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Chemistry and Perfume

If you ever went out to dinner or just to hang out, you have most likely put on perfume or something that makes you smell good. I am here to tell you about the basic chemistry behind this liquid that makes you smell so good.

Perfumes are composed of a mixture of chemicals. Perfume includes fragrance oils which can be divided into two categories: synthetic oil or a fragance pulled from a specific object. When fragrance is pulled from a flower for example, oil is extracted from the petals which causes the aroma of flowers. Another thing used in perfume is ethyl alcohol as this causes the scent of the perfume to spread. Water is then used to soften the smell, so that it is not as strong, however it also plays a role in spreading the aroma across a room.

Many perfumes are made so that they have what is known as a "three-part smell." One will smell the "top notes" in the first fifteen minutes as they evaporate off your skin the quickest. "Heart notes" are next which will come into play after 2-3 hours, these smells are probably how you can tell a difference between all your perfumes(flowery perfume would have a floral scent at this stage). Next are the "base notes" which stick to your skin and you can smell them for up to 8 hours.

When thinking about perfume on a molecular level, we can think of it as diffusion. The molecules of the perfume are spreading themselves evenly across the room. However, bright light can damage your perfume and air can break down the smell from perfume because of oxidation. So, when storing your perfume make sure to put it somewhere darker so that it does not evaporate so quickly. Another thing that you may have been doing wrong with your perfume is rubbing it in, this actually causes heat which will cause the top notes to evaporate much quicker and overall your perfume will not last as long.

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