How Fragrances Are Made; A Guide to the Composition of Perfume

A fragrance or a perfume is often the final touch to a good amount of time spent at the dressing table that pulls together the entire look for the day.

So powerful?

Indeed. Since time immemorial, the concept of perfumes or fragrances has held a significant place in the average man’s life. Several historic stories speak of naturally occurring materials being used as masks to hide body odour. It goes to prove how important personal fragrance has been to mankind.

Today, there wouldn’t be a single household in any part of the world that does not use at least one form of fragrance.

If you are a regular user of some form of fragrance in Canada, then you get to choose from a wide range of Canadian as well as international brands of perfumes.

It would be worthwhile to know what goes in to the making of a perfume.

The making and composition of perfume

Ingredient selection – The first and one of the most crucial steps in the making of perfume is ingredient selection. From flowers to fruits to leaves to grasses and even spices, any number and any kind of substance may make it to the list, forming a unique combination.

Being extremely important for a successful end product, major high fashion brands like Chanel have their own flower fields in order to ensure the highest quality of raw materials.

Some of the most common elements used in a perfume include unique blends of substances like:

– Flowers like rose, lilac, jasmine, lavender etc.

– Spices like anise, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger etc.

– Amber

– Citrus and mandarin

– Myrrh

– Frankincense

– Tea

– Vanilla

– Spearmint

Extraction of essential oilsThe next step in the process is extraction of essential oils from the chosen ingredients. Several methods are used in extraction depending on the type of material being extracted from. Simple squeezing is used for some plant materials, while steam distillation is used for some plant tissues.

Solvent extraction is used by manufacturers, where the plant material is dissolved in benzene and then exposed to ethyl alcohol, which leaves behind the extracted oil.

Other methods used for extraction include maceration and enfleurage.

Blending of essential oils – Several extracted fragrance oils are tested and mixed together in different ways to form unique combinations. The perfect formula is arrived at after several months or years of experimentation.

Once the mixture is fixed and the desired scent is created, the oils are diluted with alcohol as the base. It is at this stage where fragrances are classified in to perfumes, colognes and deodorants, depending on the amount of alcohol being added and the number of oils being used.

Ageing – Once alcohol is added to the mixture, the base fragrance is effectively ready for the ageing process, in which the perfume is stored in a dark and cool place for several months or years. This allows the alcohol to blend in perfectly with the other ingredients.

After ageing, the resultant perfume is generally much stronger than it was before the ageing process.

At this stage, further blending or adjustments can be made before making it available to the general public


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