Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Scenting Naturally - Making Natural Perfumes - Part 1 - Families and Notes

Perfumery is an art form. In fact, perfume is equated to a musical composition and takes much of its terminology, such as “notes”, from music. Perfume is typically made by experimenting, but you can use tried and true formulas as well. Often times, a great perfume is created accidentally. So the main “rule” when making perfume is to take precise notes on your ingredients.


Just as you can use essential oils to scent your soap and bath products, you can also use essential oils to create all natural perfumes. First you need an understanding of some of the basic elements of perfume. A good book will give you a much more comprehensive guide to making your own fragrances, so think of this article as a crash course.

Fragrance Families

A fragrance family is a group of aromas that are similar. While there are a number of fragrance families in the world of perfume, only the most common families are listed in this article. A good book on perfumery will delve into a more thorough look at fragrance categories and components. But here is a start:

Citrus – light and fresh scents of lemon, orange, bergamot, grapefruit, and more

Floral – smelling of flowers such as rose, lavender, jasmine and gardenia

Fruity – smelling of fruits, such as peaches, apples, mandarin, and melons

Green – fresh, outdoor scents of pine, juniper, rosemary, and more

Oriental – a heavy fragrance such as woods, resins, musk, and vanilla

Ozone – smelling of fresh air like ocean spray or crisp mountain air

Spicy – smells of spices, such as cloves, ginger and cinnamon

Woody – smells of wood like vetiver, cedar, and sandalwood

If you are designing a whole fragrance line, or just getting ideas for your soaps, it’s good to create a scent from each category to appeal to a variety of customers. If all you have are floral perfumes, you will not have enough scents to appeal to the masses.

Components of Perfume

Every perfume should consist of three scent "notes" which complement each other. It is important to create scents with ALL three notes for well rounded, long-lasting fragrance. Essential oils are classified as either top, middle, or base notes, and each one brings its own unique qualities. Many essential oils can actually be placed in more than one note.

Top note: This provides the first impression of the fragrance, and it also is the lightest and evaporates the quickest. Most essential oils fall in the top note category.

Middle note: This brings the base and top notes together and defines the fragrance family. They take a little longer to first detect, but can last hours.

Base note (also known as an anchor or fixative): This scent lasts the longest, adds depth to the fragrance and carries the other scents. This tends to be a heavy scent.

Please refer to the table of essential oils and their corresponding notes provided in this article. Not all essential oils are listed. This list includes the most commonly found essential oils with most soap supply companies.

Top notes
Basil *
Bergamot *
Cajuput
Cinnamon
Clary Sage *
Coriander *
Eucalyptus
Grapefruit
Lemon
Lemongrass *
Lime
Mandarin /Tangerine
Neroli *
Verbena
Orange
Peppermint
Petitgrain
Sage
Spearmint
Tangerine
Tea Tree *
Thyme *

Middle notes
Bay
Black Pepper
Cardamom
Chamomile
Cypress
Fennel *
Geranium
Juniper
Lavender *
Marjoram
Myrtle
Nutmeg
Palmarosa
Pine
Rosemary

Base notes
Balsam Peru
Cassia *
Cedarwood
Cinnamon *
Clove
Frankincense
Ginger *
Jasmine
Myrrh
Oakmoss
Patchouli
Rose*
Rosewood *
Sandalwood
Vanilla
Vetiver
Ylang Ylang *

*Indicates the EO can be placed in more than one category.

Bath Alchemy by The Bonnie Bath Co.

3 comments:

  1. I really love the smell of natural scents, very fresh and for me it is alluring.

    pheromone advantage

    ReplyDelete
  2. This post is really informative. It can be a good help for those who are interested in making perfume at home. However, it is not enough to know about the notes and families of each fragrance. What really matters in this kind of industry is that you know how to blend each scent to create a perfect perfume that would suit the style of scent of the end-user.

    Rob Feckler

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great article. Do you have any book recommendations for further study of natural perfumes?

    ReplyDelete

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