Tag Archives: study perfumery

Making Perfume – Working with Thick Aromatics

Monday - 30 September 2019

Making Perfume: Working with Thick and Pasty Aromatics

I have been working with perfumery aromatics since 1976. That’s the year I began to seriously study perfumery with the aid of a few rare books and the assistance of two retired perfume industry sales representatives. I had already been collecting essential oils and absolutes for hippie fun, but that year I got serious about making perfume.

At that time, I hadn’t come across labdanum, tonka bean absolute, myrrh, and some of the other thick and pasty aromatics. The thick ones, as I’ll call them from here out, are impossible to pour, or use with a dropper. When I did come across them, the perfume reps taught me about diluting* aromatics to work with them, both the thin, pourable stuff and especially the thick, difficult-to-work-with ones. *Dilution is the subject of another blog and is taught in Module one of my course.

I remember my jaw dropping when I read a perfumer recommend something like “50 drops” or labdanum in a “recipe”. Impossible! (and amateurish, too). This was about 15 years ago, and I was already using diluted aromatics to make my mods (modifications are the name given the experimentation with aromatics when composing perfume alternatives).

The typical way to make the thick oils more fluid was to heat the bottle they were in a bain-marie aka a water bath. What is a bain-marie? An invention by Maria the Jewess in ancient Egypt adapted for modern culinary and in our case, perfumery work. In the culinary world, custards, cheesecakes, and other foods are either cooked in or kept warm in, a pot containing water.

I typically used a “coffee cup” warmer with a borosilicate beaker on it that contained water up to about the halfway mark on the aromatics bottle. Messy and dangerous.

A Wonderful Revelation in Working with Thick Aromatics

So, for years, artisan perfumers were placing the bottles of myrrh, fir balsam absolute, oakmoss absolute, etc, into a pot of hot water. You had to pay careful attention that the water didn’t get too hot, and VERY careful when you removed the bottle from the water to pour the aromatic. Use a potholder, and make sure not one drop of water got into the receiver bottle, or the aromatic would be contaminated. A lot of scary, potentially dangerous work.

I have been teaching distance-learning perfumery online courses since 2007, pioneering both the concept of learning natural perfumery outside of the classroom, but more importantly to me, sharing decades of workarounds and introducing modern techniques to aspiring perfumers.

Bottle of aromatic in hot rice to liquify so it is pourable.

Four ounce bottle of thick labdanum absolute nestled in hot rice

A few years into the course, in the student forum where we all chat, a student shared a brilliant idea about an alternative to using a bain-marie. Michael Singles suggested that fill a bowl or beaker with rice, heat the rice (two minutes seems to be a good time) in a microwave and then insert the bottle into the rice for a few minutes, and the thick oil will liquify. It works beautifully!  I have been on perfume and aromatherapy forums for decades, and had never seen this tip, it was a revelation! BTW, at the time, I didn’t have a microwave, and I heated the rice in a small saucepan on the stove, which also works beautifully.

Snuggling a bottle down into the hot rice

You’ll still need a potholder to handle the hot bottle, but no water is involved, no mess, no fuss! You have to reinsert the bottle into the bowl or beaker occasionally, as it does start to solidify after a few minutes, but what a great relief to have such an easy way to warm oils to make them pourable!

If the receiver bottle or jar has a wide enough opening, you can just pour the aromatic, but you’ll probably find you need a pipette to transfer the oil or absolute.

The rice is reusable, so after you’re done, allow it to cool, and place it in an airtight container and keep it for the next session.

Using a beaker with the hot rice

Using a beaker with the hot rice. Of course, this can be scaled up for a large bottle.

Hot Rice and Stuck Caps

I told a friend I was working on this subject for my blog, and she said she had purchased several bottles of myrrh and couldn’t open them. Myrrh is notoriously thick and sticky, and I guess the cap is fused to the neck of the bottle. In this case, I would recommend burying the bottle in the hot rice and then attempting to open it. If successful, I would recommend pouring the now-liquified myrrh into a *jar*. Suppliers should pack thick aromatics in jars, not narrow-necked bottles, in my opinion. Once in the jar, you should apply a thin layer of coconut oil to the inside of the cap threads, and to the jar threads, as this might help avoid the stuck cap problem in the future.

