuable to them, and, if trying to make a profit, don't care for competition. These are obviously just idle impressions. (I have a little insight into the secrecy of crafts, being a professional bookbinder. There are so many little details that craftspeople keep to themselves. Frustrating but quaint at the same time.)
On the other hand, I have observed some truly generous, knowledgeable types on the DYI forum, particularly Chris Bartlett.
Basically you first need to ask yourself this:
1) What kind of perfume would I like to make? (all natural, from scratch, using pre-made blends like soap/candles fragrance oils, using aromachemicals etc.)
2) How much time and money do I have? (professional aromatic materials are expensive and learning to make perfume takes time and perseverance)
3) Do I want to learn it all by myself (self-taught) or do I want to follow a study? If you chose for a study again: would it have to be a short workshop, an in-depth education, a 1 year course, long distance or in person etc. (with different options come different price tags)
4) Do I want to know how fragrance works from a chemical point of view or is my interest merely artistic?
5) Is my goal selling my creations? If the answer is yes, than your location and regulations will dictate further specialisation.
There are many ways that lead to Rome.
Here are some ideas.
You could start by reading the DIY section of this forum, beginning with the stickies. Now and in the past, many forumites have contributed to many different areas.
If you want more basic information try this site (also a supplier of many aromatic materials and starters kits)
You can follow a long distance course in Thailand
Or in the UK:
For workshops you can take a look at
Or 1 year in France
although they also do ‘seminars’
If the all natural is more your thing you can enroll here
Or through the Natural Perfumers Guild
Or you can begin a local aromatherapy course. Not much help for blending, but it’s a nice start to olfactory training.
If you really have a passion for knowledge and time to read, this is the best resource ever:
They have a files section with loads of formula’s, tips and tricks, articles, book reviews, book sharing, fragrance chemistry, you name it. It's one of the few places where classically taught perfumers & fragrance chemists contribute actively and for free!
It has started with this blog:
If you’re looking for text books for professional perfumers, you will need some background knowledge first of organic chemistry, otherwise they are tough to read.
Introduction to Perfumery by Tony Curtis and David G Williams, 2nd edition
The Chemistry of Fragrances: From Perfumer to Consumer, 2nd edition by Charles S
The Chemistry of Essential Oils by David G. Williams, 2nd edition
Understanding Fragrance Chemistry by Charles Sell
Perfumery: Techniques in Evolution by Arcadi Boix Camps
Perfume and Flavour Chemicals Vols 1 and 2, by Steffen Arctander
Perfume and Flavor materials of Natural Origin by Steffen Arctander
Perfumery. Practice and Principles by Robert Calkin and J.Stephan Jellinek.
Excellent post! I really appreciate you taking the time to write it.
As for my interest:
1. I've sampled the work of a lot of natural perfumers, and overall, this style; format; whatever does not work for me. I wouldn't mind knowing how to make an all-natural fragrance, but the making and production of all-natural fragrances doesn't interest me much. Same with industrial perfumery for cleaners, soaps, air-fresheners: I wouldn't mind knowing the ''how'' of it, but it's not a passion.
2. Time - I can spare an average of two hours a day week-days, at least six to eight hours weekends. Money is more limited and also, variable.
3. I'd prefer a course of study of some kind, even if it was in the form of a book to follow. I don't need in-person per se though; happy to do long-distance if it's with someone reliable and qualified.
4. Pretty much artistic interest only; chemical interest is secondary. Enough chemistry that my fragrances don't spontaneously combust, not so much that I'm studying chemistry more often than fragrance.
5. Currently, no, my interest is in knowledge only. However, I wouldn't mind at all studying the legal and business requirements for a perfume business. In fact, I find this subject pretty interesting.
As for the scientific side, I'm totally willing to do some self-study in organic chemistry ( i.e. read up through some textbooks, maybe even take a course or two if it's available ), and as chemistry was always my strongest subject in the sciences, it shouldn't be impossible. I'm comparatively weak in mathematics though, which affected me in physics when I was younger. Mostly, I just don't want to spend four years of my life dedicated to it, if you follow me. Even a year I wouldn't mind, especially if it was something I could do in my own time.
Any advice as to a good route to better understanding would be appreciated.
I've been looking at this for myself too. As a mum, obviously my time is curtailed, but Plymouth offer one. I have been wondering about it but of course it costs plenty to do it. http://www.icatsaromaeducation.com/
Oops, sorry, Irena has already posted that.
You're most welcome!
I would say in your case begin with
then you can eventually purchase a starters kit (or taking a look and see if it would be less expensive to get some of the ingredients cheaper elsewhere )
Then join the
and start reading, chose 1 formula you like and play with it.
With spare cash buy samples of new materials and train your nose (I smell every day different ingredients, just for olfactory training).
There are a lot of 'lists' available on this forum and the yahoo group with starting blocks (natural & synthetic) when it comes to blending for newbies.
Unfortunately there is no such thing as a complete comprehensive guide for the creative amateur-perfumer willing to use a wide pallet of aromatics. That's why I'm working hard on writing it
The fragrance chemistry begins to make sense for most people after 6 months or so of reading about the most basic organic compounds used in perfume making:
You can google the heck out of those or add 'perfume' or 'aroma' or 'fragrance' and that will take you a long way.
Ths is my first post, joined this evening as compelled by this topic. I'm a Perfumer and trainer, and very passionate about spreading understanding about perfumer, perfumery and our sense of smell.
There are some great resources listed here. It's tricky to provide really good accessible and affordable perfumery training. I know there's a demand and have been trying for the last 4 years to make perfumery training more available. (www.perfume-training.com and www.orchadia.org)
It's just so fascinating! I've trained hundreds of people and found most people can smell amazingly well, provide great insightful comments and know much more than than they realise, they just rarely get an opportuntity to explore perfume in a meaningful way.
The Perfumery topic is vast, I don't think it's too complicated, but there's just so much of it. And, different products, regions, applications and individuals have different requirements - so it's hard to write a 'manual' about how to do it. So, for me, it's about creating understanding which means people's knowledge can grow more easily, building on the basics, and being there when there's a query.
I've not stopped learning yet, and hope I never do.
Best wishes to anyone wanting to learn more about perfume and smell
I've always taught about this. Lots of great info here thanks guys
Thanks for all the info guys. There are many training course just to aid learning and for fun...
Which of these courses aside from Plymouth (whom I know do) and the French perfumery training academies, offer a 'real' certificate recognised by the trade as an exam which is a 'proper' qualification. Although to have studied the the others may prove great willing and interest in a perfumery student, are any of them valid in the trade for a proper job?