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Perfumes and Essential Oils


David S. Seigler
Department of Plant Biology
University of Illinois
Urbana, Illinois 61801 USA


Perfumes and Essential Oils:  Outline



Types of perfumery ingredients
+ Odorants
+ Concretes
+ Absolutes
+ Tinctures
+ Distilled oils
+ Expressed Oils
+ Fixatives
+ Extenders


o Methods of isolation
+ Enfleurage:
Pomade, soap
Important oils prepared by
enfleurage: Rose, jasmine,
+ Steam Distillation
+ Fractional Distillation:
Important oils prepared by
distillation: Ylang-ylang,
patchouly, oil neroli,
lavender, lemon grass oil,
citronella oil


Availability of product     . lime + Extraction Important oils by extraction • Question: Why is one method preferred over another? • 1. + Expression Important oils by expression: lemon. Quality of product • 3. Cost • 2.

• Commercial essential oils: Uses Properties Sources     .

Reading • CHAPTER 8 IN THE TEXT     .

The Japanese and Chinese both developed perfumes and incenses as well. • The Hebrews learned from them.     . The Egyptians had become skilled perfumers over 5000 years ago. Recipes for perfumes and incenses are found in the Torah or Jewish law. The origin of perfumes • It is difficult to know when people first started to use perfumes. • Perfumes also showed up very early in the Orient.

 Dorothea Bedigian     . A perfume market in  Sudan Courtesy Dr.

but also perfumes.     . • The French developed the art of perfumery even more. • The Arabs maintained these skills and improved them. After the fall of the Roman Empire.• Perfumery reached its pinnacle during the Roman Empire. the crusaders not only discovered spices. • At the time of the Crusades. perfumery in Europe just about disappeared. They perfumed everything.

• In the last few years.     . but a science. Many of the recipes for the best perfumes are guarded trade secrets. all major perfumers have a staff of organic chemists and perfume compounding is no longer an art.• There is a lot of folklore associated with perfumery.

    . • Other materials known as fixatives retard and modify the evaporation of volatile essential oils. The material could be used directly (as frankincense and myrrh) or extracted in some way. The challenge was (and is) how to remove the essential oils from the plant material without changing the composition. How perfumes are made • All perfumes originally came from plants (or animals).

• There are five types: – concretes – absolutes – distilled and fractionally distilled oils – expressed oils – tinctures.• Odorants give the perfumes characteristic odor.     .

asp    http://www.

    . Among these are cost. • Concretes are the purest of the natural odorants. Concretes • Many factors determine which method is used. quality of essence. and use of the product. • The solvent is then removed under vacuum by mild heating. They are obtained by using a hydrocarbon solvent to dissolve the essential oils out of the plant.

    . Absolutes • Absolutes are extracted from the non- volatile materials with alcohol. • The alcohol is removed under vacuum • The alcohol is recovered and used in colognes and lotions.

• The residual lard is pomade. the lard is used to make soaps etc.     . Enfleurage • Enfleurage is a special method for making concretes and absolutes. • The essential oils are then removed from the lard with alcohol. • After several days. The petals are pressed onto a coating of pure lard and changed often. • After extraction. the lard has dissolved the released essential oils.

Tray of lard with jasmine flowers used for enfleurage     .

Pomade from enfleurage     .

    . • This process today is seldom carried out in France.• It is possible to make exceedingly fine fragrances in this way. • Grasse in Provence used to be the center for this industry. but it is also very expensive. but more commonly in the Balkans and the Near East where labor is much cheaper.

Grasse. Provence. France     .

alba and R. One g from about 2000 g of flowers.• Rose oil or attar of roses (also otto).     .000 per kilogram. The best quality oils (absolutes) sell for as much as $10. centifolia) in the late bud stage. Done from April to July. • From Rosa damascena (or R. These are small shrubs with not too showy flowers.

    . • In fact. some are quite important at less than 0. • Rose oils are usually extended before marketing.1% of the citronellol content.• The oil is about 40-65% citronellol but many minor components that are essential for good rose quality.

  Rosaceae     . Rosa damascena.

Rose petals     National Geographic .

    . • 5000 flowers makes about 1 lb of flowers. • More than 300 lbs. • Today this oil is mostly obtained by solvent extraction because of price. of oil. Oleaceae) is also grown in southern France. Oleaceae) • Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum. • The flowers are picked at daybreak for best odor. From July to October. of flowers are required to make 1 lb. Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum.

