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A Femme’s Guide to Improvement: Solid Perfume

I think the first American Girl book I read as a child was Meet Samantha (the cover was a thousand times better than the illustration they’re currently using on Amazon), and it got me hooked on two things: American Girl books and lockets. Every monthly book order was whichever new American Girl books were available, and every birthday/Christmas present was, it seems, judging from the surplus of them in my jewelry boxes, a locket.

Ideally, things would have been set up like Samantha had them, with a perfectly sized photo of one parent on each side. But it turns out it’s practically impossible to find a locket-sized photo, even when you have lots of lockets in various sizes. I coped with this difficulty (first-world problems: not just for adults) by putting secret notes inside them, or strands of horsehair from my favorite horse (the stable’s, not mine; the horse craziness is another story). (And thanks for never getting me the pony, Mom.)

Fast-forward twenty years, and those pesky lockets are still hanging around, frustratingly empty. And wearing a locket is basically a guarantee that someone at some point will ask you to see what’s in it, and then you’ll have to say “Nothing,” or “Um, horsehair from this horse Snowflake I used to ride when I was in elementary school.” Either answer is, for the record, disappointing to all audiences. So today, I’m filling all my lockets with solid perfume. Here’s how to make it.

  • Beeswax. (Available for a dollar or so at craft or fabric stores. You can buy it in bulk, but those places sell small pieces for less, so it’s easy to just get a couple tablespoons for small batches.)
  • Any kind of relatively unscented vegetable oil (grapeseed, olive — virgin, not extra, something like that).
  • Essential oil.

In a small double boiler — I used a Pyrex ramekin in a saucepan with an inch of simmering water — melt equal parts beeswax and oil together.

Then add the essential oil of your choice, drop by drop. (It’ll take between 8 and 20 drops, depending on the amount of perfume you’re making and how concentrated you want it to be.) I get mine from (ahem) Makes Scents, a Missouri-based perfumer, but lots of bath and beauty shops have them. Or you could go to the grocery store and get some peppermint or lemon oil, or even try vanilla extract, maybe. Though then you’d smell like birthday cake all the time. But that would be awesome.

Once you have it all melted together and smelling amazing, take it off the heat and pour/spoon it into whatever you want to pour it into (lockets! Pocket watches! Empty lip balm pots! A tiny Altoids tin! One of those hollow rings for poison and/or pills!) and let it cool until it sets. Scrape off any excess with your fingernail/spoon/credit card, and remember you can store the extra (yes, you were keeping that takeout sauce container from the Indian place down the street for a reason) to refill when your supply runs low: simply reheat it and top off your locket/Altoids container.

“What’s in your locket?” “A photograph … of my solid perfume!”

Previously: A Femme’s Guide to Improvement: Very, Very Serious Ornaments.

Lucia Martinez reads too many old poems and tries to be a lady.

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