perfume bottle and perfume made with Ethyl Alcohol by culinary solvent perfume bottle and perfume made with Ethyl Alcohol by culinary solvent

Pure Alcohol...
for Perfumers.

by Culinary Solvent

Everything to Know About Perfumers Alcohol

Simply put, alcohol is a critical ingredient in the creation of perfume and cologne.  Because alcohol is such a large component of your recipe, the quality of alcohol you choose will directly affect the quality (feel, aroma, longevity, and safety) of the perfume.
Seemingly common, yet sometimes unobtainable in the required strength or purity, sourcing the proper, quality-assured alcohol for perfume recipes is a frequent need experience by many craftspeople throughout US including California, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maine and more.
Use this page as a guide for everything you need to know before buying perfumers alcohol.  With this information, I hope to show you how to identify pure ethyl alcohol from denatured alcohol containing toxic additives and to provide links to additional perfume supplier information to assist you in sourcing the best alcohol for your perfume recipe. -Scott (AKA Mr.Tincture)
mr tincture face logo and scott signature

What is "Perfume Alcohol"?

Perfume alcohol is any volatile carrying agent used to topically deliver essential oils or other aromatic compounds onto the skin.  Alcohol's high evaporative rate (volatility) and superior solvent properties make it a preferred carrying agent for perfumers.  Popular alcohols used for perfume recipes include undenatured pure ethyl alcohol as well as denatured alcohol blends like SDA 40b. 

Will any alcohol work for perfume?

Well, no, not all alcohols are created equally.  The term "alcohol" on a package or online listing doesn't alone guarantee purity of recipe, strength, or safety for skin application.  Perfumers should always read the full description of the alcohol product to understand what is, or is not, blended into the alcohol.  Look for words below to understand more about the perfumers alcohol you are about to buy.

  • ABV - Alcohol by Volume, represented as a percentage. 
  • 200 Proof - A term representing 100% ABV and 0% water.     
  • Ethyl Alcohol - Also goes by "Ethanol", this is the alcohol generally regarded as the most safe for extended contact with the skin.  Ethyl alcohol should make up the majority (>70%) of most all perfume and cologne recipe components.
  • CDA 12A - Completely Denatured Alcohol formula 12A containing the additives methanol and isopropyl alcohol.
  • Denatured - A term representing the addition of additives to the alcohol, primary to inhibit consumption.
  • SD 40B - Specially Denatured Alcohol formula 40b containing the additives Tert-Butyl Alcohol and Denatonium Benzoate.
  • SDA 3C - Specially Denatured Alcohol formula 3C containing the additive isopropyl alcohol.
  • Undenatured - Also "non-denatured", this means "no additives", just pure ethyl alcohol.

Learn more terms and vocabulary related to perfumery on our blog post here.


woman evaluating perfumer's alcohol labels for ingredients and additives

Important Considerations when Buying Perfumers Alcohol

Is your alcohol "Pure" or "Denatured"?

Unfortunately, searching online for the term "Perfumers Alcohol" returns a mix of both pure alcohol and denatured alcohol products.  This mix of results is a primary source of confusion among customers seeking alcohol that they want to be safe as it will be applied directly to the body.  Customers interested in sourcing the best alcohol for perfume making must read and understand more than just the title of an online listing.   

What to do: Read the entire label or listing description completely, look for the words "denatured" and percentages of components added if denatured.  Learn more about denatured alcohol vs undenatured ethanol on our blog post here.

What does your base alcohol naturally "smell" like?

Each raw material is special and great in their own unique way.  When it comes to making perfume using food grade alcohol, the scent of the alcohol itself should be considered.  None of these alcohols will or should "smell like rubbing alcohol", instead the raw ingredients used still impart distinct characteristics that perfumers should be aware of and account for in their formulations.

What to do: Read the descriptive profiles of alcohol distilled from Cane, Grape, Corn, & Wheat here.

Does Certified Organic matter?

