NATURAL PERFUME ACADEMY GLOSSARY
The Natural Perfume Glossary compiled by Justine Crane & NPA
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An Absolute is a prepared perfume material. Absolutes are highly concentrated, entirely alcohol soluble and usually liquid perfume materials. They are obtained by alcohol extraction of concretes or other hydrocarbon types of extracts or from fat extracts of plant material.
The intention of acquiring [a sale] through the devaluation of the oil in relation to the labeling of it's container. (Stephen Arctander)
This oil is water-distilled from fungus-infected wood of the tree Aquilaria Agallocha, growing in northeastern India. The tree is also found in China and Vietnam.
perfume medium, diluent, solvent or carrier for a perfume composition; in natural perfumery, 190 proof organic grape or grain alcohol is preferred
Almond bitter unrectified
Ambrette seeds come from the plant Hibiscus Abelmoschus. The essential oil is produced from the seed. Also available is a solvent extraction or concrete, the absolute and also a tincture extract. The material blends excellently with sandalwood, rose and neroli. Ambrette seed is known for its "exhalting" effect on perfume.
Not often heard of in countries other than India and Japan. The essential oil is steam distilled from the fruit or seeds of a wild dill. The interesting thing is that the odor is different to the european dill and the american dill. The oil of Anethum Sowa is more parsley like compared to the european and us versions that is more like caraway.
Ref: Steffen Arctander; Perfume and Flavors of Natural Origin
Angelica root angelica archangelica
Angelica Root Absolute
Anise oil used in perfumery is extracted from the star anise. The oil usually comes from Poland or Russia. Funnily enough a lot of people say it has a licorice scent but this is due to it being used as a favouring for licorice (in the same way that people say vanilla has a chocolate smell)
Ref: Steffen Arctander; Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin
the inability to smell
Araucaria is also named the Monkey puzzle tree. It is native to the south pacific. The essential oil which is solid at room temperature is steam distilled from the wood. The colour is a very pale yellow green colour. The odor is a delicate and clean woody odor. Steffen arctander describes it thus: "It's odor is delicately woody, but also rich and sweet (a rare combination) almost floral like nerolidol or cabreuva oil. It has notes in common with amyris oil, bois de rose, copaiba, good guaiacwood oil, and the sesquiterpene fractions from Java type citronella oil."
Arnica is usually associated with herbal medicine but its oil has use as a perfumery material also. The oil is steam distilled from the flowers and it is difficult to procure.
Country of origin is usually Germany, Belgium or France.
Ref: Steffen Arctander; Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin.
strongly scented materials; specifically refers to rich, balsamic essences, but can be used to refer to nearly any deliciously scented botanical material
Country of origin the Philippines and Indonesia. See: Ylang Ylang
See: Ylang Ylang
Artemisia Alba is a perennial plant native to the Mediterranean countries. The plant is a relative to the wormwood plant and it has the same silvery leaves. This oil has very green and bitter notes and may be useful in chypre and green perfumes.
Ref: Steffen Arctander; Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin
Artemisia Annua is native to Yogoslavia. It is the least inexpensive of the Artemsias due to it's high yield. It is used mainly as a perfuming material for soap. It has green basil like odor.
Ref: Steffen Artander; Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin
Bitter orange cold-pressed citrus aurantium
a well-rounded composition
Boronia grows or originates almost exclusively from Australia.
The most fragrant boronia is the Boronia megastigma. It is often used in flower arrangements because of it's very intense perfume. There are around 95 species of boronia. The leaves of the boronia megastigma are also fragrant. The flowers are brown and cup shaped with yellow insides.
For perfumery the flowers are collected and then extracted using solvents to produce a concrete. The concrete is further extracted with alcohol to produce boronia absolute. The absolute is semi-liquid and normally dark green and has a fruity tea like odor. In natural perfumery boronia is used with mimosa, violet and honeysuckle base formulations.
refers to a blend of flower essences; used more often in pre-modern perfumery to describe rich floral compositions
Calamus acorus calamus
Carnation absolute is produced by the unusual method of alcohol washing of the concrete, which is obtained by solvent extraction of the flowers of the Dianthus Caryophylus or the garden carnation. The flowers are grown in most countries in Europe and also in the US. The only place that the concrete is made is in fact France. The yeild from the concrete is low according to sources. This makes it an expensive oil which might be frequently adulterated.
