In our region and especially Kuwait, people are known for their love of scent. Women and men will douse themselves from head to toe in perfume before leaving the house and the business of small local factories producing unique and locally-derived scents is booming.
Most of us have numerous bottles of perfumes, but we are not aware how these perfumes are made. Kuwait Times visited a local perfume factory to witness the actual production of scent in Kuwait.
Makki Al-Qallaf, CEO of Amal Al-Kuwait Perfumes, explained the manufacturing process from the beginning. “The first stage is the mixing of the raw materials – reserve osmosis water, ethanol and oil. This process is done in one machine. Mixing chemicals is a very sensitive operation, and there is an international standard for it. Our products compete with European products as we use high quality water, raw materials and packaging,” he told Kuwait Times.
“In order to ensure production of high-quality perfumes, we mix it in a robust concentration. All the raw materials that we use in our perfumes are sourced from Europe. The oils can’t be produced locally as Kuwait is a desert country and has limited flora. Some flowers, plants and herbs that are the base of the oils can’t be grown in Kuwait due to its climate, such as lily, so we use imported oils,” explained Qallaf.
In the second phase, they mix the preservatives with the earlier mixture. “The preservatives are responsible for making the perfume last for a longer period. Fake perfumes atomize the oil with large quantities of alcohol. This makes the scent disappear fast, while genuine chemicals last longer. We produce two kinds of essences – eau de toilet and parfum. To get the stronger essence, which is parfum, we mix more concentrated oil with a lesser quantity of ethanol,” he said.
“We have a factory for oud perfume in Thailand. There, we use the raw materials from the local production of wood to make bukhoor and dihen oud. In fact, oud perfumes are more in demand in Kuwait. These essences are never changed, even if we change others,” said Qallaf.
Testing new scents
Qallaf himself proposes the idea for producing new fragrances and sometimes is inspired by international perfumes. New products are added every season. “We add about two to five new essences to our perfume collection every year. Usually, we prepare at least one new perfume for each of the two annual perfume exhibitions that are held at the (Mishref) fairgrounds,” he noted. “We are the only local producer to manufacture body mist. This is due to the difficulty of formulating the mix, which includes only 6 percent alcohol. Also, marshoosh (clothes and linen essence) has a very low percentage of alcohol. The one we make doesn’t include any oil, so it doesn’t stain fabrics,” said Qallaf.
Consultant Dr Hashim Al-Hamad explained the process of purifying the water and using it in the manufacturing process. “The reserve osmosis water is purified water with zero total dissolved solids (TDS). This is the only machine of its kind in Kuwait to be used in a factory for perfumes. These kinds of machines are used to produce mineral water. As this is the first ozone-friendly machine in Kuwait, schools send students for field visits to our factory,” he pointed out.
“Using this water makes the perfume smell fresh and will never cause headaches like fake perfumes, as fake perfumes contain poisons. A good perfume should only contain 40 percent alcohol, while fake or cheap perfumes usually use 80 percent alcohol. These bad perfumes also usually don’t include preservatives, which decrease the toxins. They instead use nitrogen, which produces a good smell, but it includes arsenates that cause headaches,” Hamad said.
The factory also produces dishwashing detergent. “Water containing sodium and calcium causes allergies or skin irritation, so we remove these materials from the water. We also apply safety measures for workers at the factory, and they wear special masks to avoid inhaling the ethanol,” he added.
Amal Al-Kuwait Perfumes is one of the oldest local perfume factories. From only producing a few kinds of oriental perfumes and incenses, the factory expanded to manufacture a wide range of perfumes, soaps, home fragrances, air fresheners and dishwashing liquid since the past 30 years. The factory is equipped according to the latest technology and international standards. The company is now applying for the ISO9002 certification. Most equipment is made from stainless steel, which is the best material that resists damage caused by chemicals. This year, Amal Al-Kuwait launched a new range of products under the ‘Pura Vida’ brand, which includes soap, shower gel and marshoosh.
By Nawara Fattahova