Perfume classification system could help pre-formulation of fragrances

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Odor Perfume Aroma compound

A new way of classifying scents has been developed by researchers in Portugal which they claim could help take the arbitrariness out of fragrance categorisation.

The Perfumery Radar, developed by researchers at the University of Porto, is a tool that can classify perfumes into various olfactive or scent families regarding their composition.

Traditionally it is individual perfumers or perfume houses that categorise scents, which means the systems are not always easily comparable, explained the researchers in the study led by Professor Alírio Rodrigues.

In addition, the sense of smell itself is very personal and people tend to associate scents with past experiences and emotions, further complicating an attempt to find a universal classification system.

Scientific classification

However, according to Rodrigues, the Perfumery Radar, as a more scientific classification, provides a system that is less arbitrary.

“The Perfumery Radar is a methodology for the classification of perfumes into olfactive families like "citrus", "floral", "oriental", or "woody" among others. It assigns a fragrance to an olfactive family considering the composition in the liquid phase and the olfactive character of each single fragrance ingredient,”​ he told

In order to test the Perfumery Radar, Rodrigues and the team classified a number of essential oils as well as commercially available female fragrances to see whether the classification agreed with perfumers’ views.

According to the study, the Perfumery Radar correctly predicted the primary olfactive family of four essential oils (orange, lemon, jasmine and thyme) and a number of commercial perfumes.

Predictive power

For Rodrigues, this predictive quality is one the most useful characteristics of the Perfumery Radar for the industry.

“Its ​[uses for the industry are] mainly focused on perfume classification and since it has predictable capabilities it can be used in the pre-formulation step of perfumes or other fragrant mixtures (e.g. functional perfumes),”​ he said.

Although he believed experts would continue to stick with their own personal frameworks of classification, Rodrigues did say that a standardised framework is the only practical ways to perform comparisons and the Perfumery Radar would help towards that objective.

Source: Industrial Engineering and Chemistry Research

2010, Issue 49, pages 11764 – 11777
Perfumery Radar: A Predictive Tool for Perfume Family Classification
Miguel A. Teixeira, Oscar Rodríguez, and Alírio E. Rodrigues

Related topics Formulation & Science

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