Scaling up: From drops to liters

Note: This article is a follow-up on a blog post found here — And I've posted a video showing how we set up the electronic balance here.

When creating a fragrance, I work with dropper bottles and small mixing cups which have screw-on caps. My initial sketch for a fragrance may involve from 50 down to 10 or fewer drops total. Dropper bottles are a handy, but not precise, tool for developing a new fragrance.

mixing pots in use ... lots of them!

Mixing pots with screw-on caps, in use ... lots of them!

Here's the formula, in drops, of a fragrance I developed.

spreadsheet showing drops not yet weighed

Pictured above is my formula measured in drops, the way I originally developed it.

And here are some of the dropper bottles I've used to develop this formula.

aroma materials being used

Pictured above are some of the dropper bottles I used to develop my formula.

If I was going to produce several kilos of oil—juice—for this fragrance, I would not do it based on my satisfaction with a very small trial batch of the fragrance measuring only a handful of drops. Nor would I be writing my formula out in drops. At this point I want to convert my formula to weights and percentages. To do this I must weigh out each ingredient and then, after totaling the weights, calculate the percentage, by weight, of each material.

Weighing out the formula requires the use of a good scale (called a balance) and mine (Acculab VIC-123) is reasonably good, showing weights down to 1/1000th of a gram. A professional perfume creation company would, no doubt, have equipment that was considerably more sensitive and accurate.

Before weighing each ingredient in my formula, I'll bump up the number of drops for each ingredient so that small variations in drop size will be canceled out. Rather than mix a formula with just 30 or even 50 drips, I'll bump the drops total up to 100. Even then if there are some materials I have used in small quantities, say 1/2 or 1/4 drop, I'll bump the total quantity up higher so that no ingredient will get less than two drops in the enlarged batch. In the example shown, my new total was 150 drops.

NOTE: Professional perfumers will almost always use some ingredients in amounts so small that my equipment would have no way of dispensing them properly or measuring their weights. For the independent, "part time" perfumer, ultra small touches must generally be ignored, although there are some tricks that can be used to include faint touches of these materials, albeit with imprecise measurement.

Here now is my setup for weighing out my formula. Notice that I have my notebook handy, ready for me to mark down the weight of each material.

overall setup

Here's my setup for weighing out each aroma material I've used in my formula.

NOTE: If you've never used an electronic balance it's a good idea to test with some junk material, to get the hang of it. They can do some tricks on you if you're not alert.

Now let's get down to business.

First we zero out the scale to make sure our weighing will be accurate. Then we place a mixing pot—one large enough to hold all the drops we will be mixing—onto the balance, weigh it, and record this weight. This is known as the tare weight, the weight of the container itself.

balance set to zero

The electronic balance is now set to zero, ready to begin measuring our project.

At this point you can proceed in several ways. The point is, as you add each ingredient to the mix, you must capture the weight of that ingredient. As for me, after weighing the container, I zero out the scale again with the container on the scale. Now I begin adding drops.

As I add, drop by drop, the drops for each material, I record the new weight after I've finished adding each new material. When I'm finished I have the total weight of the full formula plus, after some subtractions, the weight of each individual material in the formula.

finished bottle

Here's the bottle again, on the electronic balance (scale) now holding the 150 drops of my formula.

Now, since I have the total weight and the weight of each material, I can calculate the percentage—by weight—of each material in the formula. This allows me to scale up production for any size batch. Once I determine the batch size I want, I know what weight each ingredient will contribute to that batch.

Before going into production I will repeat the weighting procedure a second time, as a check against my weight calculations. If my weights the second time vary too much from my weights the first time, through human error in adding drops or by the size of the drops themselves, I'll weigh out a third batch.

formula in percentages

The spreadsheet above shows the final results. The first column is the original number of drops. The second column is the cumulative weight of the formula as each material is added, the third column is the actual weight of the material, and the fourth column is the percentage, by weight, that material contributes to the formula. You can do the math by hand but in this case I chose to do it on a spreadsheet.

Also—essential—I'll test each finished batch with a test blotter to make sure that I've really mixed the fragrance I intended to mix. At this point if it doesn't smell right I can go back and make adjustments. After this, my measurements and percentages ARE the formula.

Here's the newest addition to our bookstore!

Creating your own perfume from dropper bottles:
Methods, mechanics, and mathematics

If you are an independent creator of perfumes, chances are you will begin your projects with dropper bottles. But you know that drops are inconsistent in size and weight and to develop a repeatable formula, you will convert your "drops" formula into a "grams" formula and then into a "percents" formula. Now you can produce any amount of your fragrance that a client might require and it will be a perfect match – the same smell, the same evaporation factor – as your original sample.

