Materials used in perfumery

The flowers, roots, and woods employed in perfumery are nearly all grown abroad, and even when raised in the United States are seldom used for perfumery.

Essential or volatile oils are obtained by distillation. In the case of delicate perfumes the flowers are macerated in warm oil or cold lard (enfleurage). From this grease the oil may be extracted by alcohol. Sometimes the flowers or other odorous bodies are macerated in alcohol.

Essences are solutions of volatile oils in alcohol. The term tincture is sometimes used to express the same idea.

The dried flowers and rasped woods or roots are used in the manufacture of sachets.

The following substances are obtained from the animal kingdom: -

Musk, a secretion of the Musk deer (Muschus moschatus), which inhabits Eastern Asia. There are three varieties. The Tonquin or Chinese is the finer, but is apt to be adulterated.

Civet, a secretion of the Civet cat (Viveraa civeta), and

Castor, from the beaver (Castor fiber), are used in small quantities.

The Essence of Mirbane and flavoring ethers are obtained by the chemist.

Lard, suet, and the fixed oils are used as vehicles.

Alcohol employed in perfumery should be free from all smell of fusel or other oils. Atwood's (patent) alcohol is generally preferred. It is deodorized by distillation over permangenate of potassa.

Return to The Household Cyclopedia of General Information