Throughout the years the methods used to manufacture perfumes have changed, becoming more numerous and complex thanks to the advancement of research and new scientific techniques.
The Greeks began to make fragrances and colonies, however it was the Arabs who used stills to distill alcohol as a support for the essences, with which they obtained refined aromas such as musk, civet and rose water.
Scientific and technical advances have made it possible to create increasingly complex formulas that were previously only carried out through experimentation.
How is a fragrance made?
The perfumes, basically, are made from the dissolution of essences, however there are different manufacturing procedures depending on the ingredients used.
Here are the most common techniques:
Maceration is the oldest technique in perfume making, and is no longer used. This method was used with very fragile flowers, such as jasmine, orange blossom, among others.
The petals were collected by hand and placed on a film of animal fat on top of a glass plate, leaving it that way for 24 or 48 hours. After this time the thin layer of petals was removed and the process was repeated until the fat was saturated. Obtaining an ointment loaded with aromas that was washed with wine brandy and from which infusions were obtained.
This method is used especially for flowers, herbs and plants, it consists of separating the solid components from the volatile components of a mixture, through evaporation.
The roots, leaves, flowers, tree bark, etc. it is crushed and placed in an alembic. Enough water is added so that the material is completely bathed and after a few hours of maceration, the distillation is carried out.
The water vapor drags the aromatic elements towards the distillation column; once there, they are cooled and collected in a glass in which the scented water is easily separated from the essence. The water is reintroduced into the alembic to take advantage of the essence that may remain from the solution, in successive operations.
This process is used above all for the elaboration of perfumes from fruits, especially citrus fruits such as orange, lemon, citron, which have a very fresh aroma and will not resist the heat produced by the distillation process.
It is called expression since the necessary essences are squeezed directly from the rind of the fruit, pierce it and compress it by means of a mechanical procedure.
The essence obtained is filtered and decanted on wet paper to separate the water from the essential aromatic extracts.
This technique, also known as “enfleurage”, consists of putting flowers or plants in contact with solvents that absorb the essences of the perfume. It is used above all with the most delicate flowers.
Traditionally this method was used with animal fats as solvents, but it has been replaced by volatile solvents that can be evaporated.
The solvents are mixed with alcohol, heated and then cooled to obtain the vegetable components; later the alcohol evaporates.
Now that we know how a perfume is made, we share the ingredients they contain exactly.
What does a perfume contain?
Perfume is a mixture of aromatic substances, whether they are natural essential oils, with vegetable and animal ingredients, or synthetic essences, with a solvent that can be solid or liquid, being alcohol in most cases and a fixative.
Among the fixatives, some of the most common are the different balsams, ambergris, which it obtains from the intestines of sperm whales or glandular secretions of some animals such as the musk of the musk deer.
Today many of the essential oils that make up the perfume base are produced artificially in laboratories, using odor molecules. But there are exclusive brands that continue to use flowers and plants, carrying out some of the techniques mentioned above.
It may take between 2 and 4 tons of jasmine or roses, for example, to obtain a kilo of absolute, a thick liquid that is the pure essence of the flower. Hence, the use of certain natural products raises the prices that certain renowned fragrances can reach.
Depending on the amount of essence that the fragrance contains, it is called different, starting with the cologne that contains only between 2 and 4% of essence, up to the perfume with 21-25% of essence, passing through the toilet water of between 5 and 12% of essence and perfume water with 13-20% of essence.
Among the ingredients are seven large groups:
- Citrus: oranges, bergamot, lemons and grapefruit.
- Flowers: rose, jasmine, violets, daffodils, lily of the valley.
- Ferns: lavenders, woods, cumin, bergamot, oak moss.
- Cyprus: oak moss, rockrose-laudanum, patchouli and bergamot.
- Woods: sandalwood, patchouli, cedar, lavender, pine, citrus.
- Orientals: vanilla, rockrose-laudanum and animals.
- Leather: burnt wood, tobacco and leather.
Each group has a different essence and aromas cannot be mixed randomly, as there are certain essences that are not compatible, you must know how to combine them in the appropriate portions since the properties of the essences in the mixture can be altered. It is about taking advantage of all the attributes to obtain a new form.
Hence, the work of a perfumer is so valued, as they must identify at least 250 aromas. His coveted job of scent engineering requires a better-than-ordinary sense of smell that can differentiate scents that few can.
Do you want to know more about your favorite perfume?
Look for it in https://www.icyfragrance.com/ and discover what secret ingredients make up your perfumes.