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  1. #1

    Question A goofy technical question: why aren't fragrances sticky?

    Let me expand the question in the subject title into two questions.

    (1) A lot of substances in nature that are pleasant to smell are sticky to touch (e.g., honey, sugary things, etc) in liquid form. When these things are replicated in fragrance, they are not sticky. Why is that?

    (2) Are there substances that have nice olfactory characteristics that cannot be used in fragrance simply because of how they feel on skin (like stickiness; I am not talking about contact dermitis and the like)?

    Anyway, I have never seen this discussed, so I thought I would ask. Forgive my ignorance?

  2. #2

    Default Re: A goofy technical question: why aren't fragrances sticky?

    My guess is that because perfumes are mostly alcohol, and that isn't sticky and evaporates quickly. Some essential oils and absolutes are very, very sticky indeed ( oh, the unintentional hilarity of me and mimosa... )

    As for sweet things, as I understand that those are effects created by various aromachemicals rather than sugar or honey itself.

    Oil-based fragrances are, on the other hand, a little greasy and remain noticeably that way for a while until they're absorbed by skin and clothing. Some are rather sticky.

  3. #3

    Default Re: A goofy technical question: why aren't fragrances sticky?

    Should I include all that chemical stuff? something benzoic benzoac w/e they are, there's always a bunch of those in the ingredients and they may have something to do with this .
    Perfume noob

  4. #4
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    Default Re: A goofy technical question: why aren't fragrances sticky?

    Part of the answer is that sugar is sticky & sweet & it's part of honey, maple syrup, vanilla frosting, etc. But the honey, maple, and vanilla aromas are from different molecules. The notes in perfumes are aroma chemicals separated from sugar, water, stems, leaves, etc. Or they are synthesised molecules that smell similar to natural honey, maple, vanilla, but have never seen sugar.

    Ethyl alcohol itself is not sticky, so alcohol plus most notes will not be sticky.

    I don't know if some notes are sticky. Does anyone know if sticky substances all have higher molecular weights than the range the nose can smell?

  5. #5

    Default Re: A goofy technical question: why aren't fragrances sticky?

    I think of sticky things as thick and adhesive. They don't necessarily have to be both at the same time, but they describe most sticky things. It is kind of weird that fragrances stick to your body, but where the smell comes from is invisible. You just kinda smell like whatever you sprayed on you for a while.

    To me cloying fragrances are sticky. They make me feel like I have some invisible beast on me that makes me smell a certain way. This usually happens with heavy scents in hot, humid weather. I feel like the beast has me in a headlock, forcing me to choke on the thick smells that surround me. Not literally 'sticky' but gives me that type of feeling anyway.

  6. #6

    Default Re: A goofy technical question: why aren't fragrances sticky?

    Here's my take on your question, Scentsitivity. Sticky things are usually comprised of large molecules, sometimes with linear or polymeric structures, and with lots of alcohol functional groups (-OH groups) that can form weak hydrogen bonds to surfaces. The thing about such molecules is that they're too big and heavy to smell; in a sense, they're too fat to "get off the ground". Conversely, things that we can smell are referred to as small molecules. We smell them because they're small and light enough to overcome what little earthbound existence they have. But since they lack multiple bonding sites, they don't have much adhesive affinity to surfaces.Most natural products such as honey are complex mixtures of sticky stuff and smelly stuff, but our minds associate it all as honey.

    the NY Times has a nice brief layman's explanation for the science of stickiness here:
    http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/...nce-of-sticky/
    Last edited by Snafoo; 23rd April 2009 at 04:06 AM.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: A goofy technical question: why aren't fragrances sticky?

    why should they be sticky is the better question
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  8. #8

    Default Re: A goofy technical question: why aren't fragrances sticky?

    As explained above partially, if a frag is mostly sticky we won't smell them as much because they stay close or on to the skin itself. A good frag should have a good a balance between sillage and longevity (more sillage = less longevity as more of it evaporates).

  9. #9

    Default Re: A goofy technical question: why aren't fragrances sticky?

    I have only encountered one scent that feels eerily sticky on my skin after spritzing. Caron 3rd Man aftershave spray. Eeeek... needless to say, I didn't like it at all.

  10. #10

    Default Re: A goofy technical question: why aren't fragrances sticky?

    Quote Originally Posted by Snafoo View Post
    Here's my take on your question, Scentsitivity. Sticky things are usually comprised of large molecules, sometimes with linear or polymeric structures, and with lots of alcohol functional groups (-OH groups) that can form weak hydrogen bonds to surfaces. The thing about such molecules is that they're too big and heavy to smell; in a sense, they're too fat to "get off the ground". Conversely, things that we can smell are referred to as small molecules. We smell them because they're small and light enough to overcome what little earthbound existence they have. But since they lack multiple bonding sites, they don't have much adhesive affinity to surfaces.Most natural products such as honey are complex mixtures of sticky stuff and smelly stuff, but our minds associate it all as honey.

    the NY Times has a nice brief layman's explanation for the science of stickiness here:
    http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/...nce-of-sticky/
    This was quite helpful, as were some of the other responses! Thanks!

  11. #11

    Default Re: A goofy technical question: why aren't fragrances sticky?

    It would be great if they used some sort of maple syrup like substance creation but more thin, or like tree sap. This would solve most absorption/evaporation/longevity issues. I'm sure these have been mentioned in the world of fragrancers and creators and have been/are currently being tested.

  12. #12

    Default Re: A goofy technical question: why aren't fragrances sticky?

    Spinning off of The_Cologneist's comments, I wonder if perfume "fixatives" have a degree of stickiness, since they perform more or less the role he describes...
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  13. #13

    Default Re: A goofy technical question: why aren't fragrances sticky?

    This is a fun thread Indeed some solvents can be quite viscous, like for example dipropylene glycol (DPG). It even can smell a bit sweet. A type of glycerin (Glucam P-20) used in perfumes as a fixative is also sticky.
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