Learning the Mandy Aftel Method

On day two, things got even more exciting. Mandy introduced a system I had never seen before and it completely blew my mind.

She works by adding drops of fully-concentrated absolutes or essential oils to 5 milliliters of ethanol. She starts out with only two ingredients—each added to the ethanol—and explores how they work with one another, elucidating areas of conflict and areas of harmony. She may do preliminary tests to explore the shifting relationship of each of the two ingredients and come up with mixtures marked 1:9, 2:8, 3:7, etc., to get a basic sense of how to proceed. Then she comes up with a plan.

Mandy searches out one or two ingredients that will convert the original combination of two into an accord, having a top, middle, and base note—like a triad in music. Usually she just picks one to achieve this, but two ingredients are added if the first two in the combination are in one category. In other words, if your first two ingredients are both top notes, then you’re going to need a drop each of a middle and a heart note

Now, what amazed me, is that each category—top, middle, and base—can contain only a total of ten drops of whatever the addition. In other words, the whole perfume can contain no more and no fewer than 30 drops of pure substance.  For amounts smaller than a drop, she wings it a little bit until she gets the odor nuances she needs. Clearly, if you wanted to be more precise, you could perform these processes by weight. But the critical thing is that the number of drops is prescribed—you get ten of each category, no more and no fewer, and that’s it.  

In the next post, I’ll detail what I came up with.