Chemistry in Life

by Chassidy Thomas

Chemical Reactions

What women put on is called perfume, while men put on fragrances. Perfumes are mixtures of many chemicals (called notes). The chemicals used in a perfume or a fragrance are called essential oils. All of these can evaporate very quickly when left open, and are generally gotten from the leaves or flowers of plants. For example, limeonene is an essential oil that comes from lemon leaves and gives the familiar 'lemon' smell.

Essential oils for making perfumes are extremely expensive, and were among the things for which traders would go any length. They form a big part of Sinbad the Sailor's adventures. Of the three gifts the Magi gave the infant Christ, two were essential oils- myrrh and frankincense.

Most perfumes are made by mixing three kinda of essential oils. Scents that fade quickly are called top notes. They are light scents that fade quickly and give the first impression, like bergamot and citronella. Middle notes last for a few hours and provide the dominant scent of the perfume. Like rose, juniper or marjoran. Finally come the base notes, made of exotic material like anise, myrrh and frankincense. The last is a thick, gum-like material extracted from Boswellia trees that grow in Yemen. The dried gum when powdered and mixed with charcoal is often used in incense and dhoop sticks.

For example, a mixture that has geranoil, citronellol, phenylethyl alcohol and linaloon in a ratio of 30:25:25:5 will smell just like roses!

What makes perfume so great? Chemicals that are bad for us (like ammonia or hydrogen sulphide) smell bad, so we avoid them. Chemicals that are good for us (like the natural chemicals of food) smell nice.

The products of perfume is that they make it to make you smell good. The byproducts of perfume is that too much perfume is dangerous.

Perfume is dangerous to the environment because of the number of synthetic fragrances that one perfume can contain.