I LOOOOVE the smell of orange blossom. I would even say I am slightly obsessed with it! My shower gel (Orange Blossom by Cottage) and my favourite perfumes (Azahar by Madini, Neroli Portofino by Tom Ford, Fleur d’Oranger by Fragonard) are all based on the scent of orange blossom.
I even bake with orange blossom water, which is a popular flavour used in French pastry. It is typically used in madeleines (little French cake) and in Moroccan and Tunisian pastries, which are popular in France due to the historical influences of North African countries in the Hexagon. It is also a very soothing scent: in some cultures, France and Spain for example, baby care products smell of orange blossom.
Orange blossom is a multi-faceted scent (almost a fragrance in itself!); it is very complex and can be interpreted within a large palette of notes. Sometimes, it builds on its heady, floral (almost animalic) facet while at the same time, it has a fresh, baby-like, soapy clean scent.
The Orange Bigarade (bitter orange) tree produces different types of extracts used in perfumery: from the fruit, the bitter orange essence; from the leaves, the petitgrain bigarade essence and from the flowers, we get either the orange blossom absolute, the orange blossom water or the neroli essence – my personal favourite (depending on the extraction process). They all smell pretty different but have a common olfactory root. So this explains in itself the complexity of this perfume material!
Because orange blossom natural extracts are extremely expensive, perfumers often reproduce the smell of the flower from a blend of natural and synthetic perfumery raw materials and can therefore decide to enhance one facet or another. Synthetic components like Aurantiol, Anthranilate de Methyl and Nerolidol can be used to reconstitute the smell of orange blossom (as part of a blend).