Welcome to the Perfumers's Corner!

 

Advanced Blending Techniques

When sitting down to create your fragrance, it really helps to have in mind what kind of fragrance you would like to create.

So to begin, do you want to create a floral fragrance or one based around woods? There are many possibilities!

If you know what kind of fragrance you would like to create, then that gives you an idea of what sorts of components you will be blending, and the effect you would like to achieve. No matter what kind of fragrance you want to create you start by forming your Base Accord

As an example, let's assume that you would like to start with a Woods Accord. You decide to begin with Oak Moss, and select a second ingredient to blend with it. You choose another base note, for example Vetiver. How do you know if these scents will blend nicely? You would create scent strips of the two materials so that you may smell them together and make sure you like the combination.

The next step is to figure out the proportions you would like to use for blending, and there is a technique for doing this.
You prepare a series of accords containing both components in the following ratios:
Oak Moss 9 8 7 6 5
Vetiver 1 2 3 4 5

When making these 5 test accords, your materials should be diluted to 10% (or even 1%, depending on your preference), and you could work in either drops or grams or milliliters. For example, if you were working with milliliters, you would take a flask (or any small container) and add 9 ml of diluted Oak Moss and 1 ml of diluted Vetiver.
Compare the five samples, taking note of the characteristics of each and decide which appeals to you the most.
You will find that with one of the above combinations, the components will be balanced; the sum effect will be neither of Oak Moss or Vetiver, but instead will be a new and unique scent. As the creator, you choose which proportion you prefer!
For this example, let's assume you have chosen

6 Oak Moss
4 Vetiver

To round out this base accord and provide some smoothness, you may decide to add a musk element. For a natural fragrance , you could use ambrette seed, or else you could add a pre-blended musk accord.
For the purpose of this experiment, you might decide to add another component.
Lets add one part Master�s Musk Blend to our base accord. (Feel free to substitute your own components)

So now we have

6 Oak Moss
4 Vetiver
1 Musk Blend

Sample this combination, and decide if you'd like more musk.
Get the idea? Your base accord can be as simple or as complex as you'd like.
Feel free to test out any combinations and proportions, making notes on your progress.


Now what's next? The Heart (Middle) Notes - often called Modifiers

So now your task is to create your middle accord. The easiest way to start is by choosing one single middle note. Use a scent strip for this note , and see how you like the way it combines with your base accord scent strip. Now you can use the same proportion technique described above to discover the perfect proportion between your base accord and your middle.

As you gain experience, you will be designing middle accords the same way you designed your base accord. You see how your fragrance can grow in complexity?
But you're not finished yet. You should add to it a top note, which will produce the effect of the fragrance as a person opens the bottle. The top notes are the most volatile components, they leave the blend quickly and are the first components to reach your nose. They provide lift and excitement to your blend although they are not long-lasting. A perfume sale is often either made or broken on the appeal of your top notes, so you can see they are rather important.


The proportions between base , middle and top notes are very important. A good rule is to use 55% base, 20% middle (modifiers) and 25% top notes. You could say that this proportion is responsible for the tenacity of your perfume, how long it will last on the skin. A perfume that contains 20% base 30% modifier and 50% top would not last for long on your skin since the percentage of bases would be relatively to low compared with the more volatile modifiers and top notes. Part of the function of the base accord is to help the middle and top notes last longer. (How do they do this?) The proper proportions give you a balanced evolution of your perfume on the skin. So with our example of our Oak Moss accord, we have 11 parts base notes. (6 Oakmoss + 4 'Vetiver + 1 musk blend)

If we know that we would like to have 55% base in our completed blend, then a little math will help us find our total number of parts. Simply divide 11 (our total parts base notes) by .55 which will give you 20 parts total of your completed blend. ( 11/.55 = 20 ) So now you know that your perfume will consist of 20 parts of which 11 parts will be the base. To find out the number of parts of middle you need, you multiply 20 (your total parts) * .20 (20%, the recommended percentage of middle notes) In our example 20 * .20 = 4 parts middle notes (you could use, for example 3 parts jasmine 1 part rose, or you could construct a complex middle accord and use four parts of that). Here is your formula so far: 55% Base consisting of
6 Oak Moss
Vetiver
1 musk blend

20% Middle
3 jasmine
1 rose

Now for your top accord. Either choose one top note (for this example lets use Bergamot) or construct a top note accord using the same method you used to construct your base accord.

We calculate the number of parts needed for your top. In this case, we know that we will have 20 parts total for your blend, so for 25% top the math would be 20 (parts total) * .25 (recommended % of top) = 5 parts top.

Now our formula is:

55% Base consisting of 6 Oak Moss
4 Vetiver
1 musk blend
(or 11 parts of any base accord you choose)

20% Middle consisting of (for example)
3 jasmine
1 rose
(or 4 parts of any middle accord you choose)

25% Top consisting of
5 bergamot (or any other top components, or top accord)

Please keep in mind that this is only an example: of course you can use any base middle or top notes that you choose. What's important is the procedure and the proportion.
You might now decide to complete your perfume with some �accessory products�.
Those components that, because of their strength, or their aroma (think civet), have to be used in very small amounts (trace amounts). Even in trace amounts these components can have a remarkable impact on a fragrance. Feel free to experiment with these components! I like to compare their use in a blend with the technique of adding highlights and shading to a painting.
When you're finally content with the structure of your experiment, you have your formula in terms of proportions. Now you could go on to make any quantity of your fragrance you choose. Some perfumers prefer to always work with their components in diluted form. Other perfumers will blend their concentrates from the pure undiluted ingredients, letting them age for a few days or even as long as two weeks before diluting with their carrier. Your own preferences will slowly evolve.
It's important (as well as fun) to practice making accords of all levels. By doing this you will not only learn about the characteristics of each component, but you also will be experiencing the effects that different combinations can create.