making scents with cinnamon bark essential oil


Musings on making scents with cinnamon bark essential oil take me in the direction of “what you see is what you get”. Cinnamon bark is totally unpretentious and is not out to dazzle you with quick costume changes and olfactive acrobatics, it is what it is. Period. That being said I have the sneaking suspicion that it will take some time, but this very common essential oil has qualities hidden to the untrained, busy, impatient nose.  It’s a very familiar scent that can be easily overlooked but don’t make that mistake. If you’re looking for something to add heat and acceleration to your blend then perhaps cinnamon bark essential oil is that player:

Common name: Cinnamon bark essential oil (Sri Lanka)

Genus name: Cinnamomum zeylanicum

Supplier: White Lotus Aromatics

Note: Heart/Base

Family: Spice

Diffusion: 6

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: Gourmand and vanilla notes (Cocoa Absolute, Vanilla CO2, Benzoin), other spice oils (Cloves Oil, Cloves CO2, Cardamom CO2, Coriander, Ginger CO2, Ginger Lily CO2), Florals (Rose, Champaca CO2, Roman Chamomile, Jasmine), Sweet citrus notes (Sweet Orange, Blood Orange, Tangerine, Clementine CO2), Herbs (Lavender, Rosemary, Sage), as well as the woodsy-Oriental notes (Agarwood CO2, Frankincense, Labdanum, Patchouli, Sandalwood and Spikenard). (Eden Botanicals)

Chemical components: Eugenol, eugenol acetate, cinnamic aldehyde (about 60%!), benzyl benzoate.

“However, the oil from the leaves of the cinnamon bush has eugenol as the main component, the oil from the root has camphor as the main component, whereas the oil from the flowers has cinnamyl acetate as its main component” (Bo Jensen)

Interesting bits: “Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of the cinnamon tree. It’s scientific name stems from Hebraic and Arabic term amomon, which means ‘fragrant spice plant’.” (Fragrantica)

“Around 200 species of cinnamon are found in the area covered by Southeast Asia, East Asia and the Pacific Islands. In the tertiary period their distribution was much larger. Occasionally cinnamon flowers are seen in Baltic amber! Cinnamons are fragrant. Leaves, bark, flowers, fruits, wood and root always contain essential oil of various composition…Coca-Cola’s original flavour came from cinnamon, lime oil, cola nuts, etc.” (Bo Jensen)

“The sweetness of Cinnamon Bark adds warmth and a spicy appeal to blends when used in minute amounts. Cinnamon is often used in Oriental and chypre perfumes to add a spicy, warm and sweet touch. It can add warmth to dry woody and spicy orientals, and also adds a gourmand touch to sweet, ambery Orientals as it has the culinary association of freshly baked goods (cinnamon buns, apple pie, etc.). It can also be used sparingly in florals as well as in fougère and aromatic herbal blends.” (Eden Botanicals)

Their nose: extremely rich, warm, aromatic-spicy with a delightful sweet powdery woody undertone with great diffusive power and tenacity. (WLA)

“In perfumery, the oil blends well with Oriental-woody notes, and the combination with olibanum(frankincense) is known and often utilized. The warmth and dry spiciness, the immediate sweetness and tremendous diffusive power (or “radiation”) … highly appreciated by certain perfumers.” (Steffen Arctander)

“…its odor is sweet and bitter, hot and sensuous, with a prolonged aftertaste.” (Fragrantica)

“peppery, earthy, spicy, bright yet slightly woodsy.” (Aromaweb)

My nose: What I get upon the opening of cinnamon bark essential oil is candy. Strong, pungent, happy, abundance, extravagant, lush, candy hearts at Valentines! It’s everything I expected from cinnamon. After 15min it’s strong, demanding, invasive and opulent, persistent, sweet too and fiery hot! Yes, the temperature is hot and piccante. 30min after opening and it’s still strong and bold, striking, uncompromising, tough, I would say, there is a roughness to it and only now the bark and wood aspect become apparent. Aha! I get it! The cinnamon “bark” shows up in the texture of the scent, the roughness! At the 45min marker the essential oil of cinnamon bark is drier, it’s definitely cinnamon, sweet, compelling, slightly thin in quality, but at this point it’s the dryness that stands out. It’s now 1hr and the odour is more extensive, fundamental even, there is the bark quality, it’s still strong and gutsy, like a spicy storm. 2hrs now it’s beginning to settle down somewhat into something a bit more composed and well behaved, more elegant and refined. After 3hrs the pungent quality has lessened and I can smell this together in a sweet Oriental mix. This is a first for me, being able to pick it out in a type of perfume! 7hrs later and cinnamon bark essential oil is a bit sweeter, and shares a lot more in common with cinnamon leaf essential oil. But, it’s more golden, hovering just above the surface. I totally missed the 12hr evaluation, damn! And after 24hrs this essential oil is sharply cinnamon. The candy hearts impression is still going strong and potent! Yep, this leaves no doubt that you’re sniffing cinnamon.

