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The Secret Ingredient in Perfume that Brings Back Memories
I’ve always felt that there is something very personal about choosing perfume. It’s amazing the effect a scent can have on our mind and senses. A spritz of a favoured fragrance can evoke fond memories and make us smile. Did you know that it the frankincense in perfumes that prompts your mind to think of the past? Levels of other ingredients in perfume also determine the strength of the scent’s “trail”, i.e. how long the fragrance lingers after you. The production of fragrances has always interested me.
It's fascinating how a single fragrance can be equally as loved as it is loathed. Unlike fashion items where we use our eyes, hands and body shape to determine whether or not we like a garment, with perfume we solely rely on our olfaction system. Our ability to smell is all we rely on to tell us how much we like or dislike a single spritz or perfume.
How to Make Chanel No. 5
Perfume production starts in the late spring at Joesph Mul's fields near Pegomas, France. This is where jasmine and rose petals are collected to form Chanel No. 5's legendary scent. The roses used to make Chanel No. 5 are Rosa Centifolia flowers, which in English means "hundred petals". The Rosa Centifolia is a unique species of rose. Unlike typical roses which have a more uniformed look, this one has a frilly, cabbage-like appearance, with many leaves. Additionally, they boast a clear, honeyed sweet scent that is essential for producing Coco Chanel's legendary fragrance!
Experts claim that the scent of the Chanel roses is very significant! Locals and harvesters from the area say that a Rosa Centifolia rose can be identified by its scent alone. There's also a particular method of picking the roses too. This initial stage in the process sounds fairly simple, but each step involves attention to detail and skill! To pick a Pegomas rose: you must have one finger over the rose, one finger underneath and then twist. After the roses have been harvested, their oils have to be extracted quickly before they begin to ferment. Simply holding a rose in your hand for too long will alter the way the rose smells and could potentially change the quality of the end result. If the roses are left to ferment, the original sweet scent can turn into a less attractive peppery aroma if the oils are not extracted in time.
Now it is time for the: "la fleur au flacon", meaning the flower into the bottle. Once the petals have been harvested, they are offloaded into a huge metal vat. Inside the vat, the petals turn into a waxy, solid state. 2000 litres of hexane are then added to the vat. Hexane is a clear liquid solvent and is heated to 68 degrees within the sealed vat. Once the temperature has reached 68° Celsius, the vat is reopened. By this point the roses are no longer pink, but brown. The Chanel flower petal ratio is: 1000 Pegomas Jasmine Flowers to every 12 Pegomas roses.
A few extraction processes later, the perfume is ready and poured into 30ml bottles, labelled: "Chanel No. 5".
Buy your very own bottle of Chanel No.5 here
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