Friday, June 24, 2022

There's a formula behind every perfume you'll ever make. Too bad if you didn't record it.

How do YOU go about making a new perfume? Do you sketch out a plan, do you imagine a theme, or do you just plunge into it, mixing materials that seem to go together nicely? Do you find yourself creating many perfumes in small batches but never making the same perfume twice, even when everyone is asking you for it? To make more you need the formula.

There is a formula for every perfume you've ever made, even if you didn't record it. Perhaps the word "formula" is scary. Perhaps there's a fear that writing a few notes won't qualify as a formula and won't really be enough to bring the favorites you've made back to life again. But all it takes to bring a perfume of yours back to life in a new batch is incredibly simple, if you took a few important notes.

For example, say you created your fragrance using materials A, B, C, D, and E. Counting our drops, your initial formula might look something like this:

Then, if we were to assume that all the drops were of the same size (volume), we could go a step farther and produce a formula by percentages. It would look like this:

Now, to make more, you just mix the percentages. For example, to make 500 ml of your perfume oil:

When using your formula to produce more of your fragrance, you can use any unit of liquid measurement you want: milliliters, fluid ounces, liters, or even gallons. It's up to you.

If you have just made the original batch of your fragrance, nothing more need be done. But if some time has gone by, there is an issue you will have to deal with, being able to get more of the materials you used in your original batch. This brings up a second issue: keeping a record of the materials you used in your original fragrance.

If you are serious about your creative work in perfumery you will keep a very precise record of those materials including where you got them and even stock numbers. I've written a bit more about this in my book How to create an international production formula for your homemade perfume that will help you develop even more accurate formulas. The more accurate your formula is, the closer your new batch will be to your original. But it's never more complicated than just taking a few simple notes. You just want to be sure you're taking the right notes!

Thursday, June 16, 2022

The detail you can't leave out when you're writing your formula

Anyone who makes perfume, even the most skilled and successful professional, has those times when he or she wants to experiment, just like a pure hobbyist. It generally starts with an idea. Then some aroma materials are chosen and the mixing and experimenting begins. Sometimes nothing comes of it but sometimes the result is pure magic. Can the magic be repeated? Can what has been done be done again? It all comes down to the formula.

Having the formula should allow you to produce more of that "bingo" fragrance you just created. For the professional it would rarely be a problem. But what about you? To produce more of the same, not only do you need the formula, you need the exact same aroma materials you used in your original batch. Can you get them? This is where the hobby perfumer so often gets stuck.

The issues:

To get more of the same materials you have to know exactly what they were; then you have to be able to obtain more. The first issue is the precise identity of what you used. Did you keep a full and complete record including vendor and vendor's stock number? Bergamot essential oil? Pure Bergamot or a Bergamot blend (the label should show). And whose Bergamot did you use? It makes a difference.

Can your source supply more of exactly what you used the first time? Does your source still sell it or have they switched to a substitute? Have they simply dropped it from their line leaving you to search for a substitute from another vendor?

Then there's the scenario where you were really careless in recording your materials and find something which seems to carry the same name but when you open the bottle and sniff, it turns out to be nothing like what you expected. (I have had this experience and it's a real wake-up call to keep better records.)

If you can't obtain more of something that went into your fragrance, that's the end of it. Finished. There will never be more. You can hope to come up with sometime inspired by the memory of that magical fragrance but it will never be the same.

Consider your sources before you buy your materials. Seek out vendors who are likely to offer continuity, vendors who understand the needs of serious perfume makers. And remember, if you are experimenting, developing a new perfume, you may run out of one or more materials you are using before you get it right. I have. If, at that point, you can't get more, your whole project is in the toilet.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Unexpected problem developing formula led to new book

 The last six weeks have been busy, busy, busy. While working on the revised version of Rough Day, I ran into a situation that I wanted to write about. It dealt with the high cost of a particular ingredient that happened to make up a large percentage of the formula. The new Rough Day did get finished. I've been using it and my wife approves. I just now produced labels and bottled more of it. In spite of the cost of the "juice," I've decided to use 2-ounce bottles with spray pumps. I have the bottles and pumps on hand.  
You might wonder why, when I was so excited about this "new, improved, (and more expensive)" version of Rough Day I've taken so long to get back to it. A little glitch in developing the master formula, which I started to write about in a blog, has become an important chapter (Chapter 5: Sometimes complications arise and drops become a problem) in a book I stopped to write, design and photograph. The book was published last week and is now available on Amazon so I am free to get back to keeping in touch with followers.
The issue that caused me to stop everything and write a short book or "guide" involves measurements for developing a master formula. The formula for the new Rough Day, Rough Day 2022, like all my other formulas, was first developed with drops from dropper bottles. From this "drops" formula, using an electronic balance I could develop a formula in percentages of weight, which would allow me to scale up my formula to any weight required. This is a lot more practical than counting out thousands of drops.
In my original "drops" formula, some materials were used in a single drop. A single drop was too light for me to weigh accurately so I would multiply the drops of all the materials by twenty. Now I could accurately weight the drops for each material an then calculate the percentage of the formula represented by that weight. (Together the percentages of the weights of all the materials would total 100.)
Ordinarily all this is simple. I weigh the drops, I calculate the percentages and I have my formula and, with that formula, I can make any amount of my perfume oil I want. And, because the formula is in percentages, the units I'm using can be any weight measurement: grams, ounces, kilos, pounds. With a few steps more I can convert my formula by weight to a formula by volume: milliliters, fluid ounces, liters, or gallons. All very straight forward.
With the new Rough Day a situation arose. Two materials were used in very small quantities and one material was used in a large quantity (many, many drops.) To weigh the drops accurately I would have had to multiply the smallest by a minimum of 20, which would have given me enough to weigh accurately. That would not have been a problem. But what about the one material that called for a lot of drops? I would have been counting out well over 1000 drops.
Maybe I could have done it but what if I lost count which, for me, would be pretty easy to do. Then I would have to start EVERYTHING all over again. Worse still, the material with the largest number of drops was the most expensive. In fact, it cost more per gram than almost any material I have ever used. I couldn't see risking a screw-up with this expensive material.
So I used another method to develop my formula for the new Rough Day. It is not one I would recommend unless you have a good nose but I trusted my nose and used this alternative to make a small batch. My nose told me I was slightly off from what I wanted so I adjusted the result AND adjusted my formula to reflect what I had done. All worked out fine. By now you've probably guessed that I was working with volumes rather than weights. None of my expensive material was wasted.
When you write a formula for your perfume in either percentages of weight or in percentages of volume, your nose becomes very important. Your nose is the tool by which you decide when your formula has nailed it or whether adjustments are still required.
If what I've just written leaves you with any confusion, just write me a comment below and I'll try to clarity. Meanwhile, thank you for reading this!
-- Phil