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Make Perfume - Comparing Alcohol, Solid, and Oil Forms

Oct 30, 2007
When you make your own perfume, you have the freedom to make any fragrance you want, but did you know that you can also make perfume in different forms? Of course, you can create standard alcohol fragrances, but there are also the rarer "boutique" styles of solid and oil perfumes. If you want to sell your artisan creations, knowing the advantages of each can put you ahead of the increasing competition.

Most perfume wearers are only familiar with alcohol perfumes. They are the standard for personal fragrance, and there are definite advantages to staying with alcohol. It is refreshing to spray on and feels clean to apply. Some people like the cool feeling of the alcohol evaporating from their skin because it adds to the sensory experience.

You can put alcohol perfume in any atomizer bottle, so there is a lot of flexibility for packaging. In addition, perfume makers sometimes don't have a choice but to use perfumer's alcohol; some ingredients, such as certain aromachemicals, absolutes, and resins, will only dissolve with ethanol.

The main disadvantage of alcohol perfume is how the alcohol makes top notes "explode." The initial scent comes on strong, and some people don't like the blast of fragrance - it gives them headaches or makes them dizzy.

People with very dry skin or skin problems also tend to stay away from alcohol perfumes because the alcohol will dry it more. Because of their skin's dryness, fragrance doesn't last as long. These people usually love solid and oil perfumes, but cannot always find them easily.

You can avoid both the exploding top note and dry skin problems if you make oil or perfume balms. Many people prefer the smoother scent of oil and solid perfumes; they say the fragrance smells richer and deeper. Small perfume brands are making oil perfumes that have a substantial cult following, such as Kai and Night Queen, but there is still a lot of room for new artisan perfumers to carve a niche.

Since the solid and oil formats free perfume makers from the standard, you can explore new scent combinations and fragrance families that would never be accepted otherwise. With oil perfumes especially, people will expect that the perfume will be off the beaten path. Use that to your advantage! People who are attracted to oil perfumes often don't want a standard fragrance, anyway. They are looking for something unique, something different.

Solid perfume (or perfume balm) is a cool product that you don't see very often. It could be the oldest form of perfume besides incense. In the early days of perfume making, fats and waxes were the only solvents. people would soak their flowers or bark in heated fat, and the fat would draw out the aromatic oils.

Artwork from ancient Egypt shows people carrying cones of scented wax on their heads. Historians speculate that the cones were supposed to melt over the course of the day, perfuming the hair and body, and protecting the skin from the harsh sun and wind. If you make solid perfume, you are making perfume the old-school way!

Solid perfume doesn't spill, making it ideal for carrying around in purses and bags. You have some neat choices for packages, like little tins or even in lipstick containers. Innovative packaging will attract customers, especially in person.

There are a few companies offering solid perfumes, but this medium is mostly unexplored. The balm base is a blend of soft butters and waxes, a lot like lip balm. Your balm base must be heated before you add your aromatic ingredients; be careful to use the minimum heat so that you don't make your more delicate ingredients evaporate off.

Whichever form of perfume you choose to make, be sure to use the appropriate bases to carry the fragrance. For alcohol perfumes, use "perfumer's alcohol," which is usually pure ethanol with an ingredient to make it undrinkable. For oil perfumes, use jojoba oil for its long shelf-life, rich feel, and stability. For solid perfumes, any soft or semi-soft mixture of oils and fats will do. Many people use a lip balm base or soft butter, such as mango butter, to start with.
About the Author
Katherine Durkes is the author of The Fast Guide To Making Perfume, which guides beginners through the process of creating their own alcohol, oil, and solid perfumes. Visit www.theperfumereport.com to find out more about this popular e-book.
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