And that’s all from me for today.  I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday filled with beautiful smells!




6 thoughts on “making scents with cinnamon bark essential oil

  1. hi Maxine, how was your impression with cinnamon leaf oil??? i think it’s a witch’s oil … in the best possible way. you have to hide it way in the bottom but then it helps carry everything else. same with bark.
    lovely read, as always,
    ps by the way, don’t you feel that synthetic cinnamon, oh horror, is just trying to sell you the first candy like impression, without any of the other goodies that come with the real scent, like the woodiness and the heat??
    good luck to you now and all days..


    1. Hi Eline! Your question about my impression of cinnamon leaf eo had me going back to because I hadn’t evaluated it since 2013 so had to get my nose stuck in it again :). To my nose the cinnamon bark is much sweeter and candy-like. The leaf essential oil is thinner, lighter, more transparent. But as I’ve never tried the leaf in an accord yet I’m finding your experience with it really interesting. You find it hides out? Well, I’ll have to do some experimenting with this and see how it interacts with the others. And to be quite honest, I don’t have any synthetic cinnamons, those never really attracted me and I’ve no examples of them. I’ve got Eugenol, which is the main component in the cinnamon leaf eo and I love the smell of that! Definitely not as multi-faceted as the naturals but that’s why I got it, for support in a singular way. I’ve found the cinnamons to be quite powerful and hot! You have a wonderful day!


      1. hi there, so nice to hear back from you all the time! I didn’t mean it hides out, i meant you have to use it sparingly and then it provides some kind of backbone to the scent. On the contrary it can be very dominant if you use too much.
        Totally agree with you on the bark being powerful and hot. The leaf to me, is extremely green, pungent, there is a lightness to it yes, but still very insistent and not-to-be messed with.
        Eugenol also in clove oil, right?.. the boss used to tell us, that is a type of oil that overpowers the nose, so you smell it once, then the second time your nose can’t find it. Most noticeable in violets, strangely enough. Lovvve violet fragrance.. but especially with the flowers – wild, in the woods of Provence, in spring, yo – it always happened, I would stick my nose in and go wow, paradise.. and then back again and the fragrance didn’t register. It would take a minute or so for the scent to come back. then again, I never reacted like this to clove scent, or cinnamon for that matter so maybe i remember it wrong. could you enlighten us, since you are the chemistry buff?
        out here, sun is shining. have a glorious day


      2. Yup, it’s in clove eo as well. But I’m also learning new things. Here you are telling me it’s also in violets, wow! Seriously though, I’m not a chemistry buff, I am still learning a whole lot, and in now way do I consider myself experienced with chemistry enough to suggest to you why this reaction could be happening. If any of you are chemistry enthusiasts among us, please join in! What is happening to me is that as I fiddle and experiment with different approaches to composing I’m finding that mixing based on chemical components is my natural, instinctive way :).
        You are quite lucky to have sunshine, here’s it’s been overcast all day long.
        Cheers and have a great weekend!


  2. i found this really interesting, but one thing that’s been confusing me for a while is the dilution of cinnamon bark essential oil. Here you say 10%, but from what I’ve seen on the Internet most people keep it at 0.5-1% max, because it’s a very strong and potentially sensitising oil. What has your experience been like with dilutions?


    1. Hello Theo, I hear what you’re saying and yes, this is a very strong oil. I chose 10% because that’s what I have most of my oils diluted to for easy calculating when mixing, if I want it at a weaker strength there’s no guess work when I chose to dilute it in alcohol. It took me a while to really accept that perfume making is NOT an exact science, we try to create a process for ourselves as perfumers so that we can replicate a formula with ease but each batch will be different…when you think about it it must be, it’s the same with wine. Nature does not reproduce itself in exactly the same way from year to year. Hope this was helpful and all the very best for 2016!


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