Basic Procedures for Perfume Making

Most commercial perfumes and colognes are suspended in alcohol, usually ethanol. Essential oils can be partially suspended in distilled water or in rosewater or orange flower water. The aromatic material will float on the surface so the mixture will need to be poured through a coffee filter paper before use: that is, unless you don’t mind shaking the mixture each time before use.

Aromatherapists tend lo favour oil-based perfumes which are much kinder to the skin (alcohol can be very drying for some skins). Oil-based perfumes also have the advantage of lingering on the skin for much longer. But they do smell a little different to alcoholic or aqueous mixtures, even when they are composed of exactly the same essential oils. Apart from the greater tenacity or oil-based perfumes, the oil itself imparts its own odour to the blend, no matter how bland the oil may seem to be. Strangely, the odour of the base intensifies when essential oils are added. This is an example of synergy, albeit not especially welcome in this instance.

The best base oil for aromatherapy perfumes is jojoba because it is only faintly odoriferous with excellent keeping qualities. Alternatively, you could use fractionated coconut oil, usually labelled ‘Light Coconut’, which is a highly refined oil (thus with a long shelf-life) and, unlike whole coconut oil, is not solid at room temperature. It also has very little odour of its own. Light coconut oil is obtainable by mail order from essential oil suppliers. Tiny amber bottles suitable for mixing and storing oil-based perfumes are also available from essential oil suppliers.

Caution: The concentration of essential oil in perfume-strength blends is very high. Therefore, it may be advisable to carry out a skin test before use.

Oil-Base Perfume

Fill a 10ml dark glass bottle almost to the top with jojoba or light coconut oil. Build your perfume slowly drop by drop, shaking the bottle well after each drop and smelling as you go. You will need 14 to 20 drops of essential oil altogether. Begin with the base note (if included) or with deepest resonating oil in your chosen repertoire, then develop the heart of the perfume and finally the top note. Label the bottle with the blend and date.

Once mixed, your perfume needs to be left for one or two weeks to mature. Keep in a cool dark place, but remember to shake the bottle once a day to facilitate the process. At the end of the maturation period, the blend will have lost its ‘raw’ overtones and will smell much more rounded. Oil-based perfume blends will keep for up to six months if stored in a cool dark place, in a drawer, for example, rather than displayed in a sunny spot on the dressing table.

How To Apply Perfume

Perfume is usually applied to the pulse points, behind the ears, the sides of the neck, the inside of the wrists, the elbow creases, behind the knees and around the ankles, as these points are fractionally warmer than the rest of the body and help to radiate the fragrance. However, don’t overdo it. When it comes to perfume, less is definitely more.

Aromatic Water

Fill a 100ml dark glass bottle with distilled water. Never use tap water as this does not keep very well; it also imparts a chemicalised odour to blends, intensified by the phenomenon or synergy. Bottled spring water is also unsuitable because it harbours bacteria. Distilled water, on the other hand, is relatively inert and so has excellent keeping qualities. Alternatively, use genuine orange flower water or rosewater, or a 50/50 mixture of the two.

Build the fragrance gradually by adding a few drops of essential oil at a time, shaking the bottle and smelling the water as you go. Add up to 100 drops of essential oil in all (the average strength for most colognes). However, you may find that a weaker solution of 55 to 60 drops of essential oil to 100ml of water is potent enough. Allow the mixture to ripen for one or two weeks before use. Keep in a cool dark place, but remember to shake well each day to facilitate the infusion process. When ready, pour through a damp coffee filter paper (a dry filter paper will absorb too much of the liquid). This will clarify the mixture as a number of unmodified essential oils cause water or alcohol to turn cloudy. Filtering also drastically reduces the problem of separation of oil and water. Rebottle the mixture and label with the blend and date. Store in a cool dark place and use up within four months.

How to Apply Aromatic Waters

These can be used in the same way as commercial products, that is splashed on after a bath or shower, brushed through the hair or sprinkled over clothes. However, the best way to apply an aromatic water is to funnel it into a perfume atomiser and use as a spray. These can be purchased from a good chemist or the perfume counter of a department store.

