How much do I actually buy?

Oct 6, 2021
I am just starting out and I am wondering how much should I buy. Right now, I am thinking of ordering 500ml of perfumers alcohol (is this enough?) and 10grams or 30ml of aromachemicals: hedione, Iso-E-super, Cinnamyl acetate, ambroxan, beta ionone, beta damascone, citronelle, caryophyllene, isoamyl acetate, ethyl maltol (40g), aldehyde c18, suederal, benzyl acetate and anisaldehyde. Should I cut this list down as a beginner to a few of my favourites (due to description) and essentials like Iso-E-super and hedione?
 

fenomenalguy

Well-known member
Sep 15, 2020
Just start with 10ml aromachemicals bottle because it's cheaper and you can afford to buy more rather than if you buy directly 30ml bottles ( which i don't suggest at the beginning because maybe some materials you will don't like ).
Often you will dillute your materials with two reasons.

1: Some materials are to strong to be used neat ( aldehydes, damascenone, beta damascone, styrallyl acetate and many more ) for example aldehydes i suggest to use at 1% dillution, even at this dillution for some people it still strong.

I mean..you can use at full strenght, but will overpower all blends, and you don't want it.

2: Because it's more pocket friendly.

At the beginning i suggest only Iso E Super and Hedione to buy in large quantity, because you will use this alot.
 
Oct 6, 2021
Just start with 10ml aromachemicals bottle because it's cheaper and you can afford to buy more rather than if you buy directly 30ml bottles ( which i don't suggest at the beginning because maybe some materials you will don't like ).
Often you will dillute your materials with two reasons.

1: Some materials are to strong to be used neat ( aldehydes, damascenone, beta damascone, styrallyl acetate and many more ) for example aldehydes i suggest to use at 1% dillution, even at this dillution for some people it still strong.

I mean..you can use at full strenght, but will overpower all blends, and you don't want it.

2: Because it's more pocket friendly.

At the beginning i suggest only Iso E Super and Hedione to buy in large quantity, because you will use this alot.
Thank you. Unfortunately the supplier only has 30ml as the lowest :(
 

Septime

Well-known member
May 31, 2018
Welcome!

Which aromachemicals a beginner should buy is one of this board's favourite debates. The answer depends on your individual style, your plans and your budget. But to give you some perspective, here's how I personally do the math when I've got a catalogue in front of me:

1) I buy ingredients in the smallest size available (for North American retail aromachemical suppliers like Creating Perfume, Perfumer's Apprentice and Perfumer Supply House, usually ~5g). I might buy e.g. 15ml for something like Hedione or iso E super where the Good Scents Company database listing mentions, under the 'Safety in Use' tab, that the recommended usage level is 20% or more.

2) The strongest concentration for finished perfumes is usually 20%. If you bought 10g of each item on your shopping list and diluted all of it to 20%, it would take 700g alcohol. The specific gravity of alcohol is about 0.8, so 700g = 875ml alcohol. I personally dilute my ingredients to 10% because it's cheaper and makes the math easier, so I'd need twice as much alcohol. And as Fenomenalguy says, some strong ingredients should be diluted even more than that, to 1% or even 0.1%. Whichever dilution you choose, definitely buy much more perfumers alcohol than you think you need!

3) I notice you've got two ambers (iso E super and ambroxan) but no musks. I'd suggest picking at least one inexpensive musk, because it's such a widely-used staple.
 

mnitabach

Well-known member
Nov 13, 2020
Others have nicely addressed quantity, so I will just add a few thoughts about identity. Some of the aromachems you have listed will be of almost zero use to a total novice perfumer, yet you are missing some key aromachems without which you basically can't do perfumery at all. As was mentioned, there are numerous threads in the archive discussing "100 key materials for beginners" or the like, so look at these. Also, a really really really efficient & cost effective way to start your collection is the Pell Wall "Discovery Kit", which gives you 5 ml of each of dozens of aromachems for a few hundred dollars & is more than sufficient to get you started.

