My blog post perfume oil vs perfume diluted with alcohol is the post with the most views. In fact it is responsible for the bulk of my blog views everyday. The search terms also highlight the fact that the whole topic leaves many people perplexed. Understandably there are many rules around purchasing high proof alcohol for safety reasons and taxation purposes and then there is the whole headache around shipping. Hopefully that particular blog entry does clarify things for people coming to my blog looking for information around diluting perfume materials.
I have been using 190 proof neutral grape alcohol to dilute my alcohol based eau de parfums. With the move from Tasmania to NSW I had the headache around transporting my bulk supply of alcohol. It was all becoming a complete pain and sadly the easiest thing to do was to get a company that deals with the disposal of chemicals to take it off my hands. That meant I had to reapply for a permit from the Australian Taxation Office which takes up to 4 weeks to process and then you have to order and wait for the delivery of your alcohol. In order to get the renewal you have to provide a record to the ATO of what you have done with the previous lot of alcohol.
As there are always choices I spent a bit of time pondering what would be the best choice for my next bulk alcohol purchase. They were:
190 proof neutral grape alcohol as before – needs a permit
190 proof neutral cane alcohol – needs a permit
190 proof standard grade cane alcohol (organic) – needs a permit
190 proof denatured neutral cane alcohol (Perfumery grade 95PGF4)- no permit required
I also contacted many distilleries to see if they could make a bespoke 190 proof alcohol for me – sadly most could not with the equipment that they had and those that could had a 200L minimum!
I was interested in knowing whether my customers would prefer my perfumes being in an organic alcohol. Surprisingly, no they weren’t! The feedback I received was to choose what ever alcohol does not interfere with the aroma of my beautiful perfumes. Reading on the internet revealed that a number of overseas perfumers were unhappy with their organic standard grade cane alcohol – primarily because when they diluted individual ingredients in the alcohol there was a sweetness to the alcohol that interfered with them being able to smell and get to know the perfume material they had diluted – pretty important if you want to understand the odour profile of your ingredient, especially new ones you have not smelt before!
So, I decided to speak to the lab staff from the Australian chemical supply company. The lovely chap confirmed that yes their organic cane alcohol did have a slight sweet smell to it because it was standard grade. This meant that it had higher levels of volatile impurities. The neutral cane alcohol however had lower levels of volatile impurities compared to their organic cane alcohol which results in improved odour and taste. Furthermore, their organic cane alcohol was actually imported. So, all in all the organic sugar cane alcohol was adding up to be a no go for me, despite the fact that I could have then marketed my perfumes as at least 80% organic – simply referring to the alcohol component only not my actual aromatic perfume ingredients.
Whilst I was waiting for my permit I decided that I desperately needed to purchase some alcohol so that I could continue with my work. I purchased the denatured cane alcohol which is exactly the same as their neutral cane alcohol but denatured with 0.25% tertiary butyl alcohol making it non-potable. The great thing is that because it requires no permit I also don’t have to keep records accounting for it’s use. This is actually going to be a big plus for when I run workshops. It would just be another bit of annoying record keeping that I now don’t have to be concerned with.
I have had my permit approved so when the supply of my current alcohol runs low I will most likely go back to purchasing the neutral grape alcohol – simply because I have the permit, despite the annoying record keeping that comes along with it! It is also half the price of the denatured alcohol!