Click on image to enlarge

creating your own perfume from dropper bottles

You also know that it's handy to know the relationship between a pound of your perfume and a gallon. If you're given a large order in gallons, you don't want to under produce your oil (and have to wait weeks until a second batch is ready) or over produce your oil (and tie up your capital by stocking oil that might never be sold.) Following the development of the author's newest perfume, the book shows the importance of being able to convert weights (grams, ounces, kilos, pounds) to volumes (milliliters, fluid ounces, liters, gallons) and from metric measurements to American customary units. Rather than finding yourself confused by these conversions, the author's example demonstrated both the importance and the simplicity of making these conversions "on the fly." The $9.99 pdf version, available here, comes in 6x9 format giving you good viewing on mobile devices. If you are printing your copy on standard letter size sheets, we recommend that you print to "fit", which will slightly enlarge the text. In addition to the $9.99 pdf version, a paperback edition is available at Amazon ($29.99).


Memory Cross 200 Perfume and Fragrance Test Strips for Testing fragrances, Essential Oils

Sturdy 17 point cover paper which is 2X as thick as a playing cards so will hold up. This paper is specifically designed to absorb fragrances. Five inch length x 0.5 inches wide and tapered for room to write notes at the top.


HAVENLAB Deionized Water
  • COMPLETELY PURE - Although tap water has been filtered to make it safe for human consumption, it still contains trace minerals. Our sterile water has been thoroughly purified and mineral-free.
  • ENSURE TOTAL ACCURACY - When conducting lab tests, using tap water can introduce impurities that affect the chemical composition. Deionized water will get you the most accurate results.
  • A STABLE INGREDIENT - Pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and hygiene products use distilled or deionized water. Its purity makes it a reliable choice for maintaining product safety and integrity.
  • SUITABLE FOR MACHINERY - Deionized water is also widely used in industrial applications. Cleaning, cooling, and lubricating with it as opposed to regular water helps prevent corrosion damage.
  • GREAT FOR CARS - Whether you're topping off your car's coolant system or washing off dirt and grime, this sterile 1 gallon bottled water is a smart choice. Prevent water spots on your vehicle!

Stainless Steel Funnels for Kitchen,Small Metal Funnels (1.7Inch/ 2.2Inch/ 2.9Inch) No Spilling Food Grade Kitchen Funnels for Essentail Oil, Spices, Flask, Perfume

Stainless Steel Funnels for Kitchen: These stainless steel funnels are made of food grade stainless steel, non-toxic and sturdy. Premium material makes these small funnels have a long usage time and resists breaking, bending, scratching, rusting. Each Stainless Steel funnel has a perfectly narrow stem, ideal for filling small bottles and containers while keeping the kitchen counter free from spills. Each funnel's stem is equipped with an indent (air release channel), which allows funnels to vent and allows contents to flow better. Perfect for adding salt, pepper, herbs or spices into shakers or jars; transferring oils and vinegars into cruets or small decorative bottles for gifts; adding powdered drink mixes into water bottles and much more.


Karter Scientific 214T2, 3.3 Boro, Griffin Low Form, Glass Beaker Set - 3 Sizes - 50ml, 100ml, 250ml

3.3 Borosilicate glass, Griffin low form, 3 sizes - 50ml, 100ml, 250ml, Extra large marking spot, ASTM Specification E960, Type I requirements.


SUPERLELE Glass Graduated Cylinder Set 10ml 25ml 50ml 100ml, Thick Glass Beaker Set 50ml 100ml 250ml with 2 Droppers

Package contains: glass cylinders in 4 sizes (10/25/50/100ml), glass beakers in 3 sizes (50/100/250ml), and 2 glass droppers.
Product material: cylinder and beaker are both made of high quality 3.3 borosilicate glass (GG-17), graduated, laboratory grade glassware.Thick glass, acid and alkali resistant, with good stability.
Product features: Both the graduated cylinder and the beaker have tapered gates for easy liquid pouring.The graduated cylinder has stable base, and the scale is clear and easy to read.


Making Perfume By The Quart
Making Perfume By The Quart: A do-it-yourself project book

Many who love perfume dream of having their own -- but it can seem too complicated, too "from another world." Making Perfume By The Quart brings it down to earth for you in ten remarkably easy to understand chapters of instructions that guide you through the complete production process, from concept to finished perfume. But you make just one quart.


