Mint Vetiver Alcohol-Based Perfume

Aaaaaand…now we’ve got the alcohol-based version of the Mint Vetiver perfume (a previous post explains how to make it as a solid). This is experiment No. 4 in blending along with Mandy Aftel’s book, Fragrant. The alcohol makes it possible for the perfume to really sparkle and shine, so this version features a more complex array of notes.

Here’s what you need to create Mint Vetiver alcohol-based perfume:

Supplies for creating Mint Vetiver perfume in an alcohol base.

Supplies for creating Mint Vetiver perfume in an alcohol base.

Raw Materials*

  • Perfumer’s Alcohol
  • Vetiver essential oil
  • Benzoin absolute
  • Patchouli essential oil (aged patchouli is nice)
  • Clary sage essential oil
  • Ylang Ylang Extra essential oil
  • Spearmint essential oil
  • Bergamot essential oil
  • Black pepper essential oil

*Out of courtesy to the author, I’m leaving off the amounts of each raw material. You can find them in her book.

Equipment

  • 10 ml graduated beaker or cylinder
  • Glass eyedroppers (1 per essence)
  • Small glass of rubbing alcohol for cleaning eye droppers (place them in it upright after use)
  • Stirring rod
  • ½ oz dark glass bottle (for storing perfume)
  • Tiny funnel
  • Paper towels

Steps

  1. Cover your work surface with paper towels.
  2. Add the perfumer’s alcohol to the graduated beaker.
  3. Add the essences one at a time. Start from the base notes and work your way up to the top notes (I’ve listed them in order – start with the vetiver and end with the black pepper). Stir after each addition, and sniff to experience the blend.
  4. When you are done with an eye dropper, place it in the glass of rubbing alcohol, and pump it a few times to clean it, and leave it sitting full of alcohol. This will prevent cross-contamination and also dissolve any EOs left on the dropper to make clean up easier.
  5. Using the tiny funnel, pour the finished blend into a small dark glass bottle.
  6. Cap the bottle and label it, and store it in a cool, dark place.
  7. Let it mature from a week to a month to let the essences marry and create a smooth blend. (I know! The waiting!)

How did it work? How does it smell?
This blend came together very easily. I’ve only let it age a week, so who knows if it’s reached its final scent profile – but right now, it has the same character as the solid perfume, but with more complexity and a more obvious evolution through time. It begins with a heavily menthol-y minty character – I can barely detect the black pepper sharpening it slightly, and then it moves into its clary sage heart. The transition is clever, because the spearmint top note is very similar to a green minty note that is a natural part of clary sage. The tabacco-y facet of clary sage is also present, and bridges nicely to the vetiver base. The patchouli is lightly detectable in the base, supporting and strengthening the woody nature of the vetiver. To my nose, the ylang ylang disappears (though perhaps it is sweetening things?) and primarily serves to round out the blend. Similarly, the benzoin also does not make itself known but instead serves as a fixative (I am guessing?) because the alcohol perfume certainly has better longevity than the solid version. The overall effect is medicinal, herbaceous, and earthy/woody. I like the aged patchouli-vetiver drydown even though I’m not a huge fan of the opening and heart of this one.

A quick note on technique: most perfumers will advise you to blend the essences first, then dilute in alcohol. This makes sense if you are working with prediluted essences. However, Mandy’s recipes call for the undiluted oils. In this case – it’s much easier to add them directly to the alcohol, especially when you’re working with a viscous material such as vanilla, benzoin, or fir absolute. My benzoin absolute is diluted to 50% in alcohol (so I added double the amount Mandy called for in her recipe) – which makes it easier to work with. But if your benzoin is semi-solid, it should dissolve easily in the perfumer’s alcohol.

Notes on Notes
I have notes on vetiver, clary sage, ylang ylang extra, and spearmint in the mint vetiver solid perfume post. Here are my notes on the other essential oils in the alcohol blend.

  • Benzoin, Siam, Absolute 50% in alcohol, Laos, White Lotus Aromatics – Faint on the tester strip. Hint of cream soda. Sweet. Edible.
  • Aged Patchouli, Aftelier – Camphorous? Woody? Pine-y? Definitely WOODY. I mean, it smells like patchouli. How does one describe patchouli?
  • Bergamot, Italy, Organic, White Lotus Aromatics – A green orange. Orange, but greener and sharper. Sunny, happy, refreshing, brisk, refined. More restrained and drier than a sweet orange.
  • Black Pepper EO, Sri Lanka, Organic, White Lotus Aromatics – Seering, bright, hot, phenolic?, sharp
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Mint Vetiver Solid Perfume

Tah-dah! It’s Mint Vetiver solid perfume, experiment No. 3 in blending along with Mandy Aftel’s book, Fragrant. Designed to highlight humble spearmint, this blend is both zingy and earthy.

