NATURAL PERFUME ACADEMY GLOSSARY


The Natural Perfume Glossary compiled by Justine Crane & NPA



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A

Absolute

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.


[Pic: Jasmine concrete from Jasmine grandiflorum.]

Entry link: Absolute

Accord

(See Chord) Musical reference relating to a chord; usually two or more essences combined to create a scent with its own character and distinctive scent; harmonization and balance within a blend of essences.

Entry link: Accord

Adulteration

The intention of acquiring [a sale] through the devaluation of the oil in relation to the labeling of it's container. (Stephen Arctander)
Entry link: Adulteration

Agar oil

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. 

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Entry link: Agar oil

Agleia Odorata

An essential oil distilled from the seeds of this tree which grows in India, Indonesia and China. The fragrant flowers are used in tea

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Entry link: Agleia Odorata

Ajowan

Ajowan oil is steam distilled from the fruits, seeds and sometimes from the whole plant of Ptychotis Ajowan, also known as carum Ajowan or Carum Copticum. The plant is native to India and the West Indies. 

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Entry link: Ajowan

Alcohol

perfume medium, diluent, solvent or carrier for a perfume composition; in natural perfumery, 190 proof organic grape or grain alcohol is preferred

Entry link: Alcohol

Almond bitter unrectified

Almond, bitter unrectified prunus amygdalus v. amara (toxic) – 3.0000% in perfume concentration

Entry link: Almond bitter unrectified

Amber

Warm, powdery note in a perfume composition, usually obtained through the combination of benzoin, labdanum, vanilla and other similar aromatic oils.

Entry link: Amber

Ambra

Ambra is another name for Ambergris. Ambergris is excreted from the stomach of the cachalot whale (sperm whale). The Ambra is the result of a pathological condition caused by irritation of the whales stomach walls due to the whales ingestion of squid beaks. 

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Entry link: Ambra

Ambrette Seed

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. 

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Entry link: Ambrette Seed

Amyris Oil

Amyris oil is steam distilled from the wood of the Amyris Balsamifera tree, also called West Indian Rosewood.  It's odor is woody and sweet with peppery top note. 

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Entry link: Amyris Oil

Anethum Sowa

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 

Entry link: Anethum Sowa

Angelica root

Angelica root angelica archangelica 

Entry link: Angelica root

Angelica Root Absolute

This is produced by a two step process. First the root is broken down or ground and then extracted using hexane to produce a concrete. This is further extracted by alcoholic distillation. It has a musky woody odor that is heavy and sweet. It is earthy and also has a curious animalic note.  

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Entry link: Angelica Root Absolute

Animalic

usually refers to fecal, leathery and fur-like scents, such as hyraceum (hyrax/Africa Stone), ambergris, costus, nargarmotha, patchouli and civet; can have some connection to indolic botanical materials such as jasmine

Entry link: Animalic

Anise

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

Entry link: Anise

Anosmia

the inability to smell

Entry link: Anosmia

Araucaria

monkey_tail_treeAraucaria 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." 

Entry link: Araucaria

Arnica

Arnica_montanaArnica 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

It is described as a herbaceous tea-like and non floral note.

Ref: Steffen Arctander; Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin.

Entry link: Arnica

Aromatic

strongly scented materials; specifically refers to rich, balsamic essences, but can be used to refer to nearly any deliciously scented botanical material

Entry link: Aromatic

Artabotrys Odoratissimus

Country of origin the Philippines and Indonesia. See: Ylang Ylang 

Entry link: Artabotrys Odoratissimus

Artabotrys Suaveolens

Entry link: Artabotrys Suaveolens

Artemisia Alba

Artemisia AlbaArtemisia 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  

Entry link: Artemisia Alba

Artemisia Annua

Artemisia AnnuaArtemisia 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 

Entry link: Artemisia Annua

Attar

Sandalwood oil distilled over flowers or distillation of flowers into a receiver containing sandalwood oil

Entry link: Attar

B

Balsam

A Balsam is a natural raw material exuded from a tree or plant; the balsam may be either a physiological or a pathological product of the plant. (Stefan Arctander)
Entry link: Balsam

Balsamic

refers to sweet, warm, woody, rich notes such as tolu balsam and benzoin

Entry link: Balsamic

Base Notes

notes within a perfume composition which are more tenacious and long-lasting; the last notes detected in the dry down of a perfume composition

Entry link: Base Notes

Bee goo

It is the term used to designate the rests of bad wax, cells, polen, propolis, pieces of bees that remain from taking the wax of a bee hive, macerated in alcohol. Macerations from 8 months old on are considered to be good fixative.
Entry link: Bee goo

Bergamot

Bergamot cold-pressed citrus bergamia

Entry link: Bergamot

Bitter orange

Bitter orange cold-pressed citrus aurantium 

Entry link: Bitter orange

Body

a well-rounded composition

Entry link: Body

Boronia

BoroniaBoronia 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.

