How to Make Perfume Out of Essential Oils

How to Make Perfume Out of Essential Oils: A guide to doing homemade perfume the right way! Pinnable image showing title of post with an image of essential oil bottles in front of wood backdrop

My first try at making essential oil perfume was kind of a flop. I followed Wellness Mama’s DIY Herbal Perfume recipe for my first foray into the wonderful world of homemade perfumery. I carefully selected a blend of patchouli, ylang ylang, lavender, basil, sweet orange, and lime essential oils. A liquor store visit resulted in my first ever purchase of Everclear, which I lovingly added to my special oil blend.

The problem with Wellness Mama’s perfume recipe is that it doesn’t result in a perfume.

You see, perfumes and perfume-like substances are classified by the concentration of fragrance in the blend. Wellness Mama’s perfume recipe calls for 65 drops of essential oils diluted in a whopping 4 ounces of alcohol. When you do the math, that’s an essential oil concentration of just under 3%.

But perfumes are classified as having between 20-40% of a fragrance concentration.

So that’s the reason my first try at DIY perfume was a flop; I just ended up with a really weak eau de cologne (the weakest type of fragrance you can make).

If you’re looking to make an essential oil room spray, go with the recipe I linked to above. This post will walk you through how to make a perfume at home, step-by-step.

Buying Your Supplies

The Carrier

First, you need to decide whether you’re going to make an oil- or alcohol-based perfume. The oil or alcohol is going to act as a carrier for your fragrance.

Alcohol is a great carrier because it evaporates and carries your scent with it, ensuring everybody will be able to catch a whiff of your beautiful handmade fragrance. However, it’s probably not the ideal choice if you work with people who are sensitive to fragrances. You might use perfumer’s alcohol, 190-proof Everclear, or a high-proof vodka.

My personal choice of carrier is a bottle of off-brand Everclear that I picked up from the liquor store down the street. This 375 mL bottle cost me about $9, and I’ve been able to make a ton of perfumes and sprays with it.

Oil-based perfumes tend to keep the fragrance closer to your body, so it’s an ideal carrier for perfume in office or close-quarter situations. I personally use jojoba oil, but you can also use fractionated coconut oil

Fragrance Bottles

I recommend buying smaller bottles when you start making your own homemade perfume. Not knowing any better, I made my first perfume in a 2 ounce bottle. Making that big of a batch on your first try is pretty risky since you might not like your first blend.

If you’re planning on making alcohol-based perfumes, you can buy a large amount of half-ounce (15 mL) spray bottles on Amazon. Dark glass containers are the way to go, since you want to protect your essential oils from UV light.

Alternatively, if you’re more into oil-based perfumes, these 10 mL oil roller bottles have got you covered.

Essential Oils

I’m absolutely bonkers about Eden’s Garden oils because they smell amazing and are a bargain compared to other companies out there. No MLM tricks involved. (Note: I’m not affiliated Eden’s Garden in any way. They’ve just been an absolute lifesaver in allowing me to put together a well-rounded collection of essential oils on a budget.)

Eden’s Garden’s Best of the Best includes twelve 10 mL bottles of essential oils, including grapefruit, lavender, patchouli, rosemary, sweet orange, and many more. You want to invest in a range of oils that include base notes, mid/heart notes, and top notes.

The set above has a good balance of each. If you want to get more bang for your buck, go to their site and put together a “Create Your Own” set of essential oils. This will let you put together your perfect beginning set of oils at a discounted price.

The classification of fragrances into notes has been developed by perfumers to provide guidance for mixing perfumes.

Top notes are the first scent to hit your nose, and they evaporate quickly; they are the first impression that your fragrance gives off. Middle notes form the main body of the fragrance and make their appearance just before the top notes dissipate. Base notes linger long after the other scents have gone and typically have a rich, deep character.

A useful chart classifying common essential oils into top notes, middle notes, and base notes.
A useful chart classifying common essential oils into top notes, middle notes, and base notes. Source: StephanieBlue.com

Your perfume should have a balance of each of these notes. Consult a fragrance note chart to identify essential oils with a range of notes.

