Essentials pictured above very useful, but not an exhaustive list represented here in this photo. More perfumemaking tools are shown below in this post.
PHOTO: stainless steel tray for surface protection when pouring, filling bottles, etc. Stainless steel measuring cups and spoons. Borosilicate beakers, stainless steel funnels, stainless potato ricer for straining botanicals from alcohol tincture. Stainless steel strainers when filtering tinctures. Thermometers for heating materials. Graduated cylinders, droppers, and offset spatula for enfleurage lids. Not pictured: stainless steel bowls, filter papers.
It’s not just beakers, and pipettes and scales, there are many interesting and inexpensive tools for perfume making that I have found indispensable. Here are some of the tools and gadgets I’ve found helpful in the perfumemaking process. Please google or do further research into any process you’re interested in, as I won’t be answering individual questions about them on the blog. My students learn about these at different stages of their studies and receive in-depth training and have questions answered in their forums. When my new teaching site launches, there will be over 100 pages of supplemental materials for their enjoyment/learning at http://PerfumeClasses.com
For years, I used rubber dropper tops, and finally gave up, due to evaporation of the alcohol and essential oil dilutions, rendering my carefully-weighed dilutions useless. Then I found out about laboratory-grade monprene bulbs. They’re made to resist any solvents, and my perfume organ is now evaporation-proof! I think the smallest size the monprene droppers come in is for 15ml/half-ounce bottles, which you see in the picture. Available in black or white.
I make my perfumes by diluted aromatics/dropper method, and then, using specific gravity calculations, measure the undiluted aromatics I need to make the perfume. A scale helps in both processes. First, I dilute using the aromatic and alcohol weights to the desired concentration, and then I later measure the aromatic for the finished perfume. A good, inexpensive scale can work for this, especially in the dilution phase. Find a scale that measures down to the hundredths (0.00) and up to 200 grams, even 100 grams will do. Use borosilicate (lightweight) 50 ml beakers for the dilution measurements. Upgrade to a 0.00 to 500-gram scale as your business grows 😉
When working with thick aromatics like labdanum, tonka bean absolute and such, nothing makes it easier to remove from the bottle for dilution or weighing than wax carving tools. They’re stainless steel so they’re non-reactive and very sturdy, they won’t bend or break off in the bottle.
This is handy for both perfumes and distillation, i.e., separating essential oil from the hydrosol. I’m using this illustration because it’s labeled, but separatory funnels are glass and require a metal stand to hold them upright.
Conductivity meter aka Total Dissolved Solids meter
I make a lot of tinctures from flowers, leaves, roots, etc., in alcohol. The essential oils in the botanicals dissolve in the alcohol and you can measure the amount with these inexpensive meters. Alcohol equals 0 on the meter, and each time you recharge the alcohol by straining out the spent botanical and adding fresh botanical to the alcohol, you can check the TDS number. At a certain point, you will see the number stops rising, and that means the alcohol is saturated with the essential oil, and you can cease recharging. Very handy device.
Mixer with Teflon bars
Mixers work to blend perfumes before bottling. They’re not always necessary, but are helpful when there are 1) oils that are very different in consistency, or 2) you want to help the “aging” or “maturation” process of your perfume. See the vortex in the beaker? The Teflon bar is on the bottom, and a force in the mixer causes it to churn. Keep your perfume covered with a plate, and run the mixer in short bursts, stopping every 12 hours or so to evaluate the change in the perfume.
Sterilize Equipment with UV light
After washing your bottles, caps, and equipment, it’s a good idea to sterilize them, especially true if you’re making hydrosols. These UV units are sold to the tattoo and nail arts businesses but are suitable for small scale sterilization for our purposes. Get one with a top rack, as shown. I put clean bottles on the top rack, and it’ll fit two one-quart jars or many smaller bottles. I put the caps facing upwards on the bottom, as the light will pass through the glass and sterilize the caps. Some hydrosol equipment is shown in the photo below.
Vacuum pump for filtration
These are primarily used drain brake fluid from cars but have been adapted to aid in the filtration of perfumes with a Buchner filter and Erlenmeyer flask. Make sure to wear eye protection when using this, the spring inside may fly out. Inexpensive but a bit tricky. There are more expensive, different filtering devices on the market.
Potato Ricer to Strain Tincture material
I’ve seen people grinding precious ambergris in a mortar and pestle, and I’d never do that! Too much waste of the gris, and who needs a scented mortar? I use these instead, and they’re fast and non-reactive.
That’s all for now, I’ll follow up with more tools and techniques I’ve found useful in perfumemaking in my decades of experimenting and refining the process. In the meantime, subscribe to my blog to see the latest in modern techniques for natural perfumery, and any aromatic observations I make.
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Can you recommend what brand and model number for the Conductivity meter aka Total Dissolved Solids meter? I looked on Amazon and there are a ton. Thanks.
thank you for the info on tools, the potato ricer is a good one.
many great tips here – thank you! I’m wondering when using a filter with filterpaper inlays as shown in the picture in the vacuum pump – how is the filterpaper kept on the bottom and not floating around in the Buchner filter?
Do you have a suggestion for monprene dropper vendors?