What is a Fragrance Oil Made Of?

rosemaryQ: What exactly is a fragrance oil made out of? I went to buy some today and noticed there was no ingredients listed. 

A: Fragrance Oils do not have full ingredient disclosure; they fall under ‘Trade Secret’ status with the FDA and so simply putting “Fragrance” on an ingredient list will suffice.

There are over 3500 materials (aroma chemicals, essential oils and essential oil components) that are approved for use in fragrance oils. Fragrance oils are not policed by the FDA; rather, they are a self-regulated body. Each individual ingredient is tested for things such as irritation, solvency, absorption, to physical characteristics like flash point, specific gravity, and flammability as well as more serious things, such as carcinogenic indicators etc… Once an ingredient is fully tested, the results are published in a peer-reviewed journal. A group called ‘RIFM’ performs all the tests (RIFM stands for Research Institute for Fragrance Materials). 

 The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) is an international organization that represents fragrance manufacturers. IFRA takes the data and reports from RIFM, evaluates it and publishes guidelines for usage. IFRA will make recommendations for which raw materials are safe to use in fragrance oils; often, what is safe for potpourri will not be safe for the skin. Your supplier should follow IFRA’s guidelines and use only RIFM approved materials in their fragrance oils.