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The difference between fragrance oil and base oil


New member
May 1, 2023
Hi guys I am new in perfumery. I bought some oils from a company for example: Patchouli, oud, Amber, rose, black pepper, lemon...etc and this company said they bought it from a French company called givaudan. However, When ever I tried to make a perfume out of them even if it is 30% concentrated it does not project and last as the professional perfume. Recently from my reading I came a cross fragrance oil and that we should not use them when we want to design a perfume. However, I came also a cross what is called a base ( which is a creation that have been made by good perfumers to make it smell like something for example sandalwood) . Now my question is what would be the difference than between fragrance and base oils? Because what I bought also smell like a specific smell. Also if they are the same does it depends on the company that I buy from them the base and could I build up a perfume just from these base oils?


Well-known member
Oct 12, 2016
Well, this question has been asked a million times and many other members will be irked at you for asking it again.

In general (as you've already seemed to gather) a base is probably going to be a lot higher quality than a fragrance is and is designed for use for perfumers in putting together a perfume; whereas a fragrance oil is designed for direct use in a scented product, and usually not for a fine perfume.
A fragrance oil will be more like a finished fragrance, although usually a single note.

If you're trying to make a perfume that is going to project and have strength, usually you are going to have to resort to some synthetic materials. Fragrance oils will usually go a long way towards that end, but not always necessarily.
There are all-natural fragrances that only use essential oils, but usually these perfumes have a very different type of character, or the type of notes or essential oils have to be specifically selected (i.e. the stronger smelling ones such as lavender, calendula, spices).

Companies like Givaudan and Firmenich are going to be the main top tier companies for perfume bases.

As for the question of could you build up a perfume from only just perfume bases, the answer is you could, but it might not be quite the "polished" finished product. Fragrance oils (although being of lower overall quality) tend to have some other stuff in them that makes them more of a finished fragrance. So I suppose theoretically the two could be mixed, but that is not ideal, and many perfumers would see that as an unfortunate waste, mixing high quality bases with cheap fragrance oils. Most real perfumers want more control over exactly what goes into their formula than that.

But sure, there are probably many perfumes that were composed using 80% bases (and you could probably bring that number up to 85 or 90 if you wanted).

I've found that fragrance oils can be kind of a hit-or-miss. Sometimes they seem to be rather close to high quality in smell, sometimes not, can depend on the type of note. Probably not a good idea to use fragrance oils if you're a professional perfumer. But if you're just making a scented bath product on a small scale, or a fragrance for just a couple of friends, I wouldn't rule it out.


Well-known member
Jan 7, 2022
However, When ever I tried to make a perfume out of them even if it is 30% concentrated it does not project and last as the professional perfume.
Two reasons for this:
  1. High quality professional perfumes are (often) designed by professional perfumers who know how to blend ingredients in such a way that they do project and last. If you're new to perfumery, don't expect to be able to create a perfume that projects well and lasts like professional products. It takes years of practice and study to become a good perfumer.

  2. In general, perfumes consist of naturals and aroma chemicals. Without those aroma chemicals, it's much harder to make a good perfume.
Recently from my reading I came a cross fragrance oil and that we should not use them when we want to design a perfume.

Fragrance oils are like bases in that they mimic a specific scent but where bases are mostly used in fine fragrances, fragrance oils are meant to be used in e.g. reed diffusers, cosmetics or scented candles. The term is also used for ready made perfumes to which you only have to add alcohol.

Now my question is what would be the difference than between fragrance and base oils?

Bases are blends made by perfumers that can be used as an ingredient or building block in perfumes / fine fragrances. Some bases are created to mimic naturals like e.g. Sandalwood oil because the natural itself is very expensive and/or rare. Also, in those cases where it's impossible to create a good extract from a certain flower for example, a base can be a good solution. Another advantage of bases is their consistent quality and scent profile.


Dec 2, 2021
Some people use the term "oil" for almost anything that is somewhat non-polar, no matter what it may be. "So, it doesn't mix well with water, you say? Ok, then it's an oil." I don't this is a reasonable way of talking about it, but from this it then follows that you have Essential Oils, Fragrance Oils and now you have even invented something new called a Base Oil.

Can we just call it a Base? Pretty please? They can be made by good perfumers but they can also be made by bad ones.

Essential Oils, for the most part, means the result of steam distillation of some material. Not everything makes sense to do this way, but Patchouli as you mention above, yes. Probably Black Pepper and Lemon too (although Lemon can be expressed without heating).

Real Oud is super expensive, so it's unlikely that this is what you actually bought. It is most likely a base. The same with Rose, which does exist as Rose Otto, but that is again so expensive that you probably have a base. Rose Absolute is more common. Amber is the great fictional smell that would also be a base.

Fragrance Oil however, is typically a complete fragrance without the carrier, and not something that smells like a single note. Not meant to be mixed with other smells but to put into products that are not necessarily fine fragrance. Maybe "high quality" ones exist, but it appears that they are extremely rare beasts.


Well-known member
Apr 25, 2018
Anything sold as a "fragrance oil" is not for perfumery. It's either made for soaps, lotions, etc. and will be shitty for perfume (because that's not what it's made for), or it's a cheap ripoff of a popular perfume scent (which means it will be a...cheap ripoff).

"Perfumery base" is a professionally premade product intended to be used in perfumery.

"Fragrance concentrate" is a completed fragrance. You dilute it into ethanol and make spray perfumes, or dilute it into fixed oil and make roll-on perfumes.

Fragrance concentrates are made from essential oils, absolutes, synthetic molecules, professional bases, and more. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn what you're doing. If you're trying to build your own perfume brand by buying pre-made products, diluting them into bottles, and selling them, then you are doomed to failure. The correct way to start a perfume brand - if you don't want to spend 2+ years learning perfumery yourself - is to hire a perfumer to work together with you and create your product line.


New member
May 1, 2023
Thank you all for your helpful answers:). It is my first day in this forum and I really learned a lot of helpful tips

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