Category Archives: study perfumery

Making perfume: 100% natural pefume products

Saturday - 6 April 2019

In my professional making perfume course, I instruct students in the art of perfumery from the first drop to the final product. There are many bonus modules for fragrant products, including potpourri, body butter, scented body powder, enfleurage, and many more that allow you to be a multi-faceted perfumer.

The new website is under construction, so excuse the tired face of the current site at, but get excited by the modern one to come! Here’s a sample of some of the luscious photos illustrating the new site:



See you in class!

Homemade Perfume book by Anya McCoy July 31, 2018

Sunday - 1 July 2018
Homemade Perfume Book by Anya McCoy cover

Homemade Perfume Book by Anya McCoy cover


Homemade Perfume will be published July 31, 2018! You can preorder now and lock in the price.


This unprecedented, comprehensive guide from renowned perfumer Anya McCoy is an inspiring resource for anyone interested in creating artisanal perfume at home. Discover simple step-by-step methods for making perfume without harsh chemicals. Jump right in, using local plants and common household ingredients. Soon you’ll be building your own scent collection and creating unforgettable gifts for friends and family.

This book covers a variety of techniques for capturing fragrances from natural materials, making it easy to choose the project that works for your schedule and experience level. Source your own organically grown botanicals, and enjoy the earth-friendly benefits of creating your own essential oils and extractions sustainably.

Make your own all-natural perfumes, room and linen sprays, body butters, massage oils, and more. Explore the nuances of scent blending to create delightful fragrances that are unique to you. Packed with easy methods and expert guidance, this book will become an indispensable reference as you grow into a confident scent designer.

Homemade Perfume book

Monday - 16 April 2018

I’ve spent over forty years  extracting fragrance from plants, blending those extracts and purchased essential oils and other fragrant materials into perfume. Not just perfumes, but also sprays, body butters, and bath and body scented products. With the publication of Homemade Perfume on July 31st, all of my experience is in one book for everyone!

I wish I had this book when I started working with herbs and fragrant plants year ago, and I know you’ll appreciate the detailed information in my book, me passing my hard-earned knowledge down to you. You can pre-order the book on Amazon so you’ll get it immediately after the July 31, 2018 release date by following this link.

(Read to the end of the blog to discover the giveaway)

Homemade Perfume Book by Anya McCoy cover

Homemade Perfume Book by Anya McCoy

Capturing the Fragrance of the Garden

The self-satisfaction of tincturing or infusing that gardenia bush, or preserving the scent of the lily-of-the-valley plants that spring up each year, only to fade is something a DIYer, perfumer, crafter, soapmaker, or just lover of fragrance can enjoy after reading Homemade Perfume.

How about turning the peonies or tuberose blossoms into an indulgent body butter or solid perfume? The book is the first of its kind to give detailed instructions on how to do this, and much more. Don’t have a garden with fragrant plants? Well, I hope to encourage you to either start growing them, or seeing with your family or friends or neighbors might be willing to share.

There are also instructions on how to extract the scent from fragrant botanicals that you can purchase, such as coriander seed, vetiver, patchouli, and rosebuds (to name a few). These can easily be made into room sprays, oil or alcohol perfumes, and other scented delights.

I’ve done this for years, and now you can, too, with guidance and detailed instructions. Help lessen the burden on the Earth by growing your own! Sustainability and self-reliance are satisfying goals, and my book will help you with both.

Willing to get ambitious and start distilling, making essential oils or hydrosols? You’ll find what will – or will not – work.

Perfume Making Techniques and Instruction

Best of all, I share basic perfume making techniques. You’ll learn how to evaluate and record your impressions of the scented extracts, and how to start constructing a perfume, room or body spray, etc. I do teach an advanced course, but for someone not planning to go into the business of making perfumes, Homemade Perfume will give you the knowledge of how to create fun and fragrant projects.

Table of Contents for Homemade Perfume






A Book for all Growing Zones

I live in Miami, and enjoy the beauty of ylang ylang trees, frangipani, champacas, and other tropical beauties you probably never have experienced. It’s been decades since I breathed in the beauty of lilacs, linden trees, or fresh and lively conifers – so we’re even!

