Many of us have heard of Escentric Molecules, the cult phenomenon niche perfumery brand created by Geza Schoen. The idea for brand was simple: what if a perfume was made from just one molecule? Schoen was inspired by the seductive power of Iso E Super and came to the conclusion; why bother adding anything else? The idea caught on, and the rest is history…
I’m often asked the question “How do I make a perfume like Escentric Molecules?”. In this article, I’m going to explain how you can make your own single molecule fragrances.
What are single molecule fragrances?
Usually, perfume is made up of a mixture of aromatic ingredients which are called “raw materials”. These are things like essential oils, absolutes and synthetic aromachemicals. A perfumer carefully balances a set of raw materials into precise proportions when creating his or her formula for a perfume. To make the concentrated mixture of raw materials into a finished perfume, alcohol is added.
In single molecule fragrances, the careful balancing and blending is no longer required. Instead, the perfumer simply selects a single raw material of their preference and adds the alcohol. Any raw material could be used, although the Escentric Molecules brand has focused on synthetic aromachemicals which last a long time and project from the skin. Their “Molecule” perfume range uses the following molecules:
Safety and clones
Before we continue, I wish to first stress a couple of points.
Firstly, any time you’re making a perfume, it’s important to ensure that the perfume you’re making is safe to use. Your first port of call should be the industry standard IFRA fragrance safety standards. You can look up safe usage levels for perfumery raw materials in their standards library online at https://ifrafragrance.org/safe-use/library.
Secondly, I do not condone the making of “clone fragrances”, that is the practice of ripping off another brands perfume and selling it as a copycat. The Escentric Molecules “Molecule” fragrance range line is a special case since they openly state that they use a single molecule in their perfume. That said, their version may be slightly different due to different “versions” (isomers) of the molecules used which are not commercially available. I would always recommend buying perfume from the original brand and support their creative efforts if that is the perfume you want. If you simply wish to take inspiration and create your own single molecule fragrances then read on...
Iso E Super
Let us begin with Iso E Super. Like all of the molecules we will discuss in this article, you will be able to purchase it online from a range of perfume making hobbyist suppliers (see the links at the end of this article). You can also find perfumer’s alcohol on eBay (when purchasing alcohol for perfumery, always use cosmetics grade ethanol to ensure it’s safe for use).
Next, we need to decide how much Iso E Super to add to how much alcohol. The first thing we need to know is if there are any safety limits on Iso E Super. A quick search of the IFRA standards library (mentioned earlier) shows that for alcoholic perfumes (category 4b), the safe use limit is 20%. This means that if over 20% of our total mixture were to consist of Iso E Super, it would be deemed unsafe for general use.
I decided to use Iso E Super at 15% for my rendition of Escentric Molecules “Molecule 01”, however, the concentration is totally up to you depending on your preference. To make 5g of my version at 15%, I added 0.750g of Iso E Super to 4.250g of perfumer’s alcohol.
So how did it smell? Well… Like Iso E Super! Iso E Super has a diffusive smell which sits between cedarwood and a sweet woody amber scent. It has a certain warmth and decadence which is hard to describe, despite also being subtle to the point that many people don’t even realise they’re smelling anything when they smell it for the first time.
Escentric Molecules 02, 03, 04 & 05
The process is the same for the rest of the molecules as it was for Iso E Super. If you would like to be guided through these step by step, check out the YouTube video I made on this topic:
Making your own single molecule fragrances
I think that possibly the best part of the single molecule fragrance concept is that the sky is your oyster when selecting which molecule to use in your perfume. Why stick to the molecules Escentric Molecules choose? The perfumery suppliers mentioned below stock countless other molecules, some of which may be a perfect fit for your own personality. And of course, if you enjoy creating single molecule fragrances, why not eventually move on to blending them together into your own fully blown perfumes?
Some suppliers of perfumery raw materials (In alphabetical order):