The sense of smell is powerful. It calls up memories and can transport us to other places and times. Fragrances can be exotic, comforting or soothing. When we experience a fragrance, it is an appreciation of the finished product, but what casual consumers of fragrance do not understand is all the work, science and skill that goes into blending components into harmonious fragrances.
Combining raw materials into a signature fragrance requires both science and creativity. Fragrances are classified into basic olfactive categories like fruity, floral, musk, woody, citrus, spice and marine. If perfumery is creating a tropical fruity fragrance, fragrance notes from other categories are utilized to create a finished fragrance. So even if the finished fragrance smells just like a juicy, ripe pink grapefruit, there could be dozens of ingredients that all work together to create that heavenly aroma. Each material that comprises a formula has a purpose. If that material is reduced or increased, it changes the entire dynamic of the fragrance formula.
Fragrance notes pull together a whole range of ingredients and fragrance components to create a finished product that is greater than the sum of its parts.
There are fragrance components that pose challenges for fragrance makers; Pyrazines and thiomenthones. Pyrazines are a category of components used in gourmand fragrances for a ‘baked’ impression. For example, acetyl pyrazine lends a creamy chocolate note, while 2-3-5 trimethyl pyrazine provides a roasted, nutty aroma.
Thiomenthones are sulfurous materials used for “fruity tropical fragrance notes that are favored by many consumers”. They are powerful fragrance ingredients used in small quantities to achieve tropical mango, peach, blackcurrant and slight grapefruit notes.
But both cause stability issues in finished products, a challenge that must be resolved. Most perfumeries work hard to resolve stability problems with these ingredients because without these it is difficult to achieve the baked gourmand or sparkling fruity tropical impression.
It’s easy to find a delightful fragrance and get lost in the emotions it creates, but taking the time to learn about the hard work, science and creativity that goes into the design and production of that fragrance gives us a fuller understanding of just how complex and delightful the world of fragrance can be.