Homemade Perfume is written with a mix of all types of plants, from all zones. I supply a table that will allow you to select the type and duration of processing necessary for your plant, in your zone. Have a delicate flower like mock orange? That’s covered. Thick, leathery leaves? Covered? Roots or wood? Don’t worry, you’ll have the hand reference table to help you.

Forty plants are profiled in the book for further reference, and the type of fragrant part of the plant will be covered, so you can yes, find if it’s in your garden, or area, and follow the instructions for a successful scent extraction.

Other Sources for Supplies – Supplied!

I grow a lot of fragrant plants, and have a cabinet filled with my extracts, but of course, I have to buy supplemental essential oils and absolutes to round out my perfume organ. No linden trees here, no pinyon pine, so I have reputable suppliers I depend on for obtaining these oils. The appendix in the book lists these suppliers, plus alcohol, bottle, and many other items you may need.


Dear Readers, it’s time to spread the news about Homemade Perfume! Please do two things: Leave a comment, and share this blog post on your social media. Leave me a note about where you shared it: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.

I’m also asking if you can preorder the book on Amazon to help the search engine rating for it. You might think, why do that if I might win a copy? Well, you keep the signed copy and give the Amazon book to a friend! Win all around!

What if you’ve already preordered? You might win a signed copy, and yes, give the preordered copy to a friend. I’d still appreciate your comments and sharing!

Five helpful readers who do this will be in a random draw for a signed copy of Homemade Perfume when it is published. I would love your help in spreading the news about my book, truly the first of its kind. So many years and so many experiments went into it! Deadline for the commenting and sharing on social media is Sunday, April 22, 2018, Earth Day. Isn’t that appropriate? 🙂

Modern techniques for making perfume

Sunday - 7 January 2018

Perfumers need to be savvy about how to provide a safe product to their customers. Perfume bottles and lab equipment can arrive from the factory with contaminants such as dust, bits of odds and ends (like paper), pesticides (from warehouse spraying) and other assorted things that need to be removed before filling or shipping. If you’re into making perfume or perfume products, you should read this.

Isn’t the New Year all about making good choices, and upping your game? Making sure you offer a sanitized (or more) product should be a goal for every perfumer.

Trio of Anya's Garden Perfumes

Trio of Anya’s Garden Perfumes – bottles and caps washed before filling to meet sanitary standards

I’m a bit of an OCD germaphobe to begin with, so making my product containers either sanitary, disinfected, or sterile (depending upon the end use) is very important. I explain in detail how to achieve these three goals in my upcoming book Homemade Perfume due out in August 2018 from Page Street Publishing.

Sanitary is a given, and easy: wash your equipment with hot soapy water, and air dry. That is necessary for everything. Disinfection can be achieved in a heat cycle in a dishwasher, or by using a bleach or alcohol rinse. Sterilization is most important for any container that will hold a product that contains water, like a lotion or hydrosol. For this purpose I prefer a UV light unit. I rarely have a container so big I need to bleach solution. Pictured you’ll find my unit, loaded with bottles on the top, and accessory tools on the bottom. I recommend buying a unit for cosmetology or tattooing purposes, they’re inexpensive and easily portable around your studio – plus, no bleach smell!

Caution: see the blue light? It can damage your eyes, so when the unit is on, I usually drape a cloth over it. This photo took about 3 seconds, and that’s all the exposure I allowed myself.

UV sterilization unit for making perfume products safe.

UV sterilization unit for making perfume products safe.

Homemade Perfume will be a gateway book for those who wish to learn basic techniques for making perfume. It is especially written for those who grow a number of fragrant plants, or who have access to them, so they can be perfume gardeners. The basics of tincturing and infusing for perfume, enfleurage, and distillation.

You will learn how to make body-, room-, and linen sprays; face-, body-, and hair vinegars; body butters; solid perfumes; alcohol- and oil-based perfumes; and more with your fragrant extractions.

If you wish to study how to make perfume professionally, consider taking my course through the Natural Perfumery Institute. The textbook is a compilation of four decades of perfume research, experimentation, and production. This is a distance learning course, and can be successfully completed from any place in the world. Click here to learn more.