Entry link: Boronia

Bottom Notes

notes within a perfume composition which are more tenacious and long-lasting; the last notes detected in the dry down of a perfume composition

Entry link: Bottom Notes

Bouquet

refers to a blend of flower essences; used more often in pre-modern perfumery to describe rich floral compositions

Entry link: Bouquet

C

Calamus

Calamus acorus calamus

Entry link: Calamus

Camphoraceous

Camphor-like essences such as eucalyptus and tea tree; medicinal note found in lavender and rosemary

Entry link: Camphoraceous

Carnation

CarnationCarnation 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.

Steffan Arctander says of carnation absolute on P128 of Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin:

"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)."

Entry link: Carnation

Carrier Oil

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

Entry link: Carrier Oil

Cassia

Cassia cinnamomum cassia

Entry link: 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.

I have a Champaca C02 which has more of the spice caramel and less of the lily type floral scent. I would favor the absolute to the C02 extract.

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.

Entry link: Champaca or Champa Absolute

Chord

(see Accord) refers to a combination of three or more aromatics to create a single ‘essence’, or an accord

Entry link: Chord

Chypre

a dominating blend of bergamot and oak moss rounded off with rich woody essences like patchouli and ambriene

Entry link: Chypre

Citrus Notes

The notes obtained through the use of citrus; orange, lemon, lime, bergamot, grapefruit, yuzu, lemongrass

Entry link: Citrus Notes

Classic

a scent which follows a perfumery template utilizing a higher percentage of floral notes to create an essence with timeless appeal

Entry link: Classic

Clove

Clove syzygium aromaticum

Entry link: Clove

Cloying

sweet, heavy, almost suffocating and clingy

Entry link: Cloying

CO2 Extraction

carbon dioxide extractions, supercritical carbon dioxide extracts; solvent extraction utilizing CO2 at low temperature and high pressure to create a fragrant product

Entry link: CO2 Extraction

Cologne

an essence composition utilizing primarily citrus oils and a high percentage of water; 3 – 5% perfume composition to alcohol and distilled water

Entry link: Cologne

Concrete

solvent extracted waxy substance obtained from botanical materials

Entry link: Concrete

Creamy

Creamy Jasmine BlossomsCreamyThe term "creamy" usually means a rich note that is silky, sensuous and sweet which may derive from soft vanilla, sandalwood, or coconut and sometimes from exotic, lush florals that naturally have nectarous qualities, such as jasmine or frangipani.

Entry link: Creamy

Cumin

Cumin cuminum cyminum

Entry link: Cumin

D

Destructive Distillation

distillation of materials, seashells, woods or resins, which are intentionally burned, resulting in a material with a smoky, leathery bouquet

Entry link: Destructive Distillation

Distillate

results of distillation

Entry link: Distillate

Distillation

DistilationSeparation of the oil compounds within a botanical material through the use of heated water (see steam distillation, hydro distillation and destructive distillation)

Entry link: Distillation

Dry Down

the final stage of a perfume’s life on the skin; base/bottom notes which have the most tenacity within a perfume composition

Entry link: Dry Down

E

Earthy Notes

refers to notes typified by mossy, moldy, dirty scents, such as patchouli, cepes (mushroom), tree mosses and vetyver

Entry link: Earthy Notes

Eau de Cologne

same as Cologne; an essence composition utilizing primarily citrus oils and a high percentage of water; 3 – 5% perfume composition to alcohol and distilled water

Entry link: Eau de Cologne

Eau de Parfum

8 – 15% perfume composition blend to alcohol; sometimes incorporates less than 5% distilled water or floral hydrosol; second highest concentration of scent to diluent in perfume making

Entry link: Eau de Parfum

Eau de Toilette

4 to 8% composition blend to alcohol; incorporates a small percentage of distilled water or floral hydrosol; most common concentration in modern perfume making

Entry link: Eau de Toilette

Enfleurage

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)

Entry link: Enfleurage

Essence

fragrant raw materials

Entry link: Essence

Essential Oil

Aromatic volatile material obtained from botanicals through the process of distillation or cold-pressing/expression

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. 

