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the Raw Materials

We can distinguish 3 different raw material groups:
1. Vegetable
2. Animal
3. Synthetic

Vegetable raw materials  

A number of plant substances and their origin are described below. This is just a small selection of the many thousands of raw materials known to the perfume industry. With the vegetable raw materials, the fragrances that are extracted from the leaf and flower, from the roots and rhizomes and from the seeds.




This, of course, comes from rose petals. It takes an awful lot of petals to make perfume. For 1 kilo of oil is 5 tons of flowers. It has not yet been possible to develop an identical synthetic substance equivalent to that of rose petals.




originates from central Asia and Persia. The flower was brought to Grasse by the Spaniards around 1560. The flower was officially consecrated there at the end of the 19th century. The jasmine is picked before sunrise to prevent dew and sun from affecting the flowers. They are harvested from August to the end of October. Jasmine is one of the most commonly used flowers in perfume.


orange blossom


This one comes from the Far East and comes mainly from China. The oil of the fruit mainly comes from the peel by means of squeezing. The fruit is also called Pomerans and the oil Neroli. The leaves and branches of the plant are processed. 


Ylang Ylang


Ylang Ylang comes from Indonesia and the Philippines comes from the Ylang Ylang; a tall tree with sinuous branches. After 2 weeks, the scent only develops when the flower opens. When the color is yellow and the leaves start to turn red, the flowers in this tree can be picked. After picking, the flower is immediately distilled.  0.5 kg is needed for 1 gram of oil. A tree produces about 10 kg of flowers per year. Ylang Ylang has been used in Chanel No 5. 




These flowers come from Australia. The mimosa came to Europe in the early 19th century. It flowers from March to April and can then be found in the mountains of the Alpes Maritimes. The flower and leaf are processed into oil. 




Lavender is mainly used in detergents and toilet fresheners. The Lavender used in the perfume industry comes from the Alps and Norfolk (Great Britain). Lavender is often used in eau de toilette, for both men and women. In the past, lavender was used more in the perfume industry than it is today. 




This is a very precious oil. It comes from a plant from Mexico. In the 17th century this plant went to Grasse in France. Now you can also find the Tuberose in India and Morocco (Atlas Mountains). Morocco is the main supplier of tuberose oil. The oil is found in about 20% of the perfumes.




The marigolds for the western perfume industry come from Africa, India, Italy, France and Spain. The essential oil is obtained by means of water vapor distillation. The extracted oil is then a liquid dark in color. When exposed to daylight it quickly becomes a tough, liquid and resinous mass. The oil smells fruity. 


iris root


The oil comes from the root of the plant, which has to dry for three years. The extraction is expensive and the yield is little. The plant is found in Morocco and Florence. The oil has a violet scent. 




Occurs in northern India and Indonesia. The oil comes from the roots, the reddish-brown liquid essence is extracted using water vapor distillation. The scent is woody, and the product can also be used as a fixative. This substance occurs in 36% of perfumes as base notes.




This plant is part of the Labiatae family. It comes from Asia and grows mainly in the Mediterranean region. The Cinnamomum smells like cinnamon and the Citriodorum smells like lemon.




This one comes from the Mediterranean. The perfume is based on alcohol water. Today, the fragrance is mainly for men's fragrances. It is a refreshing sporty fragrance. 




This tree is found in the tropical rainforests of South America. The tree can grow up to 35 meters high. Rosewood is a heartwood. The woody-smelling oil is reminiscent of roses and lilies, although they are not related. Rosewood is extracted using water vapor distillation from the chips. 




It is the lichen of the Oak, Spruce and other trees. The moss lives in mountainous areas from Europe to North Africa. The Oakmoss is picked in winter or early spring. The fragrance blends well and is a fixative. It is used in 35% of all perfumes. 




Cinnamon comes from a tree that can grow up to 13 meters high. It is extracted from the bark of the tree. It comes from Indonesia and Malaysia. Cinnamon is an essential oil in the perfume industry. This oil is used a lot in Oriental fragrances. 




This is from a thicket. The scrub grows in Somalia and southern Arabia. The oil is obtained through distillation. The resin that remains after the extraction has a heavier smell. It is used as a base note in oriental and woody compositions. Frankincense is found in 13% of modern perfumes. 


Cistus rose


Laudanum comes from a thicket that can be found in the Mediterranean region. The oil secretion comes from the leaves of the Citrus Rose. This is extracted drop by drop. Gum resin is an important fixative. It is also found in 30% of modern perfumes. 




This comes from the Myrrh tree. You can find it in Somalia, Arabia and Ethiopia. Myrrh provides the balsamic, it is also an excellent fixative. The oil reminds you of the smell of maintenance. Myrrh is a staple of about 7% of modern perfumes. 




Derived from a grass-like plant found in Iran. This gum resin is released through a cut in the trunk. After distillation, this gum resin provides a green note. 




This plant can be found in India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. The berries are picked in different growth phases. Then they are dried, and then oil is made from them. 




This is an herb. It comes from Ukraine, Morocco and Hungary. The essential oil is extracted from the seeds through distillation. It has a spicy note. 


tonka bean


Tonka bean comes from Central and Northern South America. By extraction, the kernels of the fruit of this herb are turned into an essential oil. The essential oil serves as a base note in tobacco-like and oriental compositions. 

Animal Resources  

The animal substances of the following animals are intended to stimulate the sex drive. Because the perfume industry has grown, animal protection has intervened. Now the substances are hardly or not used anymore. 


Amber grey


When a sperm whale has eaten squid, it excretes this waxy substance. If the substance is used, it must dry for at least three years before processing can take place. Eventually you get a very soft balm scent of amber which clings to the skin and serves as a fixative. Ambergris has become a rare commodity as the sperm whale is nearly extinct. That is why the amber accord in perfumes is now almost always created synthetically. 




Musk comes from the musk deer which occurs in the Himalayas and in Tibet. The musk is secreted from the abdominal gland in the Bronze Age. Another type of musk is supplied by the American bisamrat. Musk is a very strong-smelling substance, a drop can smell you for forty years. Musk is one of the most precious substances for the preparation of perfumes. 




This is a fatty substance secreted from a gland in the anus of a feline. This feline is found in Burma, Thailand and Ethiopia. Although they mostly resemble a cat, their snout is longer and more pointed, like that of an otter or mongoose. A civet can be 40 to 70 centimeters long (measured without a tail) and weigh 1 to 5 kg. In raw state, the smell is very unpleasant. The more the substance is diluted, the more pleasant the smell becomes.




Castroreum comes from a native beaver from Canada and Siberia. The oily reddish brown discharge is used. This comes from the glands that are located in two bladders at the bottom of the abdomen between the anus and the genital area. Beavers use this for greasing the fur. The castoreum is extracted as a by-product; beavers are primarily hunted for their fur. This substance was introduced by Arab perfumers. 

Synthetic raw materials

Since 1830, several chemists (not perfumers) have started researching natural raw materials. First, the interesting elements were isolated in plant essential oil. For example, rose-scented Geraniol was extracted from Lemongrass essence by means of partial distillation. For several years now, researchers have been using a revolutionary technique; the headspace. With this a flower, tree or atmosphere can be determined. This technique also makes it possible to draw up a kind of identity card, the molecules are analysed. 

This technique is suitable for flowers that are not suitable for use in perfumes and to evoke atmosphere. Furthermore, this technique offers the possibility to properly display all development stages of natural fragrances. 

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