When you picture making perfume at home, what do you see? Bubbling liquids in graduated cylinders, test tubes, and safety goggles? Well, maybe that’s how perfume-making looks in a factory, but to make perfume at home is another story.

If you want to concoct your own spray-able scent, you’ll need a few things. Look through the following list and check off the materials you already have lying around your home. You may be surprised by how few materials you really need to go buy.

Materials Checklist 

Dark glass containers – Light and heat can degrade your perfume. So, dark colored containers help keep your perfume smelling fresh for longer. 

I recommend something like this:

These bottles are the perfect size for small batches of perfume. They’re made of sturdy, dark glass, which is just what you want from a perfume bottle.

A decorative bottle (optional) – Once you make your perfume, you may want to have a fancy bottle to pour it in. While perfume should be stored in dark containers, you can pour a bit of perfume into a decorative bottle for daily use. 

H&D creates good quality, inexpensive perfume bottles for DIY perfume makers. Their modern bottles, made with a vintage touch, could please anyone. Try their light green crystal design:

Their Egypt-inspired bottle is an eye-catcher:

Essential oils – It is recommended that you use 3-4 scents for your perfumes. You can buy essential oils in a handy set, like this Pursonic essential oil pack that comes with these 6 oils:

You can also buy essential oils individually at health food stores, or from online retailers.

Carrier oils – Carrier oils help carry the scents from the essential oils to your skin. Carrier oils can basically be any type of natural, odorless oil, including jojoba oil, almond oil, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, etc.

Strong alcohol – We’re talking about 100-190 proof (50%-80% alcohol per volume) alcohol. Added alcohol to perfume helps merge the essential oils with the carrier oils, and makes the perfume smell stronger. The stronger the alcohol, the better. Cheap vodkas work well and don’t break the bank.

How to Make Perfume

Now that you have all your materials, it’s time to put them to use. Learning to make perfume can be a great creative outlet, and can also lead to great personalized gifts. Making perfume can be a fun side-gig, too. Once you learn the basics of how making it works, you may be inspired to start your own perfume business. Who knows? 

The Parts of Perfume

To start, you should understand what base notes, middle notes, and top notes.

Top Notes are only strong for only about 5-15 minutes before evaporating. They are the notes that you pick up on first when you smell a perfume. They are usually citrusy, herby, or sweet, such as lavender, lemon, rosemary, mint, grapefruit, jasmine, orchid, rose, bergamot, and lime. 

Middle Notes (Heart Notes) are at the heart of the fragrance, hence the name. They stay strong for around an hour and usually are fruity, hearty, or floral, such as lemongrass, nutmeg, geranium, juniper, chamomile, pepper, clove, and neroli. 

Base Notes will stay around for 6+ hours, and are usually strong and heavy. Some common base notes are vanilla, cedarwood, ginger, pine, cinnamon, fern, and moss. 

Once you have your scents picked out, the next thing to do is…

Make Your Perfume

Step 1 – In a glass jar or container, pour 1 tablespoon of your carrier oil. Then, add in your essential oils. Pour in your base note first, then the middle note, and the top note last. Only put in a total of 25 (or so) drops of essential oil in total. 

Step 2 – Add in 5 tablespoons of alcohol and shake the container to combine all the ingredients. Then, let your perfume sit for 24 hours to 2 weeks. Give your perfume a sniff each day until the scent is satisfying to you.

Step 3 –  Pour in 2 tablespoons of water and give your perfume another shake. 

Step 4 – Using a coffee filter, filter your perfume into one of the dark glass containers for safe-keeping. 

Step 5 – Don’t forget to label your perfume! Give your perfume a name or, more importantly, write down the included ingredients and their measurements so that you can recreate or revise your recipe in the future. 

Step 6 – Fill up a decorative perfume bottle, if desired. 

How to Use Natural Plant Materials

If you want to take the more traditional route and use natural plant materials for your perfume, just follow the steps below. 

Step 1 – Gather about 1½ cups of plant materials and put them into a bowl or container. Make sure to remove any unwanted leaves, dirt, or twigs. Then, using the back of a fork or spoon, press into the plants until they are bruised. 

Step 2 – Pour in 1 tablespoon of your carrier oil, or enough to cover the plant materials. 

Step 3 – Let this sit for 1-2 weeks or until it starts giving off the desired scent. If it doesn’t seem to be getting strong enough, discard the plant material and add in new plant material to the old oil. Let that sit for another 1-2 weeks. Continue this process until the smell is strong enough. 

Step 4 – Using a coffee filter, pour the perfume into a dark glass container for storage. And, if you’d like, you can pour some into a decorative perfume glass, too. 

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