Making Perfume Tip About Using Abbreviations for Descriptors

Tuesday - 13 October 2015
Learn how to dilute aromatics, use a scale, and work with professional evaluation forms to record your impressions.

Learn how to dilute aromatics, use a scale, and work with professional evaluation forms to record your impressions.

Making Perfume: Perfume Shorthand Key to Comprehensive Descriptors for Organoleptic Evaluation

Perfumers need a jolt, or a boost to the thinking process, to help them come up with a descriptive word for various aspects of a fragrance. When making modifications (aka mods) to choose the perfect perfume, it helps to have both the Aromatic Lexicon that I supply my students with, and the next step, a shorthand way to jot down those descriptive terms. The following shorthand key included in the textbook for The Natural Perfumery Institute, (NPI) is valuable for this, and I’m sharing it here to pay it forward to those who need some help with their word searching. I hope you find it useful.

If you’re considering studying perfumery, join us at the NPI, and you’ll find the textbook and supporting materials will give you an outstanding perfumery education.

You can right-click the image and save it as a .jpg, or copy and paste the individual entries, below. Saving the individual entries will give you the chance to create a document of your own, and add the descriptors your develop in your studies. I provide my students with an editable Word.doc to do this, and they really come up with some creative terms! Use the document as a jumping-off point to allow you to add to when new terms arise during your observations. Feel free to share this with your perfumer friends, and most of all, have fun!

A quick and easy way to keep notes while evaluating perfume modifications. Courtesy Anya McCoy Natural Perfumery Institute

A quick and easy way to keep notes while evaluating perfume modifications. Courtesy Anya McCoy Natural Perfumery Institute

