This article briefly explains how a perfume is made. Also it describes the classifications of perfumes and how the intensity and longevity of perfume is determined.
Perfume Latin per fume meaning through smoke was highly favored by the Egyptians, Romans, and Arabs. In East Asia, perfumes were incense based. People used to make perfumes from spices and herbs like bergamot, myrtle, coriander, conifer resin, and almond. The use of flowers came only after Avicenna, an Iranian doctor and chemist showed the process of distillation, whereby oils could be extracted from flowers. In 1370, at the behest of Queen Elizabeth of Hungary, the worlds first modern perfume Hungary Water was made by blending scented oils in alcohol solution.
The composition of a perfume is of vital significance and is handled by an expert known as a perfumer, who deals with primary scents like rose, jasmine, cola, etc modifiers like esters blenders like linalool and hydroxycitronellol and fixatives like resins, wood scents, and amber bases. The resulting scent is explained in a musical metaphor of three notes, namely, top notes consisting of fast evaporating small size molecules like citrus and ginger scents middle notes consisting of slow evaporating medium size molecules like lavender and rose scents and base notes consisting of slowest evaporating largest size molecules like fixatives etc. All these notes work together like a musical chord.
Perfume oils contain volatile compounds in high concentrations and thus have to be diluted by solvents, so that injury is not caused when applied directly on skin or clothes. The common solvent is pure ethanol or ethanol mixed with water. Fractionated coconut oil or wax, neutral smelling fats such as jojoba, can also act as solvents and dilute the perfume oil. The perfume oil is further mixed with other aromatic compounds. Generally, the percentage of aromatic compounds in perfume extract is 20 to 40 in eau de parfum is 10 to 30 in eau de toilette is 5 to 20 and in eau de cologne is 2 to 5.
The oil concentration in a perfume along with other aromatic compounds, determines the intensity, longevity, and price of the perfume and thus it is a closely guarded secret of every perfumer and perfume house. By adjusting the percentage level and the notes of the perfume, variations on the same brand may be created like Chanels Pour Monsieur and Pour Monsieur Concentree.
Classification of perfumes is never complete, due to its everevolving nature. The traditional classification comprises of categories like Single Floral, Floral Bouquet, Ambery, Woody, Leather, Chypre, and Fougere while the modern classification comprises of Bright Floral, Green, OceanicOzone, CitrusFruity, and Gourmand. In 1983, Michael Edwards, a perfume consultant, created a new fragrance classification The Fragrance Wheel, which classified and subgrouped five standard families, namely Floral Floral, Soft Floral, Floral Oriental, Oriental Soft Oriental, Oriental, Woody Oriental, Woody Wood, Mossy Woods, Dry Woods, Fougere has fragrance elements from all the families, and Fresh Citrus, Green, Water.
Perfumery has used a number of aromatic sources like plants, animals, and synthetic sources in the making of perfumes. Plants are used as a source of aroma compounds and essential oils. The parts of plants that are used are
1 Bark cinnamon, cascarilla 2 Flowers rose, jasmine, osmanthus, tuberose, mimosa, vanilla 3 Blossoms citrus, ylangylang, clove 4 Fruits apples, strawberries, cherries, litsea cubeba, juniper berry, vanilla, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit5 Leaves and Twigs lavender, patchouli, citrus, violets, sage, rosemary, hay, tomato6 Resins labdanum, myrrh, gum benzoin, Peru balsam, frankincenseolibanum, pine, fir, amber, copal 7 Roots, Bulbs, and Rhizomes vetiver roots, ginger and iris rhizomes 8 Seeds coriander, cocoa, mace, cardamom, anise, nutmeg, caraway, tonka bean 9 Woods agarwood, birch, rosewood, sandalwood, pine, birch, juniper, cedar.
Animal sources include Ambergris, Castoreum, Musk, Rom terpenes, Honeycomb, and Civet. Other natural sources include Lichens and Protists. Synthetic sources include synthetic odorants synthesized from petroleum distillates, pine resins, etc. Modern perfumes are mostly made from synthetic sources as they allow fragrances not found in nature, like Calone is a synthetic compound that imparts a marine metallic ozonous fragrance. Synthetic aromatics are more consistent than natural aromatics, and are hence, widely used nowadays in modern available perfumes.
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An Inside to Perfume
�perfume� derives from the Latin words per and fumus - meaning �through smoke�. The Egyptians were the first to incorporate perfume into their culture followed by the ancient Chinese and Hindus, the use of perfume then spread to Greece, Rome, and the Islamic world.