Here’s what you need to create Mint Vetiver solid perfume:

Supplies for making Mint Vetiver solid perfume

Supplies for making Mint Vetiver solid perfume hanging out un-glamorously on my kitchen counter.

Raw Materials*

  • Jojoba oil
  • Grated beeswax
  • Vetiver essential oil
  • Clary sage essential oil
  • Ylang Ylang extra
  • Spearmint essential oil

*Out of courtesy to the author, I’m leaving off the amounts of each raw material. You can find them in her book.

Equipment

  • Box grater (for grating beeswax)
  • Measuring spoons (for beeswax)
  • 80 ml lab casserole (for melting beeswax)
  • 10 ml graduated beaker or cylinder
  • Glass eyedroppers (1 per essence)
  • Small glass of alcohol for cleaning eye droppers (place them in it upright after use)
  • Stirring rod
  • Hot plate (can also use stovetop)
  • ½ oz tin (for storing perfume)
  • Paper towels

Steps

  1. Cover your work surface with paper towels (unless you are way neater than I am).
  2. Add the Jojoba oil to the graduated beaker.
  3. Next, measure out each of the essences into the beaker of oil, using a separate eye dropper for each one. Start with the base notes and work your way up to the top notes: Vetiver, Clary Sage, Ylang Ylang Extra, Spearmint. Stir after each addition, and sniff to experience how the blend is developing.
  4. When you are done with an eye dropper, place it in the glass of alcohol, and pump it a few times to clean it, and leave it sitting full of alcohol. This will prevent cross-contamination and also dissolve any EOs left on the dropper to make clean up easier.
  5. Once you have your oil blended, switch to working with the beeswax. Measure out the grated beeswax into the lab casserole.
  6. Hold the lab casserole full of grated wax over the burner until the wax melts. You don’t want to burn it, so keep the temperature at “medium” or lower.
  7. When all the wax has melted, quickly pour the essential oil blend into the liquid wax. Working over the heat, stir the blend into the wax for about 10 seconds until it’s a smooth mixture. Do this as quickly as possible so as not to burn off the top notes.
  8. Finally, pour the molten perfume into the ½ oz tin, cap it, and leave it alone for 15 minutes to solidify. Don’t touch it or you’ll burn yourself and/or mess up the nice smooth surface. Finis!

How did it work? How does it smell?

Once you try it once or twice, making solid perfume is extremely easy! This blend is super simple – all the materials are very easy to work with. As for how it smells…well, this one is not my favorite. It’s very medicinal, and my best friend nailed it when she said it was reminiscent of Tiger Balm. The mint gives it that same menthol-y vibe. That said, this has a unique earthy-rooty depth from the Vetiver, and the Clary Sage fuses it all together. The Ylang Ylang more or less disappears, rounding things out. While I don’t love the Clary Sage in it personally – I enjoy the earthy freshness of the Vetiver. It seems like it might pair well with lemon or another citrus? Perhaps something to experiment with in the future.

Notes on the notes:

  • Vetiver Essential Oil, Haiti, Wild Harvest, White Lotus Aromatics – Earthy, rooty, powdery – but soft & scratchy. A fuzzy, furry, tannic sort of vibe. A little bit bitter? Definitely not sweet. Viscous and golden liquid.
  • Clary Sage EO, France, Organic, White Lotus Aromatics – Ok, it seems as though Clary Sage and I do not get along. The first whiff of this made me nauseous. It was so overwhelming and strong! It’s slightly minty and herbal, but with a faintly tobacco base. There’s something a little dirty about it. Somehow it reminds me of menthol cigarettes. I thought perhaps the nausea was from smelling a powerful EO undiluted – but it still made me nauseous in the final solid perfume. Ugh.
  • Ylang Ylang Extra EO, Comoros, Organic, White Lotus Aromatics – Sweet, rich, white floral. Tropical. Edible. Banana. Fruity. Ever so faint “plastic” note that I sometimes get with white florals, but it’s barely detectable here. Overall, this smells heavenly!
  • Spearmint EO, South Africa, Organic, White Lotus Aromatics – Yum! Spearmint. Reminds me of my mother’s garden. Sweet, bright, crisp, phenolic?, mint, zingy, happy.