Perfumes are made of many components, sometimes hundreds. Essential oils can be natural (from plants or animals) or synthetic. These oils are very strong and must be combined with alcohol or water for use in a perfume. The concentration or dilution level of essential oils is an important characteristic of a perfume. A true perfume is the costliest form of fragrance with 22 per cent essential oils. Eau de parfum has between 15 and 22 per cent essential oils. Eau de toilette is made with 8 to 15 per cent oils. And Eau de Cologne uses 4 per cent essential oils.
Perfumes are designed to unfold their scent over time. What you smell initially is called the top note, it lasts 10 to 30 minutes. The middle note follows as the top note evaporates; it lasts 10 to 45 minutes. The base notes are heavier, and some last 24 hours.
Perfume through the ages
Perfume has been used since ancient times. It has also played an important role in the religious ceremonies of many cultures. Scholars believe that the use of perfume began in ancient Egypt. The Persians used scent as a sign of rank. The Romans began to use perfume around 750BC to celebrate the deity Flora. Attractive scents go hand in hand with attractive containers.
Perfumes in the form of burning incense are used in religious ceremonies.
The use of perfume spreads to Greece, Rome, Persia and the Islamic world. Arabian physician Avicenna is the first to extract attar, an oil from flowers.
Diluted with water, this became the first modern perfume, rose water the first alcohol-based perfume is made for Elizabeth of Hungary in 1370.
“Eau de Cologne” is invented by the Farina brothers in Cologne, Germany. The scent is used in everything from ointments to mouthwash.
Perfume becomes very popular in the 17th century. Louis XV’s court was nicknamed “the perfumed court” because scent was used on everything.
Rose Petal Perfume
This perfume recipe is gentle and nontoxic, but adult supervision is recommended.
What you need:
• Clean bottle for finished perfume
• Essential rose oil (optional)
• Red food colouring
• Measuring cup and strainer
• Cooking pot with lid
• 2 cups of fresh rose petals
• Glass bowl and spoon
Step one: On a stove top, bring 2 cups of water to boil. Turn off heat.
Step two: Add rose petals and let steep until water is cool.
Step three: Add a drop of red food colouring. If you wish, add a drop of essential rose oil to the mix. Stir.
Step four: Strain the cool water into a glass bowl. Squeeze as much liquid out of petals as you can.
Step five: Pour the mixture into a clean bottle and label your perfume with a name of your choosing. Stored in a cool, dark place, the perfume should keep for about two weeks.