Ethanol questions - cane, grape, grain -preferences? differences?

Scarletj

Basenotes Member
Dec 30, 2012
Hi
I purchased some 95% ethanol from these guys:

http://organicalcohol.com/store/index.php/

I decided (well, my pocketbook decided) to go with the cane alcohol, as it was the least expensive, and thought that at 95%, there wouldn't be much difference between the alcohols from differing sources. I was curious though, and called the company, and the representative opined that it seemed to her that perfumers prefer the grape alcohol.

When I received the ethanol (& began to dilute oils), I did note that it has a quite fine sweet scent, reminiscent of good Cuban rums, though without the molasses note. (Much much nicer than, say Bacardi Silver). As my dilutions are very fresh, most of them smell a great deal like the alcohol.

First, I am somewhat concerned that the scent from this alcohol will affect the scent of each oil as I am trying to know and understand particular notes. Does anyone know if I should be concerned? Or once each oil has integrated into the solvent, will their character stay true (beyond the usual scent of alcohol)?

Second, I'd love to hear people's preferences and opinions about ethanol of differing makes. Do you note a difference between them?

I'm contemplating that consistency is important especially as I try to develop a nose, and will probably continue to dilute future acquisitions in the ethanol made from cane sugar. But if someone with more knowledge than me (which is everybody in this forum :) ) asserts that I should use another in the future, I will listen to them.

thank you for your thoughts if you choose to share them
 

Renegade

Basenotes Junkie
Jul 30, 2011
I wouldn't worry about it so much. I use denatured alcohol because it's much cheaper and I'm not in the habit of drinking my perfumes. Okay, it smells stronger than un-denatured alcohol but once it evaporates there is no discernible difference to me. Does your plain alcohol leave behind a scent on paper or skin after it evaporates? If not, then as far as I can understand it shouldn't really matter.
 

Chris Bartlett

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jul 17, 2011
Perfumers used to select grain alcohol for preference as it is the most neutral in odour - cane and grape both leave a distinct smell - grain much less so.

However the majority of the ethanol used by the perfume industry as a whole is synthetic and denatured (the denaturing is done for tax reasons not perfumery reasons) and synthetic ethanol is used because it is usually cheaper. Sometimes fermentation produced alcohol can be cheaper than synthetic depending on harvests and the fluctuating price of petroleum.

At one time (18th Century-ish) it was commonplace for French and Italian perfumers to use grape alcohol, again for economic reasons - they grew a lot of grapes so it was cheaper in those countries at that time - some people like to use that for reasons of authenticity, particularly when recreating fragrances from that era.

To my knowledge there is no tradition of using cane alcohol in perfumery, but I'd be happy to learn otherwise.
 

JEBeasley

Basenotes Dependent
Jul 24, 2013
I did the same thing Scarlet. I purchased the same cane alcohol from the same place and for the same reasons, lol. Luckily I'm only an hour away so I can drive there and save the $40 shipping fee. I have noticed that it makes everything smell more malty but to my nose that malty aspect disappears once the alcohol evaporates. Although in the time that it takes to evaporate it smells really malty and somewhat off-puting. I have not noticed it leaving a sweet residue after it has evaporated but my experience is limited, I'm a newbie with this stuff myself so I don't have enough experience to compare types.
 

Scarletj

Basenotes Member
Dec 30, 2012
The sweetish/malty smell does go away after a couple minutes, but it's very frustrating with scent training because everything smells the same at first. Can't ever smell top notes well, either.

I tried scent strip tests with just the cane alcohol, sweetness that fades in a few minutes, fading to no scent over time, but it does affect scent for at least the first 20 minutes.

The cane alcohol might be a good fit for some tinctures that would benefit from its sweetness, but, sigh, I diluted (a portion of each) about 200 EO/aromachems with the stuff for learning scent & now regret regret regret. I only used a couple of ml per for the dilutions, but the cost of the bottles, all the oils used & that gallon of cane alcohol set me back. Alot.

