Do you want to make your own perfume? Are you looking for a unique homemade gift? You can create the most exciting scents yourself with ingredients from the supermarket or drugstore.
Part 1 of 4: Understanding the science of perfume
Step 1. Know the different notes
Perfume is a mixture of different layers of fragrance, also known as the "notes". When you spray perfume on your skin, smell the notes in this order:
- The top note is what you smell first. This also clears up first, usually within 10 to 15 minutes.
- You will smell the middle note as soon as the top note disappears. This is the heart of the fragrance, which determines which family the perfume belongs to - for example, oriental, floral, fruity or woody.
- The base note accentuates and fixes the middle note, and is also known as the theme. It forms the basis of the fragrance, and you can smell this note for 4 to 5 hours.
Step 2. Get to know the most popular top notes
Popular top notes include basil, bergamot, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, lime, neroli, mint, rosemary and sweet orange.
Step 3. Get to know the most popular middle notes
These include black pepper, cardamom, chamomile, cinnamon, cloves, pine needle, jasmine, juniper, lemongrass, neroli, nutmeg, rose, rosewood, and ylang-ylang.
Step 4. Get to know the most popular base notes
These are cedar, cypress, ginger, patchouli, pine, sandalwood, vanilla and vetiver.
Step 5. Know the proportions
When mixing a fragrance, you add the base notes first, then the middle notes, and finally the top notes. The ideal ratio to mix the notes is 30% top notes, 50% middle notes and 20% base notes.
Some perfumers recommend mixing up to 3 or 4 dominant notes
Step 6. Know the basic recipes
To make perfume, you need more than just top, middle and base notes: you also have to add them to something.
- The process starts with a base oil. Popular choices for this include jojoba, sweet almond, and grapeseed oils.
- Now slowly add a few drops of base, middle, and top notes to the base oil.
- Finally, add something to help the ingredients mix. Alcohol is a good choice because it evaporates quickly and allows the nuts to disperse well. Many DIY perfume makers use (40% - 50% alcohol) good quality vodka.
- If you want to make a solid perfume (with the consistency of a lip balm), use melted beeswax for the fixation instead of alcohol or water.
Step 7. Find out which notes contain your favorite perfume
If you're not sure how to build a perfume, check out the ingredients of your favorite store-bought perfume.
If the ingredients aren't listed, or if you're having a hard time dividing them into notes, this website is a great resource for finding the notes of all kinds of famous perfumes
Part 2 of 4: Materials needed
Step 1. Buy dark glass bottles
Most people recommend buying dark glass bottles, as that will protect your perfume from light so it lasts longer.
- Also make sure that no food has been in the bottles, because leftovers can transfer to your perfume.
- The exception to this is when you just want the scent of what was in it first to end up in your perfume. (Warning: peanut butter banana chocolate perfume may taste better than it smells!)
Step 2. Buy a base oil
A base oil transfers the scents of your perfume to your skin. Usually it is an unscented oil, and is used to dilute the concentrated fragrances, as they would otherwise irritate the skin.
- The base oil can be anything. You can even use olive oil if you like that scent.
- One popular perfumer soaks rose petals in olive oil and then mixes it with vitamin E oil to balance it.
Step 3. Buy the strongest alcohol you can find
A common choice among DIY perfume makers is good quality vodka (40% - 50% alcohol). There are also people who prefer to consume 80% alcohol or more.
If you would like to use stronger alcohol, you can find cleaning alcohol (70% or 96%)
Step 4. Select the scents
Your perfume can consist of all kinds of ingredients. Often essential oil, petals, leaves and herbs are used.
Step 5. Decide which method you want to use
The method you choose depends on the materials you use. Two fragrances used for perfumes are plant materials (flowers, leaves and herbs) and essential oil; the methods for these materials are different.
Part 3 of 4: With fresh flowers, leaves or herbs
Step 1. Take a clean glass bottle or jar
The type of bottle or jar is not as important as the material: make sure it is a) clean, and b) made of glass. It should also be well-closable with a cap or lid.
