How Is Perfume Made?

Perfume - Most of us use it daily, often even several times a day. The application is incredibly practical and convenient. We might not think twice about our perfume because its usage often becomes a habit of our daily routine. Some people apply fragrances because it boosts their self-esteem and makes us feel good about ourselves. Others love wearing perfume because it accents their personality; it makes them stand out from the crowd. And a few people wear perfume to hide unpleasant smells. The scent of perfume may also help you to recall specific memories or lift your mood. We see that there are many different reasons why you wear a particular fragrance. Understanding how perfume is made might help you appreciate that pretty little bottle and your beloved fragrance a little more. 

A Brief Historical View

Perfume making in ancient times

In ancient times, there were no synthetic smells available. All ingredients for perfume-making came from the earth in one way or another. Old civilisations infused oils, fats and water with aromatic flowers, spices and different types of wood. 

They used several different flowers, herbs, resins and woods to make their perfumes, which were infused with fats, oils or water. For example, castor oil, sesame oil and linseed were widely used.  

But its use was not limited to the body itself. The burning of wood, resins and aromatic herbs was widespread to create a fragrant environment. This kind of use was common in both private and religious places such as temples and churches. 

Extraction Methods For Perfume

Rose oil production

Various methods of extracting fragrances from raw material have been used throughout the world over time, and they have changed a lot since the industrial revolution. 

For centuries, botanical essences were extracted by these methods.

  • Maceration - Meaning plant material was pressed to remove oils and then ground into powders or pastes.
  • Enfleurage - Was the more complicated in which leaves or petals were placed in a thin layer of fat, which absorbed the plant's essential oils. Sometimes the oils or fats used were warm or hot.
  • Distillation - The plant parts are boiled or subjected to steam to extract to the oils. 
  • Solvent Extraction - Plant parts are dissolved in benzene and exposed to ethyl alcohol that is burned off so, and then only the perfume oil remains.

    perfume distillery for oil extraction

    Before the manufacturing process can begin, the raw materials have to be gathered. There are fruits, spices, resins, leaves, gums, balsams, and grasses. Flowers are often very essential because it's challenging to make perfume without any floral essences. Big luxury perfume houses often own their flower fields to make sure they have enough product for their fragrances.

    In some cases, animal products might be present in perfumes, like for example ambergris from sperm whales, civet and musk from the male deer. For the reason that not all scents are always available in nature, some are just too expensive, or nature conservation laws limit their use, synthetic chemicals might be used to mimic and replace them.

    Blending the Oils

    To create a particular perfume scent, experts must do extensive, time-consuming testing and mixing. It can take several months or even years and hundreds of ingredients before they get the perfect result. The freshly extracted oils are now blended according to the formula.

    In the perfume business, the expert responsible for testing and mixing is called "Nose".

    The Nose is someone who is trained extensively on fragrances, understands how scents are composed to create different effects. In-depth knowledge of ingredients is essential – what each one smells like, differentiate between scents and how they interact with each other.

    Being a "Nose" is not an easy job. These days, a professional Nose must attend a perfumery school or complete a specialist perfumery course at a recognised university. They often have to have other qualifications as well, like a degree in chemistry.

    Perfumes Bottles for making perfume

    The blended oils are now mixed with alcohol to dilute the ingredients and make them easy to use as a perfume. The amount of alcohol that's added determines whether the liquid will be a cologne, perfume, or eau de toilette. An Eau de Cologne is the least potent of these three perfumes. Its alcohol content is the highest, and it contains only up to 10% of perfume oils. Eau de Toilette has up to 15% essential oil and contains less alcohol than cologne. Perfume, which has the least alcohol, has the most potent scent, with up to 40% essential oils.

    The Aging Process

    After the oils are extracted and mixed with alcohol, the perfume now rests for some time. This process helps in letting the perfume molecules blend with the alcohol. This time is called the aging process. During this period, the perfume is placed in a dark and cool area. It stays here for at least some days. Some manufacturers rest their fragrances for several months. After the aging process, the smell will be stronger than it was before the aging process. 


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