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  1. #1

    Default The link between organic and synthetic scents

    Hi!

    I'm working on a science project in school that involves the theory in the making of perfumes, as well as the practical bit.
    I've read quite a bit on the "classical" way to make perfume, with organic scents, but my project also concerns synthetic scents, found in most commercial perfumes.

    Does anyone know good litterature on this subject, or maybe sites or people who has got good knowledge on the subject? For example, the theory behind synthetic scents and how they work together. How the specifical scents of, say a flower, are synthesized to mimic its overall smell.

    Thankful for help!
    Last edited by Thujopsene; 25th January 2009 at 05:50 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: The link between organic and synthetic scents

    - A perfume-making group archive

    - A textbook "Introduction to Perfumery" by Tony Curtis et al.

    I own a copy of that Curtis book. It's hard to find and expensive though. But it's got 2 chapters discussing perfumery material and extraction.

    - Otherwise, for cheaper reads, reading Chandler Burr's and Luca Turin's books where they occasionally contain tidbits of information on the subject you're looking for.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: The link between organic and synthetic scents

    I'll have to check out that Curtis book - thanks, GourmandHomme! Looks like a very good one.

    Another wonderful book just came out - it provides an introduction to perfumery, including the use of both naturals and synthetics. The Essence of Perfume by Roja Dove, ISBN 978-1-906155-49-0

    Also expensive, but worth the money. It's a beautiful and conversation-inspiring coffee table book, so maybe somebody can be talked into paying for it. Covers all the major natural and synthetic ingredients of perfumes, but in a high-level way - not like the tremendous detail you will find elsewhere.

    I'm a chemist, so I'll try to give you a brief answer to put things in perspective. Natural scents like a rose contain specific mixtures of natural organic substances. The fragrance you smell from a real rose can be mimicked rather well by a judicious combination of those same chemicals, which may come from (1) real roses, or (2) other, cheaper, natural sources, (3) by chemical conversion of cheaper chemicals from other natural sources, or (4) from purely synthetic organic chemistry. Remember - it's almost all "organic". The molecules are the same molecules (at this stage of my answer). The question is where those natural molecules came from - "natural", "semi-synthetic", or "synthetic" means. But chemists and perfumers have discovered that slight variations on the molecules that occur in nature (whatever their source) give rise to molecules that - while tending to have many of the same structural features as natural molecules - are completely new. These new molecules are often highly prized, since they not only can duplicate smells in nature in a more simple fashion - they can even offer a scent unlike anything smelled before. "Better than nature", in a way. It is by combining both natural and "new" synthetic substances that the great perfumes are born. The science and art of this combination is perfumery.

    Thus, to make a rose scent, you don't need all the components of the odor of a rose. You only need enough to make people think it's a rose. And if you deviate from the recipe in the correct ways, people will say that what you made is like the best rose, or even better than a rose.

    Roja Dove's book really illuminates the importance of synthetics in the history of perfumery, and using very specific examples. I can't recommend it enough. Good luck with your science project!
    Last edited by Redneck Perfumisto; 25th January 2009 at 09:16 PM. Reason: point added
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  4. #4

    Default Re: The link between organic and synthetic scents

    You know RP what I'd really love to see is a textbook like this:

    A uni-level practical perfumery textbook that has a massive chapter in the middle that contains both the "notes" of 500 of the most-used aromachemicals, safe levels of dilution, its MSDS, and some recommended starter formula for that aromachemical.

    It'll be like 1,500 pages thick and probably will cost $400, but will all be worth it.

  5. #5

    Default Re: The link between organic and synthetic scents

    Thank you both! Both for the book tips, and the small introduction RP.
    I'm definitely gonna look those up. Though, as you said, they are quite expensive.

  6. #6

    Default Re: The link between organic and synthetic scents

    Quote Originally Posted by Redneck Perfumisto View Post
    ... (1) real roses, or (2) other, cheaper, natural sources, (3) by chemical conversion of cheaper chemicals from other natural sources, or (4) from purely synthetic organic chemistry.
    I also follow this discussion with interest. I love any "natural vs synthetic" thread, especially if it remains civil and objective.

