Words: Emily Venables
For fans of fragrance, reaching for your trusty signature scent is second nature. After all, we’re so accustomed to having scents we love so readily available for us. But have you ever stopped before you spritz to consider how perfume is made? It’s an incredibly complex journey laced with passion, expertise and many years of development! Here’s everything you need to know…
How is perfume made?
Step 1: The Ingredients
All perfumes start life as a list of ingredients. Perfume is predominantly made up of natural ingredients such flowers (very important), resins, leaves, grasses and spices. for example.
Often thousands of flowers are required to produce just a single pound of essential oil, so perfumery can become quite a tricky business if crops are ruined, they do not grow properly, they change from one harvest to the next or if conditions alter the quality of the flower. So, there are a lot of things that have to be managed at this very first stage to ensure the quality of the ingredient is consistent.
You will also find more and more synthetic chemicals present in perfumes these days as they can be used to mimic the scents that used to be extracted from animals or to replicate notes from flowers which cannot have their oils extracted. Which leads us nicely on to step 2…
Step 2: The Extraction Process
Once the raw materials have been gathered, their oils need to be extracted. There are several methods of extraction, but the most commonly used are expression and steam distillation.
Expression is where the ingredients have their natural oils squeezed out of them and distillation is where steam is passed through the natural matter to extract the oils.
Step 3: The Blending of Oils
Once all the beautifully scented oils have been extracted from the ingredients, the creation of the scent can begin.
The blending of oils will be conducted by a master in the industry known as a ‘nose’, These are exceptionally passionate and talented perfumers who may take years of trial and error to finally reach their desired scent.
Once the ‘nose’ is happy with their creation, the blended oils are combined with alcohol and left to bind for up to a year. The level of alcohol which is added will determine what kind of fragrance it becomes, such as an Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette and so on. For more information on the difference between the types of fragrance available, you can read more here.
Step 4: The Ageing Process
One of the last steps in the creation of a perfume is to let is age – just like a fine wine! It will sit for several months, or even years, until the ‘nose’ has determined the correct scent has been achieved. Once they are happy it can then start its journey from development to shelves at The Perfume Shop and finally, to you!
Now you know the process….
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