How to Make Vanilla Extract for DIY Perfume and Skincare
I love the warm and sweet aroma vanilla bean adds to my homemade perfumes and skincare but won't use anything synthetic or chemically based when it comes to the health and safety of my family.
Searching the internet, you'll find a selection of vanilla fragrance oils, absolutes, extracts, and flavoring with a wide price range. I love my Vanilla Creamsicle body spray but I'm on a budget and can't always afford the high quality I need.
Technically there is no such thing as vanilla essential oil. The vanillin and other aromatic compounds have a very delicate structure which cannot be separated by water and is destroyed by steam (the typical process to extract essential oils). The volatile organic compounds in the vanilla bean require the usage of solvents to extract them.
Personally, I use therapeutic grade essential oils or make my own absolutes, extracts, and oil infusions when it comes to skincare in my household. I shoot for as pure as possible to incorporate the plants' medicinal properties into whatever I'm making, and vanilla has a long list of benefits. It's not difficult to do once you get the hang of it, and can be used for so many purposes!
Plus, why would I spend $40 for a bottle of something I can easily make myself in an hour for a quarter of the cost, with double the quantity? Math was never my strong suit but this one is a no-brainer.
One of my favorite DIY absolutes requires only vanilla beans and vodka.
Vanilla Extract Ingredients
- 8 oz amber glass bottle and cap*
- 7-8 fl. ounces of vodka**
- 3-4 fresh, high-quality 6" vanilla beans. They should be dark, and the bean should have consistent coloring on the entire bean.
- Muslin or fine cheese cloth for straining
Vanilla Extract Directions
- Carefully cut the vanilla beans lengthwise. Then, cut them into small pieces, about 1/4" - 1/2" in length (about 2 cm).
- Put all the vanilla pieces into the bottle.
- Pour vodka into the bottle leaving enough air to shake the bottle well.
- Cap tightly and date the top.
- Allow the extract to sit in a dark location for 30 days, shaking the mixture daily. ***
- After 30 days, carefully strain the extract through the muslin fabric to remove all vanilla bean pieces and particles. You may need to repeat this process several times.
- Re-bottle into a clean, amber glass bottle and store in a cool location.
Tips & Notes
* You can use a clear bottle or mason jar to make your extract but you'll want to infuse and store it in a cool, dark location so your extract doesn't break down prematurely.
** I don't keep liquor in the house so I bought a cheap bottle for my first infusion and was turned off by the overbearing vodka smell, even after infusing. I'd highly recommend a middle of the road vodka for this one. Don't worry if you're not a liquor drinker, make a peppermint extract next to make good use of your ingredients! These also make great holiday presents with fancy coffee!
*** It's easy to forget to shake your bottles daily so I keep mine in a place I visit every morning. My extracts and oil infusions in-progress are in my cupboard next to the coffee. While I wait for the pot to brew, I give a good shake to each jar and continue along my day.
This vanilla extract can be used in many ways, one of my favorites being a Orange Creamsicle Body Spray! Grab the recipe below!
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