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How is perfume made? What chemical components make up perfume?
Question Date: 2010-01-08
Answer 1:

This is a very broad question but perfume is typically made of three types of components also known as notes:

1) base notes (the smell stays the longest on your skin),
2) middle notes (smell stays second longest)
3) top notes (smell of oil evaporates first).

The relative evaporation rate of the ingredient typically determines the note to which it belongs. The two main sources of fragrant materials come from chemicals which are isolated from plants and/or animals. Synthetically made fragrants are also sometimes used. For more specifics on the sources you can see Wikis post at

perfu me

Answer 2:

Perfume is made by mixing a solution of something that smells good, like vanilla for example, with something that evaporates quickly, like alcohol.The solution that smells good can be naturally derived, meaning actual flowers or plants were soaked in a liquid that would dissolve the chemicals in the plant (this is like an essential oil) and then that mixture of molecules would be separated so that only the target smell chemicals were purified. This is then mixed with the alcohol so that when the perfume is applied the liquid evaporates quickly, but the smelly molecules remain behind on your skin.

When the exact chemical structure of the smelly molecules is known, it is more efficient to synthetically manufacture that molecule in a lab on a larger scale and less expensively than getting it directly from the plants. In addition different groups can be added to the molecule to see if they change and improve the smell. Fragrances are often a mixture of smelly molecules to give a complex pattern. Molecules that smell, often have aromatic (that's where the name comes from!) ring structures such as vanilla, shown below:


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