I hope I have helped readers with this *sticky* problem and saved them having to deal with boiling water and all the subsequent problems that may entail. Let me know if this post has helped you, I know I depend on this method every time I work with thick, unpourable aromatics. This tip has been in the textbook for my Basic Course in natural perfumery since 2010, so there are many using this method. I gladly pass it on to the rest of the artisan community to help y’all out. I’ve shared it in various posts over the years, but recently realized I hadn’t blogged about it. Start heating that rice!

 

 

Natural Perfume Discounts on Tuition, oils, and perfumemaking kits

Saturday - 18 November 2017

 

How Autumn got Trashed by Hurricane Irma

This was going to be most heartfelt newsletter I’ve ever sent because I want to share the events of September and October and explain why I’ve been so quiet. Yes, I kept posting on Facebook, but behind the scenes, there is a lot of recovery and catch-up going on in the day-to-day businesses I run. I decided to blog later about the events instead, and just concentrate here on the love and passion for perfumes, and their creation. And I also decided to offer discounts, and pledge 10% of the sales to hurricane relief efforts. Use the links to discounted sale items at the end of this post.
 
I’ll let you know when I have it together enough to write about September and October, it’s just too fresh right now. So a remedy? Share the project that stirs as much passion in me as creating perfumes – teaching others how to make beautiful, professional perfumes!
My perfume organ with diluted essences, a working model I introduced to natural perfumery in my Basic natural perfume course.

10th Anniversary of the Natural Perfumery Institute Blew Right By!

Something very important to me that fell by the wayside due to Irma was the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Natural Perfumery Institute, an educational place for learning the ancient and modern aspects of natural perfume. It was the first online course in natural perfumery, and I share many years experience with the students in the form of a textbook, a real textbook, the first of its kind for perfumery. I had no time to announce, or celebrate, this milestone, the 10th anniversary. Thinking about the need for such a course, and then developing it, was a goal I accomplished.
 
If you are considering studying perfumery, I am offering an early holiday discount on tuition, the perfume making kits, and select aromatics from my botanicals line. Do you, or someone you love, desire to learn perfumery? This course is dynamic and covers the breadth and depth of the art of perfumery.
 
To learn more about the discounts visit:
 
This page for the $100 to $300 discount on the course tuition and kits.
 
and:
 
This page for discounts on Boronia, Sandalwood, and Vanilla.
 
These are the only pages coded with the discounts. There will be wonderful discounts on my perfumes next week for Black Friday, so be sure to open your newsletter to see what I’m offering. The tuition and aromatics discount will be available until Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017.
 
From Miami, our best wishes
Anya, Brian, Gracie, Andrea, and Dailyn
 

natural perfumery institute textbook cover

Natural Perfumery Institute cover. Textbook written by Anya McCoy.

Professional Course in Perfume Making 15% off Through February 28, 2015

Thursday - 12 February 2015

As a university professor, I wanted to provide a perfumery textbook for my students at the Natural Perfumery Institute. In 2010, this became a reality, and is the first ever perfumery textbook produced in the USA. The course is comprehensive, professional, and will give the student a firm foundation in perfumery, whether you stay with the all-naturals theme of the book, or use aroma chemicals. The techniques taught in the book apply to all forms of perfumery.

Natural Perfumery Institute cover. Textbook written by Anya McCoy.

Natural Perfumery Institute cover. Textbook written by Anya McCoy.

My background in artisan perfumery is focused and covers several decades of perfume creation, teaching, marketing, and community building. In 2013, I became the first artisan perfumer inducted into the American Society of Perfumery, in recognition of my long career and accomplishments in the field. I want to pass the skills I have amassed over the years on perfume making to you. Creating a textbook that works with unique, professional record forms, charts and ancillary materials was necessary to provide the best education.

I am offering 15% off the fee during February 2015. Pay via PayPal and the refund will be issued immediately. Please visit the course website by clicking here, and choose between the Independent Study or Private Tutorial option. If you have any questions about the options, please contact me. I urge you to take advantage of this offer and move forward in your quest to learn how to make perfume. If you know of someone who is interested in studying perfumery, please forward this to them, or share on social media, so they can obtain this course at a great savings.

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.

