Musings on making scents with Nootka Tree essential oil… gotta admit, I bought this one out of pure curiosity but am not at all disappointed. What I learned is that Nootka tree essential oil isn’t really a true cypress, read on to see what I mean. This note threw me a few aromatic curve balls which I still haven’t quite grasped. While writing this and sniffing anew I tried to pick up what those errant aspects were, but I suspect only time and experience will reveal them to me. No longer frustrated, I’m quite okay with leaving it a mystery till then.
Common name(s): Nootka Tree essential oil, Alaska cypress, Yellow cedarwood
Botanical name: Chamaecyparis nootkatensis
Supplier: Hermitage Oils UK
Blends well with: patchouli, vetiver, fir, grapefruit, bergamot, cardamom, juniper, labdanum, lavender, mandarin, orange, pine, etc.
Chemical components: Nootka essential oil is rich in sesquiterpenes. The main components are valencene 15%, nootkatone 2%, nootkatene 57%, carvacrol 6%
Interesting bits: Nootka is a majestic conifer that grows in British Columbia and Alaska. The tree is of great importance to the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest who use it for many of their carvings. In fact, it’s from the Nootka Tribe that the Nootka Tree gets its name. And curiously enough, it’s from the Nootka Tree that Nootkatone (the grapefruit ingredient) gets its name. (North West Aromatics)
There are many other species of cypress used to produce an essential oil; however, C. sempervirens is considered superior (Lawless 1992). Other Cypresses. Those trees referred to as cypress that are not true cypresses include the Port Orford white cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana); the Nootka sound cypress or Alaska cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatesis); and the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), famous for its southeastern U.S. swamp growths. Frequently used in landscape plantings, the Leyland cypress is a hybrid of the Nootka and Monterey (Coombes 1992). (Agora)
Their nose: Warm woody with a sandalwood top note. Leathery and smoky with patchouli and vetiver notes. Aromatic. (North West Aromatics)
Fresh, dry, precious woods bouquet with a powdery resinous undertone (White Lotus Aromatics)
Woody, spicy, cedarwood, leathery, minty, cumin, thyme (Hermitage Oils UK)
Spicy, smoky, juniper and pine-like aroma (Agora)
It smells like a quieter cedar wood oil (commenter on Basenotes)
My nose: Nootka tree essential oil opens with a definite pencil shavings effect. Pungent — no, blunt edged, it doesn’t reach out to you but remains held in check somehow, reserved and on the aloof side (must be its majestic origins). Then 15min later I get thin, scrawny, hint of gasoline/fuel. How weird is that?! At any rate, 30min later there is a sharp, thin, rough smell that reminds me of work. A gust of wind growls and I am sent memories of school days in childhood, and old pencil sharpeners, the ones you had to get up to to use because they were nailed to the wall! 45min now it’s austere, thin yet radiant, candid, it is what is, it hints at unpretentious, simple roots. 1hr into the journey and on a thin wispy layer of terpene, I am in the middle of dusk, though the note still has zip and exuberance. It gives you the feeling of being spirited away at any moment. Nookta tree is still sharp and pungent after 2hrs, but it’s stripped bare now, very singular in expression. 3hrs finds the note to be strident, shrill and me astounded that it’s still so insistent! Dry, bracing, peppery quality, too. 8hrs takes me into base note territory and holy mackerel this note has gone all dark, moody and enigmatic! Brooding…what?! Yes, there is something else hiding behind the obvious…but what is it?! I have to let it go, frustrated though it makes me and move on. 12hrs later there is only a slight pencil shavings facet but something else is affecting the overall impression…dry, pungent, thin, crisp, yet warm. At the 24hr mark there is a weird off note happening and the pencil shavings thing is still there!
12/24 comparison: Very pungent, very much like pencil shavings at 12hrs. Dry, cracked, brittle — this is mainly what comes through for me. Somewhere between this and 24hrs there’s an off note that presents itself, something akin to gasoline.
That’s all for now, my nose is pooped, needs a rest, so the weekend is a welcome pause. See you Monday!