I blogged recently about the great discovery that Daniel Krasofski, one of my students, made on a visit to a thrift store. Daniel kindly offered to share details to help everyone find and adapt these stainless steel goodies for their perfume business.

Here’s Daniel’s helpful blog, and don’t forget to check out the link and the end to the Institute for Art and Olfaction in Los Angeles, where he’s on the faculty.


I was surprised to wake up the other morning to Anya’s Blog post about the Film Developing Reels I have used for years, as Scent Strip holders. I also appreciate everyone, from all over the world, that has contacted me over the last week. Sharing helpful information and knowledge fills me with joy.

Originally I found my first three “35mm Film Developing Reel” set at the Goodwill Thrift Store, but once I modified them and began to use them in classes, I went to eBay and purchased at least 10 more. There are a number of things to take into consideration when purchasing and using these tools. I will outline a few tips and use-cases in this post.

A- When purchasing online, the “35mm” size is important. You will see on eBay or Amazon different sizes like “120”, “9.5mm” or plastic versions. It’s important to purchase the Stainless Steel 35mm kind. Often they are sold in sets of two, with a stainless steel “tank”. A couple years ago I found a tank at Goodwill that fit 4 reels and have seen others with up to 8 reels.

B- If you purchase a “Used” set online, be advised that they once were used to develop film, and a slight residue could still be in or on the container/reel. A good washing should take care of the somewhat foul odor.

Daniel Krasofski's modifications and recommendations for the scent strip holder

Daniel Krasofski’s modifications and recommendations for the scent strip holder

C- I made a couple helpful modifications. In picture #1 you will see Duct Tape and electrical tape on the bottom. The tape blocks the Scent Strip from sliding through the bottom and the electrical tape is my way of marking or numbering each holder (a single “bar” represents the “#5” in the Ancient Mayan numerical system).
I used two separate pieces of Duct Tape, one on either side of the straight metal prong, then used an X-acto knife to trim the excess. The tape will last for a long time, and will hold your strips steady for the first couple years. I’ve never had to replace the Duct Tape and it’s been at least three years.

D- In photo #2 you can see I added a little bit of thin wire to act as a support / division when using slightly thinner paper scent strips. A slightly thicker paper works best, since they don’t move around as much, but all paper thicknesses work.
I weaved the metal wire around the outer 7 rings, twisted the ends together on the underside, out of view, and crimped it to make it tight. This little addition has been very helpful in many situations, especially when going outside or to another room for organoleptic evaluations.

E- Photo #3 shows how I put the strips into the holder at a slight angle. You will also notice that I write the name of the essence higher up towards the thinner end, where you spray or drop your scent. I also make a slight crimp (as seen in photo 4), away from the writing, about one inch from the tip where you apply your scent. In photo #4, you can see why I use the angle and crimp. This technique allows you to see all your blotters when looked down from the top.

G- Anya mentioned that since there are four sections, you can divide your strips into Top, Middle and Base notes plus have a section for Bridge, Modifiers or “other” scents. That is very helpful and I have been doing that too. I used the end of the outer spiral as my “12 o’clock” position, and organize from there (notice photo #2’s upper right corner).

Daniel takes the object to a higher level with Ayurvedic and aromatherapy connotations

Daniel takes the object to a higher level with Ayurvedic and aromatherapy connotations

F- Since I have a background in Ayurveda and Aromatherapy, I found a wonderful book by Light & Bryan Miller in the mid 1990’s on “Ayurveda and Aromatherapy”. They have an excellent section on the “Chemical Functional Groups and the Relation to the Doshas”. In short, that section of the book explains the major chemical constituents of essential oils and how those chemicals can affect the body/ mind connection. You can see in photo 6 & 7 that this Scent Strip Holder matches the circular graph from the book. I’m working on a number of “Custom Balancing Perfumes” where I use the “doshic balancing effects” of each oil based on chemical make up. That’s for another blog entirely.

If you are in the LA area, I’m faculty at The Institute for Art and Olfaction where we are now teaching an intensive perfume making workshop (using botanical and synthesized ingredients). I’m currently developing a Perfume Making Session using only botanically derived materials, traditionally used in the 3,000 year old practice of Ayurveda; combining the ancient and the modern.

There is also a wonderful session planned for October 29th with acclaimed New York-based interdisciplinary artist Gayil Nalls. Her work is exceptionally interesting since she explores the use of the sense of smell in artwork.

In the bigger scope, the sense of smell is important to create a mood, set a scene, to express an artistic vision or create emotional and mental balance. Everyone of you is doing your share to make this world a better place by using essential oils and making/ using perfumes. By using essential oils we are supporting a larger planetary eco system; from the global market place, to the farmers that grow the plants and the communities the plants are grown in. Making and using perfumes are literally helping support communities all over the planet.