Friday, May 22, 2020

Drops into a bottle: mixing and weighing can put you to sleep

    Today (5/21/20) I weighted out the formula for my new perfume. I had finalized the formula in a small, plastic mixing pot. The contents of that mixing pot were 87 drops of aroma materials from seven dropper bottles. Simple. I was pleased with the results so I was ready for the next step which I am describing here.

    I needed to make a larger batch for two reasons. First, to be sure I would still be in love with this fragrance as it headed toward a production batch. Second, I had to weigh my ingredients and an 87 drop batch was too small to give me any accuracy. By weighing my ingredients I could calculate the percentages of the formula, by weight, that each ingredient represented. Then, when making my larger batch, I could add each material to the mixture by the required weight rather than having to "drip drop drip" materials from dropper bottles. Follow me as I explain the process.

    To start, I multiplied by ten the number of drops of each of my raw materials. This brought the formula up to 870 drops. From experience I know that this volume would be contained in a bottle of 1-fluid ounce capacity, a very standard size bottle for a finished perfume.

    I cleared away my desktop and set up my electronic balance, being sure to level it. The model I use has a built-in bubble level and, when each of the four adjustable legs are in correct position, the bubble is centered in the level.

    To start the weighing out process, I zero the balance so it reads "0.000," and then I weigh the bottle I'm using to contain the formula. This is called the "tare" weight. I record it in my notebook, Now I begin weighing out the aroma materials. Before weighing each material I zero the balance so that the weight shown will be just for that material. When I've added the required number of drops of each material, I wait for the readout to freeze and indicate that it is showing the correct weight (in grams, to three decimal points but accurate only to two). I then record this weight in my notebook. Then I'm on to the next ingredient: zero the balance, drop, drop, drop from a dropper bottle, read the weight and record it in my notebook. I go through this for all seven ingredients of this particular formula.

But here's where it gets dicey

    Squeezing out drops from what is, in essence, an eyedropper, can be tedious. It's not bad for the small quantities, for the original batch when for two ingredients the drops numbered just five each and where the most plentiful ingredient, just 25 drops. But multiply that by ten as I did. Now your lowest quantity is 50 drops and the largest, 250. Seems simple enough -- until you have to do it. My eyes start to glaze over by drop number 107. My attention starts to wander by drop 205. I begin to wonder if I've lost count. Did the drops I just squeezed out bring me to 40... or was it 60? Am I falling asleep?

    For items with 100 or more drops I do them in groups of 50, making a check mark on scrap paper each time I've done another 50. But I have to remember to make that mark for each batch, otherwise I'll be way off. It's good to take a break between ingredients but I don't dare. I'm afraid if I don't keep going, I might knock over the bottle, or the scale might go dead, or I'll be interrupted and lose my concentration -- so I just keep going.

Confirmation needed

    I hate to do this but I always do it. Since I could have made a counting error, I'll wait a day or two and do it over again, with another bottle. Then I'll compare the results. If they're close, all is fine. If they're seriously off on one ingredient, I'll do a third bottle. The process can seem painfully boring but it's part of what needs to be done.

Work with care

    When you are squeezing out drops from your eyedroppers, try to get the same size drop each time. The rubber bulb should be in good condition to give you good control. But sometimes your fingers get tired and, without meaning to do it, you squeeze out two drops where you only wanted one. Worse still, you squeeze out a drop and a half. Then what?

    A high degree of concentration is required. This is a downfall for me. My mind tends to wander and I have to force myself to focus, to get "clean" drops and to count them properly.

    Be sure, when you start counting out drops, that you have enough material for the project. It can be very frustrating (and expensive!) to get half way through the last item -- and then run out of that material. Then you can't finish what you started. If you can't get more of what you need quickly (and usually you can't!) you may have wasted all of that you've used. Now you may need more of all the materials you're using, not just one.


    Developing a fragrance with dropper bottles lacks the precision you would find at a major fragrance house. Careful as you might try to be, your drops won't be 100 percent uniform. Your weights will be close but will not have the precision  achieved with an electronic balance costing $20,000 rather than $200.

    But ask yourself, is your nose sensitive enough to know the difference? My nose isn't bad but it's not that good. And, face it, your finished fragrance is what it is. If people like it, isn't that enough? While the "dropper bottle technique" may be crude by industry standards, it gives people like you and myself a very good, practical way to create our own fragrances -- commercial fragrances -- if that is our goal. Customers won't judge us by how our results were achieved but simply by the results -- the fragrance -- we did achieve.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Sometimes I think I'm creating a new ping-pong ball

NOTE: This is a continuation of a story detailing the progress of a perfume I'm developing. Previous "chapters" can be found here and here and here.

