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Food as perfume?

Has anyone ever used food as perfume? Any recommendations?

I'm allergic to scented products (perfumes, colognes, soaps, etc.), but natural essences aren't a problem - especially plant-based ones. I miss being scented, so I've started to think about using bottled oils and extracts as perfume.

I occasionally dab lime-zest "oil" behind my ears - after I've been juicing limes, when I have the oil on my hands. But it's a faint and fleeting scent. And I sometimes rinse my hair in apple-cider vinegar, which makes me smell like, well, apple-cider vinegar. (This isn't necessarily a good thing...)

Could I use bottled vanilla extract as perfume? I once read that men like women to smell like sugar cookies. Or maybe a citrus oil? I have some Boyajian's Grapefruit oil in my cupboard.

Or am I nuts? (Say - would almond oil make good perfume?)


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  1. A dab of curry paste behind each ear turns my girlfriend into a tigress.

    1 Reply
    1. You can get all sorts of natural oils that are both food-quality and wearable. You'll be able to combine them to make your own fragrance; that's where almost all those over-priced fragrances started out: the garden.

      1. the problem with vanilla extract as a perfume would probably be staying power.. once the alcohol evaporated, I would think the scent would not last long.

        and as for almond oil, lemon oil.. I think I'd worry about it staining my clothes, particularly depending on what kind of oil is used... but it would probably smell nice.

        I think I'd start with jillp's suggestion and try your local natural food store for some natural oils that are scented with plant extracts, etc.

        2 Replies
        1. re: withalonge

          Vanilla extract (especially homemade) scent will last longer than it takes for the alcohol to evaporate.

          How do I know?

          Let's just say I had an accident in the kitchen with my jar of homemade vanilla extract. The little bugger got away from me and I ended up wearing about a tablespoon. I smelled like vanilla all day long.

          The stupidest thing is...I kept wondering why I was smelling something baking all day. Duh...it was me.

          1. re: QueenB

            My grandmother once told me there was a perfume popular in the 1930s called Blue Waltz and it was essentially (no pun intended) natural vanilla essence.

        2. I've always LOVED the smell of scotch (but not the taste) and thought it would make a great perfume... except that it probably would NOT be a good idea go to work, or anyplace else for that matter, smelling like scotch. Oh well.

          1. old time bartenders would use a dab of gin behind the ears.

            1 Reply
            1. re: byrd

              I love the smell of gin and it must be the juniper berries is the reason why. So to find out if that were the case, I went to the kitchen and opened the gin, umm, I mean the juniper berries, yup. I love that smell.

            2. Just make sure that the extracts/oils you use are safe at full strength. The people in the health food store may not know this information. Make sure you do comprehensive research first. Some extracts are safe when diluted but not at full strength. An example is licorice which is bad for people with blood pressure problems at normal strength, at extract strength it can be bad for anyone. When I work with extracts I always wear gloves. You may have to dilute extracts and oils yourself.

              1. how about korean bbq in a poorly ventilated restaurant? that smoky meaty smell that lingers on for days. gets me salivating!

                1. Rather than trying to use pantry ingredients as scents, I suggest that you try using essential oils. I've provided a link to Camden Grey, which is one source that I use for essentials and cosmetic ingredients. Beware, if you start whipping up handmade toiletries it is very hard to stop. You'll be able to custom blend all of your massage oil, bath salt, body spray, lotions, body butters and lip balms using the best ingredients and once you've done that very little in the retail market will seem worth using. On the up side, your friends will adore you if you make them a little something.

                  You can purchase a book about essential oils before moving forward, or do some web research. You do need to be careful, some oils are not suitable for pregnant women or can act as photosensitizers.

                  You'll be able to choose from a wide variety of oils including: red mandarin, orange, tangerine, lime, lemon, pink grapefruit, cinnamon (careful!), nutmeg, clove, and vanilla. Oddly Camden Grey doesn't sell vanilla essential oil, but it can be found easily, just do a web search.

                  The easiest way to make a person scent from essential oil is to buy a few roll on bottles (the ones that held lip gloss in the 80's), some carrier oil (neutral oil to dilute essentials) and a few essential oils that appeal to you. You can use a single oil or experiment with blending them.

