Clarifying: From the Kitchen to the Perfume Lab

Ambergris production has been rolling along smoothly except for one thing: the seaweed absolute turns the perfume black and murky. The absolute, when mixed with alcohol, is clear but very dark. 

Setting out to eliminate the dark hue, I bought a centrifuge and spun the stuff for two hours, thinking that whatever is causing the murk would settle to the bottom when subjected to massive g-forces.

Since this didn’t work, I did some reading about clarifying mixtures. I decided to approach the issue as I would a new recipe to develop. I’ve clarified plenty of consommé in the kitchen using egg whites, so I gave that a whirl, but the egg whites immediately curdled because of the alcohol. It turns out that finely powdered clay (bentonite) can be shaken with the mixture before being allowed to settle. After settling overnight, it is then filtered through a very fine filter, finer than a coffee filter. The mixture came out clear, but still dark.

I tried adding a little vinegar to shift the pH balance and noticed the mixture clouded. It occurred to me, though, that it’s the water in the vinegar that’s causing the clouding. I added a little water to the mixture and sure enough, it clouded.

Well, it turns out that cloudy mixtures are more likely to separate in the centrifuge. So, I’m spinning away and coming out with a liquid that is clear and golden.

My concern is that I’m having to add too much water to the absolute to create this effect and that when I add the absolute containing water to the rest of the perfume ingredients, that it will cloud the whole mixture. 

I must run tests. One problem so often leads to others.