The word perfume can be split into two parts. The first part, “per” is Latin and means through. The second part, “fume” is also Latin and means smoke. It permeates throughout the air and after it is sprayed or applied, it becomes a part of the atmosphere as does smoke. The use of perfume began during religious ceremonies in the ancient times but soon was used to improve people’s overall smell. The Egyptians used the earliest known extraction method called expression. In this technique, plants are squeezed and compressed until the oils come out of them. Although the Egyptians used this as a primary extraction method, it is only used today for extracting essential oils from the rimes of citrus fruits. King Louis XIV of France bathed in perfume since bathing in water wasn’t very healthy during those times. It was thought that bad smells were the reason people got diseases like the 14th century Black Plague. When doctors treated patients with the plague, they wore masks and lots of perfume to protect themselves from the disease.
The release of fragrances in perfumes is completed in three steps. The first step is usually the very first thing we think of when we smell a fragrance. This is called the top note. The top note will evaporate on the skin within 5 to 30 minutes. The scent of the top note is very fresh and light and smells the most natural. Lemon, orange, and herbs are a few top note scents. The next step is called the heart note. The heart note will form the blended perfume itself and can be smelled for three to four hours. The fragrances from the heart note are usually the more warm scents and take up to thirty minutes to settle in the skin. Some common heart notes are rose and lavender. The final step is the base note, which will form the basis for the perfume and can last up to 24 hours. The base notes last the longest and usually have an intense smell. They are also the heaviest which helps the top and heart notes last a little longer. Examples of base notes are Vanilla and Myrrh. When making perfume, the volatility can vary. Volatility is how a substance evaporates. In the case of a perfume with lavender and vanilla scents, the lavender would be a part of the top note or the heart note and the vanilla would be the base note. This would mean that lavender has a higher volatility than the vanilla since the vanilla is a heavier scent. The lavender would evaporate first and then the vanilla.
The two main methods I will use in this experiment are maceration and enfleurage. Maceration is when the fragrance is extracted through soaking the material in a solvent. Maceration process can take from a few days to a few months. The solvent is usually water or oil. It is also the most commonly used and most economically costly for extraction in the perfume industry. This process became popular in the early 1800s for getting essential oils for curing diseases and healing wounds. In the late 1880s it became less popular in the home and faded away.
Enfleurage, on the other hand, is a more costly process, with two parts. In the first part, the scent of the flowers are absorbed by some type of fat or oil. The second part involves extraction with the use of alcohol. The enfleurage process usually “revives” the scent of flowers that have lost their scent by allowing them to soak in a fat that intensely absorbs the fragrance still inside. This method of extraction can be hot or cold. In cold enfleurage, a chassis, or large plate of glass is covered in a fat (usually lard) and left to set. The flowers are then placed on the fat and allowed to sit for 1-3 days which allows the scent to diffuse into the fat. The process is repeated until the desired level of fragrance is achieved. For this experiment I will be performing a simpler form of cold enfleurage with vegetable shortening or margarine. Contrarily, in the hot enfleurage process, the solid fat is heated and into the fat the flowers are stirred. Then…