Friday, November 8, 2013

Creating perfume for a marketing test

Weighing out 300 ml of Confusion II

    What you see on the scale in the photo above is not a large amount of juice but enough, when alcohol and water have been added, to fill 100 bottles.

    The fragrance oil in the beaker was mixed on the scale by adding the required weight of each material -- first by pouring from their containers and then, for the final few grams, by transferring the material with a disposable plastic pipette, I buy these pipettes several hundred at a time.

    From the beaker the fragrance was poured into the bottle seen at the left edge of the photo. There it will stand, at room temperature, for about 30 days. From time to time I'll shake the bottle.

    This is a small amount of fragrance oil but it is intended for a very special test in a limited market. In the event that it proves a very large success -- far more than I anticipate -- I'll contract out both the production and the filling but, realistically, the project will probably remain "in house" for at least another 12 months.

    If selling perfume is of interest to you, you should try a 3-month subscription to our Perfume Makers & Marketers Club. A trial membership is very affordable.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

From drops to gallons - math for perfume production

Weighing 10 ml of "Confusion II"

This article is a continuation of my previous post.

    In front of me I have a bottle holding a small batch of a new perfume, "Confusion II." I'm working a plan to market it in a particular niche which, hopefully, will be nicely profitable. I've settled on the number of bottles I want to produce initially to test the market and my marketing concept. Now I need to produce the perfume.

    You may think this is the easy part and, in a way, it is. Once the formula has been developed, the rest is pretty mechanical. But it is also where serious money will be spent. Don't believe those who tell you that the fragrance in the bottle costs next to nothing. For a small company buying aroma materials in small quantities, what goes into the bottle costs plenty.

    So it's important to match the amount of fragrance being produced with the needs of the project. Produce too much fragrance and you eat up the profits from what you sell. Accurate calculations are important.

    First off, how many bottles do you want to fill and how much fragrance will be needed to fill those bottles?

    Suppose I want to fill 300 bottles, a small enough quantity that I can easily do by hand. And say I'm working with one ounce bottles, bottles that hold 1 fluid ounce which is about 29 ml.

    So I'll need (300 x 29) or 8700 ml -- 8.7 liters --  of the finished perfume to fill my 300 bottles.

    But I'll add another 100 ml to allow for spills and waste. My hand is reasonably steady but I know from experience that there will be spills and waste and I don't want to find, after all my bottles are lined up, that I only have enough fragrance to fill say 285 bottles -- meaning I'll now have to make a whole new batch of the perfume just to fill those additional 15 bottles.

    So for this example I'll need 8800 ml -- 8.8 liters -- of perfume to fill my bottles. But now look at the composition of the perfume. Say I decide to use the fragrance at 10% -- an eau de cologne strength -- which means I'll only need  880 ml (0.88 liters) of fragrance itself and then 7920 ml -- 7.92 liters -- of alcohol. (The alcohol here may be a 90% alcohol -- 180 proof -- with 10% being water to 90% alcohol.)

    So I get ready to produce 880 ml of my fragrance. But wait. I developed my formula by WEIGHT. To calculate how much I'll need I have to determine what 880 ml of this particular formula will weigh. It's time to get out the scale.

    In the photo above, 10 ml of fragrance are being weighed. The weight for 10 ml of this particular fragrance, my "Confusion II," is 9.55 grams. This means 1000 ml -- one liter -- will weigh 955 grams or 0.955 kilos.

    So in order to produce the approximately one liter of fragrance needed to fill 300 1-fluid ounce (29 ml) bottles with "Confusion II" at 10% fragrance, the balance being alcohol and water, I would need to produce, by weight, 0.955 kilos of "Confusion II."

    Now, working with my formula which shows the percentage, by weight, of each required material, I can calculate the weight that will be needed of each.

    The rest is simple. Weight out the materials and combine them. Give the perfume one to four weeks to become well blended. Then, by nose, make sure it smells right. If all is okay, add the required alcohol and water and let it blend for another one to four weeks. Then it can be bottled and sold.

    These are the steps needed to convert your perfume formula measured in drops to a formula measured by weight that can easily be used to produce as much of your perfume as you want.


Monday, November 4, 2013

From a few drops to gallons

    I'm finalizing the formula for a new perfume. It's called "Confusion II" and it's part of a multimedia presentation surrounding a piece of sculpture called "Confusion II." Music is being composed and recorded, a video is in the works, and the formula for the perfume is being converted from dropper bottle drops to grams, kilograms, liters, and gallons. This is the essential step in getting the formula ready for production.

    When I develop my formulas I use bottles with eyedroppers, writing the formula by the number of drops, 1/2 drops, and traces of each material I have used. This method has the advantage of allowing me to develop fragrances using very small amounts of aroma materials as the expense of these materials can add up quickly. On the other hand, drops are not an accurate measurement, only an approximation. So for a production formula the drops have to be converted to grams. This is how I do it.

Weighing out "drops" formula to convert is to grams

    Say my formula calls for just 30 drops total of all the materials I've used. This is too small an amount to get an accurate weight using an electronic scale. So I multiple the formula by ten or twenty or more, then make it up with drops while the container is on a scale. As each material is added I note the weight of the material. Once I've done this, I do it again. Why? To see if the weights recorded for the second batch are very close to those recorded for the first batch. It's easy to goof up when counting out a few hundred drops and you want to catch any errors you have made.

    If the first formula by weight closely matches the second formula by weight, I'll average each material out for my final formula. If the weight of any one material differs greatly from one batch to the next, I'll weight out another batch -- and keep doing this until the weights of each material are consistent from batch to batch.

    Then I'll check the final batch with my nose, to make sure the fragrance is what was intended.

    This is the first step in getting the formula ready for production.