                  My personal scent is a blend of orange, neroli (orange blossom), red mandarin and lime - it's incredible and people often ask me where they can get some. Which reminds me, you can also buy fragrance oils which are synthetic and far less expensive than essentials. Fragrances that don't occur in nature, like sugar cookie can be had as well. Personally I don't care for these but I use them on occasion. Both jasmine and neroli are very expensive and if I want to make a token for a casual acquaintance I sometimes give them the fake stuff. The national bath and body chains use these synthetics exclusively so I don't feel badly when I cheat a little.

                  This has turned out to be really long so I'll end it here. But if you have any questions let me know.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Kater

                    The synthetics are what many people have allergy problems with, I avoid them and only use scents made with natural oils. Yes they are a lot more expensive but what a difference.

                  2. Have you tried Body Shop oils?
                    Edible oils left on?
                    If you like chocolate, Hershey makes a nice scent

                    1. Body Time in Berkeley, CA, is great for natural essential oils designed to be used as perfumes. They do mail order: http://www.bodytime.com/

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Kitchen Imp

                        Yes, the cucumer products are wonderful. Don't see much of it on the website. Its been awhile, but a good reminder to go there again!

                      2. One of my friends in Paris, a very sexy lady, uses Orange Flower Water, available in Middle Eastern stores . She says it drives her husband wild.

                        1. Essential oils will be your best bet. I use (10 - 1) mixed with alcohol, alcohol 10. I hate mosquitos so I use lavender, eucalyptus, and citronella oils mixed with the aldcohol. Works great. Works for my dog too who is allergic to Advantix, but just as a perfume I would try mixing some and making your own scents. Some oils are more expensive than others like lavender and some others. I wear Jo Malone perfume from London and it's the same idea. My favorite mix is grapefruit and amber lavender! Maybe you can make your own. Jo Malone may have a website, they have suggestions on which scents mix better, maybe you can use their suggestions as a starting point. Have fun mixing!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: potbelliedkiln

                            actually, for people with allergies, it's often the alcohol that's the culprit. it carries the scent esters in false ways.

                          2. I rub a strip of bacon on my wrists before I leave this house every morning...

                            1. And the scent of pumpkin pie spice proved to be the best scent to attract men.

                              1. AnneInMpls you have a bunch of answers already but I thought I'd let you know that you have available to you one of the largest suppliers of essential oils in the country right here: Present Moment Herbs & Books http://www.presentmoment.com/
                                3546 Grand Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408

                                As an added bonus they are right next door to the best eclair in the Twin Cities: Butter Bakery http://www.butterbakerycafe.com/
                                3544 Grand Avenue South
                                Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                Tons of fun scents healthy and not in that little area of town.

                                1. What great information and ideas! Thanks especially for the creative scent ideas - I'm going to try some curry paste or bacon soon. :-) Actually, I think I'll splash on some orange flower water as soon as I get home.

                                  I've had bad luck with essential oils in the past, but maybe I was using synthetic ones. I'll look for an "all natural" oil and give it a try.

                                  Alas, MplsM ary, I know about Present Moment, but I can't go in there because of my allergies. I don't know if it's the incense, the essential oils, or synthetic fragrances, but I haven't managed to last more than 1 minute in the store. (I love it that Butter is next door - that's where I go to drown my sorrow!)

                                  Luckily, my co-op also sells oils (but not the great pastries).


                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: AnneInMpls

                                    Did you ever try all-natural lavender oil? I mix a few drops of lavender oil into olive oil to make my own massage oil for my husband's very dry skin, and it smells delicious. :)

                                  2. An interesting idea...I know that Whole Foods Market in their Whole Body department has essential oils and you can buy little containers for them. I don't know if you shop there, but if you do it would be very convenient to buy from them. They also are happy to order things they don't have if you want a particular scent.

                                    Here is the Whole Foods website re: essential oils--


                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: glazebrookgirl

                                      My mother has a Tomato and Basil Sisley perfume...and it does smell very good! I know you're allergic to perfume, but mixing the two smells together in a natural way would probably be very good as well!

