The power of smells to evoke experiences and feelings is surprising. Did you know that you can make all kinds of fragrances at home in a simple way? We explain how!
“In memory, all perfumes are imperishable,” wrote Patrick Süskind in his famous novel Perfume. You’re right. Who hasn’t traveled to the past after breathing a concrete scent?
Fragrances can bring that subtle touch that makes the home a more comfortable place to live; or become a sign of identity if used as a personal perfume.
Create a warm home with your favorite fragrance
But is it feasible to build colonies at home? It depends to a large extent on the materials and processing methods chosen.
- Aromatic water: mixture of distilled water with different essential oils. Delicate fragrance.
- Eau de cologne: a mixture of distilled water, essential oils and alcohol. The fragrance is more intense and long-lasting.
- Tincture: a mixture of essential oil and alcohol. Due to their intense fragrance, they can be used as a perfume.
Essential oils are not only obtained from floral petals: roots (such as ginger), leaves (e.g. geranium or violet), fruits (mandarin, grapefruit…) or even wood (cedar, birch…) can be used. As making them at home is not easy, they are usually purchased already elaborated.
Homemade distillation of flower petals
Certain flowers can be distilled at home in small quantities without using a still. This results in water that can be used as a natural fragrance or in more complex perfumes.
- Petals of the chosen flower (rose, jasmine, orange blossom, calendula…)
- A pot with a lid
- A Glass Bowl
- Distilled water
- Aluminium foil
- Arrange the bowl in the center of the pot.
- Spread the petals around the bowl and pour distilled water over them until they are covered, without the water entering the bowl.
- Cover the pot with its lid turned upside down. To prevent steam from escaping, it is recommended to seal the lid tightly with aluminum foil.
- Put the pot on the fire and, when it starts to boil, fill the concavity of the lid with ice as many times as necessary until the distilled water is consumed. The ice cools the steam and that condenses the essential oil, which falls into the bowl and floats on water, also condensed.
- Remove the essential oil with a dropper or use this mixture of oil and water. The result is more aromatic than the one obtained by boiling the plant.
Infusions of aromatic plants or spices (rosemary, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves…) also offer a good base for making homemade fragrances by adding essential oils.
Preparation of simple dyes
Lavender lovers can prepare it in tincture or, if they want a sweeter aroma, use vanilla pods.
- 250 g flowers (lavender or other) or 6 vanilla pods, cut into pieces
- Glass Jar
- 96º Alcohol
- Hermetic bottle
- Place 250 g of the flowers or 6 vanilla pods in a clean glass jar.
- Add one litre of 96º alcohol (available in pharmacies), cover and leave to macerate for one month, stirring frequently.
- After this time, strain the liquid and store in an airtight vial.
The art of blending
“Creating a perfume is an art similar to composing a symphony,” says Anne Foumalhaut in her book Perfumes and Essential Oils (Ed. Ocean). But the perfumer does not resort to musical instruments, but to essential oils and the variety of emotions and sensations they arouse. A fragrance can be floral and delicate, refreshing and citrus, woody and penetrating…
In order to awaken aromatic sensitivity, it is advisable to start with known raw materials that are versatile and can be combined with a good number of essential oils, such as rose, lemon or lavender. Getting a good manual that includes formulas for making fragrances is also a big help at first.
Once the techniques are mastered and the perfumer’s “nose” is awakened, trying your own combinations, whether for yourself or for friends and family, can become a very rewarding quest.