 Oleaceae     . Jasminum officionale.Jasmine.

January to April. Grown under shaded conditions. Violaceae) • Violet (Viola odorata. Violet (Viola odorata.     . of flowers gives 1 lb. Violaceae) is also from Grasse. of oil. 1000 lbs. • The flowers are picked at night or early morning. Toulouse and from the Taggia valley in Italy.

 Viola odorata. Violaceae Courtesy Dr. Anita Brinker .     Violet.

    . Codistillation with water • Steam distillation (or codistillation with water) is another gentle and widely used process. the oil can be removed. • The oils are insoluble and when the steam-oil mixture is condensed. The most volatile compounds come over first and some fractionation is observed. • Much less expensive than enfleurage.

Fractional distillation • Fractional distillation (without water) separates the components by boiling point (the explanation in the text is not quite accurate).     . • Both steam distillation and fractional distillation of essential oils are much cheaper than enfleurage. but different mixtures of compounds are obtained and heat causes some rearrangements and changes in structure of the essential oil components.

Oil ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata.     . Annonaceae) is widely used in perfumes and is relatively expensive.

 Cananga odorata  National Geographic     .Steam distilling ylang ylang.

Essential oil from Acacia dealbata     .

Used in heavy perfumes and soaps as a fixative.     . Lamiaceae or Labiatae) • Patchouly oil was brought from India to England by the British East India Company. • Isolated by distillation. Patchouly oil (Pogostemon cablin. The foliage is 2-3% oil. • This perfume became the mark of dissolute women. • Now produced in the Seychelles and Indonesia.

Portugal. May. • From Italy. Provence.     .• Oil neroli (from orange blossoms) (Citrus aurantium) is also isolated by distillation. Spain.

vera) (Lamiaceae or Labiatae) also important from Provence.     . Lavender (Lavendula officinalis or L.

• It is used in soaps.     . perfumes.• Lemon grass oil (Cymbopogon citratus. food products. Poaceae or Gramineae) is widely used as a substitute for expressed lemon oil. and in mosquito repellents.

Poaceae. Citronella oil (Cymbopogon nardus). used to be widely used as a mosquito repellent in the South. Bentley and Trimen. Medicinal Plants     .

and in some instances are better quality than steam distilled or fractionally distilled. however. • For most plants. Expressed oils • Expression is useful for things like lemon and lime peels.     . • The compounds are not changed by heat. the oils are contaminated with too many other undesirable compounds to make the method practical.

Citrus fruits. .     Carolina Biological Supply Co.

    . but they are sometimes contaminated with other undesirable products as well. They are cheap. Tinctures • Tinctures (or alcoholic extracts) are widely used.

For good quality perfume. many perfumes are purely synthetic. it's obviously more a concern. • Not only the isolation of the essential oil.     .• Today. this is probably not too critical. but the best quality perfumes still come from plants. • In laundry soap. • In some cases. the plants are so inexpensive. that synthetic products are not competitive. but also the compounding of the perfume is complex and critical.

Types of perfumery ingredients Odorants Concretes Absolutes Tinctures Fixatives Extenders     .

• The balance of essential oils. This stage is often highly empirical. • Most perfume companies have a "nose" to evaluate the products.     . and extenders is all involved. fixatives.

A “nose” National Geographic     .

Orris root. Iris florentina. Iridaceae     National Geographic .

Orris root National Geographic     .

 When used  in a blend it is important that their  fragrance is not wasted. or neroli  are very expensive.     . Extenders Some essential oils. jasmine.  Natural extenders are the oils used with the most  expensive oils to make the blends affordable while  at the same time respecting the notes of the  precious oils. such as rose.

    . They often differ with stage of development as well. phenylpropanoids. Commercial essential oils • The major components of essential oils are terpenes. and metabolized fatty acids. They are found in all different parts of plants and the essential oils from the different plant parts differ in composition.

An alembic or still     .

solvents (e.     . insecticides and insect repellents (as oil of citronella). toilet preparations.g. antiseptics. tobacco.• Essential oils are used in: soaps. flavoring food and beverages. and plasticizers in plastics.. turpentine). deodorants.

Camphor tree.    Lauraceae   . Cinnamomum camphora.

Eucalyptus. Myrtaceae     . Eucalyptus globulis.

 Lauraceae     . Sassafras albidum.Sassafras.

Juniper or cedar.  Cupressaceae     .  Juniperus virginiana.