The following properties are important when considering alcohol for use in perfume making.
Miscibility - Miscibility refers to two or more substances’ ability to completely mix together to create a homogenous mixture. Therefore, you want a perfumer’s alcohol that mixes well with essential oils, absolutes, and other aroma chemicals, depending on your recipe. While miscibility does not necessarily impact the quality or safety of the final result, it can be cumbersome to constantly have to reincorporate your ingredients due to separation or low miscibility, which can impact the overall application process and usefulness of the final mixture.
Volatility - Volatility refers to a substance’s ability to vaporize. Perfumes with high volatility will vaporize quickly, while low-volatile perfumes may linger on your skin, leaving it damp with the perfume liquid. Typically, high-volatile perfumes are superior in doing the job of perfume: releasing or dispersing a scent. Alcohol is highly volatile in general – it is quick to evaporate or vaporize when exposed to air. Consider the last time you used alcohol to clean a countertop: sometimes, it takes only seconds for the surface to be completely dry again. Alcohol with higher proofs (ABVs) will evaporate quicker and more efficiently than lower proof alcohol. Lower proof alcohols contain higher amounts of water, which will make it slower to evaporate in general (think back to spraying water on that same countertop: it may take minutes, possibly longer, for this water to evaporate).
Shelf Life - Prior to making your perfume, consider if your alcohol or any of your ingredients expire or can degrade from being in contact with each other over time and whether special storage requirements, like being refrigerated or kept out of sunlight, may impact your perfume.
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