What are fragrance oils made of?
Fragrance oils are a mixture composed of essential oils, synthetic aroma chemicals, and aromatic resins. In order to achieve the scent that a perfumist is trying to achieve, the perfumist has more than 3000 different fragrance ingredients that he may use (natural and synthetic). These ingredients come in the form of liquid, powder, or crystalline. In order for a perfumist to be able to dissolve the powder and/or crystalline ingredients into liquid oil, he must use solvents. A common solvent that has been used for over 50 years is DEP (Di Ethyl Phthalate). While this solvent has been declared as safe by even the most intense worldwide standards, many companies, such as Natures Garden, decided years ago to only add fragrance oils to our line that were phthalate-free (at the request of many customers). Additionally, 99% of our old fragrance oils were reformulated phthalate-free years ago; our perfumist used alternative solvents that were phthalate-free.
Although solvents are a necessary component in fragrance oil production, some companies may sell fragrance oils that contain diluents: cutting agents that ultimately reduce the strength of a fragrance oil. A common diluent is DPG (Di Propylene Glycol). Important note to anyone who is using fragrance oils for candle making or soap making: Never use fragrance oils that contain DPG for these applications. DPG prevents a candle from burning correctly, and is one of the main reasons that Cold Process Soap seizes. Natures Garden sells concentrated fragrance oils, and we never dilute our fragrance oils. Although diluents should not be used for candle making or soap making, they are a necessary ingredient to use when making incense/potpourri (cones, sticks, and liquid). Another example of the need to use diluents is when making candles with essential oils. Some essential oils may need to be thinned out with a diluent so that they can properly travel up the wick and burn correctly. Typical diluents added to essential oils for this purpose are: iso Propyl Myristate, or di-Octyl Adipate. Neither of these diluents are natural, but are effective for this purpose. According to our perfumist, in order to create natural candles, fractionated coconut oil may be used as a diluent for essential oils; however, we have not personally tested this. As stated above: Never add DPG to essential oils for candle making or soap making. All of the essential oils sold at Natures Garden are 100% pure and unadulterated. Therefore, it is up to you to add diluents to them when making candles.
So, how does a perfumist create a fragrance oil? We know that fragrance oils are a mix of essential oils, synthetic aromatic chemicals, and resins. We know that a perfumist must use the proper solvents to dissolve powder and crystalline ingredients into the fragrance oil. A perfumist can either duplicate an aroma by use of gas chromatographic (GC)-mass spectrometric (GC-MS) (which shows him the ingredients contained in a fragrance), or he can create a unique fragrance oil by combining the right combinations of top, middle, and base notes.
Top notes are the fragrance aromas that you smell when you first open the bottle. This is because they tend to evaporate the quickest of other notes used in fragrance manufacturing. Perfumists typically use between 15-25% of top notes in fragrance production. Common examples of top notes are: Lemon, Orange, Mandarin, Grapefruit, Basil, Bergamot, Cardamom, Clary Sage, Coriander, Eucalyptus, Juniper, Neroli, Peppermint, Pine, Tea Tree, Thyme, and Lavender.
Middle notes provide the body of the fragrance, and are smelled after the top notes have faded. Perfumists typically use 30-40% middle notes when creating a fragrance oil. Examples of middle notes are: Chamomile, Cedar, Cinnamon, Clove, Frankincense, Geranium, Rose, Ylang Ylang, Palma Rosa, Jasmine, and Marjoram.
Base notes are the notes that tend to linger in the air, and are smelled last. Base notes, such as musk, are the ingredients that give a fragrance “staying power”. Without the use of base notes, fragrance notes will evaporate very quickly and not provide ample scent throw. A perfumist typically uses 40-55% base notes in the formulation of a fragrance. Base notes, such as musk, are one of the most expensive components in fragrance production. Without the proper use of these ingredients, fragrance will not last very long. Examples of base notes are: Musk, Benzoin, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Vanilla, and Vetiver. The main perfume house that Natures Garden works with also owns multiple musk-manufacturing companies. The partnership that we have with this perfumist allows us to keep our prices lower than most of our competition. In fact, the majority of fragrance manufacturers rely on our perfumist to supply them with the musk components they need to manufacturer their scents.
It is important to understand that even though a perfumist has high-tech machinery at his disposal to analyze the components of a “smell”, perfumery is an art, reserved for individuals with the talent of blending fragrance notes to create beautiful fragrance accords. Perfumery is a science and a real art. Fragrance oils are protected under the “trade secret” clause of the FDA, therefore, perfumists never disclose a full ingredient list of the “art” that they created. When selling a product in the US that is governed by the FDA, one must simply state the word “fragrance” on the label. Ingredients of your product must be listed in descending order according to weight; which usually (but not always) means that fragrance is listed as one of the last ingredients on your label.
The alternative to fragrance oils is essential oils. Although essential oils are natural and may provide therapeutic benefits, there are several drawbacks to using essential oils that should be mentioned: 1. The cost of essential oils are typically much higher than fragrance oils, 2. Essential oil prices can fluctuate based on weather, crops, and the trade relationships between countries, 3. Essential oils are not as sustainable as fragrance oils, 4. Essential oils do not provide the variety of scents that fragrance oils provide. You will never get a vanilla essential oil, a blueberry muffin essential oil, or a strawberry essential oil; only fragrance oils can provide these scents, 5. Essential oils can cause just as many allergic reactions as fragrance oils (perhaps even more). In fact, if the EU is successful at preventing known allergens from being contained in perfumes, many of the most well-known perfumes will need to be reformulated without essential oils. The majority of the 26 known allergens on the EU list are from natural sources; 16 are essential oil constituents and two are absolutes. While the debate continues on whether you should use fragrance oils or essential oils in your finished products, Natures Garden carries both fragrance oils and essential oils (for those who want all-natural scents). Regardless of whether you choose fragrance oil or essential oil, scent sells products. Not only do scents allow people to smell nice, scents also have the ability to create memories. What happy memories do you have with certain scents? I’m certain you have many.
Thank you for relying on Natures Garden for your fragrance oils and essential oils! Natures Garden has more than 16 years of experience in the fragrance industry, and we are the largest distributor of fragrance oils in the US. Our fragrance oils and essential oils are truly priced at wholesale prices; allowing our customers to make quality products, and earn a higher profit margin themselves.