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Fragrance - The history of perfume

The ancient civilisations of Egypt, Persia and China all used scented water, essences and woods. Five thousand years before Christ, the Greeks and Romans appeased their gods by burning herbs, woods and resins and made the earliest essential oils by immersing flowers and plants in oils until they had become infused with the powerful scents. In about 900AD, the Arabs invented a distillation technique to extract essential oils from plants. The process involves heating the plant, channelling the vapour into a condenser and separating the layer of oil from the water. At the beginning of the 12th century, plants for making perfume were cultivated in Grasse, in the south of France. A number of manufacturers are still based there today.

Nowadays, we make many fragrance ingredients synthetically, mainly because nature can't provide the vast quantities needed and because of the huge costs involved in growing, harvesting and extracting pure essential oils. Living Flower Technology is designed to replicate the exact smell of a flower synthetically. A single living flower is encapsulated in a vacuum for six to 12 hours and the fragrance it gives off is then captured and chemically analysed. An exact chemical imitation of the aroma is then produced synthetically. Perfumers today have a choice of about 3,000 different ingredients. It takes about 50 ingredients to make a typical new fragrance. The art lies in the skill with which the selected ingredients are chosen and blended to create the new fragrance.