Fragrances are chemicals that provide a scent to the products they’re in. They are found in perfumes, colognes, bath oils, lotions, soaps and more. They have long been an integral part of our lives and a staple of the fragrance industry.
In perfumery, fragnance refers to the odorant compounds used in fragrances. They include terpenes, coumarins, and other synthetic aromatics. They can be extracted from flowers, plants, or other sources and are often used as a substitute for the naturally occurring compounds in a perfume.
The word “fragrance” was first used in the 17th century to describe a particular odor, but it is a term used today to describe any smell that evokes a pleasant or positive emotion. It’s commonly used in reference to scented products, but can also be applied to anything that has a good or pleasant aroma.
Perfume is a concentrated scented oil derived from a flower, plant or other source that has been pressed out, steam extracted or chemically separated from the source material and then diluted in 98 percent alcohol and 2 percent water. This dilution ranges from the most concentrated, parfum (about 25 percent) to the lightest eau de toilette (about 10 percent), eau de cologne or body spray.
Different perfumeries or perfume houses use different methods for obtaining a given perfume’s fragrance, so the concentration of oil may be very different from one house to another. This is why an extrait of a perfume from one house might be more concentrated than an eau de parfum from another.
Many modern perfumes are formulated with synthesized odorants instead of natural ones, such as calone and linalool. These compounds can be more affordable to produce and are available in large quantities.
Most fragrances are composed of middle notes, base notes and ancillary odorants such as resins, essential oils, oleoresins and benzyl salicylates. These middle notes usually come from a specific flower or other source, while the base and ancillary notes come from a blend of oils, ethyl esters, alcohols and other chemicals.
The perfumer chooses the best combination of these odorants for the fragrance, based on a brief or idea they’ve received from their client. They then present the resulting perfume to their clients for feedback, and smooth out any rough edges after a positive response.
Fragrances are used in a wide variety of products and are a significant contributor to the overall health and safety of consumers. The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) and the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) develop voluntary standards for fragrance ingredients.
IFRA and RIFM are independent, non-profit organizations that work with fragrance manufacturers to ensure that their products contain only safe ingredients. They have developed a global database of fragrance ingredients that can be searched by ingredient name and safety profile.
These ingredients are not required to be listed on the product label, but companies are legally responsible for their safety and cannot sell a product that contains ingredients they know are harmful. Some of these fragrance ingredients are respiratory irritants, sensitizers and endocrine disruptors. They can cause headaches, eye and nose irritation, nausea, forgetfulness, loss of coordination and other symptoms.