Perfume Glossary



An absolute is the end-product of the solvent extraction process of plant materials. A concrete is obtained which is usually solid. This is washed with ethanol to separate the pure oil from the solid plant waxes. Usually very low yielding, absolutes are generally extremely expensive and are used mainly in Fine Perfumery.


Aldehydic is a term used to describe a family of perfumes which are characterised by a pronounced emphasis on the use of aliphatic aldehydes. In their pure state most of these are extremely powerful and quite unpleasant. It is only in dilution and balanced with carefully chosen natural materials and other synthetics that they take on attractive qualities. Chanel No.5 was the first famous Aldehydic perfume.


Chypre is one of the three main categories of fragrance, the other two being Floral and Oriental. There are several sub categories. Chypre perfumes consist of fresh herbal and citrus top notes, usually a floral heart and a base of Oakmoss, Labdanum, Patchouli and Musks. This is the most populated category of fragrance with thousands of perfumes being placed somewhere in the several subdivisions of Chypre.



A concrete (essence concrète) in perfumery terminology is the product of the first step in the Volatile Solvent Extraction process. The plant material to be extracted is placed on grilles in closed containers, and the solvent (petroleum ether for example) flows through them dissolving the aromatic components along with plant waxes. The concrete is a solid wax-like mass remaining after to evaporation of the solvent. This can be used directly in perfume composition but far more usually it is further treated to yield the Absolute (essence absolue).

Eau de Cologne

Eau de Cologne is a solution of approximately 3% to 5% perfume oil in an alcohol/water mix. The classical “Eau de Cologne” is a composition of fresh, light, volatile essential oils (predominantly citrus) which contains few if any, fixatives. Eau de Cologne is intended to be refreshing, and has limited perfuming effect.


Eau de Parfum

Eau de Parfum is a solution of perfume oil, (10%-18%) in alcohol (95% to 82%).


Eau de Toilette

Eau de Toilette is a solution of 4%-8% perfume oil in alcohol.



Enfleurage is a traditional extraction process used especially for delicate flowers. Wooden-framed sheets of glass called chassis are smeared with purified animal fat on both sides, covered in blossoms like Tubereuse or Jasmine, stacked on their frames, and left for two days for the fat to absorb the fragrant absolute. The flowers are changed every couple of days until after a month the fat has become saturated with floral oil. The fat is then scraped off and washed with alcohol to extract the floral essence. This solution is then chilled to totally solidify the fat, and filtered. Careful evaporation of the alcohol leaves the extremely precious pomade oil. This process is become increasingly uncommon and the resulting floral extract employed in only the most expensive perfumes.


The H&R Perfume Book, Julia Müller, Hamburg, West Germany, 1984. (Verlagsgessellschaft R. Glö & Co, Hamburg)