Finally, picking what aromamaterials to buy on the basis of what sounds "appealing" in published descriptors of scent properties is basically useless. Even selecting aromamaterials on the basis of whether they actually empirically smell "good" to you, whether neat or even in dilution, is pretty much useless. This is because what perfumery literally is, is combining materials selected not for "smells good" on their own, but for conferring desired effects in blends to make a strong complex powerful radiant diffusive fragrance. Some of the most powerful important materials w essential strong effects in blends either smell bad on their own or smell almost like nothing.

If all you every do is combine stuff that "smells good", you can make vaguely pleasant blends. But this is not at all what modern perfumery is (the last several hundred years) and you will never make anything w the power radiance complexity elegance & interest of real perfumes.
 
Oct 6, 2021
Others have nicely addressed quantity, so I will just add a few thoughts about identity. Some of the aromachems you have listed will be of almost zero use to a total novice perfumer, yet you are missing some key aromachems without which you basically can't do perfumery at all. As was mentioned, there are numerous threads in the archive discussing "100 key materials for beginners" or the like, so look at these. Also, a really really really efficient & cost effective way to start your collection is the Pell Wall "Discovery Kit", which gives you 5 ml of each of dozens of aromachems for a few hundred dollars & is more than sufficient to get you started.

Finally, picking what aromamaterials to buy on the basis of what sounds "appealing" in published descriptors of scent properties is basically useless. Even selecting aromamaterials on the basis of whether they actually empirically smell "good" to you, whether neat or even in dilution, is pretty much useless. This is because what perfumery literally is, is combining materials selected not for "smells good" on their own, but for conferring desired effects in blends to make a strong complex powerful radiant diffusive fragrance. Some of the most powerful important materials w essential strong effects in blends either smell bad on their own or smell almost like nothing.

If all you every do is combine stuff that "smells good", you can make vaguely pleasant blends. But this is not at all what modern perfumery is (the last several hundred years) and you will never make anything w the power radiance complexity elegance & interest of real perfumes.
The main reason for the choices is because I have thought of potential accords I could make, like a spicy leather with vanilla undertones or a floral forest or a cherry pudding. But you made me reconsider my thinking process, thanks for the insight.
 

mnitabach

Well-known member
Nov 13, 2020
The main reason for the choices is because I have thought of potential accords I could make, like a spicy leather with vanilla undertones or a floral forest or a cherry pudding. But you made me reconsider my thinking process, thanks for the insight.
There is no one right way to get started, but like any complex pursuit, it can make a lot of sense to start w the basics. For example, those are all pretty complex specialized accords. The single most fundamental realistic accord in perfumery I guess is the rose accord. One can do tons of learning using rose accord as vehicle just with four aromachemicals: geraniol, citronellol, phenethyl alcohol, a damascone or damascenone. Another very interesting experiment is to mix linalool & linalyl acetate in different ratios, and see how these two molecules can combine to span herbal to floral accords. This two-component accord also clearly illustrates evaporation curves.
 
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PK2

Member
Oct 7, 2021
Any Damasc - material, you will only need a tiny amount. Same with Ethyl maltol.
No, you don't need to cut your list down, wow, you are just getting started... just keep building up your library of materials... :)

Don't forget to buy Naturals too.
 
Oct 6, 2021
Any Damasc - material, you will only need a tiny amount. Same with Ethyl maltol.
No, you don't need to cut your list down, wow, you are just getting started... just keep building up your library of materials... :)

Don't forget to buy Naturals too.
Do I need naturals? Genuine question
 

julian35

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 28, 2009
I am just starting out and I am wondering how much should I buy. Right now, I am thinking of ordering 500ml of perfumers alcohol (is this enough?) and 10grams or 30ml of aromachemicals: hedione, Iso-E-super, Cinnamyl acetate, ambroxan, beta ionone, beta damascone, citronelle, caryophyllene, isoamyl acetate, ethyl maltol (40g), aldehyde c18, suederal, benzyl acetate and anisaldehyde. Should I cut this list down as a beginner to a few of my favourites (due to description) and essentials like Iso-E-super and hedione?
Buy no more that 15g/15ml of each and use this list https://basenotes.com/threads/re-list-of-100-aromachemicals.374134/
A LOT of thinking and experience went into this list. You will understand in about 2-5 years.
 
