A Modern Perfume Organ

Sunday - 2 April 2017

I started collection essential oils and absolutes in 1966. At the time, I didn’t know my bottles of aromatics were supposed to be arranged on a tiered shelf called a perfume organ. Because I was a botanist, I categorized them by the part of the plant they were extracted from: florals, woods, leaves, etc., and kept them in plastic boxes for storage.

Later, I had a beautiful old wooden printer’s tray, which, when attached to a wall, provided a lovely display for the small bottles, but was impractical for working, and, of course, didn’t hold the larger bottles.

In 1990 or so, I stored my perfume organ in a beautiful Thai display case.

Anya McCoy with Thai display cabinet holding perfume organ oils

Anya McCoy with Thai display cabinet holding perfume organ oils

I finally located a man in Kentucky who made the wooden tiered racks for essential oils you’d see displayed in stores. I carefully measured what I perceived I’d need, and sent him the information. He constructed a lovely, modern-looking perfume organ out of pine, sweet and pale yellow and perfect for my needs – at the time.

What many perfume organs still look like, but this was only temporary. You can see the beginning of my dilutions on the bottom row. This photo is about 10 years old

What many artisans’ perfume organs still look like, but this was only temporary. You can see the beginning of my dilutions on the bottom row. This photo is about 10 years old

All my bottles, except the ones that needed refrigeration were on the organ, interspersed with the dilutions I used in everyday blending. The dilutions sat right next to the undiluted aromatics, and that was okay for a while.

The Modern Perfume Organ in Practice

Ah, visual serenity, aesthetic beauty, and so much more refined! This perfume organ should be the desired type for artisan perfumers. Modern, cost-effective, and so easy to use!

Ah, visual serenity, aesthetic beauty, and so much more refined! This perfume organ should be the desired type for artisan perfumers. Modern, cost-effective, and so easy to use!

Top notes are on the top level, middle notes, of which there are hundreds, are on middle levels, and base notes along the bottom. Why dilute your essences? It saves a lot of money, first of all. Imagine using undiluted pricey oils, like rose otto, for all of your mods. Secondly, now you get the scent of the rose “opened up” by the alcohol in the dilution, too. Two great bonuses!

Don’t ever struggle with trying to use labdanum or tobacco absolutes by the drop again! The diluted essences are very fluid.

Now only dilutions are on the perfume organ. Most are 10%, some higher, some lower. The undiluted raw materials are kept in a refrigerator, with their specific gravity noted on a blending database. You may be able to blend a perfume modification with a diluted essence, but you need the specific gravity to be able to blend any quantity. This is taught in my Intermediate Level Perfumery course. Enroll now in the Basic course, which will prepare you to further your studies at the Intermediate Level.

 

5 thoughts on “A Modern Perfume Organ

  1. Jude Fanton

    Very Helpful Anya as raw beginners we have a disorganised organ in extremis, a tall stainless steel set of shelves with drawers underneath. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Doreen stelton

    This is fun to see and to learn about your progress. I have two questions.

    Do you keep all undiluted raw materials in the fridge? Or just citrus, fir, cedar, butter, ginger, pepper, etc. (the usual suspects)?

    Also, do you keep diluted citrus, fir, cedar on the organ?

    Oh – I am also wondering about violet leaf. Does it change much as it ages?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  3. Anya Post author

    Hi Doreen:

    I have a “warm” cabinet also for stuff that doesn’t need refrigeration. Yes, all diluted aromatics are on the organ. The alcohol preserves them.

    I’ve never had violet leaf change, have you? This could be a good question for the student forum on Yahoo to get more input.
    Anya

    Reply
    1. Doreen stelton

      Thank you for your response! I wonder if the violet has deepened or it is the difference between two different distillations… I have two VL diluted from different distillation batches. Both from Eden that seem quite different. Which I realize is normal also. But so markedly different it made me wonder.

      Smell ya’ later!

      Reply

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