It has a an unusual fragrance which at first does not remind me of carnations but seems more herbal than one would expect. But after a few moments the smell of the freshly cut flowers comes out and it is quiet sweet and heavy. I have often read that clove and carnation go so well together and now I can see how that would be true. I would seem like the perfect complimentary note to carnation. Carnation is used in natural perfumery.
"Carnation is an olive green to green or orange-brown, viscous liquid of very sweet, honey like, somewhat herbaceous, heavy and tenacious fragrance, reminiscent of the scent of the live flowers only to a certain degree and only in high dilutions (5% or weaker)."
oil used as a base or diluent in oil-based and solid perfume making; typically jojoba and fractionated coconut oils due to their longer shelf lives
Cassia cinnamomum cassia
Champaca or Champa Absolute
Champa absolute from the flowers of the Michelia Champaca is an exotic rich deep floral natural perfumery material. It reminds me of carnation and tuberose and has warm caramel, peppery vanilla orchid notes.
The absolute and C02 are extracted from concrete which is obtained from the yellow magnolia-like flowers of a medium sized tree which grows in the Indonesia and India and also Madagascar off the South Coast of Africa.
Steffen Arctander (P.160 Perfume and Flaor Materials of Natural Origin) describes Champaca Absolute as "quite unique: delicately dry-floral, at the same time reminding one of the orange flowers, ylang ylang, carnation and the tearose."
The absolute blends very well with carnation and rose. In dilution it has a soft floral tea-like note, it is best fixed with bases that do not easily overwhelm the delicate floral notes, for instance: sandalwood, auracaria, benzoin, ambrette, and ambergris.
Clove syzygium aromaticum
carbon dioxide extractions, supercritical carbon dioxide extracts; solvent extraction utilizing CO2 at low temperature and high pressure to create a fragrant product
solvent extracted waxy substance obtained from botanical materials
Cumin cuminum cyminum
results of distillation
Eau de Cologne
Eau de Parfum
Eau de Toilette
ancient method of obtaining scent by repeatedly placing, removing and replacing fragrant botanical materials on sheets of glass that have been glazed with fat (typically cleaned animal fat) to produce a pomade (see pomade)
fragrant raw materials
Steam distillation: Usually indirect steam which is produced in a boiler. The steam goes through the plant material which can be resting on a grid or trays. The steam condenses and separates when cool into the water and the essential oil that floats on the top.
highest concentration of scent to diluent in perfume making; 15 to 30% composition blend to alcohol or diluent
A bottle, often delicate in nature or beautifully decorated, used for storing perfumes... usually with a tight-fitting stopper or cap.
From the Old French word flagon.
a note with no lift or body
flower based composition
There are many species of gardenia, but the most cultivated for its beauty and scent is Gardenia jasminoides calld also Cape jasmine.
Geranium, which comes from the Pelargonium graveolens and is usually classed as a middle note in natural perfumery, is described as having a floral sweet, fresh and fruity note. It is sometimes used to enhance the more expensive rose perfumes. There are many different types of geranium notes ranging from fruity citrus and light to a more floral rosy and some times even a little spicy.
Grapefruit cold-pressed citrus paradisi
sticky, resinous substances; plant sap exudates; balsams can also be called gums
pungent or chemical character within a perfume composition
the first notes you smell in a perfume; they’re the opening note, the lead or hook note; relatively fleeting, usually lasting no more than 10 or 20 minutes
intoxicating and stimulating
intense and oftentimes cloying note
sweet, syrupy note
Indole is an aromatic heterocyclic organic compound.
It naturally occurs in human feces and has an intense faecal odour. At very low concentrations though, it has a very flowery smell, and is a constituent of many floral scents (such as orange blossoms) and perfumes.
It tends to lend a "dirty" quality to a perfume.
whole botanical materials immersed in a hot medium, diluent or carrier; botanical material in warmed oil is considered an infusion
There exists some 200 species of jasmine. Jasmine oils are extracted commercially from the jasmine Zambac (Arabian Jasmine) and jasmin grandiflorum (Common Jasmine).
Jasmine oil cannot be extracted by steam distillation. The main modern comercial method of extracting Jasmine oil is via solvent extraction.
Jasmine wax is a by product of this process.
Jasmine flowers of all varieties can be tinctured for use in perfumery.
Dried jasmine flowers usually don't have much of a smell and are mainly used in tea.
