Understanding Fragrance Oil Families
Over the ages, fragrances have been classified into groups. There are so many possibilities that the categories are constantly reinvented. Take some time to educate your nose, and you'll be able to classify fragrances in no time.
Some flowers have such well-known scents that mere mention of the name conjures an immediate picture. Perhaps you have special memories connected to the scent of a certain flower. Although many of these scents are available as essential oils, they are usually quite costly. Some popular florals include carnation, frangipani, freesia, gardenia, honeysuckle, hyacinth, jasmine, lavender, lilac, magnolia, muget (lily of the valley), pikaki, plumeria, rose, tuberose, and violet.
Scents inspired by the idea of a flower rather than the actual scent are referred to as “fantasy florals.” Although these flowers may possess unique, sometimes fleeting, scents, they are frequently prized more for their visual rather than fragrant beauty. Fantasy floral fragrances include apple blossom, daffodil, daisy, heather, hibiscus, marigold, nasturtium, orchid, pear blossom, snapdragon, sunflower, and tulip.
In recent years, fruit scents have come to the forefront of perfumery. Except for the citrus family, very few fruits are available in essential oils, so it has been the task of perfumers to create impressions of the wonderful fragrances of fruits in fragrance oils. Some perfumers have taken great flights of fancy, combining fruits with flowers, spices, and other treats.
Some examples include apple, apricot, apricot freesia, apricot quince, blackberry, black cherry, blood orange, blueberry, blueberry honeysuckle, cantaloupe, coconut, cranberry spice, cucumber melon, grapefruit, ginger fig, ginger lime, ginger papaya, guava, honeydew, huckleberry, kiwi, lemon, lemon fig, lime, mango, orange, peach, pear, pineapple, plum spice, pomegranate, pumpkin, raspberry cream, strawberry, strawberry kiwi, tangerine, watermelon, and yuzu (Japanese grapefruit).
Sweets and Beverages
Another luscious category of fragrance oils is sweets and beverages. There are many different kinds of some of these fragrances. You need to try a few vanillas, for example, to find your favorites.
Vanilla fragrance oil will turn most soap applications a shade of brown; in cold-process soap, the color can get very dark brown. It is the natural vanillin that causes the brown color. If the brown color bothers you, use the “non-discoloring” vanilla fragrance oils on the market.
You might try almond, brown sugar, cappuccino, chocolate, coconut, coffee, Dutch chocolate, gingerbread, green tea, hazelnut, red clover tea, or vanilla. But be careful! Unsuspecting friends and family have been known to unwittingly taste these yummy-smelling confections!
Some fragrances all but defy categorization. They often reflect the current fashion, with some becoming favorites. Such a favorite is “rain” and the related scents that became popular in the early 1990s. In the late 1990s, scents based on formerly overlooked botanicals, like tomato leaf, also began to turn up. Still others that have gained popularity again, such as amber, have long been at the heart of perfumery. Amber, fresh grass, oakmoss, ocean rain, rain, sweetgrass, sage, tomato leaf, and sandalwood are some current favorites.