Friday, September 1, 2023

Creating a new perfume with ChatGPT: drilling down

This message is a continuation of my previous message which can also be found at

The perfume formula in my last message was generated by ChatGPT. You could create that perfume directly from the formula. If you were to do so, with the intention of selling it, you would have to deal with several issues that ChatGPT warns you of. First, all of the materials used are naturals. Secondly, some of these materials can be expensive.

The problem with the naturals is that they can vary greatly depending on the source and the season when they were harvested. So, if you were planning to sell your fragrance, you would want to lay in a considerable supply of each material so that a second batch of your fragrance would retain the odor characteristics of the first batch. (Just a warning!)

Now, going back to ChatGPT, suppose you wanted suggestions for some substitutes for raw materials in the formula. I asked ChatGPT what I might substitute for Patchouli. It gave me this response:

"If you're looking for a substitute for patchouli to maintain a strong woody aroma in your perfume formula, you might consider using one of the following materials:"

"1. Guaiacwood: Guaiacwood oil has a rich, smoky, and woody aroma that can provide depth and warmth to your perfume. It's often used as a base note in woody and oriental fragrances."

"2. Cypriol (Nagarmotha): Cypriol oil has a distinct earthy and woody scent with slightly smoky undertones. It can add complexity and depth to your perfume, similar to patchouli."

"3. Cedarwood Atlas or Virginia: Cedarwood essential oils have a strong woody aroma that can enhance the woody character of your perfume. Cedarwood Atlas has a slightly sweeter and balsamic scent, while Cedarwood Virginia has a drier and more pronounced woody aroma."

"4. Oud (Agarwood): Oud oil is derived from agarwood and offers a luxurious and intense woody scent with resinous and slightly smoky facets. It's often used in high-end fragrances to add a rich and exotic woodiness."

"5. Amyris: Amyris essential oil, also known as West Indian Sandalwood, has a soft and creamy woody aroma with similarities to sandalwood. It can be a good substitute if you're looking for a milder woody note."

"Remember that the characteristics of these oils can vary depending on their origin and quality. It's a good idea to test your chosen substitute in small quantities to ensure it fits well within your overall perfume composition and maintains the desired woody profile."

Then I asked if there was a synthetic substitute for Patchouli and ChatGPT answered:

"Yes, there are synthetic aroma chemicals that are used to mimic the scent of patchouli. Patchouli oil is known for its distinct and earthy aroma, and synthetic fragrance compounds have been developed to replicate this scent for use in perfumes, cosmetics, and other products. One commonly used synthetic aroma chemical for patchouli is Patchouli Alcohol. It is a key component in creating patchouli-like fragrances and is often used to add depth and richness to various scents. While it might not perfectly replicate the complexity of natural patchouli oil, it can come quite close and offers the advantage of consistency in fragrance compositions. Other aroma chemicals and compounds can also be combined to create synthetic patchouli-like scents, allowing perfumers and fragrance formulators to achieve a desired aroma profile without relying solely on natural patchouli oil. Keep in mind that the field of fragrance chemistry is constantly evolving, and new aroma chemicals and formulations may have been developed since my last knowledge update in September 2021."

Not satisfied with this answer, I asked:

"is Patchouli Alcohol a natural or synthetic odorant "

And ChatGPT replied:

"Patchouli Alcohol is a natural odorant found in patchouli oil. It's one of the major components responsible for the characteristic scent of patchouli. While it can also be synthesized in a lab, it is initially derived from natural sources, making it both a natural compound and an aroma chemical that can be produced synthetically for various applications, including perfumery and cosmetics. "

Now here's the problem. ChatGPT can't tell you everything. It can only generate answers from what has gone into it. In time its knowledge base will surely expand and it will be able to answer questions that it can't answer now. Meanwhile, if you want to used ChatGPT to develop a new perfume, it's an excellent starting point for the non-professional and it can teach you a lot. It's suggestions can get you started in interesting directions... but the really hard work -- trying and testing and adjusting -- is all up to you.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Creating perfume with artificial intelligence (AI)

Let's suppose you have an idea for a perfume. You can describe what you're looking for in words but you don't know what raw materials would be needed to create this scent. You're (not yet!) a skilled perfumer. Artificial intelligence (AI) can help you create perfumes and teach you a good deal about aroma materials. The only prerequisite is your nose. You must be able to guide the AI engine and, once a raw formula is written, be able to make final adjustments yourself, following what your nose tells you.

