Fragrance (plural: parfums) is a type of chemical that is used to scent consumer and industrial goods, such as personal care products, cleaning products, and perfumes. These fragrances contain a large number of chemicals that are linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption, and other health concerns.
Perfume oils are volatile liquids containing a variety of fragrant compounds, including essential oils and aromatic esters. They are typically diluted with a solvent, which can be alcohol (typically ethanol or a rectified spirit), water, or a neutral-smelling oil such as fractionated coconut oil.
There are many different types of perfume oils, which vary in quality and complexity. Some are more expensive than others. Some oils can be difficult to obtain and must be purchased only from a specialized supplier.
A perfume can be formulated from several components, but there are two major groups of ingredients: base notes and middle notes. The base notes bring depth and solidity to a perfume. The middle notes are more noticeable and usually come from the floral family, such as rose or iris, or other flowering plants.
The aroma of a fragrance is determined by its composition, which is primarily the combination of base notes and middle notes. Typical base notes include leather, tobacco, musk, amber, and vanilla. The middle notes are usually perceived within 30 minutes of application, but can sometimes be detected even before this point.
Depending on the composition of the perfume, these notes may be blended together in various combinations. The fragrance may also be infused with additional chemicals to increase the concentration and longevity of the final product.
Natural perfumes are a source of much inspiration for the industry. They are derived from flowers and other plant materials that are harvested in the field, but do not have the synthetic chemical compounds found in synthetic fragrances. The scents of natural perfumes can differ from supplier to supplier, due to variations in the time the flowers were picked, their harvesting and processing methods, as well as the extraction method used.
In perfumery, the main raw material for a fragrance is often an essential oil, which can be obtained by distillation, hydrolysis, or cold pressing. Essential oils are distilled from the leaves, stems, bark, roots, or flowers of plants, thereby capturing all the odorant molecules that exist in the plants’ oils. They can then be diluted in a solvent, such as a mixture of ethanol and water or a rectified spirit, before being distilled again to extract the final fragrance.
Essential oils can be scented, but they can also have antimicrobial, antioxidant, and astringent properties, as well as being beneficial to human health. These benefits are particularly important to the fragrance industry, because many people have sensitive skin and suffer from allergies or other sensitivities when using scented products.
Other ingredients are added to a perfume to increase its appeal to consumers, such as colorants and antioxidants, which help the fragrance to last longer. The addition of these substances can also enhance the marketability of a fragrance by making it appear more sophisticated and unique.