The Kadamba or Anthocephalus Cadamba tree is native to Northern India. An essential oil and a hexane extraction is produced from the flowers but the yeild is very small. The perfume from the flowers is intoxicating at night.
According to Steffen Arctander "This is one of the rare perfume materials which deserves a permanent and prominent place on the perfumer's shelf."
He describes it as "woody floral and sweet odor with a short lived top note. The dry out is delightfully sweet floral, reminiscence of champaca and neroli. The tenacity of this fragrance is almost incredible."
Ref: Steffen Arctander; Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin
Labdanum comes from the natural exudation of the plant Cistus landaniferus which is a small shrub growing wild in countries of the Mediterranean and the middle east. It grows well near the sea. The Labdanum gum or resinous material is further extracted by solvents to form an absolute. The absolute is commonly used in as a fixative in perfumes of the amber classification. Stefan Arctander says of Labdanum Resin Absolute on P 333 of Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin: “The odor of labdanum is sweet, herbaceous-balsamic, somewhat ambra-like and slightly animalic, rich and tenacious.”
Lavandin Arbaralis (Lavandula hybrida) is not often used in perfumery as the smell is medicine like and sort of falls into the same set as tea tree, eucalyptus, camphor.
A blend that is reminiscent of leather often including tobacco and smoky scents such as cade. Most noted leather scents include Peau d'Espagne and Cuir de Russie (see http://perfumeshrine.blogspot.com/2007/12/leather-series-5-cuir-de-russie-vs-peau.html for more info.)
A phenomenon where two or more ingredients interact to create an overwhelmingly strong scent that overtakes a blend.
To steep or soak aromatic plant material in a liquid (usually water or a plain vegetable oil) to create a plant extract containing the water or oil soluble constituents. The macerate will usually differ chemically from an essential or expressed oil made from the same plant material due to this. It is possible to create a macerate from plants that do not usually yield an essential oils by distillation. Examples are Meadowsweet and Comfrey. Macerates are also known as Infused or herbal oils.
Massoia bark cryptocaryo massoio – prohibited (should not be used in fragrance)
(same as heart note)notes which normally classify or identify the perfume family or theme of the composition; for instance, if your theme is a white floral, then you would blend some combination of jasmine, neroli, tuberose, gardenia tinctures and other ‘white’ flower oils as the main component of this note
typified by oak moss, tree mosses and forest floor essences
According to Steffen Arctander in Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural origin: " Part of the "romance" or "thrill" in perfumery work lies in the fact that, not only are all the materials different in odor but hardly ever will two perfumers give identical descriptions of the same material or the same perfume"
relating to the sense of smell
Opoponax comes from the Commiphora Erythrea tree which grows wild in parts of Africa. Good quality crude botanical resin is dark red. It is rich and sweet and very aromatic with resinous animalic notes.
High grade opoponax essential oil is worth looking for if preparing your own resinoid is not possible. Make sure that good quality opoponax is used in the distillation process. Myrrh and opoponax are very closely related. Opoponax is spicy and animalic compared to myrrh which is fresh and clean. Opoponax must be used with great care in perfumery as it can quickly take over a blend.
system of storing bottles of perfume making materials typified by stepped shelving
typified by amber notes and spice
The aged root of the Iris (Iris florentine) Pallida is used to produce orris absolute, orris concrete (Beurre d'Iris) and orris resinoid.
The powdered aged root is used in cosmetic preparations and as a fixative in herbal sachets and pot pourri.
Orris absolute is one the most expensive perfumery materials and is rarely found in todays perfumes. The absolute is extracted by solvent washing the orris butter from which the resulting liquid absolute is carefully vacuum distilled. Orris absolute is described as a very pale yellow oil with a delicate floral smell.
Orris concrete is produced by steam distillation of the prepared orris root which have been aged 3 years. Because it is steam distilled it is not technically a concrete, rather it is so called because of its solid consistency.
Orris butter is produced in France, Italy and Morocco.
Orris resin, which is extracted from the aged root using a solvent like ethyl alcohol, is technically a true concrete. It is called a resin due to it honey like consistency. The 'resin' is cheaper than the steam distilled butter.
Sources: Steffen Arctander's Perfume and Flavor materials of natural origin.
collection of raw materials used by the perfumer to create perfume
an artist who creates perfume
This term is used to describe the longevity or staying-power of a particular perfume on the skin.
For example: "this scent has remarkable persistence".