AGR Agrestic

ALM Bitter Almond

AMB Ambergris/Amber

ANI Anisic

ANM Animalic

APL Apple

APR Apricot

BAL Balsamic

BER Bergamot

BIT Bitter

BLC Black Currant

BNA Banana

BNT Burnt

BRM Broom

BUT Butter

CAM Camphorous

CAR Carnation

CAS Cassie

CAT Castoreum

CBR Cucumber

CDR Coriander

CED Cedarwood

CEL Celery

CIN Cinnamon

CIS Cistus

CIT Citrus

CIV Civet

CLO Clove

CML Caramel

CMN Cumin

COC Coconut

COE Concrete

COF Coffee

CON Coniferous

COO Cool

CRS Coarse

DEL Delicate

DIF Diffusive


ERT Earthy

ETH Ethereal

FAT Fatty

FCL Fecal

FLO Floral

FNG Fenugreek

FOR Forest

FRE Fresh

FRU Fruity

FUN Fungal

GAL Galbanum

GAR Gardenia

GER Geranium

GIN Ginger

GRA Grapefruit

GRE Greasy

GRN Green

GRS Grassy

HAI Hair

HAR Hard

HEL Heliotrope

HER Herbaceous

HNY Honeysuckle

HON Honey

HSH Harsh

HVY Heavy

IND Indolic

JAS Jasmine

JON Jonquil

LAB Labdanum

LAV Lavender

LEA Leather

LEM Lemon

LFY Leafy

LHT Light

LIM Lime

LIN Linden Blossom

LLY Lily

MAG Magnolia

MAR Marine

MED Medicinal

MEN Mentholic

MET Metallic

MIM Mimosa

MIN Minty

MOS Mossy

MUS Musky

MYR Myrrh

NAR Narcissus

NON Nondescript

NUT Nutmeg

OFL Orange flower

OIL Oily

OPO Opoponax

ORB Orange oil, Bitter

ORR Orris

ORS Orange oil, Sweet

OZN Ozonic

PAT Patchouli

PEA Peach

PEP Peppermint

PER Peru Balsam

PHE Phenolic

PIN Pine

PNP Pineapple

POW Powdery

PPR Pepper

PRN Prune

PUN Pungent

RAS Raspberry

RES Resinous

RIC Rich

ROS Rose

RSM Rosemary

RWD Rosewood

SAG Sage

SAN Sandalwood

SEA Seaweed

SHA Sharp

SMO Smoky

SMT Smooth

SOA Soapy

SOF Soft

SOU Sour

SPI Spicy

SPR Spearmint

STA Stale

STY Styrax

SUL Sulphurous

SWE Sweet


TEA Tea-like

TEN Tender

TER Terpenic

TGN Tangerine

THI Thin

THY Thymolic

TOA Toasted

TOB Tobacco

TOL Tolu balsam

TRP Tropical

TUB Tuberose

URI Urinous

VAN Vanilla

VEG Vegetable

VIO Violet

WAR Warm

WAX Waxy


WIN Wine

WOD Woody

YLA Ylang-ylang

How to Make Perfume – Excerpts from my textbook

Sunday - 9 August 2015

Slow Study

Making perfume takes time, and lots of thinking and introspection.

As I work through adapting my textbook for my new website, I am finding many passages that are very helpful for anyone who wants to make perfume, or is already making perfume, whether you stick to 100% natural ingredients like I do, or if you use aroma chemicals. I’ve decided to excerpt some passages on a regular basis, because I believe they can inspire and help others on this path. My first excerpt deals with the fear and indecision that every perfumer faces. If you don’t face it, I challenge you to challenge yourself, you’re too complacent.

Springtime image from the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, my hometown. I grew up knowing and loving this statue.

Springtime image from the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, my hometown. I grew up knowing and loving this statue. So, it’s springtime, and you’re evaluating the mods for your new perfume.

Excerpt: Conclusion of Module 5 – Some Closing Thoughts

Although I am an experienced, professional perfumer, I sometimes face creating modifications with a bit of trepidation.  For someone like me, a generally positive, self-assured person, that tinge of fear is a good thing.  It keeps me balanced, so that I don’t become overly confident that everything I create is a masterpiece, because if I feel that way, I know I’m fooling myself.

Why do I instruct you to re-visit your vertical accords, although you just performed that exercise in the last Module?  You might think it’s registered in your head, but I guarantee that, with your new concept or brief, you will be humbled when you evaluate your accords again.  Subtle nuances, bits and pieces of it that didn’t seem prominent before, will become obvious now.  Why?  Because you now realize that you have to build upon the structure of that one simple accord, and you have to engage your scent memory and your artistic passions simultaneously in order to meet the final challenge in the next module – building a perfume.

A perfumer cannot become too comfortable, and the perfumer also cannot be afraid.  Mods can humble you more quickly than any other exercise in this course.  An accessory note, which is so beloved, so necessary to give a mod or a perfume panache, can begin screaming out its aggressiveness, overwhelming the blend, or just poking out in the drydown in a negative way.

Autumn -- still thinking! Slow Study

Autumn — still thinking! Slow Study – taking time to make the right decision, apply the right tweaks to the perfume.

My course is online, a resource in distance learning for those who cannot travel to attend a perfumery course. The 350 page textbook is the first American perfumery textbook, and it is written at the university level. For thinkers. And doers.

If you’re a perfumer, or thinking of becoming one, subscribe to this blog so you receive updates on this series, which I hope will inspire and instruct. There is a place to subscribe in the right column. Your email is private, and will be treated as such.

Click here to find out more about the course.



How to Make Ambergris Tincture for Perfume

Monday - 27 April 2015

This is a quick post, no illustration other than the photo of the microplane, because it was written quickly for my students who are on an ambergris buying binge. They’re familiar with the use of scales in making perfume, so I just used the same format to write the instructions for making ambergris tincture. I hope this can help you in making this wonderful, valuable tincture.

First, a fun photo, assembled by the folks at Ambergris NZ. They ran a contest on the Yahoo Natural Perfumery group I host a few years ago, and the lucky winner(s) received some real ambergris as a prize. So many people are fooled by their beach finds – I hope this can help clear up some of the confusion. Keep in mind, there are always exceptions to the rule. Now that we have the caveats and a bit of visual education out of the way, on to the instructions on how to make an ambergris tincture for your perfume.