Finally there are options and choices for perfumers that are best for our body and planet.  Products offered as organic must meet strict quality and chain of custody requirements, however not everyone requires certified organic ingredients for their final product.  If you are offering an organic perfumer, cologne, or body product, sourcing USDA certified organic alcohol is key to maintaining your product's complete organic certification. 

What to do:  Ask suppliers to provide their current organic certification, look into the certifying agency to understand their requirements (each state is different), view the USDA organic registration database for more information on the supplier and product listed as organic.

Other Physical Properties to Consider?

Most all alcohols, labeled or not labeled as "perfumer's alcohol" will perform in some regard as a carrier agent for your DIY perfume.  However, not all alcohols are created equal, and care should be taken in choosing the best alcohol when it comes in contact with our skin and body. 

What to do:  For more detailed information on alcohol properties that are important when making perfume, read our blog post on the topic here: Learn more about Miscibility, Volatility, and Shelf-Life properties of perfumers alcohol.

About Buying Perfumers Alcohol Locally

about buying perfumers alcohol locally

Brick and mortar stores still exist, and alcohol seems like it should be the thing that you can get when you need it, however local rules and regulations nearly always restrict the sale of pure ethyl alcohol for reasons specific to each state, literally.

What to do: Visit our blog post discussing the options and availability of different types of alcohol for perfume making near you.  Learn more about the rules and regulations of your state

About Buying Perfumers Alcohol Online

about buying perfumers alcohol online

There are many suppliers of alcohol online, many listing "perfumers alcohol" in the title, however deeper review shows a consistent mix of denatured and undenatured products throughout the results, leading to confusion. 

What to do: Always read the full description of the product before purchasing for perfumers.  Look for the words "Denatured", "Pure", or "Organic" to ensure the perfumers alcohol meets your quality standards.  Visit our Perfumers Alcohol Supplier and Price Comparison blog post for more information about online retailers of perfumers alcohol current prices.

Ready to buy Pure Perfumers Alcohol Online Now?

Four bottles of Culinary Solvent 200 proof food grade ethanol in a line on a white background

Perfumers alcohol by Culinary Solvent is pure ethyl alcohol. Zero additives. Safe for skin and body. Perfect for perfume making recipes and so much more.  Read some reviews from verified purchases.

What to do: Visit our store or View these helpful steps on how to buy perfumers alcohol from

perfume making ingredients laid out on a white table

    Perfumers Alcohol FAQs

    Due to its neutral profile, coupled with clean evaporative properties and zero toxic additives, we recommend Culinary Solvent 200 Proof (100% ABV) Food Grade Alcohol for your next perfume making project.

    Rubbing alcohol, which uses isopropyl alcohol, is not suitable for perfumery. It has a strong smell and can be harsh on the skin. Additionally, the added water content in rubbing alcohol can interfere with the perfumes. Therefore, it is advised to avoid using rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol in perfumery.

    Everclear, a brand of high-proof grain alcohol, can be used in perfumery as a substitute for Trade Specific Denatured Alcohol (TSDA), especially for beginners who may have difficulty obtaining TSDA. However, vodka, with its lower alcohol content (typically around 40%), is not suitable for perfumery as it does not meet the desired high-proof requirement of 95%+ alcohol content.

    Witch hazel is not a suitable substitute for alcohol in perfume making, despite some information found online suggesting otherwise. It is advised to ignore such information entirely. As for methanol, it is a different alcohol altogether and should never be considered for use in perfumes due to its extreme toxicity and high skin absorption rate.

    When it comes to perfumery, the distinction between grain alcohol and organic grain alcohol is not significant. What matters is that the alcohol used is cosmetics grade and not diluted. Whether the alcohol is derived from fermented grains or organically grown source material does not affect its suitability for perfumery.

    Denatured alcohol is considered unfit for human consumption due to the addition of poison or bad tasting chemicals. There are various denaturants used, so it is not recommended to use something labeled solely as 'denatured alcohol' as it may contain toxic substances. However, cosmetic grade Trade Specific Denatured Alcohol (TSDA), specifically SD-40b, is widely used and recommended for perfumery.

    Buy food grade ethanol here from

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