Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012 - until 10 PM EST

I hope last night's dip in the temperature, down to the upper 40s, didn't harm the vanilla flowers that are ready to open.  I'm not dressed to go outside yet, so I haven't evaluated them yet.  In the meantime, as you think of your perfumery questions to ask me, look at this lovely old postcard from South Carolina, and imagine how lovely the garden smells when the magnolias are in full bloom.

Don't miss two events:  The Love the Guild event, where you can receive membership into the Guild at a reduced rate, and be in the drawing for some great prizes.  Click here.

And my latest post about treasures in my Vintage Vault includes a giveaway to a lucky winner of one ml of some rare, beautiful neroli.  Click here.

Now I'm off to find my slacks and a jacket.  I only own three jackets - I hate the cold, and I hate dressing for it!


  1. Please tell me about your custom perfume. I am being married in July and my future MIL knows I love perfume and wants to get me one made for the wedding. Thank you.


  2. What scale do you recommend? I'm a beginner, and quite frankly, I'm wondering why I even need a scale. I've read the yahoo group posts, and it seems the recommendations are all over the place. If I take your course, do I need to use a scale?

    JC from Birmingham

  3. Hi Cheryl:

    The process for creating a custom perfume is rather easy and a lot of fun. I take you on an exploratory journey though various top, middle and base notes and we discover what your favorite scents are. Then, several modifications are compounded for your evaluation, and you choose the one you love most.

    PS: You have a great future MIL!


  4. JC, I am going to answer your question tomorrow. I got caught up in an impromptu Grammy party with friends, and it's still going on.

    Short answer: using a scale elevates your work to professional, drops/volume measurement is for hobbyists.

  5. Hi JC:

    Wow, your question must have resonated with a lot of readers, as the "hit" count reached an all-time high for the Sunday forum, and I see many have returnd this morning to see my answer.

    Let's say you're working with aromatics that are thick, like labdanum, or a concrete. You're also working with aromatics with a thin, watery consistency, like blood orange or lavender. A lot of absolutes are thick, and also quite pricey.

    The first things my student learn to do is to dilute the aromatics, both the thick and the thin, in alcohol to a 10% dilution. That's 10% aromatic, 90% 190 proof alcohol.

    Using uniform droppers, without squeezing the bulb, but instead applying gentle, consistent pressure, they made mods wiht the diluted drops. The only way they've used the scale so far is to measure the bottle, alcohol and aromatic.

    Granted, for the final perfume they submit, they're using drops. Maybe 15 drops of this, 10 of that, 5 o another, maybe 2 of an accessory note, 10 more of another, etc. Nothing crazy like 100 drops of a thick, undiluted material, never!

    For Intermediate and Graduate level students, they learn about specific gravity. Using the SG of an aromatic, I have a software program I developed that allows them to convert the diluted drops into undiluted aromatic, which they weigh out in grams to reproduce a perfume, at any concentration, and at any amount.

    Long answer - a professional perfumer must use a scale. It elevates, simplifies and brings precision to their work.



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