A perfume is a blend of substances made from plant oils and synthetic materials which produce a pleasant odor. Perfumes were used in ancient times as incense in religious rites, in medicines, and later for ornament. Today they are utilized in cosmetics, toilet waters, soaps and detergents, and polishes. A main source of perfumes are essential oils extracted from different parts of plants, e.g., the flowers of the rose, the leaves of lavender, cinnamon from bark, and pine from wood. They are extracted by steam distillation; by using volatile solvents; by coating petals with fat, or by soaking. Animal products,such as ambergris from the sperm whale, are used as fixatives to preserve fragrance. The development of synthetic perfumes began in 19th century. There are now a number of synthetic chemicals with flower-like fragrance, fro example citronellol for rose.
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