What is Perfumers Alcohol and How Is It Used?
Perfumers Alcohol is a special formulation which can be used by both professionals and amateurs who wish to make perfumes. It allows the simple addition and blending of essential oils and fragrances to produce crystal clear solutions.
Perfumers alcohol is also used in the production of DIFFUSER OILS.
The blended solutions remain clear and free from cloudiness.
The 3 main ingredients of perfumers alcohol are:
- Ethanol (denatured) –Alcohol which is the main carrier for the fragrance oils. This evaporates quickly as it is warmed by skin temperature releasing the fragrances evenly over the surface.
- Isopropyl myristate – used in preparations where good absorption is desired.
- Monopropylene glycol – a co-solvent which allows the fragrance oils to be solubilised in the alcohol carrier. This helps to control the evaporation of the alcohol so that it does not flash off too quickly.
How to use Perfumers Alcohol
Using these perfumery methods will help you take your homemade fragrances to a more professional level, in fact, if you use these techniques, you could actually sell your end result! The basic professional perfume making process is the same as the amateur perfuming process, but the materials are not.
- Perfumer’s alcohol makes a great solvent for even the most resinous oils. It is what all commercial perfumes are made with, except some boutique brands that make roll-on scented oil or solid perfume.
- Use different fragrance materials, not only essential oils. There are many more fragrance materials available other than essential oils. If you only use essential oils, you limit your perfume blending possibilities. It’s like wanting to paint a mural, but only having red and yellow paint.
- In addition to essential oils, there are also absolutes, fragrance oils, and isolated aroma chemicals, all supplying scents that can’t be produced with essential oils.
Absolutes are stronger and smell more like the plant than essential oils, and are used extensively in perfumery. Some plants are too delicate to be pressed or steam-distilled; making an essential oil out of them is impossible. Jasmine is one of these plants. The absolutes are expensive, but a little goes a long way. They are much more concentrated than essential oils.
Fragrance oils, despite what you may have heard, aren’t merely cheap substitutes for essential oils. They are a completely different spectrum of scent, containing a combination of absolutes, essential oils, and synthetic aroma chemicals. Fragrance oils give you access to scents that you can’t get naturally, for example strawberry, peach, and watermelon.
Fragrance oils also have the benefit of being skin-safe (as long as you get cosmetic grade.) If you want to create an entire line of perfume and bath and body products in a favourite scent, you can use the same skin-safe fragrance oil to scent all of them.
Aroma chemicals are isolated fragrance molecules that are either synthetically produced or refined from plant sources. For example, the compound vanillin is what gives vanilla its characteristic odour and flavour. Artificial vanilla flavour is usually pure synthetic vanillin. Natural vanilla has many more compounds than just vanillin, which is why it tastes better!
Strawberry fragrance oil, one of the most sought-after scents in the cosmetic and fragrance industry, is a combination of strawberry aldehyde (Ethyl methylphenylglycidate) and other compounds to round out the scent.
Use fixatives in your perfume. If you’ve experimented with essential oils such as mint and bergamot, you’ve probably noticed that they disappear within an hour. This is because they evaporate quickly, aided by the heat of your skin.
Fixatives are a way to help make fragrances last longer. They are natural or synthetic substances that enhance scent and slow down the evaporation of scents that tend to disappear. Why do fixatives work? They are very high in scent molecule count, often with no distinct odour of their own. They just blend with the key fragrance and make it seem stronger.
For example, musk, a traditional fixative, can enhance the scent and make its perceived strength stronger. It only takes a small amount for a big effect – with effective use of musk, you won’t smell it, but the entire perfume will last longer and smell stronger. (Musks have been synthetic since the 1970s due to cruelty and endangerment laws.)
Plant fixatives include many resinous, sticky oils and absolutes like benzoin, frankincense, vetiver, and orris. They often have an earthy scent that “deepens” a blend. With a little experience, you’ll have a good idea of what fixatives can enhance and give subtle character to your perfumes.
As you can probably tell, using professional methods are not much more difficult than what you may have tried already. However, I must say that the techniques given here are more expensive than the home-brewed. They require the use of specialized, more costly materials.
Using perfumer’s alcohol and absolutes are only for people who are somewhat serious about perfume, but it is a fun, fascinating activity. It is definitely possible to get started cost-effectively; Many botanical absolute suppliers have samples that you can use at first.
It’s also a good idea to try absolute dilutions before going for the real thing. Dilutions will help you work with the absolute without becoming overwhelmed by the un-concentrated fragrance, and they are also less expensive. Most dilutions are 3% – 5% absolute in jojoba oil, similar in strength to essential oils.