                                    2. some of my favorite perfumes offer a strong top-note of gin

                                      how about a kaffir lime leaf/makrut fragrance?

                                      1. My son's class made perfume last year for mother's day. It was vodka infused with jasmine flowers, lavender flowers and leaves, and a sprig of rosemary. They let it steep for a week or two--stirring/shaking it every day--and then strained it (though they left the rosemary sprig in the individual bottles). I really liked it--need to try to make my own now that the jasmine is blooming.

                                        1. According to a study by The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, quoted in Prepared Foods magazine, the scent combinations most likely to arouse men were lavendar&pumpkin pie at 40%, followed by donut&black licorice at 31.5%, followed by the ever-popular donut&pumpkin pie combination with 20%. Lavendar and anise esential oils are easy to come by, but you might have to stuff your purse with pumpkin-pie-spiced donuts to really attract the men.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: _tm_

                                            Where would you get essence of pumpkin?

                                          2. hello Anne,

                                            If you're into the science and art of perfumery, or just an inveterate sensualist, you must check out Mandy Aftel's website. She is a perfumer, she offers courses on how to create your own perfumes. Of special interests to gourmands like us is her Chef Series, a collection of food related essences like Bergamot, Oregano and Blood Oranges. Her website is www.Aftelier.com.

                                            Ps. Almond essence is quite beautiful, the Italians use it to perfume their liquors and
                                            cakes. If you like limes, you will love oil of bergamot, its like being being transported
                                            to an citrus orchard in Sicily.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: richardb

                                              are you allergic if you put the scent onto your clothes, or a handkerchief to carry in your purse?

                                              My sister and I used to mash up rose petals when we were kids and add the petals to water and leave to soak for a few hours. The rosewater smelt nice and we used it as perfume. Can't remember how long it lasted though and it did go brown after a a few hours.

                                              you could also use dried flowers such as lavender in pouches and put them into your clothes drawers. Your clothes would smell nice.

                                            2. For some reason my girlfriend refuses to use bacon grease as a perfume. I've always said I'd make sacrafices for her...

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: jpschust

                                                jpschust, That is an adorable avatar! Although if that cat is like most cat, he/she is making a sacrafice for you wearing that helmet..Mine (may she rest in peace) would have made a nasty face in reaction to the pomelo peel's citrus scent.....

                                                And yet, the Asian citrus does have a refreshing smell to us non-cats. AnnInMpls, I don't suppose you would want to wear one of these for a while before heading out the door...it's natural, and (according to our parents) gives you shiny hair...

                                                1. re: HLing

                                                  Oh, I love this thread!!! : ) I'm one of those really sensitive people, whenever my sister wears perfume or tries to make me smell some at the store, I wrinkle my nose and run away. I just tend to always smell the chemicals first. Yuck.
                                                  I could go for this stuff, though -- the more natural and pure, the better --

                                                  1. re: aurora50

                                                    Most of the newer perfumes out there are made with chemical scents. There are some products that are not and you could always ask the sales people behind the counter at a fine department store. At Nordy, they are trained and well versed on what is and what is not appropriate. Some of your other stores may not know what you are even asking about.

                                                    I myself love lavendar as well and am particular to french lavendar. Make sure you smell before you buy, there is a huge difference between English and French lavendar.

                                              2. i used to use essential oils, because although im not sensitive im really worried about the weird shit, i mean, chemicals, they put in creams and stuff. however, that got expensive, so then i found out you can use other stuff. i just used peppermint extract to make a scented oil and spray (when mixed with water) it smells so awesome! it smells like something you would buy from Body Shop, but its better for you because peppermint has skin benefits! anyway, as long as you like the vanilla scent its good, but i myself thought vanilla smells too much like alcohol (because vanilla is only soluble in a certain amount of alcohol).

                                                1. oh also, you can make scented oils too. i've done this with Pine needles, you could ginger, cinnamon, cloves, lemon peels, etc. lol im indian so i just use my mom's spice rack

                                                  1. oh also, you can make scented oils too. i've done this with Pine needles, you could ginger, cinnamon, cloves, lemon peels, etc. lol im indian so i just use my mom's spice rack