Introduction: Be a Romantic Scientist: Distill Your Own Perfume Oil.

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Perfume is often seen as a last-minute gift that requires little thought. But what if you made your own, unique scents?

Step 1: Materials Needed

You will need a vessel to heat water in, a source of heat, gauze or muslin, thread, a delivery tube, a receiving vessel and ice.

You will also need a pretty bottle to store your scent.

For this example, we used a conical flask, a fabric bag of sprigs of lavender plus shredded, a plastic delivery tube and a test-tube in a beaker of cold water. The oil was stored in a film cannister. You may use whatever equipment you can find, at whatever scale you need to produce your scent.

If you are blending oils, you will need a dropper pipette for each raw oil you use.

Step 2: Distillation.

Gently heat the water so that it simmers, rather than boils violently. You need a steady supply of steam passing through the lavender.

Notice how the equipment is arranged so that the steam must pass through the lavender on its way out.

The steam passes along the plastic tube to the test tube, where it condenses on contact ith the ice-cooled glass.

Step 3: Making Your Scent.

The disillate needs to be kept in an air-tight container.

Try a variety of materials to extract the oils. They will not always smell the same after extraction as before, as some oils are easier to distil this way.

Scented leaves like lavender, mint or thyme.
Flowers - roses or violets are good.
Fruits like citrus or apple peels or pears
"Green" smells, like mosses, or leaves and twigs fresh from the tree, nuts and kernels like almond or a cracked-open peach-stone.
Spices, like cinnamon stick, liquorice root or vanilla pod.

When you have a "library" of scents, try blending them to achieve the affect you want. Make sure you add them to a clean container, and use a separate dropper pipette for each raw oil, otherwise you will mix them in unexpected ways.

We used lavender, orange peel, lemon peel and lime peel, both separately and together in the flask.

Step 4: Using the Scent Safely.

Some scented oils are not suitable for direct application to the skin, possibly causing irritation or allergic reactions.

Your oils should, therefore, be used indirectly. Use them in proprietary oil-warmers, or add a few drops to pieces of cloth and hang them in warm places, like over lamps (not too close to the bulb), on radiators or in front of your car air-vents.

It's tempting to make scented candles from the oil, but there is too much water in it - add water to melted wax and you risk rapid boiling spraying molten wax all over the place.

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