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Possum-Pie's making sense of scents

Naturals vs Aroma Chemicals. The misunderstood world of chemicals

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I had a woman argue with me a few months ago that her aroma oils contained "NO CHEMICALS" I gently told her that she was absolutely wrong. The world is made of chemicals. Water is H20, Two hydrogen atoms bound by an Oxygen. Sugar is C12H22O11. To say something is "Chemical free" is absurd. I knew of course what she meant. She wanted to articulate to me that her product contained only natural ingredients. So let's look at that statement. Does that make it "better?" If you could afford a chromatic gas spectrometer, you could put any natural ingredient in it, and it would spit out a long list of...CHEMICALS that made up the natural ingredient. Put a lime into the GCMS and chemicals with exotic names like oxypeucedanin, terpineol, bisabolene and other terpenoids will be listed. Oxypeucedanin happens to be photoxic- it causes irritation and burns in the presence of sunlight. There is absolutely NO difference between any of these chemicals and their equivalents pulled off a shelf in a laboratory. They are identical. If you combine 2 hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, you will get water. Artificial water? Strange but true. It is no different than any other water. This implies that if you take the right combination of chemicals combine them, they will be indistinguishable from a 'natural' product like lime juice.
So why do people make such a big deal about "natural"? At the turn of the 20th century, science was discovering how to manipulate chemicals to make other similar ones. DuPont company in the 1920s invented synthetics to take the place of rubber, and developed Teflon and other plastics. We were in love with man-made items. The invention of plastics revolutionized the world. By the 1980s, with so much of what we used being artificial, a renewal in the interest in naturals started. Our medical fields had developed medications to keep people alive longer, and improve their functionality. Food industry developed preservatives to keep food fresher longer. Some people saw this as wrong, evil, or inferior. Movements to "organic" or all natural gathered followers. Today, if something is all natural, it is seen as better. But is that true? Within the field of perfumes, naturals are often highly regulated. That seems counter-intuitive, but remember the formula for lime scent I showed you? Naturals are made up of many more chemical components than artificial. Often, like Oxypeucedanin, these are toxic. Skin sensitivities, allergies, and other adverse reactions are mainly caused by natural products.
I'm not trying to say that natural ingredients are bad. On the contrary, pure essential oils of flowers are exquisite. I'm only stating that to advertise a product as "better" if it is all natural is often misleading, and sometimes a lie. Better in what way? Safer? Most of the time it is NOT safer. Better quality? sometimes the complexity of the scent of a natural is better quality...but at a cost. Often naturals have poor projection, poor longevity, and poor sillage. This can be a negative for a fragrance.
It irks me to see arguments that people state that they only use all naturals b/c they are safer or better. A combination of Aroma chemicals and essential oils can be the best of both worlds. Often the aroma chemical isolates out the toxic part and leaves only the component that causes the fragrance. Mixing the natural and the man-made can give wonderful results.
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Loving perfume on the Internet since 2000