Perfume Making

By: Hayley

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What is Perfume?
Perfume is a mixture of essential oils and aromatic compounds used to give people and other things a nice scent. It is made up of chemicals called essential oils (also called essence). The essential oils consist of aromatic hydrocarbons which is what makes you able to smell it. Essence comes from leaves or flowers typically. For example, rose oil smells like roses and is one of the most used essential oils in perfumery. It can take several pounds of rose petals to distill one ounce of usable essential oil which explains why perfume can be very expensive.
Aromatic Cyclic Hydrocarbon
Aromatic Cyclic Hydrocarbon

How is it made?
Perfumes are made by mixing 3 or more essential oils. The top note is the first thing in a perfume that you smell. It evaporates and diffuses faster than the rest of the other two parts of the perfume . Examples of top notes would be grapefruit, lemon, cinnamon, and peppermint. The second part of the fragrance that is smelled is the middle or heart note. These oils have a slower diffusion rate than the top notes but evaporate faster than the base notes. Heart notes usually consist of bay, juniper, nutmeg, and lavender. Finally, the last scent is called the base note. These oils diffuse and evaporate the slowest making them the scent most people will smell throughout the day. Base notes are usually either rose, rosewood, sandalwood, or vanilla.

Is it possible to mix less than 3 oils and still make a perfume? Also, true perfumes are perfumes in which the oils have been distilled in alcohol. Also, these oils are extracted from plants through one of several methods. These methods include steam distillation, solvent extraction, enfleurage, and expression. Below are pictures exemplifying each of these methods, and also the breakdown of perfumes, cologne and eau de toilette below that. Also, what separates perfumes from cologne and eau de toilette is the ratio of alcohol to scent. Thank You, awesome presentation Hayley! =) -Yatish

Yes it is possible to have less than three oils to make a perfume or cologne, however it is less common. -Hayley
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Why does perfume smell differently in the bottle than on a person? Why does it smell differently from one person to another?
While in the bottle, perfume is not binding to anything but itself. When you spray perfume or cologne on, the chemicals of the essential oils begin to bind to your skin which can make it smell differently from when it is in the bottle or on clothing. A numerous amount of things can make the perfume smell differently on one person than another. Whether you have dry, oily, or combination skin can play a major role in what the fragrance smells like on you. Also, hormones, diet, and even medication can determine what perfume may smell like.

What are the earliest accounts of people beginning to use fragrant plants for perfume? And are there formulas based on the structure of the hydrocarbons that can determine what would smell bad or good, or are they found through trial and error? -Bunmi

The earliest account of people using perfume dates back to 1000 BC in Egypt. The common man as well as Cleopatra used perfumes in Egypt perhaps because the priest commanded that they perfumed theirselves at least once a week. Cleopatra was also known to put saffron in her baths for a perfume like affect. Our brain decides what smells good or bad to us, but usually has good reason. For example, the smell of the chemical ammonia is described as having a bad smell, so we would avoid it because it could cause something bad to happen to us. Whereas the smell of food attracts us because it is what we have to eat. -Hayley

Why does the top note diffuse faster than the other two parts of the perfume? -Shelby

Shelby, the top notes of perfumes tend to be light, inexpensive, highly volatile, fast-acting oils that evaporate quickly and have anti-viral properties. THey are only meant to give the first impression of the scent and are only between 15 and 25 % of the whole blend. Fun Fact -
A Frenchman, Piesse, classified the odors of essential oils in the 1800's based on musical scales, and this is where the top, middle and base notes came from. Not sure if it totally answers your question, but top notes are only meant to be temporary or fleeting. -Bunmi

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