Perfumes contain mixes of many ingredients, such as sandalwood, aldehyde, bergamot, amber, citron, frankincense, jasmine, osmanthus, patchouli, rose, vanilla and ylang ylang. Perfumes are mixtures of essential oils or organic scent compounds and solvents.
Methyl benzoate is an example of an organic compound used in perfumes. It is a colorless liquid that mixes with other organic solvents. It has a sweet smell and is also used in pesticides to attract insects. Another is isobornyl cyclohexanol, which has a scent similar to sandalwood oil. It is sometimes used as an economical alternative to harvesting sandalwood trees, which are endangered.
Different types of perfumes are made by using different concentrations of scent compounds and solvents. High-end fragrances typically use a mix of water and ethanol or ethanol alone as their solvents. Classifications of perfumes include eau de parfum, in which scent compounds account for 10 to 20 percent of the mixture. Eau de toilette has aromatic compounds of 5 to 15 percent, and eau de cologne contains 3 to 8 percent scent compounds. Men's colognes typically have a concentration similar to women's eau de toilette or eau de parfum.
Production of modern perfumes began in the late 1800s with the making of scent compounds. The compounds allowed for the production of perfumes with scents that could not be achieved with natural substances alone.