An ambergris ID photo and list of frequently misidentified objects

An ambergris ID photo and list of frequently misidentified objects Source: Ambergris NZ

The tincture is very easy to make, and very rewarding. You do need to age it a minimum of six months for the scent to fully mature and develop into a wondrous product. In the old days, the perfume houses had machines built that agitated the mixture, but that is nearly impossible for the artisan perfumer. In the past, I’ve simply shaken the jar when I remember, and one time, I did put it on a magnetic stirrer, but didn’t actually notice any difference between that and the one that I shook occasionally.

Some use a mortar and pestle to pulverize the ambergris, but that is not acceptable to me, because too much precious ambergris remains adhered to both objects. I prefer the stainless steel microplane, a tool originally mean for woodworking, but since adopted by cooks – and this perfumer! 🙂 It quickly and efficiently reduces ambergris to a fine powder, and non remains behind on the object.

You’ll want to make the ambergris solution an industry standard of 3-4 percent. Here’s where your knowledge of using a scale comes in handy. If you have three grams of ambergris, you’ll grate that. and use 97 grams of alcohol, which equals a total of 100 grams of tincture at 3%. You can adjust the numbers up and down, according to the amount of ambergris you have.

Microplane grater suitable for making ambergris tincture

Microplane grater suitable for making ambergris tincture

Here’s what you’ll need:
– Ambergris chunk of known weight (eg. three grams)
– Scale that measures to a tenth of a gram
– Beaker
– 190 proof alcohol or oil, such as almond or jojoba. Substitute oil for alcohol in instructions below, if you wish.
– Microplane grater*
– Piece of large paper, letter size
– Jar with airtight lid
– Label
Assemble all of the above materials on a table and make sure there isn’t a fan or other strong breeze in the room.
1. Open the jar and put it to the side, with the lid next to it.
2. Write the name of the tincture, type of ambergris, ambergris supplier, date, and tincture percentage on the label with a waterproof pen, and place it on the jar.
3. Place the beaker, alcohol, scale, ambergris, and grater to one side.
4. Place the piece of large paper in front of you.
5. Pick up the grater, and hold it at a 45 degree angle to the paper.
6. Pick up the ambergris, and begin to grate it, making sure the powder is falling within the perimeter of the edge of the paper.
7. When finished grating, pick up the edges of the paper, and gently tap it to move the powder to the center of the paper.
8. Lift the paper, and using it as a “slide”, allow the ambergris powder to slide into the jar. Tap the bottom of the paper to make sure all the powder gets dislodged into the jar. (This is the part where I sniff he paper to enjoy the fragrance).
9. Turn on the scale, and place the beaker on it.
10. Tare the beaker.
11. Add the appropriate amount of alcohol to the beaker to reach the percentage you need. (ex. if using three grams of ambergris powder, you’ll need 97 grams of alcohol.
12. Pour the alcohol into the jar with the ambergris powder, and place the lid on the jar.
13. Gently “swirl” the alcohol and ambergris to put them into solution.
14. Put the tincture in a cool, dark place and shake daily, if possible, or use mixer. You can see mixers and Teflon mixer bars on eBay if you are interested in obtaining one. Use of them is covered in the Intermediate Level of the course.
15. Allow your ambergris tincture to mature for a minimum of six months.
16. I do not filter the tincture when it is done. I pipette the amount I need from the clear part of the tincture, leaving the grated bits on the bottom undisturbed. When I make the next batch of tincture, I add the leftover grated bits from the previous tincture (unweighed, a bit of lagniappe) to the new batch, a trick from the wine and liquor industry!

* Microplane graters originated in North America, and I’m not sure about their availability worldwide. You can find them on eBay and also Amazon, and many kitchen supply sites. You may substitute something similar, of course. Here is what one type of microplane looks like, there are wider models. I only use the one with fine teeth like this one:

I’ve been working with ambergris for about fifteen years, and I have some vintage tinctures that are as beautiful as you can imagine. Here’s a review of a book on the subject I was interviewed for the book, but wasn’t included, too bad, there were some points I could have cleared up, as I was one of three people that vetted the Carolina piece mentioned in the book. It was originally sold by Eden Botanicals. I have about ten grades of ambergris in my studio, and I love all of them, from the ethereal white and silver vintage pieces, to the funky black new stuff. When you see what ambergris can do for your perfumes, you’ll love them all, too.

