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Comparatively Speaking: Natural vs. Synthetic Fragrance
By: Anthony J. O'Lenick, Jr., Siltech LLC; and Ed Matson, Carrubba Inc.
Posted: December 22, 2011
page 2 of 2Chemically modified natural raw materials: The starting point for these materials is natural, but chemical processes (such as acetylation) have been employed to change the chemical structure of the raw material, rendering it non-natural.
Nature identical raw materials: These are synthetics, created through reactive chemistry that have the same chemical structure of naturals, but do not come from botanicals. Most often, the starting point for these aroma chemicals is petroleum. A good example is synthetic linalool, which is chemically identical to linalool that is fractionally distilled from lavender oil, but it is not derived from a plant.
Aroma chemicals that do not exist in nature: These are synthetic aroma chemicals produced through chemical reactions that have no corresponding natural aroma chemical. An example is methyl dihydrojasmonate, a soft diffusive floral note.
Natural vs. Synthetic Fragrance
Natural fragrances have greater perceived value as they are believed to be greener and more sustainable by many consumers. They are often perceived to be safer and more healthful and therapeutic. Some of these consumer perceptions are not necessarily accurate, but they drive demand for naturals. Natural fragrances are generally made from ingredients harvested from sustainably grown plants rather than from petrochemicals. Synthetic fragrances can be stronger, longer lasting, more complex and sophisticated and less expensive than natural fragrances. Although the palette of natural ingredients from which the perfumer can draw has increased substantially of late, there are many more synthetic aroma chemicals available, allowing the perfumer greater creative freedom. Synthetic fragrances are easier to manufacture as their components are more reproducible from lot to lot. Despite the technical advantages of synthetics, demand for natural aromatics continues to increase rapidly.