Surprise! A Natural Perfumery Treasure – Free Online

Tuesday - 1 July 2014

(Update — Thanks to the three readers who did find it downloadable on this site at http://krishikosh.egranth.ac.in/bitstream/1/2031806/1/27102.pdf ) I will be so excited tonight when I get to draw the name of the winner of the print copy of the iconic natural perfumery book Natural Perfume Materials by Naves and Mazayur (1947). It was at the bottom of p. 40 where I found a passage on powder enfleurage that inspired my experiments and the giveaway. Click here to read more, including specific instructions on how to accomplish powder and vapor essence enfleurage.

But it just gets better! I began to search around the Internet, hoping to find a .pdf version of the book for sale, because although I love to hold a book in my hands and flip pages, moving back and forth as I research, a .pdf version is great for searching specific terms, and quite speedy. I didn’t find a .pdf, but I did locate a free Adobe Flash version of the book, and it’s great. The pages can be enlarged, the contrast is crisp and clear, and it is searchable. Cllick here to read the book, bookmark this site for your online library, and enjoy this vintage book, full of incredible information and history. I love sharing information about perfumery, and although I realize you may not wish to study perfumery, you may enjoy delving into the processes by which these lovely botanicals are turned into gorgeous essences. You may also have someone in your life who is interested in studying perfumery, and this book will be a great aid to them. My best wishes for enjoyment with this book!

PS Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog (right column) and subscribe to the individual blog you are commenting in, to ensure you get follow up comments.

Illustrations and Table of Contents from Natural Perfume Materials by Naves and Mazuyer

Illustrations and Table of Contents from Natural Perfume Materials by Naves and Mazuyer. Click to enlarge.

Ask the Perfumer Sunday Forum on How To Make Your Own Perfume

Sunday - 8 June 2014

The Ask the Perfumer Forum is open for questions on how to make your own perfume today. I’ve been spending so much time on the Facebook page for my upcoming book Perfume From Your Garden, answering scent extraction questions, I felt a need to open up perfume making discussions here. I’ll be here until 10 PM tonight, ET USA, June 8, 2014, so please place your questions to me in that timeframe.

Working with, or wearing natural essences is a healthy choice. Want to study this healthful art? http://PerfumeClasses.com

Working with, or wearing natural essences is a healthy choice. Want to study this healthful art? http://PerfumeClasses.com

A little about my background as a perfumery instructor: In 2007, I developed a community based, professional natural perfumery course for those who cannot travel to study.  This was the first course of its kind, and I pioneered many techniques for students, including making dilutions for initial study, using scales, organoleptic evaluations and many more. I wanted this to be the best course available to those who cannot travel to study, perhaps due to finances, job and family commitments, or maybe health reasons. If any of these factors apply, this course is for you, especially if you’re looking for an instructor who has decades of perfumery experience. A few students have told me they took the course because they’re very reserved and didn’t want to be immersed in a real-life classroom setting where they would have to participate.  I understand this personality type, and I have found many natural perfumers to be reserved or shy, and I nurture them, as I have for eleven years on the Yahoo Natural Perfumery group I started and host, and in my Ask the Perfumer Sunday forum.

After studying perfumery on my own, from classic texts since 1976, I launched the first USA-based natural perfumery line in 1991, and since then have won dozens of awards for my perfumes.  What the bloggers who gave these awards didn’t know is that behind the scenes, I developed the first textbook for natural perfumery.  Not a handbook or manual, a fully-realized, illustrated, full-color, professionally-edited textbook.  It is copyrighted and is in the Library of Congress.

Textbook cover for the Natural Perfumery Institute basic course

So what do the students enjoy besides my expertise and wonderful textbook?  Well, there are two options, the value-priced $500 textbook Home Study, or the $2600 Online Interactive option.  The Online Interactive is for the student who feels they need one-on-one guidance and the ability to consult with me on an perfumery question, exercise or assignment.  Both options provide dozens of professional forms, charts and illustrations to make perfumery understandable and organized.  Both options also allow the student to be a part of the discussion forum – for life.  Adjunct faculty, students and myself take part in the forum.

You'll need to know specific gravity to make quantities of perfume.  The NPI is the only NP course that teachs SG

The convenience of distance learning is valuable for all the reasons stated above, and the companionship of the worldwide network of others in the forum is a treasure that will allow you to develop you skills.

Please visit http://PerfumeClasses.com and consider the premier online distance learning course for natural perfumery. Don’t forget to check out the testimonials, a tiny sampling of the many I receive for the course.

Anya McCoy

Founder and Head Instructor