    I'm being guided by a picture but a single picture can tell many stories and I only want one. As I look at the nuances of the picture that has become my inspiration, I'm struggling to aim the scent in the right direction. Is it a men's fragrance or is it for women? The fragrance itself is sexless but my on-hand stock of bottles is not. I generally lean toward spray bottles for feminine scents and splash bottles for the masculine. Plus, I sometimes make the masculine scents more edgy so only a handful of guys will appreciate them although my wife seems to find all of them quite nice... so what's the message there?

    Two days ago I declared my formula finished. I was ready to work up a larger batch, weight out the formula converting drops into grams and percents. But I was rushing and, in spire of my enthusiasm and desire to get on with the project, I forced myself to take the final intermediate steps which, for me, involve mixing a few drops of the fragrance with alcohol in a tiny spray vial, letting the alcohol and oil blend at least over night, and then spraying some on a smelling strip and on my wrist, to see how the fragrance comes across in the real world. I hit a speed bump.

    I had partly anticipated it. Although I had declared my scent "finished," deep down I was worrying about a lingering note that might not be considered pleasant. I had calculated it was the result of "too much of a good thing" and I wondered if the problem might be solved if I cut back on one of the ingredients. So, right away, I made another trial with the supposed offender cut back.

    My speed bump -- the fragrance being not quite right -- told me to try the new trial to see if the correction had worked. On a test blotter it smelled like an improvement so I made up another spray vial sampler, this time with the "post-final" formula. My first impression was favorable but patience is required. As much as I would like to rush forward I have to wait for the aroma materials to blend, both with each other and with the alcohol. Like it or not, I have to give it at least a few days.

    As I look back on the trials I have made in developing this fragrance, I sometimes feel I am trying to create a ping-pong ball, the raw materials seem to be bouncing back and forth. There haven't been many changes in raw material since the first "blind" shot at it. A few materials have been injected and rejected. Only one new scent has been added since the beginning of the project but there have been lots of changes in quantity of several aroma materials. This can get tedious and I've had to train myself to make just one change at a time. This is the only way to tell how a particular change has changed the scent.

    By time time you read this I will have tested the "post-final" scent and, hopefully, in a few days I'll be able to weigh out the formula and get ready to make a production batch. Hopefully the ping-ponging will have a happy ending, at least in terms of getting the (male or female or both) fragrance "out there."

Friday, May 8, 2020

Start your perfume with a picture

    What is the best way to get started on a new perfume? You don't need a committee and a 50-page brief. Try finding a picture that can inspire a story and a perfume that goes with the story. I found this strategy particularly useful last week when I was working on my new perfume.

    I had a name and I had the beginning of a formula. I planned to use a picture in my ad for the perfume so I started looking at pictures. I found three that seemed to suggest the story I planned to tell. Each would have suggested a slightly different telling of the story. Finally one picture was selected.

    When I selected that picture I just hoped it would "work" with the scent, the working name for the fragrance, and the story I would tell. Then something magical happened. The picture -- the visual image -- took over as my inspiration. Looking at it, it told its own story, the story I had in mind but with a significant twist.

    First, my working name now looked slightly off. It wasn't wrong but it wasn't hitting the bullseye. My first thought was to find a synonym for the name I had but one with a slightly different shade of meaning. This would involve a trip to Roget's Thesaurus and a synonym search online. Neither source gave me what I was looking for. Then I discovered a very similar word, one that was new to me but whose meaning was exactly what I was looking for. I'm sticking with it for now, even with the recognition that I will have to do some explaining in my ad. That will become part of the story. As for the story, the picture and the new name express my original idea but with new depth and a way forward that should make them far more powerful.

    Then for the scent. I had been working in several directions, pushing the smell this way and that way, but now, looking at the picture and thinking of my "enhanced" story, the direction the scent would take became clear. The direction suggested would synchronize with both picture and story.

    Thanks to these insights I can now go forward with this project with confidence, win or lose. The scent, the story, and the picture work together and, for a new perfume, that is ideal. Now how could starting with a picture help you?