Expression: Is reserved for citrus fruits such as lime, bergamot and orange. These are called cold pressed essential oils. 


Entry link: Essential Oil

Expression

method of obtaining an aromatic material (essential oil) through the use of presses which squeeze out the volatile oils of plant materials, typically citrus peels

Entry link: Expression

Extrait

highest concentration of scent to diluent in perfume making; 15 to 30% composition blend to alcohol or diluent

Entry link: Extrait

F

Fixative

raw materials or other natural materials which are used in very small amounts (1 to 3%) to help sustain a perfume, holding it down onto the skin so the scent lasts longer; includes distilled water, floral hydrosols, resin and wood tinctures, styrax benzoin and vegetable glycerin

Entry link: Fixative

Flacon

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.
Entry link: Flacon

Flat Note

a note with no lift or body

Entry link: Flat Note

Floral

flower based composition

Entry link: Floral

Floriental

A word coined in modern perfumery to describe a scent that is classified as, or exhibits traits of being both floral and oriental in nature.
Entry link: Floriental

Fougere

(pronounced foo-zhayr) any ferny, mossy scent with lavender at its heart; usually includes patchouli, labdanum, vanilla, tonka and benzoin

Entry link: Fougere

Fresh

typified by light and airy notes found in green and citrus essences such as galbanum, violet leaf, lemon, lime, grapefruit, bergamot

Entry link: Fresh

Fruity

fruit essences, usually does not include citrus oils; some examples of fruity essences are davana, magnolia, black currant bud, Roman chamomile; some fruit essences can be obtained through the use of tinctures of fruit like fig, dried currant, and berries

Entry link: Fruity

G

Gardenia

There are many species of gardenia, but the most cultivated for its beauty and scent is Gardenia jasminoides calld also Cape jasmine.

Its intoxicating scent is found as absolute, but you can make oil extraction yourself if you have a plant.

Its aroma is a kind of lemony jasmine and very strong . Half a dozen florwers are enough to modify completely the small of one litre of vegetable oil or butter.

Entry link: Gardenia

Geranium

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.
Entry link: Geranium

Grapefruit

Grapefruit cold-pressed citrus paradisi 

Entry link: Grapefruit

Green

fresh scent of cut grass or fresh leaves; violet leaf absolute is a green note with a green cucumber-like scent; cardamom typifies a spicy/green note; coriander is a classic green note

Entry link: Green

Gums

sticky, resinous substances; plant sap exudates; balsams can also be called gums

Entry link: Gums

H

Harsh

pungent or chemical character within a perfume composition

Entry link: Harsh

Hay

an essence typified by a coumarin character; tonka, lavender absolute, liatris

Entry link: Hay

Head Note

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

Entry link: Head Note

Heady

intoxicating and stimulating

Entry link: Heady

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

Entry link: Heart Note

Heavy

intense and oftentimes cloying note

Entry link: Heavy

Herbal oil

A macerate or infusion of plant material in a plain vegetable oil. See macerate.
Entry link: Herbal oil

Herbal/Herbaceous

typified by green and somewhat camphoraceous scents in combination; lavender, rosemary, sages and mints are common herbal essences

Entry link: Herbal/Herbaceous

Honey

sweet, syrupy note

Entry link: Honey

I

Incense

notes incorporating sweet, powdery and resinous essences

Entry link: Incense

Indole

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.
Entry link: Indole

Infusion

whole botanical materials immersed in a hot medium, diluent or carrier; botanical material in warmed oil is considered an infusion

Entry link: Infusion

Insoluble

raw materials (essential oils, resins, absolutes, concretes, etc.) which do not dissolve in a diluent (alcohol, solvent, oil, water, etc.)

Entry link: Insoluble

J

Jasmine

JasmineThere 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 concrete is produced by solvent extraction of the fresh flowers.

Concrete of Jasmine sambac is a deep orange translucent mass of a jam like consistency. The sambac smells heady and intoxicating. Deep exotic floral with indolic, animalic undertones.

Concrete of grandiflorum is dark orange mass of jam like consistency. Grandiflorum is heady, intoxicating and fruity an exotic floral with peachy fruity notes.