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jsparla

Well-known member
Jun 5, 2011
I have started some 10 years ago with almost all 10ml quantities and still have some ;-) I also ordered high impact materials in 2 ml sample sizes. Most of 10 ml are diluted to 10% or 20% and sample size high impacts to 1% or .1% For all dilutions I needed more ethanol, so I started with 3 liters. Also made an exemption for Hedione, Iso E Super, Galaxolide, lemon and bergamot and some iones to start with 50ml buys. These are almost always your skeleton backbones. Happy perfuming!
 

Logocracy

Well-known member
Jan 11, 2021
There is no one right way to get started, but like any complex pursuit, it can make a lot of sense to start w the basics. For example, those are all pretty complex specialized accords. The single most fundamental realistic accord in perfumery I guess is the rose accord. One can do tons of learning using rose accord as vehicle just with four aromachemicals: geraniol, citronellol, phenethyl alcohol, a damascone or damascenone. Another very interesting experiment is to mix linalool & linalyl acetate in different ratios, and see how these two molecules can combine to span herbal to floral accords. This two-component accord also clearly illustrates evaporation curves.
Agree on the Rose accord. I'm over 50 trials in and still not happy with it!
 

Logocracy

Well-known member
Jan 11, 2021
After you purchase your materials (both synthetic and natural), I find it very useful to dilute them. I do 10%, 1%, 0.01% for most materials into 5ml bottles. This makes your materials last longer, and is a far cheaper way to experiment when you are doing trials and learning. To do all these dilutions, you probably wouldn't need anymore than 15ml of any material if you are starting out. They will last you a long time (perhaps over a year for some of the stronger stuff) and you can literally do 10x more tests for the same price.
 

GallupPerfume

Active member
Nov 8, 2021
I recommend buying the smaller quantities starting out, you can always replenish when you need. Roughly 4 ml is a good size to do your dilutions, you can get a good amount of each dilution. Enough to learn to your materials and to formulate. Especially materials that are natural top notes or those with a shorter shelf life. The blenders, Hedione and PEA (phenyl ethyl alcohol) you can get larger of those, you will definitely use them up. Iso E super too. 500ml alcohol, that should be more than enough o get you started, it depends on how much you dilute and how often formulate. You might use more, you might use less. You'll find out after the fact, as you adjust your style and be able to judge better for next time.
 
Jun 29, 2015
Ditto on the "get small quantities"—when starting out, you won't need more than 5g or so of any material unless you are seriously formulating/experimenting with it (not just testing/sampling)**, or you are compounding a final product; in both cases, you'd probably want to make a second order of the materials you are actively working with/formulating for final product, anyways, and you will know exactly which materials to upsize with at that point. The price break on larger quantities is meaningless if you never use more than a few grams...

Also, materials can go "off", and it's far less expensive to replenish a small amount than a large amount. Especially naturals.
Smaller quantities also take up less room, which is nicer than you think, especially when starting out.

If you are worried about running out, you can switch to evaluation and formulating using pre-diluted (10%/20% depending on your desired strengths) materials. It will take you 5x-10x as long to run out, and you'll more quickly learn how your materials behave in solution (not to mention, easier to control the amounts you pipette, etc, as everything is mobile in ethanol)

And echoing @jsparla, I still have the majority of almost all the first materials I started out with. I also made the rookie move to buy larger volumes of things I was "excited" about....

**only caveat here is if you are testing for candles, in which case you might need to use several grams of material to conduct basic tests (even testing a material in a tealight candle uses about 2g of FO...). But I wouldn't recommend formulating for candles if you're just starting out.
 

FragOz

Active member
Jan 8, 2022
As Ethanol / perfumers alcohol is irritating to the nose and evaporates quickly I suggest you also buy 500 ml or 1 litre of DPG, dipropylene glycol. This is your best solvent to work with; almost odorless and not irritating. You can make 10% dilutions with it and start building accords and experimenting with them. This is way cheaper than working with undiluted raw materials. For your final product you can blend the materials in ethanol.
 

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