Before you begin to make your organic perfume; you must decide what strength you want to make; what type of perfume you would like and what sort of scent you require. There are five different perfume strengths for feminine perfumes and three main strengths for masculine scents.
Parfum (Perfume) and Cologne
Perfume and cologne are the strongest scented of the perfume types. They contain between 15 – 40% of essential oils to 60 – 85% of dilution substance. As such, these are also the most expensive to purchase, but this cost is dramatically reduced when making it yourself at home.
Espirit de Parfum/Cologne
This is the least common strength of commercial perfumes, but works well for home manufacture. It is made up of between 15 – 30% of essential oils, which allows for the option of a lower cost perfume while still retaining a strong aroma.
Eau de Parfum
This strength tends to be the most popular blend; as it carries much of the intensity of a full perfume. but is light enough for day wear and strong enough night wear. It uses between 10 – 20% essential oils.
Eau de Toilette
Using just 5 – 15% essential oil, this is a much lighter variety than Eau de Parfum and works well as a daytime scent.
Eau de Cologne
This is a light masculine scent which is generally used for daytime or work in place of the heavier scent of full Cologne. It is made using only 3 – 8% essential oils, but as masculine scents tend to be fuller bodied than feminine scents, it is often equivalent to a feminine Eau de Toilette.
Eau Fraiche is more of a lightly fragranced body spray than a perfume and is typically made using water or a mix of oil/water or alcohol/water. They contain only 1 – 3% essential oils.
Once you have decided on the strength of perfume you wish to make, you need to decide on the composition of your scent. Do you want an oil, spray or solid perfume?
Natural perfumes can be made using liquid oils such as almond or jojoba, solids such as coconut oil or Shea butter, which can be mixed with a natural wax or you can use alcohol, water or both to make spray perfumes.
Oil Based Perfumes
Liquid oils, (also known as carrier oils), are an inexpensive and popular choice for natural home-made perfumes. They blend well with the essential oils, are easy to apply and are quickly absorbed into the skin.
Many carrier oils also provide their own therapeutic properties which work well with the individual or combined properties of the essential oils being used in your scent.
This type of fragrance is made using an alcohol base. Perfume alcohol can be used, but plain vodka works just as well and often costs considerably less. Alternatively, if you like the aroma of a particular spirit, such as brandy, whisky or rum, this can also be used but you must take care to ensure that the alcohol scent does not override the essential oils.
Also, the overall scent of the oils will change slightly when mixed with a scented alcohol so you will need to experiment if you would like to try this option.
Caution: The alcohol will evaporate once it is in contact with the air, but this does not happen immediately; so, this method must be avoided if the perfume/cologne is designed for someone with a current or previous alcohol problem.
Solids are the most convenient type of perfume is you wish to carry it with you for re-application throughout the day. They are compact and do not leak making them easy to slip into a bag or pocket.
They are made using firm oils or butters and wax. Additionally, they are usually inexpensive to package as they require only a small tin or jar.
These are the most inexpensive type of perfume to make but they are also the lightest as they contain very small quantities of essential oils compared with the stronger perfumes.
Most often these are made only from a blend of essential oils and water, but can also be manufactured using a dilution mix of either carrier oil and water or alcohol and water.
Although it may appear as simple as mixing together a few oils with a diluting product, perfume making is actually a little more technical than that. All good scents contain three different layers of fragrance.
The top note(s) form the first impression of your perfume. This is the initial smell that either attracts or repels you, and as such, it is the most important layer.
Top notes generally evaporate within the first 20 minutes. This does not mean that their scents are removed from the overall perfume fragrance, just that this stop being the dominant scents.
Typically, top notes make up 20 – 40% of your essential oils blend.
Popular essential oils used for top notes are:-
Anise, Basil, Bay (Bay Laurel), Bergamot, Citronella, Eucalyptus, Galbanum, Grapefruit, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Orange, peppermint, Petitgrain, Spearmint, Tagetes and Tangerine.
Mid Notes make up the main component of your essential oil blend and account for between 40 – 80% of the oils used.
The middle notes become gradually more noticeable as the top notes begin to fade. It takes around 10 minutes for the first hints to come through the top notes and they are fully apparent after around 30 minutes. Mid notes generally stay dominant from up to 2 hours, (certain scents may last a little longer than this).
Popular mid notes essential oils include:
Bay, Carrot, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Clary Sage, Clove, Cypress, Dill, Fennel, Fir, Geranium, Hyssop, Jasmine, Juniper, Lindon Blossom, Marjoram, Neroli, Nutmeg, Palmarosa, Parsley, Black Pepper, Scotch Pine, Rose, Rose Geranium, Rosemary, Rosewood, Spruce, Tea Tree, Thyme, Tobacco, Yarrow, Ylang Ylang.
Base notes begin to develop around 30 minutes after the perfume is applied and make up between 10 – 25% of the essential oil blend.
These are the longest lasting scents of the fragrance blend and are responsible for the lingering aroma of your scent long after the main smell have disappeared.
Popular base note essential oils include:
Angelica, Balsam, Beeswax, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Ginger, Myrrh, Oakmoss, Olibanum, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Vetiver.
When you first begin choosing your own blends of essential oils, it is important to familiarize yourself with both individual oils scents and combined scents. Many oils smell very different when mixed with another and even though they appear unpleasant on their own, when blended with other scents they can create beautiful aromas. Similarly, pleasant smelling oils can take on quite unpleasant smelling characteristics if mixed with the wrong oil.
Keep a notebook to hand when experimenting with blending; so you can record what works and what does not.
Start with a limit of 5 to 10 drops of oil in total and use a mixture of top, middle and base notes. Do not waste your oils by making sample blends using too many drops as this can lead to expensive mistakes.
Once you find a blend you like you can begin to experiment further but it will save a lot of waste in the interim.
Once you have settled on a particular blend, test it out with different dilution mediums. All carrier oils contain their own scents and characteristics, some stronger than others, so if you are using oil as a dilution agent you must ensure you find one that compliments your essential oil blend.
Initially, use a basic essential oil ratio of 30:50:20 to get you started, this can then be adapted as you become more experienced. This equates to 30% top note oils, 50% middle note oils and 20% base note oils. e.g.
1oz of perfume = 30ml = 600 drops
If you make a 10ml oil based Eau de Parfum you will need a scent blend between 10 – 20%. For this example, I will be using a 20% blend. This equates to 1-part essential oil blend (2ml) and 4-parts carrier oil (8ml).
There are 20 drops of essential oil per 1ml so for a 20% blend of 10ml I will need 40 drops of oil.
30% = 12 drops of top notes
50% = 20 drops of middle notes
20% = 8 drops of base notes
These are then blended together and added to the 8ml of carrier oil.