Perfume manufacturing techniques: how is perfume made?

The perfume manufacturing techniques, or how perfume is made

Spraying your perfume has become a natural gesture in your daily routine. But what happens between the harvest of the raw materials and the moment we fill fill your bottle in our workshop? The diversity and complexity of natural raw materials force the perfume industry to stretch the limits of its know-how in order to use the infinite olfactory richness that surrounds us. Let us explain you the main perfume manufacturing techniques to understand how perfume is made…

Enfleurage, an ancient perfume manufacturing technique

The history of enfleurage is as rich as the essences it produces. From ancient civilisations to the royal court, this perfume making technique has spanned the ages, bringing its unique fragrance to olfactory creations. Enfleurage, which has been used since ancient times, is based on the exceptional ability of fats to absorb smells naturally. Two methods coexist, each adapted to the nature of the plants: hot enfleurage and cold enfleurage.

Hot enfleurage method

Robust flowers, such as roses and narcissus, reveal their essence through hot enfleurage. Plunged into heated fats or oils, these flowers macerate until their essence permeates the fat, creating an ointment. This pomade, once combined with alcohol and meticulously filtered, gives rise to the absolute: an extremely powerful concentration of fragrance.

Cold enfleurage technique

Almost forgotten today, cold enfleurage was reserved for fragile flowers such as jasmine or tuberose. The delicate petals were placed on a thin layer of cold fat, allowing the floral essence to be absorbed more subtly. A fragrance creation process of rare delicacy.

Today, hot and cold enfleurage persists, combining tradition with modernity. Perfume houses and independent craftsmen still use these perfume manufacturing techniques, celebrating the meeting of ancestral knowledge and contemporary technology.

Distillation or hydrodistillation

At the heart of the art of perfumery lies a technique that has elegantly survived the centuries: distillation, or hydrodistillation. This method, one of the oldest in the industry, remains an essential pillar of traditional olfactory creation.

A ballet of fragrant steam

Distillation involves a delicate dance between water and the raw materials to be distilled, be they delicate petals, aroma-rich seeds or mysterious roots. The process begins with the careful placement of the raw material on a perforated tray inside a still. Boiling water fills the still, and the steam that rises is impregnated with the precious fragrant principles of the raw material.

The essence that rises when perfume is made

This steam, loaded with fragrant essences, passes through a condenser before settling in a separator. Here, the magic happens: the water separates from the fragrant elements through decantation, creating an essential oil rich in olfactory nuances. This oil, the result of the captured essence, becomes the soul of the perfume to come.

A story written in steam

A story that goes back to ancient times, when alembics were precious treasures in alchemists’ laboratories. Explore the technical developments over the centuries, from rudimentary installations to modern stills, while keeping the very essence of this method intact.

An infinite palette

Distillation offers an infinite range of possibilities. From romantic roses to exotic spices, each raw material reveals its secrets in a unique way during this meticulous process. It is a symphony in which each olfactory note finds its place, contributing to the harmonious composition of a perfume.

Perfume manufacturing technique: extraction

Extraction, a process that emerged in the 18th century and evolved over time, remains common practice today. A meticulous operation, it is a fascinating method in which the materiality of plants is transformed into a symphony of scents. Let’s delve into this extraction process, a modern alchemy using volatile solvents to extract the fragrant molecules from raw plant materials.

The extractor

Imagine a steel vat, an extractor, similar to a magical washing machine where the plants plunge into a sensory adventure. The magic begins here, where the plants are successively washed in organic solvents such as ethanol or hexane. These solvents, like modern alchemists, charge their fragrant molecules.

Boiling scents

The perfumed solvent, impregnated with the captured aromas, is brought to the boil. This is the culmination of modern alchemy. Evaporation reveals a paste called “concrete” for flowers or “resinoid” for dry materials such as roots and mosses.

Purification, glazing and metamorphosis

As in a purification ritual, the concrete is subjected to several washes with alcohol, each rinse revealing a new olfactory depth. Subsequent glazes add a final touch, allowing the concrete to reach a new state of purity: the absolute, a perfect concentration of the essences captured.

Expression for citrus fruits

At the heart of perfumery, expression is revealed as one of the most artisanal perfume manufacturing techniques, native to Sicily and reserved exclusively for citrus fruits, dazzling members of the Hesperidae olfactory family. The technique involves extracting the essential oils from the zest.

Cold-pressed, bursting with freshness

Cold expression, or cold pressing, is the key to this fragrance making method. Once the citrus fruit has been harvested, the peel is gently separated from the juicy flesh. This perfume manufacturing technique involves gently piercing the peel before mechanically pressing it. The result is a fresh blend of fragrant oil and water, extracted directly from nature.

Not forgetting filtration

The process doesn’t stop there. Through meticulous filtration, the aqueous parts and the essential oils begin an elegant separation. This precise process isolates the purest essences, preserving the natural radiance of the citrus fruits.

It takes 1500 lemons to obtain just 1 kilogram of essence using this method. An ode to perseverance. Every drop of essence extracted honours the craftsmanship and natural generosity of citrus fruits.

Supercritical CO2 extraction

Among perfume manufacturing techniques, supercritical CO2 extraction is emerging in the modern arsenal of perfumery as a method that is both advanced and respectful of the environment. Behind this technical term lies a complex but particularly effective method for extracting olfactory elements from flowers and plants, such as Damascena rose, the star of our label rose fragrance, or lilac.

An environmentally-friendly perfume manufacturing technique

This technique, which is more contemporary and sophisticated than traditional methods, stands out for its environmentally-friendly approach. The use of carbon dioxide (CO2) in a supercritical state, at the boundary between liquid and gaseous, at high pressure, creates a fluid that acts as a solvent.

CO2 as the ultimate solvent

When CO2 gas, a supercritical fluid under high pressure, is immersed in the rose petals, it acts as the ultimate solvent. Unlike other methods, this extraction is carried out without heating the petals or adding chemicals. It is a delicate, precise approach that preserves the integrity of the plant’s active ingredients.

Ecological recycling

The conclusion of this innovative process is based on the recovery of CO2 by depressurisation. This final step gives the method a markedly ecological character, as the gas can be entirely recycled. This makes supercritical CO2 extraction a sustainable option for the modern perfume industry.

So there is no single perfume manufacturing technique, but several methods adapted to the ingredients used in a fragrance. They require an intimate knowledge of chemistry and traditional processes handed down from generation to generation.

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