Saturday, May 8, 2010

Homemade Perfume for Mother's Day - Science Sunday

I thought for a Mother's Day themed Sunday Science, the girls, and I would try our hand at making perfume. If you doubt that perfume making is a science, then check out this video, on the science of scent. Or, for something at a more kid friendly level, click here, to watch The Magic School Bus Makes a Stink.

First, I sent the girls out to pick some of our hyacinth. Up until now, all of the flowers have been off limits for picking. The poor things came up so late, and we've had such a bout of cold weather, that our window for enjoying them has been extremely short. But, when I noticed they were starting to wilt, and even worse, that some passersby had helped themselves to a few, I decided it was time to pick them ourselves.

Once they picked the flowers, G cut them into tiny pieces (according to instructions from

Then, they transferred the pieces into a plastic bag, and smashed them as completely, as possible.

They put them into a covered container, with enough water to submerge them.

They shook the container every five minutes, for about an hour. Setting the timer, was their favorite part of the activity. After a while, they lost interest in shaking the container, and they just left them to sit, for a couple of additional hours.

Finally, they tried straining the flowers bits out of the "perfume" with a coffee filter. We found a sieve worked better.

We tried out the new fragrance. The water did have a strong floral scent, but it was lost once we dabbed it on our wrists.

Per Preschool Rock, we also tried the experiment with rubbing alcohol instead of water, which ended up smelling a lot like rubbing alcohol. They also suggested trying Vodka, but we don't keep any of that on hand. So, we settled for mixing our hyacinth water, with some of the "scented" rubbing alcohol. I wouldn't say it's the best scent in the world, basically alcohol with a very slight floral scent, but the children seemed to agree it was a perfume.

I thought of all kinds of additional experiments, using different temperatures of water, and different amounts of flowers, or even different types of flowers, for different lengths of soaking time, but the girls thought we needed to save some of the flowers for a Mother's Day bouquet.

I couldn't really argue with that.

For more science fun, check out the Science Sunday link ups hosted by Ticia at Adventures in Mommydom. I don't know if there will be one this week, Ticia has had a very exciting, and busy week, but if there is, we'll be linking.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Ticia said...

I've got it scheduled to appear. Wait until you hear the wedding story. It's definitely a day we won't be forgetting soon.......

I love that bottom picture of your daughter, she looks so studious looking at it. I'm thinking boiling would have been more effective, and I don't keep vodka around either.

And I agree with them, it's necessary to keep some for a boquet.

Cindy said...

My daughter would love this experiment! She likes to make perfume by taking my scented lotion and adding it to water.

Unknown said...

My, my, my- this just MIGHT give me the excuse I need to keep some hard liquor in the house...hee! hee!

Anonymous said...

I love that they kept thinking and trying new ideas. Great experiment.

Unknown said...

Making perfume is a fun science. My daughter is still working on making her own exclusive line of perfume. She loved this post.

Virginia Lee said...

Great picture of your daughter with the test tube.

Vodka huh. You would think you would smell like liquor then. =)

This was a very interesting experiment. I bet there are all sorts of different things you could try.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Very interesting - I am definitely going to try some perfume making when Anna is older. Oh, and we do have some Vodka on hand :)

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Natalie - LOL on the Vodka!