Monday, February 13, 2012

Do artisan/indie perfumers need to use a scale? Anya's Garden Natural Perfumer Institute requires one.

I wanted to post this answer I gave to an Ask the Perfumer reader as a separate blog entry for several reasons. 1) The questions raised a lot of interest in blog visitors.  My stats show that many came back today for the answer, which I couldn't provide late last night as I was tired.  2) It's critically important for a student to elevate themselves from hobbyist and use the tools that truly reflect a professional level of expertise.
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 returned 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 learns 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 practice making accords with the diluted drops. The only way they've used the scale so far is to measure the bottle, alcohol and aromatic. And added bonus: that expensive jasmine grandi or orris is stretched further in your budget.  I couldn't image using 100% expensive drops!  Plus, the alcohol "opens up" the aromatic, showing its true scent profile.

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.



I'm a rather strict Instructor:  I hold my students to high standards as they progress to become active, professional perfumers.  I do not accept students who wish to begin a perfume business right after completing the course, with rare exceptions.  Perfume study takes years of experimentation, and the perfumer must challenge themselves.  Learning the basics in the most correct, systematic manner is what I educate them about at


  1. Your answer cleared the air for me.

    Anya, I never did thank you for a response you gave to me several weeks ago on Ask The Perfumer. I was the one with the thick resin. I have since taught myself how to dilute.

    In one of the responses, someone asked me why I didn't purchase the absolute to begin with. Honestly, I didn't know it was available when I purchased the resin several years ago.

  2. Dear Mary:

    So glad I could help. Dilution is key! Even the absolute is thick, so you should still dilute that for your perfume organ.



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