    It seems that the advantage of aromachamical sources is made in terms of discussing three factors:
    1. Cost
    2. Quality
    3. Safety


    Cost advantages nearly always go in favor of the synthtics.
    Quality, often in terms of aesthetics, is more subjective.
    But safety continutes to be largely unproven, so this factor is most interesting to me.

    I will look for the Rojas Dove book, as mentioned. Thanks for the recommendation.
    Last edited by purplebird7; 27th January 2009 at 01:43 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: The link between organic and synthetic scents

    Quote Originally Posted by GourmandHomme View Post
    You know RP what I'd really love to see is a textbook like this:

    A uni-level practical perfumery textbook that has a massive chapter in the middle that contains both the "notes" of 500 of the most-used aromachemicals, safe levels of dilution, its MSDS, and some recommended starter formula for that aromachemical.

    It'll be like 1,500 pages thick and probably will cost $400, but will all be worth it.
    Yes, that does sound interesting. Not sure if anything even approaching it exists in the public sector. I would imagine that the big flavor and fragrance companies have such doc internally, but what you're looking for is something nicely pulled together that would be really useful for the independent perfumer.

    Great idea, if there's nothing like it out there.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: The link between organic and synthetic scents

    Re safety I think single-molecule aromachemicals win because:

    1. We know what they exactly are rather than having a natural oil consisting of up to hundreds of different molecules.

    2. As they're pure chemicals their dosage can be controlled precisely in a perfume mixture.

    Don't get me wrong, I have a collection of natural dilutions of essential oils myself, but they are of interest as smelling samples rather than me actually using them.

  9. #9

    Default Re: The link between organic and synthetic scents

    Yes, that is a similar argument to the one made about pharmaceutical drugs vs health store remedies. Doseage is controlled, content is known. It makes sense from the standpoint of "safety," which I put into quotations because it is such a hot-button issue. Kudos to the scientists who unravel the mysteries.

  10. #10

    Default Re: The link between organic and synthetic scents

    I found another really helpful book: Perfumery Practice and Principles by Robert R. Calkin and J. Stephan Jellinek. A really detailed and well-written book which illuminates both aestethics as well as practice, in an easy-to-read way. I can recommend this book also to others interested.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: The link between organic and synthetic scents

    Quote Originally Posted by Thujopsene View Post
    I found another really helpful book: Perfumery Practice and Principles by Robert R. Calkin and J. Stephan Jellinek. A really detailed and well-written book which illuminates both aestethics as well as practice, in an easy-to-read way. I can recommend this book also to others interested.
    Looks like a very good one, albeit rather pricey. I put in a request for a Kindle version - we'll see if it happens within my lifetime!
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  12. #12

    Default Re: The link between organic and synthetic scents

    Quote Originally Posted by Redneck Perfumisto View Post
    ...I'll have to check out that Curtis book - thanks, GourmandHomme! Looks like a very good one.

    Another wonderful book just came out - it provides an introduction to perfumery, including the use of both naturals and synthetics. The Essence of Perfume by Roja Dove, ISBN 978-1-906155-49-0
    Also expensive, but worth the money. It's a beautiful and conversation-inspiring coffee table book, so maybe somebody can be talked into paying for it. Covers all the major natural and synthetic ingredients of perfumes, but in a high-level way - not like the tremendous detail you will find elsewhere...
    I don't want to distract too much from the topic, but I am interested in perhaps buying one of these. The book shop will have neither, I am afraid. Ordering one of them blind is about as risky as ordering a new Lutens blind from Paris .

    You can read samples from the Curtis-Jellinek on the web, but not from R.Dove. My question relating to the latter: Chapter 6 is supposed to introduce the great names, perfumes, etc. from the past. I am afraid that perfumes for men may essentially be absent as they are in similar books of the genre. Is my suspicion justified, or not?

    This Dove review didn't encourage me to expect all that much
    Last edited by narcus; 24th February 2009 at 05:48 PM.
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