The very first perfume I ever made was Orange Blossom, which today remains my best-selling perfume. Back in 2002 I began to develop an interest in essential oils and aromatherapy, and orange blossom essential oil (I can’t even remember how I managed to come across it) – was the scent that started it all for me. Unlike limes, the scent of orange blossoms was not one that was really known in Barbados, although orange trees do of course grow here.
Orange blossom – or neroli essential oil – is steam distilled from the leaves, twigs and blossoms of the bitter orange fruit tree, and was one of the first essential oils I came across. I still remember when I smelled it for the very first time – I was captivated by how different, and “alive” this completely natural oil smelled. Light, uplifting, green, floral, spicy, sunshine…….. it was unlike any commercial fragrance or perfume I had known.
A few years passed and my interest in aromatherapy transitioned into soap making and natural skin care. I stumbled onto artisan perfume-making quite by chance, while looking for unique and interesting ways to scent my soaps other than with the generic fragrance oils that were on the market.
True to its mysterious and intriguing nature, orange blossom has a fleeting aroma which lasts only a short time when applied to skin. I really wanted to savour this scent for myself as something longer lasting, so I sampled many commercial versions in department stores but came away dissatisfied. After some of my own somewhat serendipitous experimentations with various essential oils and fragrance oils, I created my own orange blossom perfume that I was completely satisfied with, and that today remains my best-selling perfume.
Unlike some of my other perfumes, I have hardly updated or added to the original formula for Orange Blossom, apart from adding some jasmine sambac, which definitely makes a lovely difference, giving the overall perfume more depth and richness.
Although since then I have tried to become more familiar with the materials used in perfumery, read more books on the subject, gained more knowledge about the individual aroma molecules that make materials smell the way they do, and experimented with blends more and more, orange blossom remains for me the scent that started it all.
Each part of the bitter orange tree provides an aromatic material that can be used in perfume-making:
- The flowers of the bitter orange tree provide neroli essential oil and orange blossom absolute. Neroli is obtained by steam distillation, orange blossom is obtained by solvent extraction;
- The leaves and twigs of the bitter orange tree provide orange petitgrain essential oil;
- The fruit peel provides bitter orange essential oil.