Perfume is a mixture of aroma compounds that is used to give people, animals, and other objects a pleasant scent. In the modern day, perfumes are found in a variety of products including cosmetics, toiletries, air fresheners, and cleaning solutions.
Perfumes are composed of fragrance chemicals, including essential oils and synthetic odorants. They usually contain alcohol to provide the fragrance with a long lasting effect. However, alcohol is also known to dissipate the scent in a cloud behind the wearer.
Perfumes are generally classified into three main groups. Those categories are the top notes, middle notes, and base notes. Each of these groups has its own characteristic scents.
The first group, the top notes, is responsible for the initial impression. The top note is usually derived from a high-volatility fragrance chemical. It may last for a few minutes to an hour. These notes are generally rich and have a strong presence.
The second group, the middle notes, is composed of medium-volatility fragrance chemicals. They influence the scents in the top and base notes. As the name suggests, the middle notes last longer than the other two groups.
The third group, the base notes, is the last stage of the perfume. This group contains a mixture of fragrance chemicals that add solidity and depth to the overall scent. Some common examples include tobacco, musk, and sandalwood.
The main difference between the types of perfume is the concentration of essential oils in the fragrance base. For instance, a perfume may contain a blend of linalool and hydroxycitronellal. Similarly, a cologne may have a blend of grapefruit rind, sulfur, and coumarin.
In addition to the basic groups, there are a number of subgroups. Among them are the Chypre, Aquatic, Fresh, Oriental, and Woody families. A number of other families are also used to describe the different types of scents.
Scents from natural sources vary from supplier to supplier and from harvest to harvest. Generally, a scented flower will smell differently if it is harvested from Morocco than it will from France.
Most perfumes are now based on artificial materials, although there are a number of perfumes that are still made from flowers and plants. Nevertheless, the diversity of the fragrances from natural sources is limited. There are, however, an assortment of low-molecular-weight terpenoids and nitrogenous compounds. Among the major exceptions are juniper berry, litsea cubeba, and blackcurrant leaf.
Lastly, there are perfumes that are made from a single aromatic material. This is rare and the most expensive. Traditionally, these are the flowers of ylang-ylang trees and jasmine. Many of these flowers are not commercially produced for essential oils.
The most common method of creating a perfume is distillation. Distillation is done by placing plant materials in a boiling water bath and releasing the essential oils. After the oils have been extracted, they are diluted with alcohol to make a fragrant oil that is then applied to the skin. To preserve the fragrance, it is often mixed with a carrier oil.