- Perfume makers generally recommend using dark glass to protect the perfume from light.
- Do not use a jar or bottle that has had food in it, as that smell can get into the perfume, even if you clean it well.
Step 2. Take an odorless oil
Oil that is widely used for this is, for example, jojoba oil, almond oil and grapeseed oil.
Step 3. Collect flowers, leaves and herbs with scents you like
Make sure the scent is strong and the leaves are dry when you pick them. Allowing them to air dry can make them limp and lose the smell.
You can pick and dry more plants than you need, then add them later if you want to enhance the scent a little more
Step 4. Discard unwanted bits of the plant
If you are using flowers, only take the petals. If you are using herbs, remove any twigs or other bits that could affect the smell.
Step 5. Lightly bruise the plant material
This step is optional, but it can bring out the scent more. Gently press the flowers or leaves with a wooden spoon.
Step 6. Pour some oil into the glass jar or bottle
It only needs to be a little - just enough to cover the leaves/flowers/herbs.
Step 7. Add the vegetable materials to the oil and close the lid
Make sure it is closed properly.
Step 8. Leave the jar in a dark, cool place for one to two weeks
Step 9. Open the jar, drain and repeat
If the oil still doesn't smell as strong as you'd like after a week or two, you can take out the plant debris and add new ones to the oil, then set it aside.
- You can repeat this process for several weeks or even months until the oil reaches the desired strength.
- Make sure to save the oil! You just have to dispose of the plant remains.
Step 10. Save the fragrance oil
If you like the smell of the oil, you can add 1 or 2 drops of natural preservative, such as vitamin E oil or grapeseed oil, and your perfume will last longer.
If you want to make a balm from the oil, you can add beeswax to it: melt some beeswax in the microwave, stir it into your perfume and put it in a jar to cool and solidify
Part 4 of 4: With essential oil
Step 1. Gather all materials
You need the following ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons base oil (jojoba, almond, or grapeseed oil are fine)
- 6 tablespoons of 50-95% alcohol
- 2.5 tablespoons spring water (not tap water)
- 30 drops of essential oil (at least 1 from each nut)
- coffee filter
- 2 clean glass jars or bottles
Step 2. Pour the 2 tablespoons of base oil into a glass bottle
Step 3. Add the essential oil
You should add about 30 drops in total. Start with the base notes, then the middle notes, and finally the top notes. The ideal ratio for this is 20% base notes, 50% middle notes, and 30% top notes.
Pay attention to the scents as you add them: if one scent is much stronger than the rest, use less so it doesn't overpower
Step 4. Add alcohol
Use a high percentage of good quality alcohol. Vodka is widely used for this.
Step 5. Leave the perfume for at least 48 hours
Put the lid or cap on and let it sit for at least 48 hours. You can even leave it for 6 weeks, then the scent will be at its strongest.
Check the bottle regularly to smell what the scent is like
Step 6. Add 2 tablespoons of spring water
If you like the scent, add 2 tablespoons of spring water to your perfume.
Step 7. Shake the bottle vigorously
Do this for 1 minute so that the contents are well mixed.
Step 8. Now pour the perfume into another bottle
Using a coffee filter and funnel, pour the perfume into a clean, dark bottle. You can also put it in a nice bottle if you want to give it as a present.
Write the ingredients on the bottle and include a date so you can keep track of how long it will keep. Then you know whether you should make more or less next time
Step 9. Try a variation
To make a solid perfume instead of liquid, you can replace the water with melted beeswax. Add melted beeswax to your perfume and pour it into a bottle to cool and solidify.
Beeswax is available at most health food stores
- Don't overdo it with the scents. Smell each ingredient individually and consider whether it goes well with the other scents. Too many nuts can ruin a scent.
- To clean a glass bottle, wash it with water as hot as possible, then place it in a baking pan and dry it in the oven at 110ºC.
- Consider creating scents that resemble your favorite foods or drinks -- for example, you could make a perfume with the scents cinnamon, sweet orange, cloves, and cardamom. Another example is a perfume with the scents of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla and orange.