The art of making perfume dates back about 4,000 years, according to ScienceBuddies.org. Perfumes originally were used for incense, but later became popular for use by people to make them smell good. One method of making perfume is called enfleurage and involves the extraction of perfume oils from flowers, using fat and alcohol. It's a scientific experiment that has sweet-smelling results. Just a few steps can help you make your own perfume for science class.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Rose or lavender flowers
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Two dinner-sized plates
- Large piece of cardboard
- Aluminium foil
- Vegetable shortening
- Butter knife
- Paper towel roll
- One 2.27kg. book
- Ethyl alcohol
- Paper cup
- Double boiler
- Jelly jar with lid
- Sketchbook paper
Pluck the flower petals off the flowers--enough for about a 1/2 cup--and place the petals on a plate. Cut out two pieces of cardboard that are each 4 inches by 4 inches. Wrap a piece of cardboard tightly with aluminium foil so that all of the cardboard is covered. Fold the extra foil onto one side of the cardboard, and do the same to the other cardboard piece.
Spread about 1 tbsp of vegetable shortening onto one of the cardboard pieces covered by aluminium foil, using a knife. Make a square of shortening, no thicker than 1/4 inch, measuring 3 inches by 3 inches. Do this to the other cardboard piece as well. Next, shred the flower petals if they are large and cover all of the shortening with the petals, placing about 1/4 cup of petals on each piece of cardboard. Press the two pieces of cardboard together so the shortening and petals on each piece touch each other.
Tear off two paper towels that are still attached, and fold them along the perforated line. Place the petals-shortening sandwich on the two sheets and wrap the towels around it. Put the sandwich on a table with a 2.27kg. book on top of it. Allow the sandwich to sit for one day so that the flowers' scent will spread throughout the shortening. Then, unwrap the sandwich and pull apart the cardboard pieces. Use tweezers to pick off all the petals, and throw these away.
Gather the shortening into a ball using the knife, to create a lump of 2 tbsp of shortening. Pour 2 tbsp of alcohol in a paper cup.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions for using the double boiler. After adding the correct amount of water to the boiler's outer pan, place it on a stove burner and turn the burner to medium. Put the shortening in the inner pan and allow it to melt.
Turn off the stove, and add the alcohol to the shortening. Mix the two with a spoon and allow them to cool. Then, pour the mixture into a jelly jar and cap it. Put the jar in a dark spot for nine days. You now have your own perfume to share with your science class. Cut the sketchbook paper into long, thin strips to serve as perfume testers. Dip a strip into the perfume, shake off the excess liquid and lay the strip on a plate, allowing the wet end to hang off the edge. Smell the strip to see if you like the perfume scent.
Tips and warnings
- You also can use lilacs, orange blossoms or honeysuckle to create your perfume. Use anything that is highly fragrant, according to PioneerThinking.com.
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