What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


First, I want to announce that the winner of the mini bottle of Fresh Life is  SUN MI   Please contact me at olympicorchids at gmail dot com or leave a message on Facebook with your complete, correct name and shipping address.

On the last Materials Wednesday when I posted on perfume carriers, there was talk about solid perfumes, so it seems reasonable to cover that, too. Personally, I’m not a fan of solid perfumes, but I know many people like them.

Basically, solid perfumes are fragrance in a carrier of wax and oil in a ratio that makes the resulting mass solid but spreadable. The fragrance can be anything from essential oils to ready-made synthetic fragrance oils or concentrates. The solid wax is heated enough to melt it, and the carrier oil and fragrance oil are added in whatever ratio gives the desired consistency and scent. While liquid, the mixture is poured into a small tin or jar, where it is allowed to solidify, and voila! You have solid perfume.

The high-end commercial “natural” and/or low-end DIY solid perfume formulas typically use beeswax, candelilla wax, carnauba wax, shea butter, cocoa butter, or mango butter along with various liquid oils like almond, coconut, olive, sunflower, grape seed, or jojoba. Many of these ingredients have scents of their own, so contribute subtly to the final fragrance, which is one reason why solid perfumes often smell a little different from liquid ones.

There are not a lot of mass-market commercial solid perfumes, and those that exist do not disclose all of their ingredients, but they probably use soy wax, paraffin wax, deodorized castor oil, mineral oil, and small amounts of other “natural”-sounding waxes and oils like the ones mentioned above, along with synthetic/mixed-media fragrance concentrates.

Next week I’ll actually start on the perfume materials themselves.

[Beeswax photos are from Wikimedia, solid perfume photos from retailers' websites, and Fresh Life bottle from Fragrantica]


  1. Thank you for the details on solid perfumes! I am actually also not a fan of solid perfumes, because they maybe wear too close to the skin for me? Not sure if that is me imagining it, or a function of the aromachemicals interacting with the solid carrier. I do know people who strongely prefer solid perfumes because they find the smell of alcohol-based perfumes too alcohol-y...which I don't understand either :)

    1. I think the perception of liquid perfumes as too "alcohol-y" is an illusion created by the idea that the perfume contains alcohol, and by the fleeting perception of alcohol for a few seconds when the perfume is first applied. There is no way that the alcohol smell could persist. On the other hand, the smell of carrier waxes and oils in solid perfumes does persist, muddying and muting the smell of the fragrance itself. Some people probably like that. I happen not to.