Be a Romantic Scientist: Distill Your Own Perfume Oil.





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

About: The answer is lasers, now, what was the question? If you need help, feel free to contact me. Find me on Reddit, Tumblr and Twitter as @KitemanX

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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171 Discussions

Nightshade distillation smelly horrible smell repelant mainly.


Here is an actual distiller if you can afford it that works a little better than this. This is a good distiller for normal use if you want to keep it simple.

distiller apparatus.jpg
3 replies

Oh, that works well, but they usually run at a couple of hundred pounds/dollars (unless you make a lucky ebay find).

I was keeping it simple for pocket-money scale distilling.

I got the condenser tube (10coil) off eBay China for £6 with free post to uk! :P

Estimate 0.5-1% of this ester. So you can get in 250 ml near 0.323 to 0.646 g of methyl butyrate.

Here I am distilling a compound at an estimated 0.5% methyl butyrate which smells like pineapples from Great Value Pineapple Naturally Flavoured Drink Mix. Here I can get 0.323 g of methyl butyrate. This compound boils near 100 degrees C.


However when boiling at 150 degrees C and the high volatility of Furan-2-ylmethanethiol which smells like roasted coffee. Its high volatility and vapor pressure makes it highly probable (odor) in distilling solution of concentrated coffee.

Apparently there are 1000 of organic voilitle compounds including Pyrazine, and other chemicals. The odor is a mistry to me.

I have been doing more research and most likely sol at 95 degrees of Octyl acetate ( a natural chemical) that smells like orange is probably added to Orange Tang. However I am not sure. It boils at 200 and the glass is at 350 degrees C so half of that is 175 degrees C. Vapors of it are possible. Especially if the humidity is 80% compared to 20%.

0.06/100+ 0.06 *100 = 0.06% of this ester.

Here again I am trying to extract a Java Energy drink MOKA COFFEE through distillation. It been outside for 6 months before distilling.


The sugar in the solution is an issue.. but can be easily cleaned with water and solvents (acetone).

This makes no sense and the pictures are not helpful :(

1 reply

Which bit in particular is causing an issue?


3 years ago

This looks great. Do you think it would work on catnip?

2 replies

does anyone know if the oil and water will separate after awhile allowing you to draw off just the pure oil? or could you simmer the extract to leave only the oil behind? (I would really like to try adding to candles, but I also heed the water content warning)

2 replies

I think the product of this particular method probably more accurately hydosols (like rose water) vice essential oil. The typical yield is less then 0.5% (some cases much less), so really get very little without larger batches.

Pretty good explanation here;

OUrs didn't separate into layers, despite standing for nearly 24 hours. Maybe a centrifuge? Or maybe the layer of oil was just too thin to spot in the curve of the meniscus? Maybe you get separable layers in larger volumes?