Perfume Bases

Someone recently said he thought I had used grape alcohol in the past for edp, but I have always used specially denatured perfumer’s alcohol from Remet in southern California. This type of specially denatured professional perfumer’s alcohol is what is used in nearly all commercial perfumes. For the oils, I use a natural pure fractionated coconut oil base. I add no silicones, emulsifiers, sunscreens, or colorants.

I made an interesting discovery about bases recently. A few perfumery ingredients come in crystal form, such as vanillin and some musks. You can weigh them and add the crystals right in when you mix a large batch of a scent, but it’s also convenient to have a small amount pre-mixed in alcohol to use when blending tiny batches to develop new formulas. Some perfumers use different substances, like IPM or DPG or BB, to dilute solid chems for this purpose.

I recently smelled BB, benzyl benzoate, and I realized this could be the dilutant that gives me a cardboard/nutty/balsamic drydown from some brands of perfume oils. I’ve never used BB in my own blends or products, but this explains at least one possible source for that balsamic cardboard smell in the drydown of some scents I’ve tried. I’m sure BB doesn’t have that smell to everyone, but it does to me and perhaps to a few others out there so I thought I’d mention it. BB is sometimes used on purpose for its light scent, but it is also used sometimes in bases with the assumption that it is light enough not to interfere; I can see it wouldn’t work for me, at least not in large amounts.

About Laurie E

artisan perfumer and owner of Sonoma Scent Studio
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2 Responses to Perfume Bases

  1. Cheri says:

    I’ve heard that some perfumer’s alcohol is better than others. Some has more water in it, if I remember correctly.

    What is your thought on using jojoba or apricot kernel oil in perfume making?

  2. Laurie says:

    The percent of alcohol is labeled by the “proof” of the alcohol. Some people try to get by with a high proof Vodka but you really ought to use specially denatured perfumer’s alcohol like 190 proof 39C or 40B.

    Jojoba is great in that it has little scent and a long shelf life, but it feels heavier on the skin than fractionated coconut oil. Apricot kernel oil is wonderful for a skin moisturizer, but the shelf life is too short for perfume oil unless you use it up very quickly.

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