Perfume Production — converting grams to milliliters

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. A video showing the procedures explained below has been posted at YouTube here.

Having developed a perfume formula with dropper bottlers and then converting the drops to grams and percents, I now want to calculate the weight in grams of a milliliter of my fragrance. Why? Because when I produce my finished perfume, I'll want to produce a particular quantity of it and that quantity will be specified in a volume, liters (or milliliters) or gallons (or fluid ounces), not by weight.

NOTE: Production of a mass market fragrance might well be by weight, perhaps by tons. For small scale production such as mine, measurement by volume is more practical. It involves less weighing and eliminates the need for extremely accurate (and expensive!) measuring tools.

For this current project (which is basically an educational exercise as at present I have no plans to market this formula) I've decided to fill 30 29 ml (1 fluid ounce) bottles. This means I'll need 870 ml of the finished fragrance (30 x 29 = 870). To be on the safe side and allow for a few spills, I'll bump up that quantity to 900 ml.

So now the project lays out like this: For production I'll need —

135 ml of fragrance oil
765 ml of 90% alcohol
To produce: 900 ml of finished perfume

Since the alcohol I have on hand is 100% (200 proof) ethanol and I want a 90% (180 proof) alcohol, I'll blend alcohol and water as follows —

76.5 ml water
688.5 ml 100% (200 proof) alcohol
To give me:765.0 ml of 90% (180 proof) alcohol

Now comes the issue which has led to this article. Measuring the alcohol and water is easy. I'll use a 1,000 ml household measuring cup. I'll measure out the 688.5 ml of alcohol first and pour it into the bottle that will hold my finished perfume. Then, using the same measuring cut (without washing it), I'll measure out the 76.5 ml of water.

NOTE: I measure the alcohol first because then, when the same measuring cup is used for the water, it will "wash" away any alcohol that was left in the cup and pour it, with the rest of the water, into the bottle. (You can read why I used de-ionized water in this article.)

The glitch comes with the fragrance oil. I need to produce 135 ml of it but my formula is calculated in percents of weights of my ingredients. When I produce the formula itself, prior to mixing it with alcohol and water, I'll produce it by weight. But what weight? How many grams of my formula must I produce to yield a volume of 135 ml?

I must now calculate the weight of 135 ml of my oil.

The math is simple. I'll just multiply the weight of one milliliter of my oil by 135. But first I must measure the weight of one milliliter. Out comes the electronic balance. (See my video for setting up an electronic balance.)

To calculate the weight in grams of one milliliter of my fragrance oil I'll use a graduated measuring column, in this case a small, ten milliliter column.

I'll start by weighing the column. This gives me the tare weight, the weight of the column itself, and I'll record this weight in my notes. In this case the column alone weighs 30.703 grams.

Next I'll pour some of the oil to be weighed into the column. Since I'm using the oil I produced in my "drops to grams to percents" conversion, I only have enough to fill the column to the 3 ml mark. My "grams per milliliter" results would be more accurate if I was using more oil but, at the moment, this is all I have.

Now I weigh the column again, with its 3 ml of my fragrance oil, and I record this weight in my notebook. The column with 3 ml of fragrance weighs 33.643 grams.

By subtracting the weight of the empty column from the weight of the column filled with 3 ml of my oil, I get the weight of 3 ml of the oil —

33.643 grams, column with 3 ml of oil
30.703 grams, column empty
2.940 grams, weight of 3 ml of oil

Now I divide 2.940 by 3 to get the weight of one grams of oil. (2.940/3 = 0.98). So one milliliter of my oil weights 0.98 grams.

Since I need 180 ml of oil to produce my 900 ml of finished fragrance, I multiply 0.98 by 180 and find that I'll need 176.4 grams of oil to supply the required 180 milliliters. (0.98 ml x 180 = 176.4 ml)

Now, using the percentages in my formula, which will show me how many grams of each material I'll need, I'm ready to produce 180 ml of oil.

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Philip Goutell
Lightyears, Inc.

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