Fixative is an old term for any natural substance that will hold and ‘fix’ and that helps a fragrance last longer on the skin. Alcohol-based scents are the most fleeting., So a substance is required to add for "anchor" the scent. Lowering the evaporation rate of the alcohol usually does this.Benzoin and Frankincense other resins and Tolu Balsam and Peru balsam are some of the more common additions to a blend that will help to ‘fix’ it.
Orrisroot is also an excellent fixative, but it is a sensitizer (as is Benzoin), so perhaps reserving these for your potpourri mixtures might be a good idea. Fixatives are generally the base notes and kept at about 3-5%.
The fixative can be a powerful part of the scent. Some think that any fragrance fixatives might impart to a scent should be kept to a minimum. However, some of these odors with powerful fixative qualities can be integrated into the scent as a base and form a powerful base.The formula of which can be used over and over again in other perfumes to make a fragrant accord.
Fixatives are used to equalize the vapor pressures and thus the volatilities of the raw materials in a perfume oil. As well as to increase the tenacity.
Natural fixatives are resinoids (benzoin, labdanum, myrrh, olibanum, storax, tolu balsam) and animal products (ambergris, castoreum, musk and civet). Synthetic fixatives include substances of low volatility (cyclopentadecanolide, ambroxide, benzyl salicylate) and virtually odorless solvents with very low vapor pressures (benzyl benzoate, diethyl phthalate, triethyl citrate).
Their use in perfumery is essential as they help elongate shelf-life and integrate fragrances by blending aromasand holding individual or overall scents over time. Many fixatives also serve as basenotes such as sandalwood or vanilla.
Natural fixatives can be tinctures, gums, resins, powders or essential oils each of them can come from an animal or plant source.There is a possibilty that one may use herbs in a fragrance to enhance it and use it as a fixative as well.
Finding the right fixative with the right scent to add to a fragrance can be difficult because sometimes have to build a fragrance around basenote or fixative. However certain fixatives just guide into perfect smells such as sandalwood and vanilla.
In fine perfumery often one works with delicate raw materials, resulting in a concentrate with outstanding fragrance properties. But not lasting and lingering as long as one might expect considering the usually high costprice of the compound.
In the past animal-based products such as ambergris and civet were added as fixative to obtain a more lingering effect. At present these animal products are "product a non grata" and hardly in use anymore.
Remains the fact that in many cases a good fixative is needed. Fixative BMV was developed to give the Perfumers a material that would not effect the overall odour profile . It is almost odourless and can be used upto 10% in Fragrances. The only drawback being its Non Solubility in Alcohol. On the other hand it is an excellent Odourless Fixative for Burning and Chewing tobacco applications