Before synthetic fragrances were developed, perfume was created solely with essential oils and other aromatics that were distilled from nature. Modern perfumes that you'd buy at the department store fragrance counter are created with a complex blend of petroleum derived aromatic hydrocarbons and some natural essential oils and constituents. These mixtures are diluted in a base of volatile refined alcohol at decreasing strengths to create either a perfume extract, perfume, or cologne. The most ancient perfumes on the other hand were created solely from nature-derived resins, oils and botanicals. Rather than alcohol, the carrier for the scent was often an oil, fat or wax.
Ancient perfumes would be made by steeping fragrant flowers, leaves and spices in an oil such as olive oil. Through straining the oil and recharging it repeatedly with fresh botanicals, increasing levels of aroma strength would be attained. Solid perfumes were created with seed and nut butters or a base of beeswax and/or resins melted into the aromatic infused oil. When the mixture cooled it would be semisolid at room temperature but melt when smoothed over the skin. Today's DIY perfume is as simple as hitting upon a complementary blend of essential oils and placing them in a base such as a carrier vegetable oil to make a perfume oil, or into a base of plain water to use as a perfume body mist.
When blending essential oils for any perfume application, regardless of the carrier, a balanced aroma of top, middle and base notes is key to acheiving success. Top notes are the light, volatile notes that evaporate quickly and give the blend freshness and it's first impression. Middle notes are the heart of the blend and become apparent after the top notes fade. The middle notes give the predominant impression and signature identity of the perfume your are trying to create. Finally, base notes are the heavier, slow to evaporate and lingering notes that also help the blend to last longer when applied. To create a balance of top, middle and base notes, visualize your blend as a diamond shape, with top notes at the apex, middle notes at the center, and base notes at the bottom portion. You can increase or decrease the proportions of each part, depending on what kind of perfume you want to create. Creating an altered diamond shape accordingly. A longer diamond point on the top means more top notes and will result in a light, fresh scent. While a longer diamond point on the bottom means more base notes which will make for a rich, heavy and long lasting perfume.
Finally, a balanced perfume blend is achieved by select complimentary oils to build aromatic accords within and between the top, middle and base notes. See our Essential Oils for Perfume, A Blending Guide to understand how certain oils and their aromas complement other oils.