Jasmine absolute is extracted from the concrete using alcohol.

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.


Entry link: Jasmine

K

Kadamba

kadamba

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

Tags:
Entry link: Kadamba

L

Labdanum

LabdanumLabdanum 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.”
Entry link: Labdanum

Lavender

LavenderThere are many different types of lavender plants and of those plants there are many types of lavender essential oil and absolute used in natural perfumery.

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.
Both absolutes, the Spanish Lavender Seville (Lavandula luisieri) and the Bulgarian Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) share similar nuances to each another but seem nothing like any one of the essential oils. The absolutes are more woody spicy, with the Bulgarian Lavender having an interesting almond note on the dry out.
The French Lavender essential oil develops cool herbal notes which were clean and crisp and the Indian Kashmir Lavender develops a clean but sweet note on the dry out.
Arctander says about Lavender essential oil "lavender essential oil blends well with Bergamot, and other citrus oils, clove oils (for "Rondeletia" type perfumes), fluve, liatris, oakmoss, patchouli, rosemary, clary sage, pine needle oils, etc. "
He also says in relation to Lavender oil "Labdanum products are excellent fixatives..."
Arctander says of Lavender absolute: "Lavender absolute...of very rich, sweet- herbaceous, somewhat floral odor; in dilution it bears a close resmblance to the odor of the flowering lavender shrubs. It's woody-herby undertone and courmarin-like sweetness duplicate the odor of the botanical material far better than the essential oil. The absolute is sweeter but less floral the the essential oil, and the two materials can form a very pleasant combination".

Entry link: Lavender

Leather

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.)
Entry link: Leather

Lemon cold-pressed

citrus limonum 

Entry link: Lemon cold-pressed

Lime cold-pressed

citrus aurantifolia 

Entry link: Lime cold-pressed

Locking

A phenomenon where two or more ingredients interact to create an overwhelmingly strong scent that overtakes a blend.
Entry link: Locking

M

Macerate

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.
Entry link: Macerate

Massoia bark

Massoia bark cryptocaryo massoio – prohibited (should not be used in fragrance)

Entry link: Massoia bark

Middle Note

(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

Entry link: Middle Note

Mossy

typified by oak moss, tree mosses and forest floor essences

Entry link: Mossy

N

Narcotic

intense and intoxicating essences such as rose, jasmine, hyacinth and other rich florals

Entry link: Narcotic

Note/Notes

refers to the melody within the composition, the song of the perfume, the theme, or to a particular part of a perfume or aromatic used within the composition ('galbanum is a note in this perfume'), or it refers to how the composition is perceived, i.e. ‘floral notes’, ‘woody notes’, ‘green notes’

Entry link: Note/Notes

O

Odor Description

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"

Entry link: Odor Description

Olfactory

relating to the sense of smell

Entry link: Olfactory

Opoponax

OpoponaxOpoponax 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.

Opoponax Resinoid is used in perfumery as a fixative. It is used most often in oriental style perfumes or perfumes with mossy forest base 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.

Entry link: Opoponax

Organ

system of storing bottles of perfume making materials typified by stepped shelving

Entry link: Organ

Oriental

typified by amber notes and spice

Entry link: Oriental

Orris

Orris RootThe 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.

The smell of aged orris is warm, sweet and violet like due to the high percentage of alpha-irones it contains.

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.

Entry link: Orris

Otto

results of steam-distilled rose petals, particularly Bulgarian and Turkish rose
Entry link: Otto

P

Palette

collection of raw materials used by the perfumer to create perfume

Entry link: Palette

Parfum/Perfume

(see Extrait) highest concentration of scent to diluent in perfume making; 15 to 30% composition blend to alcohol or diluent

Entry link: Parfum/Perfume

Perfumer

an artist who creates perfume

Entry link: Perfumer

Persistence

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".
Entry link: Persistence

Phototoxicity

legsPhototoxicity 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.
Entry link: Phototoxicity

Phytotherapy

"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.

Entry link: Phytotherapy

Pommade

Fatty substance obtained through enfleurage; the pomade is then used for solid perfume making, or it is further processed by soaking the pomade in high proof alcohol for several weeks to obtain a fragrant tincture which is filtered and used to make alcohol based perfume. 

