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Fragrant Science

Here's a fun way to work chemistry and math into a unit study.

This activity can be included in a study of botany, colors (preschool), the five senses, a particular country....it is simple enough that it would be a creative craft for any study with only minor adjustments necessary.


a clear film canister, test tube, or any other small container that is see-through that you can put a lid or stopper on

rubbing alcohol (availabe from the pharmacy or five-n-dime store)

something with which to create your fragrance such as: cloves, vanilla bean, cinnamon bark, orange or lemon peel, lavendar or rose petals*, or petals from any fragrant flower, flowers or leaves from a fragrant herb


1. Place some of your solid in your canister ... the least expensive option is the clear film canister.

2. Cover with two tablespoons of rubbing alchol. Secure the lid or stopper.

3. Shake once a day for at least a week.

4. Check after one week. When the mixture smells more like the fragrance that like the rubbing alcohol it is ready.

To make your fragrance stronger, replace the solid with fresh every week until it suits your nose.

You can have a comparison study by creating several different fragrances this way.

Or, you can make three containers of the same fragrance but remove the solids at different times. For example: #1 could be finished after one week, #2 after week 2, and #3 after week three. See which one has the "best" smell to you.

Find the best ratio of solid to liquid to make the best scents.

*Fun Fact: it takes approximately 8,000 crushed roses to make just one gram (barely a dab) of pure rose oil.


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