Creating Your Own Perfume With A 1700 Percent Markup! (3rd edition)

Perfume is famous for the markup it can achieve, even for a middle market fragrance. While "everybody knows" that perfume costs next to nothing to make (not completely true) the making of it is often considered an esoteric secret. "Creating Your Own Perfume With A 1700 Percent Markup!" details how a 3-person company with no experience created their own fragrance in response to a marketing opportunity that was too good to pass up. The book explains exactly what was done to create a fragrance for that opportunity but it is far more than a history of the author's project. "Creating Your Own Perfume With A 1700 Percent Markup!" lays out every step in the process of creating your own perfume, either as a do-it-yourself project – and without the benefit of automated equipment some compromises and workarounds are required – or full bore professional production under your supervision. Either way you will be producing a quality fragrance at a remarkably low cost. Do you have a marketing opportunity that would be wildly profitable if only you could obtain your fragrance at a ridiculously low cost? "Creating Your Own Perfume With A 1700 Percent Markup!" is the guide you need to do it.


Naming Your Perfume And Protecting Your Name

A really great name, a special name that is just right for a particular perfume or perfume marketer (or entrepreneur with money to invest!) can be worth a ton of money. But few individuals with great ideas ever manage to cash in on those brilliant ideas. Instead they wait while others "discover" their idea, acquire legal rights to it and make all the money while they are left out in the cold without a penny having been earned for what was once THEIR idea.

If you are struggling to name your perfume and are looking for a name that will have real value, "Naming Your Perfume And Protecting Your Name" will help you weed out low value names and point you to names that have better marketing value plus the potential to become valuable assets in themselves.

If you have a great name you want to protect but no fragrance, "Naming Your Perfume And Protecting Your Name" will guide you through the simple steps you must take to acquire a legal right to that name before someone else grabs it! Best of all, "Naming Your Perfume And Protecting Your Name" shows you how to gain strong legal protection for your name without a lawyer and without spending more than pocket change.

Never had an idea for a product name? Never thought much about perfume? "Naming Your Perfume And Protecting Your Name" may stimulate your interest in a whole new game that, when played well, can make you lots of money without your having to leave the comfort of your home office.


How To Launch Your Own Perfume Company: A Simple Business Plan

You can build a perfume business of your own using this business plan as a guide. By following its detailed strategy you learn to identify motivated groups of potential perfume buyers. Members of these groups are near the tipping point of desire for a new perfume. You don't know these people and they don't know you but you know a marketer they trust, one who does not currently sell perfume and might never think of selling perfume were it not for your approach. Here is where you step in with a professional plan, promotion, and perfume to take advantage of this ripe opportunity for mutual profit. Before your first promotion has peaked, you will already be developing a relationship with your next marketing partner. Following this plan, you will gain more and more profit with each new marketing partnership.


Creating your own perfume from dropper bottles: Methods, mechanics, and mathematics

Now when you make your own perfume you can make it fully "commercial" meaning you will be creating a product ready for regular, continuous sales to friends, relatives, and the public! If the fragrance you've made has already won praise, why not share it with others? Some might pay you for it and want it for their web stores or retail boutiques! Creating your own perfume from dropper bottles: Methods, mechanics, and mathematics guides you through steps that can turn your hobby project into a perfume business. Discover how close you are now and how little more you must do to take what you made with essential oils and dropper bottles into a business of your own! For an introduction to this book, watch this video.


How To Create A More Valuable Name For Your Perfume

When you name a perfume you create a valuable asset – the name itself. To sell your perfume you want the most effective name possible. But a good name can have value beyond the edge it gives your sales. In naming your fragrance you are creating a trademark and a trademark can have value independent of the product. The value of that trademark can vary. Much depends on how well, in naming your perfume, you follow the trademark "rules." How To Create A More Valuable Name For Your Perfume first helps you develop a name that will be effective in selling your perfume. It then prods you to make use of certain techniques that can turn a good name into a great trademark, strong and valuable. If you have questions about how to protect a name, How To Create A More Valuable Name For Your Perfume will answer many such as:

  • Can you protect your name yourself or do you need a lawyer?
  • Can you register a trademark without a lawyer?
  • What does it cost to register a trademark?
  • How do I enforce the rights I have established?

How To Create A More Valuable Name For Your Perfume covers both state, federal, and international protection.


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Philip Goutell
Lightyears, Inc.