The Bottling Process

I receive questions from time to time about how the scents are bottled, so I thought I’d describe the process a little bit. My method is probably similar to that of many other small indie perfumers.

As orders come in, I bottle the scents at the time of order. I offer so many bottle sizes that it is impossible to predict what sizes people will want, so I do not keep any full 5 ml, 17 ml, or 34 ml bottles in stock for any scent. We do fill sample vials of all scents weekly and keep a box with drawers full of 1 ml and 3 ml samples to make it easy to fill sample orders.

I keep a few cabinet shelves full of filtered batches of each scent, and we use those large bottles to fill samples and perfume bottles as orders come in. In addition to those filtered bottles, I keep large bottles of unfiltered juice in reserve for all scents. When we run out of filtered juice for a scent, I filter the waiting unfiltered batch that has now matured, and then we batch the scent again to put a new unfiltered batch into storage. I make larger batch sizes of the most popular scents. This method ensures that I never have to sell old stock. Everything turns over and is fresh, and there’s no waste. It also lets us quickly adapt to changing sales patterns of scents, which happens with the seasons, for example. Only small indie companies can run this way, and it is one advantage to being small. (There are disadvantages too, like not getting economies of scale, so it’s nice to appreciate the positives when they pop up!)

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    1. Hi Jordan,
      I try to make about the right amount of juice for each scent so that it matures for a month or so. Sometimes if we don’t make enough something may only mature for a couple of weeks (if we get hit with more orders than expected), but usually they get a month or two of maceration.

  1. Thanks, this was very interesting. I do a similar thing with my essential oil blends that I make for our hospital. It was a challenge to keep on top of how long I’d had what oils and when the blends were made so that only fresh mixes went out to be used.

    1. Interesting that your hospital allows scent! Even with naturals, the trend seems to be to discourage it altogether, so that’s nice you can help out that way. How are they using them? I’d love to hear more.

      1. We have a policy allowing the use of 4 EOs for aromatherapy purposes for patients: lavender, peppermint, grapefruit, and fresh ginger. They are used alone or in conjunction with energy work (healing touch, Reiki) and/or music therapy. The peppermint helps with nausea and urinary retention (sorry if TMI ๐Ÿ™‚ ) Our birthing unit uses a blend of lavender and grapefruit with a little emulsifier in the labor tub and say it helps ease labor, especially for first time moms. Overall, the lavender is the most popular.

        We also have a program for staff members called oshibori: at 6 am and 2 pm department leaders take turns going to different areas and offering a hot towel with the employee’s choice of a couple of drops of EO. That’s where I have fun and make different blends for the employees to use. The scent is subtle but the staff loves it.

        Our hospital also doesn’t smell like a hospital, we try very hard to avoid the harsh chemical smell by our choices of cleaners and disinfectants.

  2. Laurie, I’m late to the topic (reading everything I missed during my vacation in June) but I was just recently thinking about indie perfumes and thought that I wanted to ask somebody who’s close to that: what is the smallest amount (in ml? liters?) of any specific perfume you canmix and still assure the consistency of the formula?

    1. That varies a little bit with the formula, but there are tricks you can do to make tiny batches turn out closer to the original. You are limited by the ingredients that are used in the smallest amounts, but you can pre-dilute those in alcohol to make it easier to weigh accurately. For example, letโ€™s say you want to make only 1 ounce but ingredient A would be too small to measure well on your scale; you could pre-dilute it and then you use proportionately the same amount more in the formula, making it possible to weigh. Then you need to reduce the alcohol you add at the end by the correct amount to make the final concentration the same as your original formula. With a little math, I can make most formulas in as little as an ounce, and often a bit less. The amount of time spent to do it is high though, so itโ€™s not worth my time to spend two hours to make someone one small bottle.

      I use this method in reverse when I formulate new scents. I start out working in dilutions so I can work in small batches and still weigh accurately. When the formula is done, I do the math to remove the alcohol from the pre-dilutions and add the alcohol at the end. I always hold my breath the first few batches because sometimes little adjustments need to be made, which shows that the method isnโ€™t perfect. Even in my finished formulas there are some ingredients that I still pre-dilute, like aldehydes, because they are so strong that I only use tiny amounts and pre-diluting makes it more accurate (though more time consuming).

      That was probably a longer answer than you wanted, lol! ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. No-no, it was a great explanation! Thank you, Laurie. I was very curious about that part (no, I do not plan to go into perfume-making :), it’s just for my better understanding the process).

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