How do I work out how much of each substance to use in a formula?

Thioacetone

Super Member
Sep 7, 2022
Hi

I am new to perfume making. I was wondering how do I go about determining what ratio of ingredients to use in my formula. I have bought a whole bunch of ingredients, some of which are solids that will need to be dissolved.
I suppose I make a highly concentrated ethanol solution of the soilds to begin with. Some substances eg indole are very potent so I will have to then dilute the concentrated solution to a usable concentration (I expect 1 mL of concentrated indole solution will be very strong, such that to get it in proper ratio with other ingredients I would have to add like 1 kg of the other ingredients, which is not feasible). And I doubt it is feasible to measure out microlitre quantities of solutions, either.

What is a good quantity of solution to be using for trials (e.g should I be aiming to make a volume of 10 mL for a trial)? I don't want to waste ingredients by doing endless trials. Would it be best to work with dilute (less concentrated) solutions in order to minimise waste?

If I add ingredients together in a stepwise fashion, then each new ingredient I add will dilute the existing ingredients, such that if 1 mL of 30 different ingredients is added in a stepwise fashion, the strength of the first added ingredient will be 1/30 the initial strength. And that's not even counting sampling of the solution (e.g. by spraying it) which will further decrease the concentration of the initially added ingredients. This makes me think that adding ingredients in a stepwise fashion is not feasible, because the relative concentration of the ingredients will keep changing.

So I guess I just have to come up with a recipe and mix them together. I guess I can get an idea of how potent each ingredient is both by looking up online, and sampling each ingredient individually, and taking that into account when mixing them.

How do you guys go about combining the different ingredients to create a fragrance? How do you draw up the solutions (a 1 mL dropper or serological pipette)? Do you discard the dropper after using it or do you keep it assigned to that ingredient and use it again if you need to get more of that ingredient? What vessel do you mix them in (an amber glass container)? How do you mix them (stir/shake)?

I want to make a honey/cinnamon/amber/vanilla/animalic fragrance.

Should I first focus on the honey aspect of the fragrance, for instance?
I will have the following honey fragrance chemicals:
Methyl Phenylacetate
Phenethyl acetate
Phenoxy Ethyl Iso Butyrate
Phenyl Ethyl Phenyl Acetate
Phenylacetic acid

Thank you.
 

LaFou

Super Member
Sep 18, 2022
hi, so your main theme is animalic as it’s more of category theme than the individual materials you have! not that you can’t make a theme out of individual materials! But it seems you have a more defined theme with the animalic!
so that’s a starting point for you! Now you can follow with how do you want to structure the theme, is it sweet animalic? (So it seems from the list of material) or is it a rough distigushed pure civet, ambergris, earth leathery and dark animalic!
sweet seems always bit easyier to Start with! And more appealing for animalic in general for a larger audience!

cinnamon and vanilla are always strong materials, watch out as you can easily overdose it and it will take over the theme! micro dose and smell until you find it appealing and rounding the fragrance rather than taking over!

the honey can do the same, little less than cinnamon and vanilla but strong non the less,

amber is a wonderful material to work in animalic theme, so is leather if you have some!

if your choosing amber with animalic, think strong red and dark red theme materials! woods materials can support, balsamic materials as well, certain musks, like Animalis Hypo 27 TEC (Synarome) or Aurelione® (Symrise).

What ever or how ever you want to focus your materials on first, make sure to work in low % dilution first (1% to 5%) for each of the materials and mix in small quantities to better understand what’s happening and not allow one material To take over the entire mix which then you may have to restart again!

good luck 🍀 and happy mixing
ps: don’t worry if you couldn’t nail it from first time or times, its part of the learning curve. stay strong and consistent 💪
 

jameshillier

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jul 15, 2020
It comes down to experimentation, which in turn builds experience, which then informs your future decisions.

You could try reading up on the Jean Carles method, which involves systematically trying varying combinations between just two ingredients to determine the most pleasant outcomes.

My tip would be to try heavily diluting your naturals when putting together your first blends, since many commercial formulae I’ve seen use naturals in low amounts. Perhaps higher for fleeting citrus notes (20% of a formula sometimes), but very low for strong oils like galbanum (0.1% of a formula). Test your blends at low concentration also - you never know what you’ll discover as you lower the concentration. Many in the forum treat 20% concentration as a standard, but often I’ve found more pleasant outcomes at 10-15%.

Good luck on your journey!
 

mnitabach

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 13, 2020
It comes down to experimentation, which in turn builds experience, which then informs your future decisions.

You could try reading up on the Jean Carles method, which involves systematically trying varying combinations between just two ingredients to determine the most pleasant outcomes.

My tip would be to try heavily diluting your naturals when putting together your first blends, since many commercial formulae I’ve seen use naturals in low amounts. Perhaps higher for fleeting citrus notes (20% of a formula sometimes), but very low for strong oils like galbanum (0.1% of a formula). Test your blends at low concentration also - you never know what you’ll discover as you lower the concentration. Many in the forum treat 20% concentration as a standard, but often I’ve found more pleasant outcomes at 10-15%.

Good luck on your journey!
I assemble almost all of my tests at 5% in EtOH.
 

chyprefresh

Basenotes Dependent
Jan 15, 2018
It's all a bunch of words until you get real experience under your belt, it took me a year to figure out how to organize optimize and prepare everything (the localized desk setup, scales, pipettes, different bottles/beakers, storage etc. Finding the best method to get stuck in and formulate. Even finding the best dilution % for each material also took much trial and error, and I believe is ever changing. Just in the past year have I gotten to the point where I am beginning to make decent fragrances but even still I am just a novice with a vast library of learning ahead of me.

I see some people on here have been dabbling for at least over a decade, I'm sure there are ways to get off to a blazing start but I don't have any real answers for that, my approach was pretty slow and not methodical but I wouldn't change anything.
 

Thioacetone

Super Member
Sep 7, 2022
Thank you for the replies. I have done many experiments. What I have found to work best for me so far is to do rough experiments where I mix very small quantities of different ingredients. I use a 1 mL syringe with a fine needle, and count the number of drops. I work with the highest concentration of ingredients that will allow me to use single drop measurements. For example, I found that 1 drop of skatole at 1% was too strong in a 0.2 mL final volume, so I made a vial of 0.1% skatole to use. With Ultrazur, I felt like I was doing homeopathy haha, by making serial dilutions due to how strong Ultrazur is.

0.2 mL of sample is more than enough for me to test to see if I like the formula. I can easily upscale it later on (and use mass instead of drop count).

I use a spreadsheet I made that calculates the % of each ingredient based on the drop count and vice versa - if I enter the desired % of total fragrance, it will tell me how many drops to add. I also have inputted the IFRA limits and it shades it in red if I exceed the limit.

I feel like I need many more ingredients now. But they are so costly :(
 

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