Stop Buying Perfumer's Alcohol!

May 31 / Melanie Jane

In my live masterclasses and online courses I highly recommend that students dilute their raw materials in organic denatured alcohol for experimental purposes. It saves a ton of money and materials, but also gives you the freedom and confidence to be creative and experiment till your hearts content.

It doesn't need to be organic. BUT you can't use any old alcohol either. I will explain why later, but first...
Here are three reasons why you should dilute your perfumery ingredients in alcohol:

  1. It saves money when you experiment with diluted oils, you will only be using a fraction of the oil so you can be free to be as creative as you like without worrying about wasting material.
  2. It makes your life easier. Some oils are difficult to work, viscous or semi-solid, and some may come in crystal form, like vanillin, coumarin or ambroxan.
  3. The alcohol gives you a clearer idea of the notes and their nuances, as alcohol ‘lifts’ the scent from the strip. Natural oils are very complex and the alcohol allows you to detect more of their facets. It also gives a definitive impression of the finished perfume as the alcohol 'lifts' the notes of the fragrance. Your nose will notice more notes!

Consider the course about dilution and weighing if you do not know how to dilute and weigh your perfume materials.

*FIRST WARNING*
Do not use ethanol alcohol that you find in a DIY store, as this has been denatured with methanol or other harsh chemicals which can be toxic or an irritant to the skin.
Do not use vodka or rubbing alcohol either. Just don't!

*SECOND WARNING*
Some Perfumer's Alcohols are not acceptable as they contain a compound called Dipropylene Glycol. Fine if it's for your own use but not for sale.
Your perfume will not be cleared for retail sale in the UK or Europe if it contains this compound, and your chemist or whoever tests the final product will ask for the supplier of your alcohol, so there is no way around it!
Write your awesome label here.
HERE'S WHAT YOU CAN USE
In the UK you must use Trade Specific Denatured Alcohol No 1 (TSDA 1) which is specifically authorised by Customs and Excise for use in fragrances.
But you need an Authorisation to Receive TSDA 1, which is issued by HM Revenue and Customs if you are in the UK, this is free to do.

The link to the alcohol from Trade Essential Oils is here.

The government form to fill in for authorisation is here YOU MUST complete this before ordering your alcohol.

For more info about government approved TSDA see this link.

From this link you can see that only TSDA number 1 and 5 are approved for perfume use.

If you are outside the UK, check out the local customs in your country to be complaint.

In Europe you will need to use Denatured Alcohol (the equivalent of TSDA 1) Aroma Zone in France has an organic one here it is around €33 per 1kg plus shipping.

In the USA it is very difficult to find suitable alcohol for perfumes, but I have recently discovered a company called Botanic Universe here. They sell denatured alcohol in small and large quantities; they are in Canada and also ship to the US. But be patient, it takes to time for the customs clearance, so order it well in advance.

If you cannot get the above recommended alcohol in your country, then please note:
Denatured alcohol is cheaper than none denatured for tax reasons, as it makes the alcohol undrinkable. You must ensure the chemicals that are added are organic and/or safe for use on the skin.

METHANOL as a denaturant is NOT acceptable and is toxic by inhalation or skin contact, so ask the supplier what the denaturant chemical is.
Bitrex, benzyl benzoate, tertiary butyl alcohol, Denatonium benzoate are all acceptable elements to denature alcohol.
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