Introduction to Perfumery Short

A short course in perfumery for pleasure or profit.

There are around 20 pages. This is included in booklet form with The Perfumery Training Kit.

Short Course - What is perfume?


The simplest answer is a nice smell (fragrance). The source of the English word perfume though is from the Latin "per fumem" meaning "through smoke". Rather like a "message sent through the smoke of incense". So, Perfume may have deeper meaning that relates to communication.


What is perfume made from?


1. Natural Essential Oils and Extracts - from natural plant materials such as distilled or extracted from flowers, leaves, woods or grasses. (eg. Lavender Oil, Jasmin Absolute)

2. Aroma chemicals - (chemicals with smells) either seperated from essential oils or made from chemical sources such as the crude oil industry (eg. pinene,benzene)

3. Animal products - from animal secretions. Generally only 5 used : Civet from the Civet cat, Castoreum from the Castoreum beaver, Musk from the Musk deer, Ambergris from the Sperm Whale and Beeswax from bee hives.


But that is too easy...


It is like saying

"a painting is a blend of colours"

"music is a mixture of sounds"

Which of course is true, but only on a very superficial level.

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But just like painting and music, perfume must have life and feeling.


There is a synergy in the mixture of materials that tells a story or maybe reflects personality and character.

Yes, a perfume is a picture painted in smells and has notes and tones like music and art.

Perfumery is a living art.

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The sense of smell is a method of communication.


It is the oldest and most basic of senses and is directly linked to the part of the brain involved with emotion.

Smell can invoke the deepest of feelings and cause deep seated memories to come to the surface in a matter of seconds.

"Deja Vu"

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So, if perfume speaks in a silent language,


  • what are its letters and words?
  • its nouns, adjectives,conjunctions and prepostions?
  • its grammar?
  • and how can we communicate with smells?

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Well the problem is...

No one is absolutely sure how the sense of smell works.

What is it in the smelly molecule that gives it its unique smell? Is it the shape, the size, the vibration? - It may be one, all or none - the final count is not yet in.

But to go through life with no language at all, in the absence of this would be silly. So here at PerfumersWorld we have created, what may be the most powerful language, for odour description yet devised.

The ABC's of Perfumery

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The ABC's of Perfumery

The concept - as simple as ABC

26 letters that represent primary odours (as far as we can determine today). eg.

C is for Citrus,
J is for Jasmin,
R is for Rose etc..

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The ABC's of Perfumery

A - Z


Common Description



Fatty, Waxy, Soapy, Clean



Cooling, Borneol,Mint,Camphor



Sour, Sharp, Citrus peel



Milky, Cream, Butter, Cheese



Vegetable, Nut, Fish, Meat



Sour, Sweet fruits, Strawberry



Cut-grass, Leaves


HERB (Cool)

Cool Herbaceous notes



Orris, Violet



Fruity, Oily, Narcotic, Jasmin



Pine, Pineneedle


LIGHT Chemical Floral

Fresh light floral chemical



Lily of the Valley, Green, Fresh



Heavy Sweet Florals, Absolutes



Aromatic, Deep floral



Phenol, Medicinal, Honey


Queen of the ORIENT

Resin, Balsam



Rose Otto, Absolute, Geranium



Hot Culinary, Spice



Smoke, Tar, Burnt


Urine / Faecal / ANIMAL

Animal, Faecal, Leather



Sweet Edible, Vanilla



Wood, Oily


X-rated MUSK

Sexy, Musk, Sensual, Sweet



Yeast, Fungal, Moss, Marine



Odourless Solvents, Solubilisers

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An Introduction to Perfumery

We can then apply The ABC's of Perfumery to any smell by simply going through A to Z, one by one and giving marks to each letter.

From this we can graphically display the odour >>>

Lavandin Oil has mainly a herb and light chemical character with a coolness (iceBerg) and a slightly fruity note.

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Relative Impact

Then we give a relative strength value for the smell compared to a standard - Linalool. We call this the Relative Impact

Linalool is given an arbitary value of 100 - anything weaker has a value less than 100 and stronger smells values greater than 100 >>>

Linalool (synthetic source) is used as its quality is quite consistent and the single most used material in perfumery (and flavours). Linalool is one of the most prolific components in essential oils including Rosewood, Bergamot and Lavender oils. (Note in the EEC Linalool now requires labelling on products)

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Odour Life

We need to have a index of how long the odour lasts. For this we use paper smelling strips to give comparative Odour Lifes for materials.

e.g. Amyl Acetate, the fruity pear drops chemical, only lasts a few minutes (0.15Hrs). Sandalwood Oil Mysore lasts upwards of 6 months (4,500Hrs)

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Perfume Structure

To explain how essential oils and aroma chemicals can be used to make a perfume lets look at the structure of a perfume concentrate or "compound". This compound may make up to 50% of a top grade alcoholic perfume or less than 1% in a perfumed product such as a shampoo. Every component in a perfume compound formula is there for one or more specific functions within the odour, falling into the main categories as follows (with the language metaphors in parantheses):

Heart Materials (like Nouns)
Materials that form the heart of the fragrance.
e.g. like a rose smelling material in a Rose perfume.