Happy ambergris adventures!


Making Perfume with a Shorthand Key of Descriptors

Monday - 30 March 2015

In 2007, when I launched my perfumery course on the Internet, I put together an expansive, detailed series of forms, charts, and educational materials to assist my students in their studies. There are organoleptic evaluation forms, an aromatic lexicon, several Excel worksheets, and much more. One way to help students quickly and easily jot down scent impressions was a reference sheet I call the Shorthand Key to Comprehensive Descriptors for Organoleptic Evaluations. The Key is designed to allow the perfumer to use three-letter references for scent properties. Some “full terms” the perfumer is familiar with, and some “shorthand” key terms:

NPI shortland key for perfumery terms_optThe inspiration for the Key came from a similar resource in the book An Introduction to Perfumery by Tony Curtis and David. G. Williams. I wrote to the publishers, Micelle Press, and received permission to adapt the Key for my students. The Key is a starting point, to be used with the Aromatic Lexicon, another resource meant to jog the student’s ability to find the words to describe a scent. Once the words are found, they can be written longhand, or, more easily, jotted down with the Key descriptors.

Students are encouraged to add to the Aromatic Lexicon, and also to add to the Shorthand Key, according to their observations. Both forms are provided to the students as Word documents, so they’re easily editable.

For those of you interested in studying perfumery, perhaps already starting to read books and figure out the process, I hope the Key, provided below, can assist you. If you click it on, it should open up full size, and you can save it to your hard drive. If you’re serious about making perfume,  encourage you to enroll in the Natural Perfumery Institute, where helpful forms like this, and a professional textbook can provide a solid foundation in perfumery.

The Shorthand Key from the Natural Perfumery Institute

The Shorthand Key from the Natural Perfumery Institute

New Natural Perfumery Course Textbook Cover and a Giveaway

Thursday - 9 October 2014

Natural Perfumery Institute cover. Textbook written by Anya McCoy.

The cover for the perfumery course textbook at the Natural Perfumery Institute was due for a re-design. I love the new look, shown above, and I hope you do, too.  The cover now cheerfully and correctly illustrates some of the raw materials of perfumery, from roses and vanilla to frankincense, and will be bound into a high-quality paperback. There are some final tweaks being worked on for the back cover, and I have to update a few items inside the book before I have a draft published. The new textbook should be available in a month or less.

I left the image of the beachside bottle full of flowers, ferns, shells and a clock on the cover, a holdover from the past textbook covers. I love the way that image shows the diversity of elements we perfumers use, from onland flora, to oceanic offerings, such as seashells and seaweed, all brewing together with an important element – time.

Now I’d love for you to help me, and maybe win a lovely educational prize in return. I have a survey for potential students, or those who would like to weigh in on a subject regarding studies:

1. Would you prefer a definite start date for studies, such as I had originally for students, with modules starting and ending on a specific date?

2. Would you prefer the “opt-in anytime signup” for studies now in place, and study at your own pace?

Leave an answer by Oct 31, 2014, and be in the random drawing for one of two prizes:

1. A free copy of the new textbook and enrollment in the course with the Independent Study option.


2. If you’re currently a student, once your course is completed, you’ll receive a $200 discount off the tuition of the next level of study.

Remember, leave a comment to be in the drawing. You can read more about the Independent Study option at Thank you for your feedback!

Tip: Use the Subscribe link on the right to either subscribe to my blog, or, if you’re entered in this giveaway, subscribe to the comments so you’ll receive notification about the winner.

Ask the Perfumer Sunday: More on making perfume

Sunday - 21 September 2014

The Ask the Perfumer forum is sporadic now, as I am caught up in so many projects, but I still love to assist others in making perfume, tinctures, enfleurage, etc. Feel free to post a question between now and 10 PM ET USA. For fun, a lovely photo of a Florida green orchard bee from photographer Mark Lenz.