A picture could bring your project into focus

    I've been involved with photography for a number of years so I have a pretty large file of images. But you don't need your own pictures to find inspiration and a clear story. Use magazines, old and new, use newspapers, use catalogs, search for the perfect "shot" for your fragrance, even if you can't use the image which is inspiring you because you don't have the rights to it. Suck all the meaning, the theme, the suggested scent out of the image you've chosen. Then, if all goes well, if the fragrance comes together and the scent comes together, you might see if you can't find an artist or photographer who can produce for you your version of the chosen picture. (A good artist or photographer will guide you though copyright law as it applies to the image you're trying to create.) Then, if you can pull this off, you'll have a scent, a story, and a picture that go together, the ideal situation for a new perfume.

Test for free

    How effective is this technique for putting together a very convincing promotion for a new fragrance? Try it yourself. It won't cost you a cent. This is just a drill, a student exercise. Find a picture that inspires you. With pen and paper take notes. Make a story from the image. Write up a description of the scent that would go with your story. If you come out with some strong ideas, perhaps you'll want to recreate the image (in your own way) and develop a scent to go with it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

My new fragrance is evolving -- more personal notes (#2)

The beginning of this story can be found here.

    Picking up from where I left off (see above), I had a scent and I had a theme and working name but they didn't go together, or so I thought. Then, looking harder, I began to see how the name and the scent could go nicely together. The name actually had a double meaning but I had only been looking at one side of it. Now I began to see that, with this fragrance, I could go in two directions, but not at the same time. One version will get worked out now. The other may make an appearance some time in the future.

    I mentioned in my last message that I was planning to use a big picture in my ad for this new perfume and the picture had to harmonize with both the scent, the name of the fragrance, and the "story" behind the fragrance. For a picture I turned to my archive of photos for which I own all the rights. I wasn't exactly sure what I was looking for; I just hoped to get some ideas and find some inspiration.

    Browsing through hundreds of images collected over a period of twenty years or more, I began to spot pictures that could fit my theme -- not a lot of them but some. Images can tell a story. Sometimes a single image can make a stronger point than a video or even a feature film. While any image is always subject to interpretation by the viewer based on their own experiences and world view, certain images almost transcend subjectivity and lead people to a common thought. These images have great impact. I can't say that any of mine claim that distinction, but a few were leaning in that direction.

    Out of all the images I viewed, I selected three that seemed to work for my new perfume. Each, as I viewed it, shared a common theme but each would give me a slightly different slant when it got down to my writing a "story" with it. Of the three images I selected, one was chosen as my starting point. The other two, quite different than the one I selected, are being held in reserve, perhaps for future use.

    With the image selected, I can now bring the working name of the fragrance into focus and create my story. This story will harmonize with the scent and the image, each reinforcing the other, making the promotional material more powerful.

The ad

    Now it's time to get started on the ad, with the photo for my inspiration. The "big" ad will be a web page at my If done nicely, it will lend itself to "little" ads being extracted from it for use elsewhere, perhaps on Facebook, or Twitter, or an email, or as a mention on other websites. In the process of developing the "big" ad, I'll also review the working name for this fragrance and see if I can improve on it. You never know.

The scent

    I had taken my basic scent in two directions. Besides the basic scent, I was working on a simple accord that could "decorate" each version, taking them, for the most part, toward the meaning of the name I was not going to push. Still it might, I was thinking, work for both.

    So now I have to polish up this "decoration," and polish up the two versions of my basic fragrance. Then I can see how my decoration works with each of them. I might need to make modifications to the basic scent. I might need to add a bit of something or change a bit of something. Here's where multiple trials come in. The aroma materials I needed arrived yesterday (4/27/20) and so I'm ready to go at it.

Going forward

    Now that I have my photo, I'll work on both the scent and the ad. This will take a few weeks and, during that time, not only will I get this work done but I'll probably get some ideas for another scent ... or another ad.

    Be patient and, in three to five weeks, I'll give you the next installment of this story.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Working on a new fragrance -- some personal notes (#1)

    Yesterday (04/20/20) I ordered some supplies I'll be using in developing a new perfume. I've already got a problem on my hands. The scent that has been evolving is out of sync with the theme I selected for the fragrance and the working name now makes no sense.

    What I want is a name and a theme and a scent that go together. The name should suggest the scent, the scent should suggest the name and together the name and the scent should fit nicely into a "story" or theme that can be used to advertise the fragrance. This is a very important starting point because it makes the whole project logical. When naming, you have the theme and the scent to guide you. When developing the scent you have the name and the theme to guide you. When developing a story for marketing purposes you have the name and the scent to guide you.
    But as of today, for my new fragrance, the scent doesn't fit either the working name or the story. The story doesn't really fit the working name either. So what should I do?

