dilution woes


I had the devil’s own time diluting Tonka Bean Absolute, Cistus Absolute, Labdanum Absolute, Helichrysum Absolute and Mango Ginger CO2.

The picture above shows you the fight we’re still having after a hot water bath. Arghhhh!!!!

Cistus and Labdanum absolutes I had to put in a bain marie without the labels and almost screwed up which was which when they finally became pourable and I was ready to dilute.  Speed is of the essence as that pourability only last about 2 minutes before it starts going all hard again.

With some of them, after heating the original absolute and measuring it out on the scale, once in the alcohol I still had to remove some stubborn lumps.  I shook it for what seemed like forever and after that still didn’t work I ended up heating the alcohol solution in hot water with the cap slightly loose, swooshing it slowly every once in a while and that did the trick (please be careful when heating alcohol though it can be dangerous — I did not use an open flame, just hot water).

All except for Tonka Bean Absolute, it remains resolute and unbending, but I will be the last (wo)man standing.

**** Update: July 24, 2014 ****

Finally got the this beast diluted! In the end I decided to dilute the whole 5ml into a 50ml bottle.  Had to put the bottle of absolute in a pot of water in a pan of water over a low flame on a small burner (later a post from, Eline, one of my blog readers, confirmed that she does the same thing!). After about 30 minutes it became fully liquid and then I added 39gr of alcohol.  It’s now more like a 13% dilution.  What’s really odd now is that the diluted absolute has a faint fecal-like smell, it’s less vanilla-y than when I first smelled it straight from the bottle, now it’s more animalic, even a faint impression of urine.  Really weird.



6 thoughts on “dilution woes

  1. Hello Maxine, it’s talking monkey Eline again. Reading about your struggles with the absolutes.. one of the reasons I dilute a lot in my Lavandin oil (could be another less strongly scented essential oil, …), is because I use Cistus etc a lot, I love those fragrances. But I use a small pan, straight on the gas, with boiling/simmering water on a small flame, to melt them. Cistus takes a few minutes to become liquid. Your Tonka bean sounds like Tolu balsam, that takes above 5 minutes in that pan, to melt and become pourable (very hard to dose…) the lavandin oil i use to dilute in, has preferably been standing in hot sushine for a while, however with Tolu, the whole thing goes back in the pan for a bit, just to heat up the bottle. enough for the contents to mix properly. So that’s my experience with it – temperature is all. Chemistry cannot replace heat… Which is why many essential oil suppliers give you a dilution of Cistus et.al. but it’s never as good as the real thing, is it??? I don’t know how you could bridge the gap in evaporation temperatures between your Tonka and the alcohol… other than first diluting the Tonka in ssomething else…..
    Keep going, You’ll get there 😉 By the bye, Tolu in Lavandin is a superb fragrance, I think you would love it…


    1. Eline, it’s always wonderful to get your comments, thank you for sharing your experience, and hopefully one day we’ll meet in person!

      Actually, I should post an update to his post because yesterday I did exactly as you say here, and it worked! I had to keep it heated over the stove.

      Question for you, why do you choose to dilute your oils in Lavandin? It’s a similar approach to Attars, correct? But what’s the benefit? Because not always will one want Lavandin in the formula — this is just me musing.

      Hmmm, going to try your Tolu and Lavandin suggestion and will let you know :).

      Have a great weekend!


      1. Hello there, good to hear from you again, I’m so glad you could use the input about the dilution… darn, I can’t come around to sniff your bottle… will have to happen some day – what do you think of the smell of the Tonka abs? does it change or grow or shift at all in what you did with it?
        Yes sometimes being in a situation where you can only do so much, you actually get pretty interesting results and that makes me soo happy… I was grinning when you said it’s like an Attar, what I do.. cool! that’s another way of looking at it.
        I’m leaving next saturday, will be gone for 10 days so no comments for a bit – I look forward to reading you when I get back! Greetings Eline


      2. Someday we’ll meet! OMG, Tonka absolute is out of this world! Soft, sumptuous and almost sinful, yes, that’s it to me a sinful pleasure. Gotta see if it’s shifted, will give it another couple weeks. Hope you have a wonderful 10 days away!


  2. Hi Maxine,
    just came across this entry. When I was starting out I didn’t realise that some of the material would be so resistant to diluting and blending. Especially when you read something like: “add 4 drops of labdanum absolute”! You wonder whether they were doing it for a joke. I’ve also struggled with Cepes absolute, linden blossom and maltol.


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