Other beginners, learn from our mistakes....
 

pkiler

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Dec 5, 2007
It's OK, my friends... this is really just a small speed bump on your perfumery journey... I've heard of career killing mistakes that weren't even the fault of the Perfumer.

So to start with, are you both locked into the Organic / All Natural philosophy?

If you're not, then dump all the juice, or keep it for a souvenir.

Buy your Alcohol from Remet Alcohol. tell them I sent you... I send a LOT of people there... When I met the division Director at a trade show a couple of months ago, I introduced myself, and they already knew who I was, by my name... :coolold:

try the 39C, unless you don't like DEP
in which case, try the 40B

http://remetalcohol.com/


Even *IF* you're the natural fanatic, Remet can denature the alcohol with the following oils, and these are kept in stock at all times:
Eucalyptol, Eucalyptus EO, Lavender EO, Menthol, Peppermint EO, Rosemary EO, Spearmint EO, and Thymol

You can also search for other alcohol suppliers in smaller than 1 gallon purchases, like you'd need to buy from Remet.
Like You Beasley, I just have to drive 50 Minutes to go pick up my alcohol, here at Remet.

PK
 

JEBeasley

Basenotes Dependent
Jul 24, 2013
Scarlet,
I figured out a way to greatly reduce the malty smell using 30-40% DPG. Today I diluted about 30 aroma chems into dropper bottles. Fill your bottle with 10% (or whatever you like) aroma chem - I've been diluting everything down to 10%. Next, fill your bottle with 30-40% DPG (no more than 50% of the final volume should be aroma chem + DPG). Finally, fill your bottle the rest of the way with your cane alcohol. This GREATLY reduced the malty smell to the point that I can smell what is in the bottle now, besides cane juice. If you shop around you can get DPG for about half the cost of your alcohol by weight so it's a double plus diluting this way. Some aroma chems are super sticky and don't dilute well into DPG but I have a stirring hot plate so I just set the temp to around 25C and place my bottle on it for a couple minutes and everything works out great. If you don't have a hot plate you could set your bottle on top of a heater for a minute or two - make sure it doesn't get too hot too quickly as there is alcohol in there, it can explode or catch fire. As long as it doesn't boil you will be fine.

- - - Updated - - -

Thanks again Paul!
I'm not stuck on the organic thing at all, I just happened to be an hour away from Ashland Oregon so the gallon cost's me $80 to pick it up. Otherwise I can only buy small quantities of perfumers alcohol because places like creating perfume will only ship one 32oz bottle at a time which costs $120 + SH for a gallon! Save on scents is cheaper per 32oz but they still come out to more than what I pay per gallon when I consider shipping costs. Alchemical Solutions has corn and grain alcohol at a comparable price to cane so unless remet can sell me a gallon and ship it for less than I can pic it up from AS then I'll stick with AS and dilute with DPG to keep the smell down - it really does make a huge difference. Next time I'll ask if I can smell them to compare first. Eventually I plan on making "natural" perfumes and body care products too so having the organic alcohol isn't a loss either way for me.
 
Last edited:

Zosia

New member
Mar 5, 2007
Hi Tried the link to Remet and there doesn't seem to be a way of actually browsing products. Do I need to contact them directly?
 

pkiler

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Dec 5, 2007
Yes, Why Not contact them directly?

See here for options:
http://cfr.vlex.com/vid/151-denaturants-authorized-denatured-spirits-19670823

And most common ones are here:
http://warnergraham.com/products/ethanol/denatured-alcohol/


But really, I'd look a LOT harder for a Canadian Company producing denatured alcohol, because the shipping is REALLY gonna kill you from Los Angeles to Canada...

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/em/edm5-1-1/edm5-1-1-e.html

http://www.itecref.com/pdf/Ethyl_Alcohol_Handbook_Equistar.pdf

I am currently using SDA 40-B, I used to use 39-C, but ceased, simply because now I can usually say that my fragrances are phthalate free. HOWEVER, the DEP that is used in 39-C is NOT harmful, but because it is a phthalate, then ignorance and stupidity reigns, and fear is mongered. Don't need no fear in my frags.

PK
 

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