Modifiers (like Adjectives)
Materials to modify the fragrance, add style, naturalness, freshness or diffusion etc.
e.g. Decoration of a jasmin perfume with a banana note.

Blenders (like Conjunctions)
Materials to blend and smooth, round of or, harmonise the sometimes very different characters of the heart and modifying notes.
e.g. softer notes compared to others in their same groups like Bergamot, Linalool, PEA.

Fixatives (like Prepostions)
Materials used in completion and to fix the fragrance giving depth, substance and background or setting. They form a 3D effect of time in the perfume.
e.g. Musk, woods, oakmoss, vanilla

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Perfumers Through the Ages


The Perfumer - 1799

The Perfumer Today

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And now you... the Perfumer today and beyond ?

With the simple to use tools of The ABC's of Perfumery, The Perfumery Training Kit, Essentials Oils and Aroma Chemicals available from PerfumersWorld and with a little training and determination you can become the perfumer of tomorrow for fun, a serious hobby or even a profession.

>> Mixing Instruction

>> Safety Guidelines

PerfumersWorld Training Kits - a thousand materials compressed into 26 prime notes.

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Here you can produce a simple perfume compound by counting the drops to make a rose note:

 Rose Fleuressence

 60 drops

 Heart Note

 Aldehyde Fleuressence

  2 drops


 Green Fleuressence

  2 drops


 Musk Fleuressence

 10 drops

 Blender and Fixative

 Rose De Mai Absolute*

  1 drop

 Blender and Heart Note

Add 10 drops of the compound to 90 drops of solvent to use as perfume. You can use Zolvent Fleuressence (or Ethyl Alcohol) or even add a few drops to an unperfumed cream or toiletry base.

*Rose de Mai is included to demonstrate that you can use materials from other sources too.

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The Perfumer's Workbook

Let's get more sophisticated using The Perfumer's Workbook, a WINDOWS program available as a free download or in a registered version for greater flexibility (free with The Perfumery Training Kit), or in a Professional Version for the business user. First we start the program and click on the opening picture screen.

Click the Files Button near the center of the screen

Click the open button - Left in bottom button row

Type a perfume name

Click to start the new perfume

We can add materials to our perfume by double clicking on the materials in the top-left hand list box and entering the amount.

Now let's make our first perfume from a pre-written format.

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We will use a perfume format to create a new formula automatically.

Click the Wizard button

Click the Open Format button - and choose a perfume format (*.pwb) You can modify it as you please and save.

Click "Stock Only" to use only materials you actually have

Click to calculate the new formula

The Pre-written formats are far more powerful than a fixed formula - As your database (stock of your materials) increases so does the accuracy of the fit to the format. To add your own format just fill in the descriptors (one word per line) and values A-Z.

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  • The values printed in the Column 1 of The Perfumers Workbook are the amounts of each material to add.
  • In normal manufacturing procedures- companies use weight as this gives the most reproducable method.
  • For training we recommend - "counting drops". Use a cocktail stick to give smaller or "half" drops.
  • Drops are quick economical and can be upscaled and weighed out for conversion for bigger batches easily.
  • Allow for fractions of drops by a little rounding off (eg. Decide that 0.95 = about 1 drop or by upscaling* or using solutions**
  • *Upscaling = making 1000 drops instead of 100
  • **Solutions = Mixing 1 drop of the neat material plus 9 of Zolvent(a 10% solution) or even 1 drop plus 99 (a 1(one)% solution) To add 0.5400 This would be about 5 drops of 10% or more accurately 54 drops of 1%.
  • Save your formula and print it out.
  • Tip: if no other changes made and you haven't made up the sample clear the screen to generate a new formula with the old name by Clicking UNDO or setting all the quantities to ZERO by clicking the "Calculator" button and entering 0.00001as the new total.

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Uses for your perfume :-
Perfume may be used for an extrait perfume but the biggest users of perfume compounds (concentrated perfume) are toiletries and household products like;

Extrait Perfumes
In a cologne maybe just 3% or in a high class perfume more than 30%

About 1% by weight of the soap bar

Detergent Powders
About 0.15% by weight of the powder

Add to massage oil or drops on a handkerchief, in the bath or in an aromatherapy burner

Full shelf testing by perfumers and end users is the only proven method of ensuring a perfumes safety, strength, suitability, stability and success.

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We wish you all the joy that can be experienced from perfume - music to the sense of smell.

The bottles, tubes, oils and essential oils are generally no more dangerous than many household products but can be misused by youngsters or those unable to read, understand or follow the instructions. With this in mind, please strictly abide by these rules;

  • Keep Out of the Reach Children.
  • Do not eat or use in foods or mix in food containers or with food utensils.
  • Read the Safety information and refer to it regularly.
  • Maintain absolute hygiene, cleaning up spillages on you or any surface immediately
  • Perfumes contain materials that will damage plastic and furniture sufaces and cause irritation

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Thank you for completing AN INTRODUCTION TO PERFUMERY

If you wish to study further or need materials to start your hobby or career in perfumery take a look at The Perfumery Training Kit and our professional perfumery training courses.

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