Phototoxicity results from an overheating reaction between a chemical (either ingested or topically applied) and ultraviolet light. The reaction can cause severe burns and in some cases may cause permanent scaring.
"This term is a compound of two Greek words meaning "plant" and "healing" and is used to describe all forms of treatments using plants. In France this term is used to describe what we would call Medical Herbalism but aromatherapy is often included under the same heading"...Patricia Davis in "Aromatherapy, an A to Z".
It can be argued that perfumes created using vibrant, natural plant materials and extracts with no synthetic or chemical additives could also be regarded as a branch of Phytotherapy.
Rose oils are extracted from the Rosa Damascena (Bulgarian) and Rosa Centifolia (Moroccan) also known as 'rose de mai'.
Rose otto is distilled from the Bulgarian rose or rosa damscena. The otto is an almost clear pale yellow liquid. When it is very cold it solidifies but it is easily warmed to liquid again. Rose otto smells rich, floral, warm and spicy with honey undertones. The smell of fresh roses becomes more apparent at when the otto is diluted. Rose otto is the most expensive extract of roses.
Rose concrete from Rosa Damscena is a deep orange colored mass of a jam-like consistency, can be greenish yellow. The smell is sweet rich floral very like fresh roses with warm honey spicy undertones.
According to Shiseido there are 6 scent classification of a rose scent:
Tree from the Hylea Brasiliensis, the Amazonian Jungle, from Lauraceae family, with the wood rich in linalol and smelling like rose. The species reaches 30m.
Used as fixative in many perfumes, it sweetens the aroma of flowers, enlightening the dullest of blends.
Used in Aromatherapy to stimulate the immune system.
The tree is threatened with extinction because of its scent and many uses ( furniture, floors, guitar making, etc), but there are some self sufficient plantations like in Ducke Conservation Park in a river island called Silves where they extract ECOCERT essential oil of rosewood, preciosa and other scented trees of the Amazon forests, and the women make handcrafted goods with them.
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.
The absolute or tincture is used in natural perfumery. It is a dark red gold colour. Saffron is obtained from the flowers of the crocus sativa. The crocus sativa is light purple itself but the thread like stamens are deep red. It is these stamens that are the saffron. Saffron is harvested in the Autumn, then the labourious work of separating the stamens from the flowers begins. Imagine that it takes 70,000 pounds of flowers to yield just one pound of the spice. The odor of saffron is reminiscent of the sea air.
The spice is used to flavour and add a yellow colour to rice. It is also used as a a natural dye for fabrics.
A term often used in perfumery to describe the trail of scent you leave behind you.
The term is derived from the French language, and is defined as: wake, slipstream, or trail.
fluid materials used to dissolve and extract volatile elements of botanicals (water, alcohol, hexane, oil, etc.)
Notes which are typically hot in character, such as clove, pepper and cinnamon.
Styrax gum resin aka benzoin
Styrax gum resin aka benzoin
tagetes patula, T. minuta, T. erecta
strength of a scent or note characterized by the length of time it lasts on the skin
Treemosses usnea / pseudoevernia furfuracea See Oakmoss
Tuberose absolute from the flowers of the Polyanthes Tuberosa is one of the most expensive perfumery materials known. Until recently tuberose absolute was extracted via the enfleurage method, but now with labor costs increasing this method is no longer viable economically speaking. The flowers excude a very strong heady scent which continues to release perfume for a long time after the blossom has been plucked from the stem. It takes 3,600 kilos of flowers to produce 1 single kilo of the absolute, so there is hardly any wonder it is so expensive. Arctander on P. 631 of his book Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin, describes the scent of tuberose from concrete as a "heavy floral, almost nauseatingly sweet, heavy and somewhat spicy odor".
To make an ultrasonic extract the raw material which has been ground to a powder is suspended in a solvent. High frequency vibration is applied and in a short amount of time the extraction is complete.
Verbena ABSOLUTE lippia citriodora
Vetiver comes from the rootlets of the Vetiveria zizanoides which have been used for their fragrance since ancient times. The tall perennial grass grows wild in India, Ceylon, Burma, as well as the Caribbean Islands and many other tropical regions. Vetiver oil is classed as a base note in perfumery and is used as a fixative as well as for it’s sweet earthy quality. There are many different qualities of Vetiver to be had, ranging from the freshly distilled oil which has a moist cool potato like earthy smell to the rich woody earthy smell of aged vetiver.