Why Is Calone a Popular Perfume Ingredient?

Where Sea Breezes and Watermelon Rind Meet

Woman spraying calone
Erika Straesser / EyeEm / Getty Images

 

Calone, also called watermelon ketone, is the perfume ingredient that is responsible for many of the ocean breeze fragrances available for women and men. It's been used for decades in a number of popular perfumes and offers soft undertones of watermelon. If you're shopping for a perfume with a fresh sea breeze scent, it will almost always contain Calone.

What It Smells Like

Calone produces the olfactory effect of a fresh seashore through intense marine and ozone notes.

 It also has slight floral overtones and watermelon rind undertones.

Depending on the formulation, Calone may take on specific oceanic tones, such as green seaweed or algae. It can take on a distinct melon fragrance, ranging from canteloupe to honeydew melon, as well as sweet watermelon. Some people also detect other fruits, including cucumber, gooseberry, grapefruit, kiwi, and mango.

On the floral side, one might notice hibiscus blooms or lily of the valley. Dogwood and cilantro can also be picked up at times.

Despite having such complexities, you can expect Calone to have an overall clean, fresh scent. That is why it's such a popular ingredient for perfumes.

Calone's History

Technically called Calone 1951, this synthetic perfume compound was discovered by Pfizer in 1951, introduced in 1966, and patented in 1970. The chemists who created it were originally looking for a food additive that offered both the taste and aroma of watermelon.

What they stumbled upon instead was a compound that offered a fresh sea-breeze scent that would create a new class of perfumes.

Calone is similar in structure to the pheromones produced by certain species of brown algae. According to Mark Behnke of the Colognoissuer, "in its white crystalline form, it has a nose-searing acrid smell." Only after Calone has been diluted to a great degree does it take on those signature oceanic scents.

Calone's common name is "Watermelon Ketone." This is actually deceptive, though, because the melon aspect is not the fruit's flesh, but more like the watery rind with only slight fruity undertones.

Behnke also notes that chemists have been working on refining and perfecting Calone. Fragrance compounds with similar marine notes include Ozonal and Algol. 

Calone's Rise in Popularity

In perfumery, the introduction of Calone kicked off the sub-family of perfumes referred to as "aquatic," "oceanic," and "ozone." The first perfume with a fresh sea breeze scent was Aramas New West by perfumer Yves Tanguy. It was released in 1988 and you can still find it for women and men.

It was not until 1990, however, that the oceanic perfumes really took off. That was due to the release of perfumer Pierre Bordon's famous fragrance, Davidoff Cool Water. This one has also enjoyed decades of success in both men's cologne and women's perfume, and it inspired countless other fragrances that would follow.

The 1990s were the peak of sea breeze perfumes, with their invigorating, lively, and long-lasting scents. Many brands followed this trend, but few enjoyed success like the Issey Miyake's L’eau d’Issey. It has been considered an icon in this class of perfumes since its 1992 release.

Men can enjoy this fragrance in L'eau d'Issey Pour Homme.

Calone Fragrances for Women

Beyond those already mentioned, there are many more perfumes available for women that include Calone in their composition. Explore some of these at the perfume counter or look for any that are labeled with words like "sea" or "ocean."

  • Christian Dior Dune
  • Escada Sorbetto Rosso
  • L'Eau Par Kenzo for Womene
  • Giorgio Beverly Hills Ocean Dream for Women
  • Ralph Lauren Polo Sport Woman
  • Rochas Aquawoman

Calone Fragrances for Men

Many popular men's colognes also feature Calone, including some of the biggest names in perfumery. Keep in mind that colognes may not always promote the ocean breeze aspect in a name because that may be seen as too feminine in marketing. Yet, you can ask at the cologne counter for any that are similar to these.

  • Kenzo Homme and Kenzo Homme Fresh
  • Calvin Klein Escape
  • Jil Sander Sun Men
  • Hugo Boss Hugo Element
  • Donna Karan DKNY Men

Sources:

Behnke M. Olfactory Chemistry: Calone Part 2–The Search for a Better Mousetrap. Colognoisseur. 2015.

Behnke M. Olfactory Calone—The Smell of the Sea (and Watermelon). Colognoisseur. 2015.

Buttner A. Springer Handbook of Odor. Cham, Switzerland; Springer International Publishing: 2017.