Perfume is a grooming product sought after by many people. Its combination of different items produces all those interesting and captivating smells that we’ve come to adore. Yet, it’s not always clear as to how they are made.
Yes, you may hear words such as alcohol and fragrance oils being thrown around, but how exactly is a perfume made? If your curiosity is ticked, then head on down and discover how this interesting grooming item is made.
The Basic Ingredients
The key ingredients of perfume are the fragrance oils. Although nowadays you will come across cheaply available perfumes mad of artificial fragrances, in general, perfumes are made from natural fragrances. This involves the extraction of essential and scented oils from these natural products.
A good example of such products includes rose petals, sandalwood, eucalyptus, jasmine, wood, and vanilla. Alcohol is also a key ingredient in making perfumes. However, you may come across natural oil-based perfumes that do not use alcohol.
Manufacturers sometimes use artificial items to emulate a scent that is unique and captivating. These scented products are normally synergized with naturally extracted scented oils to make perfume as well.
A good example of these artificial scents includes musk, lily of the valley, ambergris, and calone.
Before, the perfume manufacturing process begins, one must have the ingredients first. A mentioned before, to get the fragrance oils, an extraction process occurs. Essential oils are extracted through a solvent extraction, steam distillation, expression, enfleurage or maceration process.
Solvent extraction is achieved by placing plants into a large drum-like container and rapidly rotating them. It’s a process that almost mimics centrifuging (for the chemist in you!). The plant is then covered with ethers or benzene.
As the plant absorbs this solvent, a waxy and oily product is left behind. And ethyl alcohol is then added to the product to dissolve the oil in the alcohol. Burning the alcohol dissolves everything else, leaving the concentrated fragrance oil.
Steam distillation involves the plants or other natural items being placed in a still. The plant material stays in the still until they are extracted. The extracted product is then passed through tubes by heating it, it is then cooled and liquefied.
Expression involves pressing the plant with a mechanical or manual machine until the oils are extracted. This is normally done for citrus oils. This process can also be easily executed in the comfort of your home.
As its title partly suggests, this process uses plants or flowers. They are placed on greased glass sheets and gently heated between wooden frames the flowers or plants are then consistently replaced until the grease on the glass sheets absorb the fragrances from the plants or flowers.
The process of maceration is almost identical to enfleurage. However, during the process of maceration, the grease is replaced with warmed fats. The fats are then dissolved in alcohol to release the essential oils.
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Mixing the Ingredients
After the extraction process, the ideal fragrances are selected and then blended. The blending is normally done by perfume makers who know how to artistically combine the scents. A single perfume can include up to 4000 ingredients.
Some ingredients even use animal substances. For example, ambergris comes from the sperm whale. Animal substances operate as great fixatives.
Such ingredients are normally used as fixatives due to their tendency to evaporate slowly and emanate scents/odors much longer. Thus, they help the perfume last longer.
You may also use other ingredients such as coal tar, resins and synthetic chemicals as fixatives. Furthermore, alcohol is also added to house the essential oils.
Water is also added to dilute ingredients. In fact, it is the water and alcohol to fragrance ration that determines the perfume strength and type.
There are 5 main types of perfume. Parfum is the strongest with up to 20% fragrance oil concentration. Eau de parfum has a concentration of up to 15% whilst eau de toilette has up to 10%. Eau de cologne and Eau de Fraiche have a concentration of up to 5% and 3% respectively.
Some high quality and fine perfume even go through an aging process. This process allows for the fragrance to mature and to create the perfect scents. The aging process can last for months to years. The aging process allows for the scents and notes to blend well. And to create the perfect top, middle and base notes.
The quality control process is normally executed by any good perfume manufacturer especially non-homemade ones. This process allows the maker to ensure that the perfume doesn’t contain any harmful products or byproducts.
This is to ensure the public’s safety. This is especially important when natural items have been used. Synthetic products require less scrutiny because of it the manufacturer that devises their formulas, so their safety is already checked during their processing period.
With the ever so changing world, the perfume manufacturing industry is also evolving. The use of synthetic materials is increasing as much as natural items are used. Synthetic materials are favored. Using synthetic materials allows you to create any scent you want and be able to manipulate its parameters.
The use of synthetic materials is also favored for its affordability. To make a half an ounce of pure rose oil, you need at least 65 petals. Thus, the cost to sources these items and then extract the oil can be quite high. And that is why perfume made with natural oils tend to be more expensive. Thus, the use of synthetic materials means that more perfume is available to the masses due to the low production costs.
Natural items, however, are also still favored as they are the classics. Who doesn’t like the authentic smell of rose petals or pine?
So, at the end of the day, it all depends on how much you can afford and what you are looking for. If you want a fine, natural scent you may have to pay more.
About The Author:
Richard is part of the Copycat Fragrances team, a company that believes in perfume & aftershaves that are vegan-friendly, smell great and don’t cost a fortune. They have many guides from how perfume is made, to how to get the most out of it.