What is Fragrance?


Fragrance is a chemical compound that gives perfume and cologne their unique scent. It may be derived from petroleum or natural raw materials, and can include solvents, stabilizers, UV-absorbers, preservatives, and dyes.

The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) and the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) develop and set voluntary standards for fragrance ingredients in perfumes and colognes sold in the United States, Canada and Europe. IFRA and RIFM also help manufacturers and researchers worldwide evaluate fragrance safety.

Fine fragrances are hydroethanolic solutions prepared from aromatic chemicals and essential oils, whose main function is to perfume us by providing an attractive scent. These perfumes are often labeled differently depending on their concentration: Extract, Parfum, Eau de parfum (EdP), Eau de toilette, Eau de cologne, and sometimes Baby Cologne or Cologne, for example.

There are different concentrations of perfume, ranging from extremely high to very low. The most concentrated are parfums, which contain at least 25 percent perfume oil; eau de parfum, eau de toilette and cologne are less than 15 percent; and eau de cologne and body spray are very light. The lowest concentration is eau fraiche, which has a 1-3% perfume concentration and is diluted with water.

Some fragrances have a wide range of applications and are used in personal care products such as shampoos, shower gels, shaving creams and body lotions. These products are designed to improve the user’s experience, and sometimes even their health.

Other products in the home such as laundry detergents, fabric softeners and room fresheners use fragrance to create a pleasant scent. These products are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and if they contain harmful ingredients they are recalled or banned.

The head notes, middle notes and base notes of a fragrance make up its overall scent. The top note is the first impression that a person will get of a fragrance, while the middle and base notes are the lasting smell of the fragrance.

Historically, perfumes have been made from plants, flowers, and other aromatic compounds. Today, they are primarily manufactured in laboratories from synthetically made components. The manufacturing process involves collecting, extracting, blending and ageing.

There are several ways that fragrance can be produced, including steam distillation and cold vaporization. Steam distillation involves passing steam through the raw material, which causes volatile fragrant compounds to evaporate from the plant. The condensed liquid is then filtered through a filter. The distilled liquid can then be sold as perfume oil, or can be converted to other useful products.

Cold vaporization is a more efficient method that allows the use of cheaper ingredients. This method is often used to produce floral, citrus and spicy fragrances that can be difficult to extract by steam distillation.

Synthetic fragrances are a commonly used alternative to obtaining natural sources of the perfume chemicals needed in perfumery, and can be produced inexpensively in large quantities. Many of these synthetics are derived from naturally occurring odorants such as linalool and coumarin.