The Art of Darkness

Making Perfume

May 6th, 2010 by Cobwebs

Mina PerfumeI’ve had this cartoon from Para Abnormal kicking around in my Drafts folder for ages now, mainly because I like the idea of a “Mina” perfume by Van Helsing (click the image to enlarge).

I’ve never been sure what to do with it, so I guess I’ll use it as a hook for talking about making your own perfume. Which I suppose you could make garlic-scented if you really wanted to.

You will need:

  • About 2 cups of fresh or 1 cup of dried flower petals. Choose flowers that are pesticide-free and nontoxic, and if you’re using fresh flowers try to collect them as close to the time they first open as possible. It’s easiest if you select flowers that have a strong scent, but you can capture a lighter fragrance by running multiple batches of petals through the same water.
  • Four cups of spring or distilled water.
  • 5 Tbsp of high-proof alcohol: Vodka, Everclear, or perfumer’s alcohol (available from hobby suppliers).


  1. If using fresh petals, chop them up a bit (don’t puree them). Put the fresh or dried petals in a nonreactive bowl and cover with the water. (If the water doesn’t completely cover the petals, add more until it does.) Cover and let sit overnight.
  2. Strain through cheesecloth, removing all solid material.
  3. If you’re using a delicately-scented flower, repeat steps 1 and 2 with a fresh batch of petals and the same water.
  4. Place the water in a nonreactive saucepan and simmer gently for a couple of hours, until reduced to about 2 Tbsp of liquid. Be careful not to boil, as it will drive off the fragrance.
  5. Cool and place in a small glass bottle (dark glass is best). Add the alcohol, cap, and shake.
  6. Let sit for 3-4 days before testing.
  7. If the fragrance is too strong, you can dilute it with a little more distilled water: Add 1 Tbsp at a time, letting it rest for 24 hours before testing again and adding more water if necessary.
  8. Store in a cool, dark place, since light and heat will both damage the scent. The perfume will last for 1-2 months.

If you don’t feel like messing with flowers, there are lots of recipes for using essential oils instead. Snowdrift Farm and From Nature with Love both have recipes and advice for making fragrances, and you can also purchase the oils and perfumer’s alcohol from them.

Put the results in a pretty bottle, add a label, and you’ve got your own signature scent.

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