Best Bottles for Essential Oil Storage

johngreenink

Well-known member
Oct 10, 2011
Hello Folks - I'm a bit perplexed as to the best kind of bottles / droppers I should employ for storing and usage of my essential oils.

I've been acquiring my oils from a few different sources, and they all come with these complex built-in 'orifice reducers', which are really impractical for getting consistent dropping ability. So far, I've been using plastic 'pipettes' to draw the oils out of their original bottles to blend with other oils.

The problem is that I've had to assign a separate dropper for each bottle of essential oil, which is getting really cumbersome and impractical. I wrote the names of the oils on the droppers with permanent marker, but it easily wears off. Realistically, I'd have to tie the dropper on a string to the bottle in order for it to remain organized (which sounds a bit like children tying their mittens to their coat sleeves...) It seems that droppers that can be screwed onto the lid of amber jars would be the easiest to use, but I've read over and over again that they can themselves degrade if oil touches them.

So, either there is yet another option I haven't heard of, or, I use the stoppers and just be REALLY CAREFUL not to let the oil touch the rubber. Any suggestions? Thanks for the help! I should mention that I am based in the US so I'd need to look at a US supplier for specifics (I won't be in the UK/EU until March of next year.)
 

Chris Bartlett

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Jul 17, 2011
Hi John,
I must say I agree about those wretched reducers, they drive me to distraction. I'm told they are a requirement of an association concerned with aromatherapy so a great many suppliers who also supply that trade are obliged to use them. Perfumery suppliers don't use them, they use caps with polycone linings instead: these are much better as the seal properly, whereas the reducer type won't seal properly once you take the reducer out. I buy those in bulk from a bottle distributor and use them for materials that I don't use in large enough amounts to warrant kilo or half-kilo lacquered aluminium flasks.

What I do is use glass pipettes rather than plastic and store them next to the bottles I'm using while I'm working, when I've done I wash the lot (a quick rinse in ethanol and then in a dishwasher so it's not too hard and they reach a good high temperature to ensure nothing is left behind). It is a bit of a faff to take the cotton overflow-stopper out and put it back afterwards though. Alternatively you can treat them as disposable as the manufacturers intend (I do that with very sticky materials), though that can get expensive even if you buy them in bulk (they are available from laboratory suppliers quite cheaply - a few pence each here). Being glass they can be recycled pretty much everywhere - I keep an old liquor bottle on hand to drop them into so that there is no problem with tiny shards of broken glass ending up anywhere before they go to the recyclers.

All that being said I have some bottles that I bought almost 30 years ago that came with rubber droppers in them: they have been very carelessly handled over the years and yet they are all still perfectly functional with their original droppers in them. Also don't forget that if you do get a problem with perished rubber you can always buy new dropper tops. I think the problem of rubber being degraded by oil has been grossly exaggerated: I'm not suggesting it does not happen, just that in practice it isn't the problem people say it is.

Hope that helps
 

johngreenink

Well-known member
Oct 10, 2011
Thanks Chris, that's very helpful. I was also thinking to myself that the dropper degradation seemed a bit alarmist. I know my mother had some oils in dropper-bottles and I recall now that they hadn't ever disintegrated.

The dish washing machine idea for cleaning is excellent, I never thought of that. I'm also going to go hunting around for the glass pipettes you mentioned, since I was definitely having trouble cleaning out the plastic ones.
 

mumsy

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Jan 31, 2010
The only thing to watch with dropper bottles and viscous oils, is that the oils will have firmly adhered to the sides of a dropper permanently left within it and the size of the drop gets correspondingly larger as a result. A fine situation if you are also weighing or wipe the dropper shaft each time. The disposable tip tends to only get submerged enough to gain its contents and thereby suffers less adherance. It does help with plastic droppers if they get labelled and stored alphabetically for easy retrieval. A tissue can be well wrapped and taped around their base to make a sleeve and prevent any cross contamination.

The other, and best method (in my opinion only) are the tiny disposable tips on the calibrated syringes. These are the cheapest and least bulky ones for disposing of, and best for non-contamination as they are easily bought in huge bulk.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_displacement_pipette
 
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johngreenink

Well-known member
Oct 10, 2011
Mumsy - wow, that device looks serious!! I can see why that would be ideal, what with the disposable tips. I think that (when/if?) I'm ever at a stage in which I'd be making such exact and exacting measurements, I'd love to use a device like that. In the interim, I'll probably use either the small pipettes or wash the latex-and-glass droppers that I just bought.

My real need at the moment is to be able to mix and experiment with a bit of freedom and my current system is not working well, so I'm going to try out a few and see what happens. One thought I had was to leave the droppers in the bottles that I use more frequently, and to use disposable pipettes for those I use less frequently. That could work.

Thanks again for the suggestions.
 

Chris Bartlett

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Jul 17, 2011
Mumsy - wow, that device looks serious!!

That’s what I thought! Necessary I should think if you work in volume rather than weight as you’ll need the accuracy.

As I work entirely in weight (which I recommend if you plan to sell anything as the IFRA regulations are all specified that way and conversion is really hard) then a good set of scales and fine glass disposable pipettes are plenty good enough. I’m not sure which would work out cheaper though, as suitable scales are not cheap.
 

mumsy

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Jan 31, 2010
The ibalance weighs to 0.005 accuracy and isn't too horrendous a price. Nor was the micropipette (second hand). It's good even when weighing to give smaller additions. You need an exam for its volume use nearly and it needs recalibrating now and again. It's good for repeating blends.
 

Chris Bartlett

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Jul 17, 2011
The scales I use are from Radwag and claim to be accurate to 0.001g, however the key thing isn’t the claimed accuracy it’s the way the software handles small additions - most scales auto-correct for tiny additions on the basis that they are frequently caused by draughts or vibrations in the surface on which the scales stands - this is a problem in perfumery because tiny additions are often exactly what you are intending to measure.

I find the pipettes will produce a single drop of almost any material in ethanol of about 0.015g which allows me to make up very small quantities when I’m working on a new blend quite easily: when I’m making something for the first time I don’t try too hard to be accurate in the amounts that go in anyway: just accurate in weighing them so I can reproduce it again if it turns out to be good.

In fact the initial design is normally done on paper (or rather in-spreadsheet) and I just use a number of drops and refine later when it’s made.

There are lots of ways of doing this stuff and as long as they work I see no issue, except that you do need to be able to work in weight at some point in the process. Working entirely in volume makes it much harder check IFRA and other regulatory compliance as it means converting using the specific gravity of each of the materials - perfectly possible - but complicated and tiresome to do. If you can’t accurately weigh things it’s also nearly impossible to work with solids as measuring the volume of crystals and powders is so inaccurate and it isn’t easy to predict what they will do when they go into solution (in terms of volume). Also don’t forget that liquids change volume with temperature, but retain the same mass - and they don’t always change volume in a linear fashion either.
 

stevehughes

Banned
Aug 8, 2011
Essential oils should be packaged in dark coloured glass, since this filters out the suns ultra-violet light. Until quite recently, dark amber was always the colour of choice in glass bottles as can be seen from old-style medicine bottles. Today, dark shades of blue, green and violet have become more popular and they all offer some protection to your oils.
 

Chris Bartlett

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Jul 17, 2011
Yep, quite true. I keep the majority of my ingredients in amber glass though there are a few in lacquered aluminium flasks and even fewer of dilutions I use often and like to keep an eye on stock levels are in clear glass. Anything you plan to keep for long is worth keeping cool and dark.

When I want to show off (for example when doing a perfume making event) I use cobalt blue bottles, just because the look so much more sophisticated than the amber sort.
 

mumsy

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Jan 31, 2010
I always like to use clear glass when doing any fun display perfumery because I find my girlies like to see what they are doing and love the colours of the various oils, but of course it's only for fun so it doesn't really matter.
 

Chris Bartlett

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Jul 17, 2011
It is nice to see the colours of things I must say - I keep all my completed fragrances in clear stock bottles partly for that reason and partly because it’s so easy to see what stock I’ve got. I do then keep all the stock bottles in a cold-cupboard though, so they are kept dark anyway.

Of course UV does not damage oils overnight (sorry, couldn’t resist that pun) even in a clear bottle on a sunny windowsill most oils will be alright for a week or two and in more normal conditions much longer.
 

nomothetic

New member
Apr 24, 2011
Down the road I'd love to get a scale, I'm sure it's wickedly accurate plus they look really snazzy too.

This one is plenty capable for $25: Gemini-20

I haven't used mine heavily but did calibrate last night and it is within a few mg. I also did not have the problem some people were talking about in the reviews with needing to tape a piece of metal or whatever, just not an issue in my experience.

On the topic of bottles.. does everclear leech LDPE? I had some sitting in a little LDPE bottle for a month or two and just went to it recently and it seemed off. I thought LDPE was pretty non-reactive, but maybe not.
 

Chris Bartlett

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Jul 17, 2011
On the topic of bottles.. does everclear leech LDPE? I had some sitting in a little LDPE bottle for a month or two and just went to it recently and it seemed off. I thought LDPE was pretty non-reactive, but maybe not.

LDPE is not quite ethanol proof: the ethanol will slowly leak through the plastic and evaporate away: but I emphasise slowly it won’t happen to any measurable extent in a few months.

LDPE isn’t reliably essential oil or aroma-chemical proof either: some oils will damage the plastic over time.

Neat ethanol is quite safe in LDPE for a few months - but not for years. So if yours smells off after a couple of months it’s probably not the container that’s at fault - could be the lid or some sort of contamination perhaps? If it was stored next to something with a strong smell (like creosote for example) it will likely pick it up.

Long term storage of most perfumery materials should be in lacquered metal or glass.
 

Doc Elly

Well-known member
Dec 5, 2009
Even if you work by weight, those pipette guns with the disposable tips are wonderful for filling sample vials!

All of my materials are in glass or aluminum containers (no orifice reducers or droppers allowed in my work area) and are stored in the dark. I have to say that I wish everything was in clear glass bottles so that I could easily monitor for color changes, crystallization, precipitate, etc. I like seeing my materials. I keep all of my finished perfumes in clear glass, in a cool, dark storage area.

If you're looking for a good scale, I use this one from Old Willknot Scales. It's not too expensive.
 

ScentlessApprentice

Active member
Jul 24, 2010
As Chris mentioned, most scale 'software' auto-corrects for tiny additions, does the My Weigh iBalance 101 (i101) handle small additions without auto-correcting? I've seen a number of suggestions for this scale in the forum and I've been considering purchasing one so I'm hoping an i101 user will comment.

Is anyone using a thumb roller pipette pump with their glass pipettes? Those look like they would give you more accuracy than the simple bulb style and cost much less than air displacement micro-pipettes.
 

mumsy

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Jan 31, 2010
I use the 101 and the only criticism that I have of it is that if I take too long with the next ingredient, it will auto switch off. You may be able to alter that time, but I haven't found out if or how yet, so it is good to be well prepared and not interrupt a process with a long gap. I always write down every weight stage in case.

I haven't noticed any auto correcting going on with mine, but it will re-zero if you want it to during any work, so you can re-zero per ingredient if you prefer. I haven't tried a roller pipette, but I love my (second hand) micro pipette too much.
 

SculptureOfSoul

Well-known member
Jul 2, 2005
I use a variety of inexpensive micropipettes in various predetermined amounts (5ul, 10ul, 20ul, 50ul, and 100ul) and also have some tiny glass capillary tubes (1ul and 0.25ul) to add tiny amounts of things. This allows me make complex blends that are 0.5ml or less, and greatly reduces material waste. Of course, if a blend is good, I'll make more of it for further testing and analysis.

Also, I pre-dilute all of my materials and label these bottles A0-A9, B0-B9, C0-C9, etc, all the way through and beyond AA0-AA9. My pipette tips came in a plastic grid-like holder that was 10 spaces deep by 8 spaces wide, so I have these labeled A0-A9, B0-B9, etc. Think of the game Battleship and how you indicate a space, that's how I indicate a pipette tip that matches a corresponding bottle.

I first formulate in a spreadsheet and that spreadsheet is set up to tell me what I think is the most important piece of information that is so often overlooked yb those working merely with a record of drops - the % of the total blend that a given ingredient is. This not only lets you see the % of the ingredient in comparison to the full blend, but also to another ingredient or set of ingredients (accord). If you have an accord that makes up 15% of the blend, and ingredient X makes up 3%, and that is the balance you want between that accord and that ingredient, you could much more easily utilize this information and keep the same ratio of the two in another blend where the accord, say, only makes up 5.5% of the blend. Mostly, it's just helpful in understanding how things really work in a blend, which can be greatly obscured when you only see something like 3 drops of patchouli in a 135 drop blend.
 

ScentlessApprentice

Active member
Jul 24, 2010
Would you provide details on the micropipettes you are using? Are these the type that require disposable tips? SculptureOfSoul, how inexpensive if you don't mind me asking?
 

Chris Bartlett

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Jul 17, 2011
As Chris mentioned, most scale 'software' auto-corrects for tiny additions, does the My Weigh iBalance 101 (i101) handle small additions without auto-correcting? I've seen a number of suggestions for this scale in the forum and I've been considering purchasing one so I'm hoping an i101 user will comment.

Is anyone using a thumb roller pipette pump with their glass pipettes? Those look like they would give you more accuracy than the simple bulb style and cost much less than air displacement micro-pipettes.

The thumb roller pumps I do use and I think they are much superior to bulb fillers because they are progressive so it’s easier to be accurate.

On the scale - it isn’t one I use - however I saw mumsy saying she has one and hasn’t seen any sign of autocorrecting: what you’d see if it was happening is you add a tiny drop and the weight does not change. If that isn’t happening it isn’t autocorrecting enough to be a problem.
 

ScentlessApprentice

Active member
Jul 24, 2010
The thumb roller pumps I do use and I think they are much superior to bulb fillers because they are progressive so it’s easier to be accurate.

On the scale - it isn’t one I use - however I saw mumsy saying she has one and hasn’t seen any sign of autocorrecting: what you’d see if it was happening is you add a tiny drop and the weight does not change. If that isn’t happening it isn’t autocorrecting enough to be a problem.

What size pipettes and pipette pumps do you use? I'm sure a wide variety would be beneficial for various tasks, but if one were purchasing only one or two to get started blending and experimenting what sizes would you suggest? I was thinking 2ml max, but I'm sure there would be benefit to smaller pipettes since I'm thinking the thumb rollers on the smaller ones dispense even smaller quantities. Any suggestions on suppliers for the glass pipettes and the pumps? Thanks again for all the great information you and others share on the forum, I've been learning a great deal by reading through the threads.
 

Accord

Member
Dec 20, 2011
Does anyone use syringes? They come in a wide variety of sizes and are extremely accurate. Some 1cc syringes are graduated in 1/100ths of a ml, and a very fine needle will give miniscule drops. Another advantage would be less unwanted odors, since only the needle tip would be in contact with the substance, and it can be wiped off and capped.
 

Chris Bartlett

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Jul 17, 2011
What size pipettes and pipette pumps do you use? I'm sure a wide variety would be beneficial for various tasks, but if one were purchasing only one or two to get started blending and experimenting what sizes would you suggest? I was thinking 2ml max, but I'm sure there would be benefit to smaller pipettes since I'm thinking the thumb rollers on the smaller ones dispense even smaller quantities. Any suggestions on suppliers for the glass pipettes and the pumps? Thanks again for all the great information you and others share on the forum, I've been learning a great deal by reading through the threads.

For fine work I use disposable glass pipettes that have no graduations and I measure by weight. The pipettes I use will take about 1ml each and produce a drop of 0.011 grams or so of most materials.

The ones I use with the roller pumps are bigger - 10ml and 25ml - and I use them for measuring out ethanol for dilutions and that sort of thing rather than for blending. I buy a lot of this sort of thing from Better Equipped - I’m not sure whether they sell internationally - but they do stock small graduated pipettes.

The trouble with syringes is they are not practical to clean so once used for one aromatic material could only be used for that material. On the other hand they are better for stickier liquids that would be left clinging to the sides of a pipette. I have 500 or so different materials though and the prospect of that many fine needles in my workspace fills me with terror: I don’t think I’d recommend using medical style needles at all personally.
 

mumsy

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Jan 31, 2010
I hadn't thought of syringes, but the rubber pipette caps aren't much bigger at the ends. You would certainly need a really good scale for such tiny amounts. My 101 even moves with a small breath. I use the air screen around it.

I noticed these people have a sale at the moment but are UK based

As for suppliers and sizes, the micro pipette is a VoluMate and does 20-200iu. Some fixed pipettors of 10, 25, 50, 100 and 1000iu, these are by MLA and three others at 100iu which are by IKA. I bought mine as a job lot from a lab sale. I certainly couldn't have managed to get them new. They don't come cheap, so it's worth keeping an eye open for lab seconds, but they may need recalibrating.

@Sculpture - I adore the battleship idea with the nibs - much tidier. I currently strap mine to each bottle in a sort of gun holster system.

A nice video for showing calibration of micro pipettes here. Thank you benchfly.
 

Chris Bartlett

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Jul 17, 2011
I first formulate in a spreadsheet and that spreadsheet is set up to tell me what I think is the most important piece of information that is so often overlooked by those working merely with a record of drops - the % of the total blend that a given ingredient is. This not only lets you see the % of the ingredient in comparison to the full blend, but also to another ingredient or set of ingredients (accord). If you have an accord that makes up 15% of the blend, and ingredient X makes up 3%, and that is the balance you want between that accord and that ingredient, you could much more easily utilize this information and keep the same ratio of the two in another blend where the accord, say, only makes up 5.5% of the blend. Mostly, it's just helpful in understanding how things really work in a blend, which can be greatly obscured when you only see something like 3 drops of patchouli in a 135 drop blend.

I always do this too and I agree the relative % of the ingredient is vital. In my spreadsheet I have it set up so that I can conveniently plug in the amount of ethanol I’m adding and the total quantity I’m going to make so that it calculates the absolute % in the final product (essential for checking IFRA compliance). If I’m using pre-diluted materials I record the % dilution as well so it takes account of that too and I can see exactly how much material is in the product. This also means the spreadsheet will conveniently tell me exactly how much of each ingredient, at what dilution, to put in whether I’m making a 3ml sample for testing or 3 litres for sale.

Spreadsheets are not as romantic as sniffing and blending but essential tools in my view.
 

SculptureOfSoul

Well-known member
Jul 2, 2005
I always do this too and I agree the relative % of the ingredient is vital. In my spreadsheet I have it set up so that I can conveniently plug in the amount of ethanol I’m adding and the total quantity I’m going to make so that it calculates the absolute % in the final product (essential for checking IFRA compliance). If I’m using pre-diluted materials I record the % dilution as well so it takes account of that too and I can see exactly how much material is in the product. This also means the spreadsheet will conveniently tell me exactly how much of each ingredient, at what dilution, to put in whether I’m making a 3ml sample for testing or 3 litres for sale.

Spreadsheets are not as romantic as sniffing and blending but essential tools in my view.

Yup, my spreadsheet has those capabilities too. It's probably the most essential aspect of learning, imo, as it gives you something concrete to analyze and learn from. A willy-nilly formula of a random number of drops is almost a waste of time because it's hard to analyze how things relate to one another and hard to learn from, properly.
 

mumsy

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Jan 31, 2010
Just a gentle jog to remember what it was like at the very beginning when learning to blend anything at all.

Willy-nilly formulas, sniffing, blending and drops are a quite a good first step on this long and interesting road. (As long as they are written down of course).

Many people on here are trying to start right from scratch and these methods mustn't seem to be dismissed too readily, as it doesn't take much equipment or time to achieve an instant and often very good and encouraging result. Drops are very good way to make some simple blends just to see what happens.

These later methods are commendable, but I think it would cease to be fun if it got too scientific/mathematic too early. The in depth learning would follow in it's own time quite naturally.
 

SculptureOfSoul

Well-known member
Jul 2, 2005
I simply feel that learning is slowed and hampered significantly by not being able to quickly and easily analyze a formula as a matter of percentages. I dismiss it as an approach because it's easy to get (or ask) for such a spreadsheet as we're talking about (mine's a bit messy but I'd offer it - it doesn't take into account all of the things Chris's does tho) and there's simply no reason not to use the spreadsheet then and increase one's learning rate, potentially exponentially. It's already hard enough to learn this stuff as we're sort of "doing it blind" and without the knowledge that has been gleaned and is available only in the big companies and select few perfumery schools - no need to truly "do it blind" by being blind to the proportions and ratios in the formulas one is using to learn!
 

ScentlessApprentice

Active member
Jul 24, 2010
For those of you using micropipettes, which size micropipette do you use most when experimenting and blending?

I've started experimenting as mumsy described with "Willy-nilly formulas, sniffing, blending and drops", however, I'd really like to start working towards more structured experimenting as a few of you've described with spreadsheets / formulas. I've visualized part of a simple spreadsheet, but I'm trying to figure out a full sheet as Chris described. Would anyone care to share their spreadsheets to give those of us starting a boost?
 

Chris Bartlett

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Jul 17, 2011
A spreadsheet example:

Name of Accord: Base One
Amount to make in grams: 24
Ingredient Concentration% Formula Grams to add % in prod Gms excl ethanol
Base notes
Base 1 10 100 2.40 1.00% 0.24
Base 2 10 20 0.48 0.20% 0.048
Base 3 10 200 4.80 2.00% 0.48
Base 4 10 0 0.00 0.00% 0
Base 5 10 50 1.20 0.50% 0.12
~
13 Base 15 10 5 0.12 0.05% 0.012
Middle Notes
Middle 1 10 10 0.24 0.10% 0.024
Middle 2 10 75 1.80 0.75% 0.18
3 Middle 3 10 20 0.48 0.20% 0.048
Top Notes
Top 1 0.00 0.00% 0
Top 2 0.00 0.00% 0
0
16 Total 10.00 1000 24 10.00% 2.4
No of ingredients 16
Bottle Size 30 ml

This is how I’ve laid out mine - I’ve left figures in so that you can see how the calculations work. Essentially the variables are the items in blue, all the other numbers are calculated from those. I don’t know if there is a way of supplying the file via Basenotes but if there is, I’m happy to do so. The ~ indicates there are some rows missing, which is why the numbers don’t add up . . .
 

ScentlessApprentice

Active member
Jul 24, 2010
hmm, that was all neatly lined up before I posted it . . . ho hum

I think there is probably a pre-formatted tag you can wrap that text in and it would display better. Update: the forum appears to be vBulletin, but doesn't seem to parse the "code" tag "The [ code ] tag switches to a fixed-width (monospace) font and preserves all spacing." If I find a solution, I will update this post with that information for you.

Thanks for sharing this little example, I guess it is an exercise for the reader to reverse the formulas! ;)
What is the significance of the leading 13 in "13 Base 15" and the leading 3 in "3 Middle 3"? Was this simply an error in copying the information to the forum?
 
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Chris Bartlett

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Jul 17, 2011
The leading numbers are a count of the number of ingredients - it was obvious when it was formatted properly because they were in a preceding column.
 

SculptureOfSoul

Well-known member
Jul 2, 2005
For those of you using micropipettes, which size micropipette do you use most when experimenting and blending?

I've started experimenting as mumsy described with "Willy-nilly formulas, sniffing, blending and drops", however, I'd really like to start working towards more structured experimenting as a few of you've described with spreadsheets / formulas. I've visualized part of a simple spreadsheet, but I'm trying to figure out a full sheet as Chris described. Would anyone care to share their spreadsheets to give those of us starting a boost?

I use my 10ul (10 microliter) one the most, as this dispenses a drop from the pipette tip, where the 5ul pipette does not suck up enough juice to create a full drop that will fall on its own accord (thus requiring one to touch the side of the blending bottle, w/ all the potential contamination issues that ensue). While I'm quite sure that 10uL creates a smaller drop than from a traditional dropper, it is what I've grown accustomed to thinking of as a drop. It's VERY handy to have the 5uL though because it allows ones blends to stay small and precise, and I actually get a LOT of use out of my 1uL capillary tubes. Being able to work at a "one tenth of a drop" level (and below, as you can mark off the 50%, 25%, etc levels of the 1uL tubes via simple measurement), is incredibly helpful, especially when working with strong components like say, oakmoss.

I can easily make blends that are 0.5ml that have more precision than you'd get in a 5ml blend if using just normal, full drops, without requiring multiple dilution levels of tons of ingredients (which is the only other way you could get such precision with a small blend while using full drops).
 

mumsy

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Jan 31, 2010
For extremely micro amounts in a blend, I use the adjustable pipettor with a finer tip and I dilute the ingredient in advance by weight to a much higher dilution like a 1%, then I can safely use a larger amount of volume without danger of overuseage. I usually blend properly by weight and volume together so if I make a mistake, or the weighing machine turns itself off, then I have a record of both. I am not expert enough to even consider trying to be accurate any other way than increased dilution.

I do, and still will, quite happily use the 'willy nilly' sniffing method to design frags. I have an idea, or maybe sniff a perfume that I am learning from, write down what I think it should be, have a look at the top, middle and base ratio, then put the ingredients on paper strips and assemble them together first, so I have an olfactory idea of approximately what I am putting in. I then record the first blend as I go along by weight and volume like a rough sketch, and then remix and adjust another finer blend once, and only if, I like the mix. It is still an accurate method but not so prestructured as a spreadsheet.

However, I am also very happy to take any criticism/help if anyone thinks this is a fast way to developing bad habits for later.

To get bogged down too soon with anything other than recorded weight/volume detail, then I found I cannot be so impulsive with the smell. Many whiffs get discarded before that finer point, but mine is a pure hobby and not a business. I cannot afford a degree course, but would do one if I could. Maybe that euromillion winner will consider a sponsorship!

Doesn't stop one aiming for the next Chanel however..... there is now a 'Chanatural'.....using these prehistoric methods... and it's not too awful. However, I don't think they will be queuing at Boots..... yet!!!!
 

SculptureOfSoul

Well-known member
Jul 2, 2005
Mumsy, I really didn't mean to offend with my comment but it seems I have struck a nerve. Honestly, everything you are doing seems (to me, at least) like the right approach. I, personally, normally design a fragrance in my head and in a spreadsheet first - using what I think are useful %'s of ingredients based on what I've gleaned from earlier experiments, other fragrances I've worked on, etc - but I do resort to a fully exploratory "drop by drop" type method when venturing into territory I'm not at all comfortable with (or ingredients I'm not used to. One sometimes useful approach to assimilating the behavior of new ingredients is to add some amount to a blend you've already made and are familiar with, and see how it behaves there). I usually do this alongside simple ratio blends (such as.. "lets try combining say, I don't know, sage and aglaia flower, and then I'll make a 50/50 blend, a 75/25, etc) because I am too impatient to wait on exploring an idea in a more 'full perfume' sense. The mixed ratio blends are a result of my more sensible and pragmatic side, and I end up incorporating the info gained from that back into the next iteration of a full blend.

I still think though, that even if doing this drop by drop method of exploratory perfumery, that you should enter the data into a spreadsheet that can calculate percentages and the like, even if it is after the fact (well, I suppose it would have to be :p). This maximizes learning from the experiment, and being able to think in percentages will greatly help you figure out the relative strength and diffusion curve of ALL the notes in the blend (with enough thought and analysis) and will greatly help you utilize some of the same materials that you may have been using in a cologne splash, for instance, into a dense chypre. Or at least, it will give you a more precise guess when you enter into unknown territory.

Of course, there's so much to learn and surely not enough time to learn it all. I think we can all agree on that. That's why I push so hard for the spreadsheet approach so that one can maximize learning from each and every 'mistake'.
 

mumsy

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jan 31, 2010
You really haven't..... I'm not offended in the slightest... promise

I was just explaining how I worked in more detail.... I am standing up for drops a bit, but not out of any angst. I'm being flippant, but I suppose it doesn't look like that in printed words.

If you want to know, I think your method is rather clever actually and I shall certainly be getting a spreadsheet and having a go at it myself. I've never used one.
 
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SculptureOfSoul

Well-known member
Jul 2, 2005
I'll have a go at cleaning my spreadsheet up - it has a few quirks that are... odd, and would be hard to explain to others. It also doesn't currently take into account dilution (because when I made the spreadsheet, back when I was just starting, I worked at an even 20% dilution for all things - needless to say things like oakmoss or black currant absolute eventually got me to change my ways :p). Now my dilutions are either 20%, 10%, 5% or 2%, and I can usually do the math mentally but regardless, I should clean it up the spreadsheet for my own sake, too.

When I get it cleaned up and in good working order I'll make it available to anyone who's interested. Not sure I'll have much time to work on it right away but I should have it ready within a week or two.
 

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