The "perfume making tool" I have been using is ChatGPT. At the moment (August 2023) it can be used without any payment, its use if FREE, although that may change in the future. To use it you go to the website and register. Then you can begin to put it to work.

My first query failed because I asked it to write a formula for a perfume using materials from a particular supplier. ChatGPT replied "I'm sorry, but I don't have access to specific databases..." but it offered to guide me through "the general process of creating a perfume" with the scent I wanted "using commonly available perfume materials." So I rephrased my question, eliminating a requirement that the materials were sourced from a particular vendor and instead asked:

"write a formula for a new womans perfume with a strong woody note"

ChatGPT now presented me with a formula I could "consider":

Top Notes:
  • Bergamot: 10%
  • Pink Pepper: 5%
  • Mandarin: 5%
Heart Notes:
  • Cedarwood: 20%
  • Sandalwood: 15%
  • Jasmine: 10%
Base Notes:
  • Patchouli: 15%
  • Vetiver: 10%
  • Vanilla: 10%

Then ChatGPT noted:

"This formula is just a starting point and can be adjusted based on your preferences and the materials you have available. The percentages represent the relative strength of each ingredient in the final blend. You may need to dilute essential oils or fragrance oils to achieve the desired concentration.
Remember that perfumery is an art, and experimenting with different proportions and combinations will help you create a unique and captivating scent. It's a good idea to start with small test batches to refine your formula before producing larger quantities.

Of course this is just a starting point but, using ChatGPT, you can drill down. For example, you can ask what substitutes might be appropriate for each or any of the materials in the formula. I'll give you an example in my next post.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Make a perfume for yourself

If you are developing a fragrance you intend to sell, it is helpful to be very sensitive to the tastes of your intended market. You want to develop a fragrance that will be pleasing to them and, hopefully, more pleasing than the alternatives that are available to them. What they might, and what you might, want aren't necessarily the same.

For example, I'm enchanted by a fragrance now called "Xotic." It's a strong fragrance with a wake-up quality and I like the smell of it in the morning. But I know, from experience, that this is not a fragrance women would rush to buy for their men and a large number of their men, thinking of their women, would likely shun it too. Thus is doesn't have strong commercial appeal.

If you want suggestions for a commercial creation, the logical starting inspiration is the perfume counter of a department store or specialty retailer. Smelling the scents that are being mass marketed will help define the boundaries of your own creation. Professional perfumers developing commercial fragrances themselves take this approach.

But suppose that, for once in your life at least, you want to design a fragrance for a market of one: yourself. This can be an exciting project.

Recently I had a fix-it project that called for the use of a small amount of a solvent. I'm away from home for the summer, away from all those bottles of alcohol on the shelf, but I had on my desk in front of me a bottle of one of my fragrances, one that I had decided I didn't like very much and had already reformulated, considering the original composition junk.

So, being junk and about 90 percent alcohol, I decided to use it for the solvent I needed. I put some paper down on the desk and poured a bit of the fragrance, wetting the paper slightly. The room was immediately filled with the fragrance. I enjoyed the smell.

A piece of the paper remained on my desk for several weeks, scenting the room. What I had discarded as junk I was now finding quite pleasing. But it wasn't a fragrance I would try to sell. It was just a scent that, for me, was uplifting and pleasant.

If you decide to make a perfume just for yourself, without any commercial intentions, there are two obstacles, two hurdles to be overcome. First, you have to decide what you want your fragrance to be, what aroma you want. You have to be able to fix this is your mind -- which can be very difficult as you are dealing with an intangible. Some people have better scent imagination than others, just as some people have more visual imagination than others. It's something you can work on.

The second obstacle is technology. Once you have that scent fixed in your mind, how are you going to create it? You need the raw materials. Currently the professional perfumer has more than 3,000 potential materials to work with but a familiarity with as few as fifty can give you many possibilities. As a practical matter, you may want to adjust your perfect personal scent, the perfume you are going to make for yourself, to a mental image that will fit within the bounds of the materials you have on hand and understand.

Of course once you've created one perfume that is "just for yourself," it's likely you'll want to expand your knowledge of raw materials, the building blocks of perfumery, so that you can expand you imagined scents ... and create them.