Entry link: Pommade

Powdery

a note obtained through the blending of sweet, woody notes with fruity, green or citrus notes; typified by the use of vanilla, patchouli, benzoin, labdanum, cananga/ylang-ylang, rose, sandalwood and/or bergamot

Entry link: Powdery

R

Raw Material

botanical or animal based material used in perfumery; essential oils, absolutes, tinctures, infusions, concretes, pomades, CO2 extractions, etc. are all examples of a raw material

Entry link: Raw Material

Resinoids

(see Balsam and Gums)sweet, warm, woody, resinous materials; exudates of trees.

Entry link: Resinoids

Rose

roseRose oils are extracted from the Rosa Damascena (Bulgarian) and Rosa Centifolia (Moroccan) also known as 'rose de mai'.

Rose otto is the essential oil steam distilled from fresh roses.

Rose concrete a solvent extraction of fresh roses.

Rose absolute is extracted from the rose concrete using alcohol.

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.

Rose Concrete from Rosa Centifolia a deep orange colored mass of a jam-like consistency, can be greenish yellow. The smell is sweet floral, rich woody tea like.

According to Shiseido there are 6 scent classification of a rose scent:

  • Damask Classic
    The typical scent of the rose, comprised of strong and sweet Rosa centifolia that becomes an essence base, and the exuberant scent of Rosa gallica.
  • Damask Modern
    Basically the same as Damask Classic, but since its composition is different, it gives off a more passionate, sophisticated scent.
  • Scent of Tea
    The scent of hybrid tea roses that opened the door to modern roses. Its scent is refined and graceful with the base note of green violet. Many modern roses have this type of scent.
  • Fruity Scent
    Has the characteristics of both Damask Classic and the Tea Rose, and gives off the aroma of peach, apricot and apple.
  • Blue Scent
    Roses of a unique blue scent have the characteristics of both Damask Modern and Tea.
  • Spicy Scent
    The strong scent of cloves are contained in the scent of Damask Classic.
Entry link: Rose

Rosewood

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.

Entry link: Rosewood

S

Saffron

SaffronSaffron 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.

Entry link: Saffron

Sillage

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.
Entry link: Sillage

Soluable

raw materials (essential oils, resins, absolutes, concretes, etc.) which dissolve in a diluent (alcohol, solvent, oil, water, etc.)

Entry link: Soluable

Solvents

fluid materials used to dissolve and extract volatile elements of botanicals (water, alcohol, hexane, oil, etc.)

Entry link: Solvents

Spicy

Notes which are typically hot in character, such as clove, pepper and cinnamon.

Entry link: Spicy

Styrax gum resin aka benzoin

Styrax gum resin aka benzoin  

Entry link: Styrax gum resin aka benzoin

Sweet

characterized by taste utilizing essences such as vanilla, honey and warm balsamic notes

Entry link: Sweet

T

Tagettes/Tagetes

tagetes patula, T. minuta, T. erecta 

Entry link: Tagettes/Tagetes

Tea Absolutes

Tea absolutes Camellia sinensis , thea chinensis , thea sinensis 

Entry link: Tea Absolutes

Tenacity

strength of a scent or note characterized by the length of time it lasts on the skin

Entry link: Tenacity

Tincture

A tincture is an alcoholic extract of natural raw materials. Common tinctures include: Tincture of vanilla, Tincture of Ambrette seed, Tincture of Orris, Tincture of benzoin, and Tincture of Labdanum

Tags:
Entry link: Tincture

Treemosses

Treemosses usnea / pseudoevernia furfuracea See Oakmoss

Entry link: Treemosses

Tuberose

TuberoseTuberose 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".

(Authors note) When I smell tuberose I get a distinctly tuberous smell, reminds me of raw potatoes, it is only after this subsides that I get the floral heavy sweet scent which Arctander describes.

Entry link: Tuberose

U

Ultrasonic Extracts

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. 

Entry link: Ultrasonic Extracts

V

Verbena

Verbena ABSOLUTE lippia citriodora 

Entry link: Verbena

Vetiver

About Vetiver:

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.

Entry link: Vetiver

W

Wintergreen

Wintergreen (toxic)

Entry link: Wintergreen

Wormwood

Wormwood artemisia absinthium (sensitizer) – see conflicting information at www.thegoodscentscompany.com regarding artemisia absinthium l. Cuba, Artemisia absinthium l. oil Italy, Artemisia absinthium l. oil Poland

Entry link: Wormwood


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