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Natural ingredients have always proved a major source of inspiration. They give life, diversity and depth to fragrances, whether formulated for use in fine fragrances or an everyday detergent. The reason lies in the fact that every natural ingredient could be described as a mini-fragrance in its own right, with a variety of individual chemicals in its makeup. These chemicals give natural ingredients sparkle, freshness, warmth and depth and so, by definition, provide top, middle and base notes in just one ingredient.
It was through research into these natural ingredients, carried out around 150 years ago, that perfumers found their original supply of aroma chemicals. These chemicals were obtained by a process of removal from plant material and later by synthetic production of the same molecules at a much reduced cost. Synthetic production further inspired the development of unique, high-performance or simply low-cost aroma chemicals. A significant body of research on the topic has been built up by highly regarded scientists over recent years, which has greatly deepened our knowledge and use of these natural materials.
Using Naturals in Fragrance Creation
Taking geranium oil as an example, one can start to understand how these natural materials can be used in perfumery formulations. When simply looking at some of the components in geranium oil, one will recognize many as aroma chemicals that are used every day—a-pinene, myrcene, dimethyl sulfide, limonene, menthone, linalool, citronellol and geraniol (the main components and their esters). All are found in the oil with other components at varying percentages depending on factors such as seasonal variation, geography, age and plant variety.
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