Perfume Ingredients and Sources
Perfumes are made of natural materials as well as synthetic. Natural materials can be of plant, animal and mineral origin while the synthetic materials are
used to recreate smells that cannot be extracted from the natural sources or as sources of new, original odors. Thousands and thousands of materials are
used in perfume manufacturing. Here are some of them:
Flowers and blossoms are the most common source of essential oils for perfumes. As flowers are used rose, jasmine, osmanthus, plumeria, mimosa, tuberose,
narcissus, cassie, ambrette and other. Clover is used as unopened flower buds while the flower of vanilla is used pollinated and turned into seeds.
Resins are very old materials for perfumes and they were used since the ancient times. Labdanum, frankincense, myrrh, Balsam of Peru, and gum benzoin are
sued in perfumery in their natural forms while the pine and fir resins are used in synthetic perfumes.
Some essential oils are extracted from the bark of the plants. Cinnamon and cascarilla are the most common barks used in perfumes. Bark of sassafras root
is also used, either for its oils or for its ingredient safrole which are used in synthetic perfumes.
Interestingly but fruits are rarely used in perfumes because their smell is not strong when extracted. Fruity smells are often synthesized. But there are
fruits that can be used – litsea cubeba and juniper berry and fruit whose rind can be used like oranges, lemons, and limes.
Tonka bean, carrot seed, coriander, caraway, cocoa, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, and anise are seeds used in perfumery.
Lichens like oakmoss and treemoss are also used in perfumery as sources of aroma. They have scents of bark, seashore and foliage.
Wood is also used. Sandalwood, rosewood, agarwood, birch, cedar, juniper, and pine are the most common wood sources of perfume aromatics.
From some plants are even used leaves and twigs. Lavender leaf, patchouli, sage, violets, rosemary, and citrus leaves bring so-called “green” smells into
Of the animal perfume sources, one of the most famous is musk. Long time ago it was obtained from a gland of the Himalayan male Musk deer but it is today
synthesized which allows for it to be produced in much larger quantities and it does not demands killing of the animals.
Ambergris is produced in the digestive system of sperm whales and secreted out. It has a sweet, earthy scent that was used for perfumes for years but it is
now mainly synthetic. It is also the only animal source of the perfume material that doesn't need for animal to be killed to be obtained.
Civet Musk comes from odorous sacs of the civets. Its use is in decline since we started making synthetic musk.
Castoreum is the similar thing but obtained from mature North American Beaver and the European Beaver. These materials, animals use to mark their
territory. In perfumery they are used for base notes and as a leather “new-car smell”.
Honeycomb from honeybees is also used to produce beeswax absolute.
Hyraceum: petrified and excrement of rock badger that lives in Africa and the Middle East. Its scent is a combination of musk, castoreum, civet, tobacco
This of course is not all. Many more natural materials are used. List of synthetics materials used in perfumery is even longer. We'll mention only some of
them here: musk xylol, musk ketone, benzyl acetate, benzyl benzoate, methyl, anthranilate, eugenol (smell like vanilline), vetiverol, menthol, diethyl
phthalate (as a stabilizer), benzeneethanol, phytyl acetate, triethanolamine, cinnamaldehyde, tridecanal, acetal, propyl butyrate, neryl propionate,
hydroxycitronellol, cedern, santanol, myrcenyl acetate, methyl linoleate, guaiyl acetate, estragole and many more.