    To go ahead with things the way they are now, I'll be forced to force any promotional enthusiasm. Right now, while I'm still at the beginning, I think it will be better to make adjustments to my theme. This will perhaps help me with a new trend of thought for a name. Why take this approach? Because I think I have something with the fragrance itself. Maybe it just happened but at the moment it makes sense to me to go with the scent and see what kind of theme and name I can develop for it.


    Before I make changes to my theme or my working name, I have to consider my audience. Who am I going to market this fragrance to? The name, scent, and story all must be suitable for my target audience. Ideally it will have a powerful effect on them, get them aspiring (maybe even get them perspiring for my perfume!)

    Now I'll reveal a trade secret. Please don't spread it around. The only audience I'm concerned with are the men and women who visit my website. This is where I'll be selling the fragrance. The audience at this web site is almost exclusively visitors who have been impressed by my writings elsewhere, my blogs, my and websites and perhaps a tweet, a Facebook posting, or a mention on somebody else's site. This will NOT be a large number of people and, as I have written elsewhere, I'll be matching my production with my anticipated sales. I'm not planning to get stuck with a ton of unsold inventory.

    So now I have to rethink this project, ask myself if the scent that is developing will be for this audience and, if so, how should I re-write my story and working name?

    I know that in my announcement for this fragrance -- the webpage I'll give it -- there will be a large photo of something -- I don't yet know what. But that photo will have to be in sync with the name of the fragrance and its story -- and the scent itself. So, as a start, I can begin to think in visual terms.

-- Stay tuned! (To be continued.)

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Your raw idea might create a powerfully original -- and successful -- fragrance

    I was going over some of my own creations recently and it struck me that some of them are quite good. Now stop a minute. "Some," not all? And "good," not "excellent"? Let's get real.

    Some of my fragrances are better than others. Why pretend otherwise? But the better ones are good and here's why I say "good" rather than "excellent" or some other superlative. I simply do not have the skill that a professional perfumer, working in the fragrance industry, would have. I make no pretense about it and I admire the work of people whose skills are far advanced over mine. If one of them were to take the best of my creations they might, with a few adjustments, make it "excellent." They might add a little this, subtract a little that and smooth out the balance. They might polish the rough edges, the small, jarring transitions from one note to the the other. Even the best of my fragrances are a bit raw. But they have a strong voice. That's what makes them special.

    If you have ideas for perfumes, materials to work with, and the skills to use these materials to create the fragrances you want to create, yours too may be a bit raw. But if your concepts, your basic scent visions are "right," your fragrances will be worth producing and putting out to the public, even with their rough edges. If your vision is "right," and well executed, the rough edges disappear beneath the strength of your concept.

    In short, don't be discouraged by what you can't do. Go forward with what you can do and, if your vision is right, there's a good chance your customers will relate to it -- and want more fragrances from you!

Monday, January 13, 2020

This hands-on project will teach you everything about perfume

Create a perfume on your own for around $500

     If you have a fascination with perfume and aspire to become either a creator or a marketer or a perfume, this simple student project will give you a depth of understanding of perfume; its creation and its marketing. Execute this simple student project and you’ll never fear the "mysteries" of perfume again.

    Some years ago after a successful $2,000 project, I wanted to see how little money it could cost to develop a ready-to-sell perfume. My initial findings were that, at that time, it could be done for under $200. But within a few years some of the good sources of materials, bottles and pumps in particular, changed their minimum order policies and when I rewrote the book, I took $500 as the minimum it might cost you to produce a fragrance of your own, a fragrance that, potentially, you could sell.

    Today this "$500" book, How To Make Your First Perfume For Under $500, is available to you from me as a free download in pdf format. This book will walk you through the steps, guide you through vendors and materials, and give you a perfume or cologne of your own, to sell if you wish.

    To follow the steps in this book you do not need the perfumer's skill of creating a scent from raw materials. If you are a fragrance creator, you can use one of your own scents in this project but, for most, you'll want to do what major fragrance marketers do, which is to have the scent supplied by an outside vendor.

    By undertaking this simple, inexpensive student project, you'll find yourself confronting each of the decisions that must be addressed when conceptualizing and producing a perfume or cologne. Your goal in this project is not to set the world on fire with the wonders of the scent you have bottled and the beauty of the packaging you have given it. Your goal is simply to produce a real perfume or cologne, a product in a bottle you can show and share with others.

    So take advantage of the book offer. Download it, read through it, make your plan and execute this "student project." When you've done it you'll feel comfortable when challenged to develop a perfume or cologne for a project of any size, with any budget.

    And let me know how it works for you.