Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, August 22, 2010 - 10 a.m. to 10 PM EST

Hi Everyone:

I'll be here to answer your perfumery questions today, so please submit them via the comments option.


  1. Hi Anya :)
    Thank you for doing this every Sunday, my question is both fragrance and "flavor" related. I've seen a product that claims to be all natural, they're designed apparently to add fruit flavor, and no doubt scent, to edible things. I imagine you could also wear them as fruity perfumes though if desired. This is the link

    From what I know about extraction, these seem impossible, but perhaps methods have been changing and it is now possible to naturally get both flavor and fragrance from actual blueberries, raspberries, strawberries,apples, even Violet flowers.

    Moreover, these are being touted as "raw" products, meaning from a raw foodist's standpoint, they haven't been heated over 118 degrees Farenheit.

    Have extraction/distillation methods advanced so far that these actually could be truly natural?

    Thank you for your time!


  2. Dear Anya, how are you?

    I was wondering if you could explain me (is there) difference between grain and grape alcohol. What kind of alcohol is best to use? I use 96% alcohol from apotecary.

  3. Hi Anya...Thank you for sharing your perfumer knowledge. I appreciate reading your Sunday blog posts.

    Is there anyone, anywhere who's producing and selling to small indie perfumeries, aromatics such as 'real' violet flower extract?


  4. Happy Sunday, Anya! This week I'm wondering about calculating concentration percentages. If a perfumer offers something at a 33% dilution, does that mean by volume or by weight? Or is that not really regulated but up to the perfumer's discretion? Thanks again, Anya.

  5. Hi Jill:

    The flavor industry has been extracting natural essences from fruits for years. Yes, some may enhance them with additional flavorings from other fruits, maybe even isolates. I'm not an expert in that area. It has been my experience that most dissolve well in water, but not in alcohol. Not sure about dissolving in fats.

    Does the info on the site state that as a raw product it has been processed under 118 degrees? Who sets that standard anyway?

  6. Jill, I forgot to mention I don't know about the violet flower extraction. I think it's financially impossible for a company to harvest the violet flowers. They may be using fruits with violet flavor isolates, like ionones. It is confusing.

  7. Hi Anika:

    Grain alcohol is typically made from corn, but it may also be made from wheat, rice, or other grains.

    Grape alcohol is made from grapes, and has a sweeter, "grape-y" scent that the grain alcohol does not have. Some perfumers prefer the grape alcohol if they are making a sweet perfume.

  8. Hi Gale:

    Production of violet flower concrete and absolute stopped many decades ago, due to the labor costs and the introduction of natural alpha and beta ionone isolates into the perfumery industry. Of course, there are synth ionones, too, but I use natural ones. Most are extracted from cassie flowers. Then, you have to carefully reconstruct the many facets of a violet flower, using the isolates and what your nose dictates is "violet" to you. It varies from person to person, much like a rose interpretation may vary.

    I did hear of one French company that was supposedly extracting violet flowers (via enfleurge? not sure) but never heard anything again. That was about two years ago.

  9. HI Urban Eden (don't know your real name):

    If a perfumer offers something at a 33% dilution, does that mean by volume or by weight? Or is that not really regulated but up to the perfumer's discretion?

    The dilution rate is not regulated, and it can vary from perfumer to perfumer, according to their whims, yet there are guidelines, e.g., parfum concentrate, EdP, EdT, etc.

    Typically, you measure your undiluted aromatics and alcohol by weight. However, when sold, they are listed as milliliters. That is the industry standard.

  10. Dear Anya,
    thanks for you answer, but let me just ask one more thing: How will I know which one is mine? Or is there some 3rd option? :) Some alcohol which is no grain nor grape... and that exist in 96%.

  11. Hi Anicka

    I'm not sure I understand your question. Are you able to obtain another type, like potato alcohol? Or do you want to know which one is suitable for perfumery? I would vote for novices to stick with the most neutral smelling alcohol to begin.

  12. Thank you, Anya. My name is Laura. :)

  13. Dear Anya!

    Of course I would like to know which one is, lets call it, best for perfumery... but in the same time: How can I even know which ones exist and which one is mine when I can't find more info in the pharmacy except the % of alcohol inside.

  14. Hi Anicka:

    I'm not sure of the laws of your country, but don't they have to disclose the ingredients/source? Is there a label on the bottle of the manufacturer?

  15. nope. I just checked. It says only ALCOHOL and 96%. One liter is around: 33$.

  16. HI Anica:

    If I were you, I'd find another source. I'd never use something I couldn't get the basic information on.

  17. Hi Anya, I would like to infuse propolis is it ok to use jojoba oil or would perfumers alcohol be best? Jo@

  18. Hi Jo:

    You need to determine your final use of it and that will help you decide whether to infuse it in oil, or tincture it in alcohol. Will you be making an oil or alcohol-based perfume? There's your answer.

    BTW, you have to really pulverize the propolis.first. You can put it in a bag and smash it with a hammer or other hard object.


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