Here are some of my favorite oils in each note category:

Base notes: patchouli, amyris, vetiver, ylang ylang, vanilla

Mid notes: lavender, pine, geraniumclary sage

Top notes: sweet orange, tangerine, lime

Additional Tools

Disposable Pipettes

Some oils are so thick and resinous that it can be impossible to get them to flow through the dropper insert of the essential oil bottle.

I’ve had this frustrating problem with some of my favorite ingredients: vetiver, amyris, and vanilla absolute.

These pipettes will allow you to measure out even the thickest of oils.

Stainless Steel Funnels

I can’t tell you how much Everclear I wasted due to pouring issues before I got my hands on some funnels. These stainless steel ones are easy to clean and fit most bottles.

Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Professionals (2nd Edition)

Unfortunately for us, the Internet is the Wild West of information about essential oils. Most information floating around out there comes from people trying to shove oils down your throat to make a profit, or from those who are simply uneducated about the safety issues that are inherent to using concentrated chemicals.

Because, yes, essential oils are substances that contain the highly concentrated chemical compounds found in plants.

If you’ve ever rubbed your eyes after cutting up a hot pepper, you know from experience that “natural” does not equal safe.

Do yourself a favor and invest in this book. You’ll feel much better knowing that the products you’re making for yourself, friends, and family are as safe as possible.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract that you buy from the grocery store has water in it, so it won’t be completely miscible with your carrier. However, I find that it makes a great addition to alcohol-based perfumes. The scent of this particular vanilla extract, to me, is lighter than the vanilla absolutes you can purchase from essential oil suppliers, and it adds a sweet note to perfumes and sprays.

How to Make Your Essential Oil Perfume

Step 1: Figure out how many drops of essential oils to use

First you need to calculate the number of drops of essential oil required to make your perfume; this is based on the size of bottle you will be using. The following chart breaks down all the volume conversions for you:

A chart showing common measurement conversions. This assumes an average drop volume of 20 drops per mL. Source: www.lgbotanicals.com
A chart showing common measurement conversions. This assumes an average drop volume of 20 drops per mL. Source: www.lgbotanicals.com

For a 15 mL bottle, about 20% of your bottle volume should be essential oils. You can modify this fragrance concentration later based on your personal preferences, but I like a perfume that sticks around for a while. 20% is usually good starting point for me.

Here’s an example calculation for a 15 mL (1/2 oz) bottle of perfume:

15 mL × 20 drops/mL = 300 drops total volume

.20 × 300 drops total = 60 drops of essential oils

Step 2: Mixing essential oils for fragrance

When mixing your perfume start with the base notes, then heart notes, then top notes. The reason for this is that, if you start from the top-down, the higher notes will overpower the lower notes and make it difficult for you to balance your proportions.

Many people recommend a 3-2-1 ratio – that’s 3 parts base notes, 2 parts heart notes, and 1 part top note. For the 60-drop blend we’ve been using as an example, that would translate to:

  • 30 drops of the base note(s)
  • 20 drops of the mid note(s)
  • 10 drops of the top note(s)

Based on those guidelines, I might formulate a recipe like:

  • 30 drops patchouli
  • 20 drops lavender
  • 10 drops sweet orange

This is actually the basis for one of my favorite homemade perfumes. You don’t have to follow these guidelines though!

They’re good for when you’re starting out and don’t know what to do, but don’t be afraid to trust your nose (and safety guidelines, when they apply). For example, some base notes – like vetiver – can completely overwhelm a blend even at 5% concentration.

QUICK TIP: Check out my newer post on how to blend essential oils for a better method of finding fragrance ratios that are on-point.

Mix these in the perfume bottle, then let your blend sit for about a week to allow the oils to meld together and mature.

You can modify the recipe again at this point; if you add more oils, let it rest again before you move on to the next step.

Step 3: Mixing essential oils with the carrier

A beaker filled halfway with oil, between two glass bowls filled with flowers.

Now, add your carrier oil or alcohol to the bottle using a funnel. Put the lid on the perfume bottle and give it a shake.

As in the last step, you should wait at least a few days to allow the carrier to mix with your essential oil fragrance. This is important especially if you’re using Everclear – the scent of alcohol will be overpowering at first, but mellow out over time.

