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Perfume - An Aromatic Bliss

Jun 4, 2008
Perfume, an amalgamation of aroma compounds, some vital oils, fixatives and solvents, roots backs to ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt and later by the Romans and Persians. Perfumery, the art of making perfume, found its existence in East Asia too, but mostly it was incensed based.

Tapputi was the first perfume maker whose name was mentioned in cuneiform tablet from the second millennium BC in Mesopotamia. According to recent discoveries, more than 4000 years old perfumes are found in ancient perfume factory that was spread in an area of 4000 square-meter area. Those perfumes were made of herbs, almonds, coriander, bergamot, and other spices, but not flowers.

Avicenna, the Persian doctor and chemist, pioneered the distillation of oils of flowers. He began this process with rose. Prior to that, oils, petals and crushed herbs were blended to make perfumes. Then the art of making perfume reached Europe in 14th century and later Hungarians launched the modern perfume, a mixture of oils in alcohol solution, in 1370. In 16th century, this proliferated art of Italy was taken to France and then it became the European center of perfume and cosmetic manufacture. With this impact, cultivation of flowers became a flourishing industry in the south of France. During the Renaissance period, perfumed were meant for royal class only. Around 18th century, perfume industry boomed like anything, since the cultivation of aromatic plants were increased to provide more and more raw material.

A perfume can be described on the basis of its concentration level, the family it belongs to and the notes of scents it spreads. Perfume oil has to be diluted with a solvent, as undiluted oils are highly concentrated and can cause allergies. Ethanol or a mixture of ethanol and water are the most common diluting agents for perfumes. Neutral smelling lipids like jojoba, fractionated coconut oil or wax are the best ways to dilute perfume oils. The intensity and endurance of a perfume depends on the amount of concentrates it contains.

According to traditional and modern classification, perfumes consist of number of categories like single floral, floral bouquet, ambery, woody, leathery, bright floral, green, oceanic/ozone, citrus, etc. Each category is well-known for its own distinctiveness. Plants are the chief source of aromatics and each part of plant is responsible for a specific aromatic compound. Apart from plants, animals like Ambergris, Civet, Musk and Honeycomb are also great sources of aromatic compounds. Besides these, other natural sources are Lichens and Seaweed. But modern perfumes contain odorants which are not naturally available; rather they are synthetic odorants like Calon.

The synthetic odorants are organically synthesized and then purified before the composition of perfume. In case of natural sources, odorants are obtained by dissolving the raw material in a solvent to obtain the desired aromatic compounds. On the other hand, the method of heating the raw material and then condensed to distill aromatic vapors is called distillation. It can be either steam distillation or dry distillation. Aromatic oils can also be collected through expression that is compression of the raw material. The extracted compounds are essential oils which are used to compose perfumes.

In the whole process the role of perfumer is very important, as he formulates the perfume according to the need and mood of the customer or his employer, keeping in mind the price of the perfume oil concentrates. Then the perfume is formulated to evoke the desired feelings in those who smell it. Perfumes should be properly stored also to keep their aromas intact. They should not be exposed to heat and light. They can be kept in light tight aluminium bottle or in their original packing.
About the Author
This article can also be accessed in portuguese language from the Article section of page www.polomercantil.com.br/perfume-fragrancia.php
Roberto Sedycias works as IT consultant for www.PoloMercantil.com.br
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