Zero Waste Perfume

  

This DIY is so quick, simple, and rewarding, I hesitated posting it for fear of sounding patronizing. A few weeks ago, my husband's co-worker sent us some gorgeous flowers, which the cats ate. Some blooms were beyond saving, but smelled too good to be composted. I whipped up homemade perfume using the petals.

There are several ways to make your own perfume, using water or vodka. The first method is to place a handful of carefully washed blossoms in a jar and cover with one inch vodka. I use bulk vodka from En Vrac. Steep for 2-6 weeks until the perfume reaches desired scent. Strain and store in a spray bottle to use as fragrance, or a zero-waste air freshener. For a lighter blend, steep petals in water instead of vodka. I left this for two weeks, then dabbed some on my wrists today- the scent lasted about five hours. Try using other plant matter, such as citrus peels, evergreen needles, etc. I added eucalyptus to mine.

Alternately, wash 1 1/2 cups material and place in a pan with 2 cups distilled water (for DIY instructions, click here.) Bring to boil, then simmer two hours. Allow to cool. Line a jar or bowl with étamine and strain before storing. The resulting floral water makes an excellent facial toner, linen water, or tonic.

Each homemade perfume takes on a different, lovely color, from citrine to light pink to amber, depending on the ingredients. After making it, my friend Ketty said she loved my perfume, and I hadn't even put any on yet! Despite many assurances to the contrary, I swear my home, hair, and personage smells like cider vinegar, so I spray it on homemade gifts and around the apartment before people come over. If you prefer solid perfume, some French people still perform traditional enfleurage at home using leftover animal fats. This results in the longest-lasting fragrance, but it's a long, tedious process, splitting up glucosides with animal-derived enzymes. I tried making soap with animal fat once, and the judgmental looks I got from my cats were enough for me. Plus I smelled like bacon the whole time!

Visit The Rogue Ginger (who was just featured in Beth Terry's Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too) for an essential oil perfume DIY. If you'd rather buy than DIY, Le Labo offers refills in-store.

Paris to Go

9 comments:

  1. I use vodka with essences in a spray bottle to freshen clothing between wears and fabric covered furniture. So much cheaper and better than chemically laden fabreeze
    and air fresheners.

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    1. Hi, that's a good idea! What proportion of vodka to essences do you use? I would love to use essential oils with vodka for perfumes / fresheners / deodorizers, but read somewhere that it could potentially harm my cats over the long term. I read this after using grapefruit essential oil all over the house- I have never been so panicked in my life!

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  2. Wow, definitely trying this one out! :) Some nice flowers just blossomed in my backyard :)

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    1. Let me know how it turns out! I'm always looking for new floral combinations...

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  3. I've heard flowers tend to be heavily chemically treated to survive the shipping process. Any thoughts on these getting into the perfume?

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    1. Ah I should have specified- these instructions are for organic (really organic, not just paid the USDA to make the claim organic) flowers. It's written with people who have flowers in their gardens in mind. The book "Essence and Alchemy" by Mandy Aftel explains more about this. The flowers used here were grown just outside of Paris and from the Raspail bio market, no shipping involved :)

      One thing I should say is that most natural at home perfumers don't use vodka- they prefer Everclear or organic grape alcohol. The stronger the proof, the more leeway you have with material- you can use plum peels, peach peels, apple peels, etc. and have a nice fragrance.

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  4. This is a fantastic post. I love fragrance, but 99% of commercial scents spark my typically dormant allergies. I will give this a go!

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