Step 4: Enjoy your new essential oil perfume

Handmade essential oil room spray and cologne - packed and ready to ship to a friend!
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be sending out lots of care packages with personalized perfumes and colognes.

Your perfume should be ready to use now! Remember, you’ll have some hits and some misses along the way.

But don’t be discouraged! Keep experimenting – you’ll be sure to stumble upon a one-of-a-kind perfume blend that you’ll never want to be without.

I want to know – how did your first handmade essential oil perfume turn out?

Published by lupe

I'm a web developer at an awesome web design agency in PDX. I'm passionate about learning, playing, tinkering, and blogging about everything from coding to DIY experimentations.

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13 Comments

  1. How long does it take for the scent of the alcohol to mellow & does it go away completely? I used vodka & the smell was so bad I dumped it out.

    1. I’ve found that the alcohol smell usually becomes bearable for me about a week into mixing, but it depends on the alcohol of course.

      It definitely takes some time to mellow out, but it will evaporate with time.

  2. I want to make a 1/2 ounce roll-on oil based perfume using sweet almond oil and fragrance oils. How many mls of oil do I use and how many drops of fragrance oil? Thank you.

    1. To get between 15-30% dilution (completely depends on your preference of strength!), I would use 45-90 drops of fragrance oil and then fill the remainder of the roll-on container with the sweet almond oil.

  3. My first mix I am giving a 5/10 on. Mostly because it’s nothing like what I was going for. It is at least pleasing though. Quite strong and long lasting also, puts many store bought fragrances to shame as far as longevity goes.

    This is a male fragrance. It is a mix of russian sage, patchouli, frankincense, lemon, cinnamon, rose, lavendar and bergamot, not necessarily in that order with an everclear carrier. I didn’t keep track of the order and I had no knowledge of ratios or base/mid/top notes. I just kept track of the number of drops of each scent and went by the potency of each scent to ration it out. I totaled in around 210 drops for a 2oz bottle, using the chart above that comes out to 17.5%

    I wish I’d started smaller for my first try. Like I said, it’s not unpleasant and I have gotten many comments on how good it smells before they even know I did it myself. It’s just not the fragrance I was shooting for. It wound up being primarily frankincense with strong initial lemon that tapers off, leaving with the frankincense a musky sweet mix of what I assume must be the rose and patch coming through. I never even notice the sage, cinnamon, lavendar and bergamot though I suspect they’re providing some coloring I’m just not experienced enough to catch yet.

    I think reading your guide helps a bit now that I’ve made my first run. The experience definitely will help a lot on the next run. Your advice about going small on your first try is EXCELLENT advice I wish I’d had. If I could start again I wouldn’t do more than 15ml at most for my first try. That’s a respectable amount that will last a decent amount of uses but isn’t that much of an investment if it isn’t what you’re going for.

    1. Thanks for sharing your blend, Darrell! It’s definitely frustrating when you think you’ve found the perfect ratio of oils and, once it’s had time to sit, it smells completely different. I’d love to know how your next experiment turns out!

  4. Thank you for calling out that other blog. I’m so so so sick of seeing bloggers sharing crap they know nothing about and presenting it as fact. Its clear you did your homework. Thank you for this guide. Bookmarking

  5. Can someone help? I made a 1/2 oz spray perfume with an ever clear type 95% 190 proof alcohol base (1 tablespoon) and 60 drops bergamot and 20 drops bay EO. Smells great ….for 20 minutes MAX, then you can’t smell it. It doesn’t last on either my skin OR clothing. What am I doing wrong? How can I make it last? I can put any type of carrier oil or it would stain my clothes with squirts of oil. Same thing with my roller perfume in sweet almond oil base. The scent fades to nothing in no time. Thanks for any advise.

    1. That sounds like a wonderful smelling blend! What I’m thinking from looking at fragrance note charts is that the mix is heavily weighted towards top notes. Bergamot’s fragrance has mostly top to middle notes, while bay is a middle note. Since top notes evaporate relatively quickly, you may need to mix a base note into your blend to extend the scent of the perfume. (I’m looking here for reference: https://essentialoils.co.za/blending_fragrances.htm)

      Hope this helps!

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