November 01, 2017

PERFUMERY LESSON #6: MEMORIZING INGREDEINTS

I can't emphasize this enough: memorizing ingredients is the key to everything that comes next. When you start cooking a meal, first you decide what you're going to make: let's say tonight is risotto! You know immediately what you'll need - arborio rice, butter, salt, pepper, parmesan, let's say mushrooms and parsley. You can conjure in your mind how each ingredient tastes and roughly the amount you will need of each. The same goes with perfume. Until you have an image in your mind of each ingredient and their weight within a fragrance, how they will interact with others, how they will change over time, using anything would be like shooting darts at a board - perhaps you'll land on some great combinations, but why not go for mastery?

Here is how you memorize ingredients. Dilute the ingredient in alcohol at 10% concentration (that's 10% of the pure oil and 90% alcohol). Dip a clean perfume strip into it and wait a moment for the alcohol to dissipate, and smell. Take notes on what it reminds you of. Does star anise essential oil smell exactly like licorice? Great. Does Ionnone Beta remind you of the violet candies your grandmother kept in her purse? What about that precious rose absolute oil from Bulgaria? Is it somehow more sour than you imagined? Now wait and smell again in 15 minutes. Crazy! I can hardly smell that White Grapefruit essential oil I just dipped. But the Cedryl Acetate is smokier than before. Smell again in an hour. Day after day, a little at a time, you'll begin to memorize the ingredients and when you dip a blank strip into a bottle and can tell what is it, then you can finally begin blending.

{top photo of iris rhizome by @saintdici on instagram / bottom photo via @mcmcfragrances}