Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ask The Perfumer - Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Just a reminder to everyone - post your questions to me in this thread.


  1. Hi Anya - I just wanted to preface this by saying how much I appreciate all you do for people beginning to learn about natural pefumery.

    I've been wondering, do you ever infuse vegetable oils - jojoba, FCO etc with fragrant flowers? Or is it always better to tincture them in alcohol or use enfleurage?

    If so, what are the reasons? Many, many thanks!!!!

  2. Hi Johanna:

    I'm glad to be of help on the learning path in natural perfumery ;-)

    I infuse lots of fragrant flowers in oil. I use them for massage oils, not for my perfumery, since I make alcohol-based perfumes, and I don't make solid perfumes, where you could use infused oils.

    Some of the best are dried rose buds, dried lavender and dried calendula. I think dried are best for beginners, since there's no danger of water from fresh flowers making the oil/water go rancid. Of course, you can infuse with fresh flowers, but you have to take care to decant off the oil from the water that will gather in the bottom of the jar. Begin with slightly-wilted fresh flowers, and change them every day, and check the oil/water every day and you should be OK. I love to infuse fresh gardenias this way. There are more detailed instructions in the Files section of the big Yahoo NP group.

  3. Thanks so much for this! One more hopefully quick question. Would it be important to decant every time you changed the flowers, or is just once in a while okay?

  4. Sorry Anya - please feel free to delete my second extra question - I realise I should have checked the archives before asking! Thanks again.

  5. Hi Anya,
    My name is Maxine and I'm fairly new to natural perfume.Anya Im working on oil based jojoba perfume and solid perfumes.
    My question is can I dilute thicker absolutes with alcohol to thin them before using in oil based perfume or what would you recommend?
    My vanilla (10 fold oleoresin) sinks to the bottle and will not mix with the oil!!
    I have placed an order for some other ABS like oakmoss so any help on this would be great. thank you.

  6. Hi Anya,

    This question is about patchouli.

    To me there is a world of difference between good and bad patchouli. The good being earthy, comforting, with aspects of chocolate and salt. The bad being acrid and minty.

    I know you have to buy it aged, but apart from that, some other mystery factor seems to make patchouli go good. Like when you get it on your sleeve and then smell it the next day, or on your hand that you then wash.

    The key factor doesn't seem to be dilution, as far as I can tell, as I've diluted patchouli way, way down and still not got that lovely 'earth'.

    How can I "control" patchouli to get the good smell in perfume?

  7. Johanna, if you are using fresh flowers you need to keep an eye on the infusion. Sometimes there's little, if not water, sometimes a lot. I would decant every time I saw any water at all.

  8. Hi Patchouliorose

    I have never done this, but I have read of many successful projects where the perfumer diluted a thick absolute in alcohol, then mixed it with the oil. Keep it stirred, and let the top off the bottle periodically and the alcohol will evaporate, leaving the scent behind in the oil.

    About the tenfold oleoresin - that's a tricky substance to work with, and the most hope I can offer you is to stir it frequently, shake it, and over time, it will give up some scent to the oil. Even vanilla absolute has a tendency to settle in oil, but it still scents the oil.

  9. One patchouli question after another - it must be something in the air! ;-)

    Felicity, you need to sample a lot of different patchoulis from different suppliers. The country, the vessel that it was distilled into (cast iron v. stainless steel) and other factors, including the germplasm of the cultivar create the end scent in the EO.

    I would ask the supplier via email first, no big investment there. Just be aware that even then, a supplier's source can vary from year to year.

    PS you do not have to age patchouli, but it does age well.

  10. Thank you Anya for your advice.
    Do you think oil based perfumers may tend to steer away from the thicker absolutes and work with the ones that are easier to blend?

  11. Hi Anya,

    Not sure if it's too late to "Ask the Perfumer" :) I wondered if you fix your alcohol before using, by adding benzoin or glycerin. Also, is there any specific botanical you add to all blends? For instance, I've heard some perfumers talk of always adding a small amount of styrax or rose otto to a blend to help tenacity etc?

  12. Hi Charna:

    I do use benzoin absolute and sometimes glycerin, in very tiny amounts. Maybe .5gram of benzoin, or 5mls of glycerin per liter.

    I don't have any botanical I use in every perfume for substantivity, I like to mix it up ;)

  13. Patchouliorose, I have never polled perfumers that make oil-based products, so I don't know the answer to that. I personally believe that just about any aromatic, including pasty concretes, can give up their scent to oil, so I say use them, experiment. That's what it's all about.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.