Perfume is a very subtle and complex mixture. It contains odorous substances derived from natural products of vegetable or mineral origins as well as synthetic chemical products. It also contains colourings, antioxidants to slow air oxidation and fixers to avoid deterioration.
Concerning the vegetable aspect, essential oils are a major component of perfumes. They are generally obtained through distillation and can have many properties as they constitute a blending of two to more than four hundred different molecules. For instance, these are some of the most largely used essential oils in perfumery :
The essence of Sandalwood is only found in India and Sri Lanka. Since its production is limited, the essence has become rare and its costs have soared. It was therefore necessary to hasten research and produce synthetic sandalwood essence which is used nowadays in mens toilet waters.
Saffron which is well known as a colouring originates from the Orient. Its flowering occurs in Autumn and lasts for about three weeks. Flowers are daily picked up and dried and their distillation produces an essential oil which is used in luxury perfumery.
Orange blossom is a fascinating plant. Its zest is employed to produce bitter orange essential oil which is obtained through expression. The distillation of orange blossoms produces Neroli essence as a major element.
Nutmeg comes from the nutmeg tree which is an evergreen plant. Its fresh fruit is the size of an apricot and has a strong, acre and bitter taste. Nutmeg is widely used in perfumery for its spicy smell is one of the components of modern mens eau de cologne.
Finally, the rose has remained since early times the queen of flowers, and its perfume is still one of the main fragrances in perfumery. It takes about a million flowers to obtain one kilo of rose essence. Nowadays, one kilo of good-quality rose essence costs from $5000 to $8000.
On the other hand, the animal world greatly contributes to the field of perfumery as showed in the following examples :
Ambergris : is a pathological secretion by sperm whale which freely floats in the sea.
Musk : is exuded though moshus mochiferus sexual organs.
Castoreum : is also a sexual secretion exuded by castors.
Civet : is the name of the secretion of civets from both sexes to mark their territory.