Hair Perfume

Hair is a marvellous fixative for perfume. As well as increasing the staying power of the blend, it imparts its own faintly musky fragrance. Moreover, the odour of hair intensifies the perfume by means of the magical power of synergy. Lighthearted citrus or lavender-based aromatic waters are especially enhanced by the subtle odour of hair. If you have an atomiser (and enough hair) spray a little aromatic water over your crowning glory. Otherwise, pour a Iittle into the palm of your hand, dip your hair brush into this and brush it through. But do try to avoid getting too much of the blend on your scalp as the skin is sensitive there.

Unless your hair is thick and heavy, an oil-based perfume may leave a greasy feel. For this reason, it may be preferable to use neat essential oil and to apply this to the ends of your hair. The oil will not damage your hair, nor will it leave a greasy film. A few neat essences could be blended in a bottle to make a complex perfume, or you could use a favourite single essence such as neroli, rose, jasmine, or ylang ylang.

Incidentally, if you are a man with a goodly growth of beard, then you could perfume the ends of those whiskers! Essences that are especially popular with men include sandalwood, patchouli and cedarwood.

The Joy of Vanilla

It was the sixteenth-century Spanish explorer Cortez who introduced vanilla to Europe. He discovered it in Mexico, where the Aztecs used it to flavour their chocolate drinks. The combination of chocolate and vanilla was deemed so erogenic (especially to females) that Aztec women were forbidden the pleasure!

Unfortunately, vanilla absolute is not only difficult to come by, it is terrifically expensive when it is available. So if you delight in this soulful aroma, it makes sense to concoct your own version, albeit a very much weaker mixture than the solvent-extracted substance. The recipe given below makes a beautifully sensual base for a love potion or erotic massage oil. However, it is advisable to carry out a patch test beforehand because some people are sensitive to vanilla.

Infused Oil of Vanilla

You will need 50ml of jojoba or light coconut oil, two vanilla pods and a clear glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Simply split the vanilla pods down the middle, then cut them into little pieces and put them in the jar. Cover the vanilla with the oil, then leave the tightly sealed jar outside in the sun (or on a warm radiator or boiler) for about five weeks, bringing the jar indoors at night. Give the jar a good shake every time you pass by to facilitate the process of infusion. After five weeks, or when the oil smells fragrant enough for your taste, strain the mixture through muslin and store in a dark glass bottle. The oil will keep for about a year.

Aromatic Formulas

Most of the fragrant compositions suggested on the Aromatic Formulas charts can be transposed into massage oil blends or room perfumes. Simply adjust the number or drops accordingly. For example, up to 10 drops per 25ml of base oil for a massage blend, and about 6 drops per 30ml of water for the vaporiser.

Oil-Based Love Potions

Each of the potions below specifies the number of drops per 10ml of base oil. Where in fused oil of vanilla is suggested as a base, you could use plain jojoba or light coconut oil if preferred.

For Women

Sweet Mystery

4 drops coriander
8 drops bergamot
3 drops neroli
3 drops jasmine absolute or 1 drop rose otto
10 ml infused oil of vanilla

Forever Sheba

5 drops bergamot
3 drops mandarin
3 drops black pepper
4 drops rose absolute or 1 drop rose otto
2 drops patchuli
10 ml jojoba or light coconut oil


3 drops neroli
1 drops lavender
2 drops mimosa absolute
1 drop oakmoss absolute
3 drops cedarwood
10 ml jojoba or light coconut oil

For Men


3 drops lavender
3 drops coriander
5 drops sandalwood
5 drops cedarwood
10ml jojoba or light coconut oil

Song of Solomon

4 drops coriander
2 drops mandarin
1 drop ginger
1 drop frankincense 6 drops sandalwood
10 ml infused oil or vanilla

Wildwood Magic

3 drops clary sage
2 drops lavender
3 drops petitgrain
5 crops cedarwood
1 drop oakmoss absolute
10ml jojoba or light coconut oil

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *