Best inexpensive Fixatives?

Tyson

Member
Jul 14, 2016
OK so I bought most of my fragrance oils from WillingtonFragrance.com. All premium fragrance oils and a few premium essential oils. I'm not sure how diluted they are so if anyone has an idea please share. I assume that is important when you're adding a carrier.

I came up with some pretty good formulas consisting of base, middle and top notes. Some replicated form other perfumes/colognes and some from scratch. I have a pretty good understanding of what base, middle and top notes are and how to combine them. But I seem to be running into the same problem that most DIYers are and that is perfume not lasting long enough. Some of it does, but usually the more potent aroma oils and/or ones I mix with Orris Root for example because that is a great fixative.

I am currently mixing some oils with perfumers alcohol and some with DPG. Originally started with alcohol and then decided to give DPG a go because of its fixative properties.

Questions:
1. What am I missing?
2. Can I or should I mix alcohol and DPG? If so at what %? (I have mixed both on a couple of samples and didn't run into any issues.)
3. When mixing fragrance oils with carriers do I need to account for how much the oil is diluted? (For example I see some oils labeled as 50% +/- dilution.) If so how would I know if they're not labeled?
4. Do fragrance oils act like essential or absolute oils in terms of base, middle and top note evaporation sequence?
5. Should I use essential or absolute oils instead of fragrance oils in some or maybe all cases? (I'm pretty sure most commercial brands use fragrance oil for the most part.)
6. And finally what else would you recommend I use for a fixative? Orris Root works pretty well but can alter the smell and it's pretty expensive. Any good cheap alternatives?

Sorry for so many questions on one thread. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

Jano

Well-known member
Jul 4, 2016
I'm not an expert but I will try to give you some help.
I don't know if many perfume DIYers use fragrance oils, but as they are "proprietary formulas" (or the way you don't know the composition) using multiple materials inside and being diluted... I understand why many prossional perfumers don't use them...

Meanwhile, it's surely a better way to begin in home made perfumes.

1) "Heavy" solvents (that take a long time to evaporate) have the power to retain molecules longer onto the skin, clothes... but they evaporate too. And when you use too much of long lasting solvents (carriers), the formula smell is weakened : less molecules evaporate at the same time as the carrier retain them. Then you have to concentrate furthermore... ok ?

When I first started perfume making I had the same problem, not always but often. Of course for some too volatile head notes you need to use some fixatives. Oleoresins, resinoids,, tinctures containing natural waxes and gums, also help you to get a long lasting fragrance. And some association of aromachemicals (or naturals) help you on this way. With practice you will discover by yourself which are great together.

Otherwise eg. isopropyl myristate (IPM) is a good carrier in small amounts in alcohol to last a fragrance longer. You will find a lot of other carriers such diethyl pthtalate (DEP), DPG of course, triethyl citrate (TEC), benzyl benzoate etc. but they are not always odorless and always suitable for all materials (not always miscible together). Regarding that the solvent will last longer than ethyl alcohol (which is not odourless but evaporate fastly), you will need a virtual or totally odourless fixative solvent. And if you use too much of one of these, the perfume will seems to be oily, fat... on the skin it's a bit disturbing I to my mind.

2) Mxing ratio is not a problem. It depends on your amount of fragrance molecules in the solution, the percentage. The more you have light aroma molecules, the more you need a fixative, of course if you want to make it last longer. It's up to you to control that.

I usually adjust this at the end of scent making, acording on what it gives you on a smellin strip and on the skin or on any substrat whatsoever.

3) This is the main problem with "ready to use" oil fragrances... I think you only might mix them together and dilute them as you feel it good ! Note all your formulas (drop, ml, mg etc.) in order to be to reproduce them exactly. Smell it, feel it... it's an art !

4) Isolate aromachemicals, pure molecules, act like this. Absolute and EO, or other complex blends (natural or not), are not often that simple. They often contains molecules evaporating faster than others and so the smell is not linear. This is great by the way. And don't forget that mid and base notes smells from the start too, not just top notes...

So if you get a fragrance oil eg. containing only coumarin and dihydromyrcenol (only eg. ! this will smells like a king of synthtic and cheap lavender :lolk: ) you will see that the aromatic part (the DHM) will weaken faster than the coumarin. Coumarin is long lasting... you can't use such a blend for only top or base note because it affects the whole fragrance pyramid !

5) Fixatives are not always odourless. Orris tincture is a good fixative and give a powdery effect (and some violet note), benzoin tincture or absolute some af vanilla (approx), hedione a watery/fresh and jasmin note, fixative 505 a powerful grapefruit ambergris effect... there are many many natural and synthetic (also artificial) materials that act like fixative, but they are not always sold only like fixative... they have often fragrance properties.

Isopropyl myristate or palmitate (I prefer myristate) is surely pretty cheap ! 5% of it in the final blend is effective, above 10% you will surely find your perfume "oily" if your spray it on skin or clothes. But for a perfume of a room that will only need to evaporate slowly, you could use 100% IPM. One often use it this way.


I hope this will help you and that I didn't say something wrong... Hope it was clear :)
 

I.D.Adam

Well-known member
Nov 14, 2014
Longevity in your fragrance is primarily achieved via the basenotes and the selection of your musks. Trying to use solvents as fixatives will not substantially change the longevity and will dampen the diffusion of your fragrance. Try adding true basenotes to your composition.

Since you do not know the composition of the fragrance oils it is impossible for anyone to tell you how they will perform and it is up to you to evaluate each one as to its longevity and effect in the blend.
 

Jano

Well-known member
Jul 4, 2016
I don't use DPG as a fixative too, IPM rarely. But IPM allows slowly the fragrance to enter into your skin, so it makes it last longer by this way. I think this could be lightly hazardous though... (depending on xhat are the materials)

Indeed, using true base notes is the best way to give a long life.
Never forget that longevity is rather a parameter, not only a quality clue...
 

Jano

Well-known member
Jul 4, 2016
Surprisingly, I must be quite anosmic to it or the one I bought has some trouble. I smell a weak odour, musky and powdery, a hint of vanilla-like velvety facet, and it lasts a long time. But I find it very weak...

And hard to dissolve (very easy in esters I found).
Benzyl salicylate is soft and floral and a good fixative too, oily on the skin for a long time. and cheap !
 

Chris Bartlett

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jul 17, 2011
I never thought of DPG as a fixative, it is fairly volatile.

Me either, I don’t think DPG has any useful fixative property, though IPM certainly does.

So too do some odorous materials that have wide application such as Hedione.

But as we keep saying on this forum, the bottom line is you have to learn the materials and then practice with them: there isn’t a magic substance that makes perfumes last longer that the industry secretly adds and keeps from DIYers despite the constant rumours put about to the contrary!
 

Jano

Well-known member
Jul 4, 2016
I often read that perfumers alcohol is based on a IPM/ethyl alcohol mix, not too much of IPm of course. But indeed it acts as a fixative and also decreases the odor of ethanol without adding a desagreable odor, also keep good solvent properties (sure 70% of ethanol + 30% water will not do the same !).

I worked some years in paints, lacquers etc. and I can tell that adding some "heavy" solvent(s) _ I don't know if it's a correct term in english_ in opposition to "light" solvents that evaporates faster... really makes the total combination to evaporate more slowly.
It's not linear as it could be with a single solvent. So, light solvents tend to evaporate slower and heavy solvents evaporate faster. But as it's a mix, this is not linear and a bit complex. But like with perfumes DIY, practice (and a few chemistry/physics knowledge) gives a lot of understanding. I often create my own paints lacquers, tints etc. from raw materials... and it works very well, at lower costs.

About perfumes IMO it works also a bit like this. But materials that actcs as fixative themselve are better and much more efective.

eg. Tagetes Minuta (marygold ?) EO ... a bit stinky if there is too much in solution.

benzoin, hedione etc...
 

David Ruskin

Well-known member
May 28, 2009
Perfumer's Alcohol is denatured with a chemical that is odourless but tastes very bitter. I don't think that IPM is used as a denaturant, although IPM is a fixative.
 

Fragosphere

Active member
Oct 14, 2017
Perfumer's Alcohol is denatured with a chemical that is odourless but tastes very bitter. I don't think that IPM is used as a denaturant, although IPM is a fixative.

Yes the perfumer's Alcohol is denatured with DEP (diethyl phthalate) and not with IPM.

In France, alcohol sold in pharmacies is cut with camphor.

Otherwise much harder to find without being in infringement, we have organic wheat alcohol, it isn't bad either :).
 
Last edited:

julian35

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 28, 2009
Yes the perfumer's Alcohol is denatured with DEP (diethyl phthalate) and not with IPM.
In France, alcohol sold in pharmacies is cut with camphor.
Otherwise much harder to find without being in infringement, we have organic wheat alcohol, it isn't bad either :).

The perfumery alcohol I use is a Denatured Alcohol (SDA) 40B.
SD alcohol has additives, namely bitrex, which is odourless but renders the alcohol undrinkable.

Composed of:
Ethyl Alcohol 99.98%
Tertiary Butyl Alcohol 0.125%
Denatonium Benzoate .47g/100 L
Water - the balance

I'm sorry, I have never seen diethyl phthalate listed, but not all are the same the world over.
 
Last edited:

Fragosphere

Active member
Oct 14, 2017
Thank's for informations Julian,
The most commonly used are 39C & 40B. Which is better for perfume ?.
Knowing that the 39C may be denatured up to 4% of DEP.
 

julian35

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 28, 2009
Thank's for informations Julian,
The most commonly used are 39C & 40B. Which is better for perfume ?.
Knowing that the 39C may be denatured up to 4% of DEP.

I have only used the 40B and purchase it from here in Canada.
Buying and shipping alcohol is such a difficulty, especially across borders.
If I couldn't get perfume alcohol I would use Everclear... which is considerably more expensive. LOL

I personally would not use the 39C.

Specially Denatured Alcohol (SDA) usage chart
commonly used SDA ethyl alcohols
Per 100 gallons of pure alcohol add:
SDA 1-14 gal. methanol + 1/8 oz. Bitrex[SUP]®[/SUP]
SDA 1-24 gal. methanol + 1 gal. MIBK
SDA 2B-2½ gal. rubber hydrocarbon (i.e. heptane or hexane)
SDA 2B-3½ gal. toluene
SDA 3A5 gal. methanol
SDA 3C5 gal. isopropanol
SDA 23A8 gal. acetone, NF
SDA 23H8 gal. acetone, NF + 1.5 gal. MIBK
SDA 29-31 gal. ethyl acetate (or other – must be reacted)
SDA 3010 gal. methanol
SDA 35A4.25 gal. ethyl acetate
SDA 39C1 gal. diethyl phthalate
SDA 40B1/8 gal. t-butyl alcohol + 1/16 oz. Bitrex[SUP]®
[/SUP]
 
Last edited:

cedarfen

New member
Jan 2, 2022
I often read that perfumers alcohol is based on a IPM/ethyl alcohol mix, not too much of IPm of course. But indeed it acts as a fixative and also decreases the odor of ethanol without adding a desagreable odor, also keep good solvent properties (sure 70% of ethanol + 30% water will not do the same !).

I worked some years in paints, lacquers etc. and I can tell that adding some "heavy" solvent(s) _ I don't know if it's a correct term in english_ in opposition to "light" solvents that evaporates faster... really makes the total combination to evaporate more slowly.
It's not linear as it could be with a single solvent. So, light solvents tend to evaporate slower and heavy solvents evaporate faster. But as it's a mix, this is not linear and a bit complex. But like with perfumes DIY, practice (and a few chemistry/physics knowledge) gives a lot of understanding. I often create my own paints lacquers, tints etc. from raw materials... and it works very well, at lower costs.

About perfumes IMO it works also a bit like this. But materials that actcs as fixative themselve are better and much more efective.

eg. Tagetes Minuta (marygold ?) EO ... a bit stinky if there is too much in solution.

benzoin, hedione etc...
Chemist here. IPM is a single molecule. Its made by reacting the natural molecule, myristic acetate, with a molecule of isopropyl alcohol to create what is termed an ester. Because its both polar and oily it dissolves a large variety of things and penetrates the skin well.
OK so I bought most of my fragrance oils from WillingtonFragrance.com. All premium fragrance oils and a few premium essential oils. I'm not sure how diluted they are so if anyone has an idea please share. I assume that is important when you're adding a carrier.

I came up with some pretty good formulas consisting of base, middle and top notes. Some replicated form other perfumes/colognes and some from scratch. I have a pretty good understanding of what base, middle and top notes are and how to combine them. But I seem to be running into the same problem that most DIYers are and that is perfume not lasting long enough. Some of it does, but usually the more potent aroma oils and/or ones I mix with Orris Root for example because that is a great fixative.

I am currently mixing some oils with perfumers alcohol and some with DPG. Originally started with alcohol and then decided to give DPG a go because of its fixative properties.

Questions:
1. What am I missing?
2. Can I or should I mix alcohol and DPG? If so at what %? (I have mixed both on a couple of samples and didn't run into any issues.)
3. When mixing fragrance oils with carriers do I need to account for how much the oil is diluted? (For example I see some oils labeled as 50% +/- dilution.) If so how would I know if they're not labeled?
4. Do fragrance oils act like essential or absolute oils in terms of base, middle and top note evaporation sequence?
5. Should I use essential or absolute oils instead of fragrance oils in some or maybe all cases? (I'm pretty sure most commercial brands use fragrance oil for the most part.)
6. And finally what else would you recommend I use for a fixative? Orris Root works pretty well but can alter the smell and it's pretty expensive. Any good cheap alternatives?

Sorry for so many questions on one thread. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

pkiler

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Dec 5, 2007
Chemist here. IPM is a single molecule. Its made by reacting the natural molecule, myristic acetate, with a molecule of isopropyl alcohol to create what is termed an ester. Because its both polar and oily it dissolves a large variety of things and penetrates the skin well.
Hi Cedarfen, Welcome to the DIY forum.
Since it is your first post, no one is going to jump on you for resurrecting an old thread. Janos has not been on BN for a year, and the original posting questioner has not been here since 2016. You likely came here after a websearch...

We are glad you're here, welcome, knowledge and experience is helpful to share with other people, feel free to offer your knowledge again as you feel it is good for you to contribute . :)
 

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