Musings on making scents with … with Frankincense essential oil it hit me I am always as surprised as any of you at how closely my impression sometimes parallels those of some of the other noses online, surprised to note that although we may describe what we smell differently often it is the same words that confirms our collective awareness of an odour impression.
Common name: Frankincense, Olibanum, Luban
Botanical name: Boswellia sacra
Supplier: Eden Botanicals
Family: Amber, Woody
Blends well with: Bergamot, black pepper, camphor, cinnamon, cypress, geranium, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, mandarin, neroli, orange, palmarosa, patchouli, pine, rose, sandalwood, vetiver, ylang ylang (Mountain Rose Herbs)
Chemical components: The essential oil of frankincense is produced by steam distillation of the tree resin. The oil’s chemical components are 75% monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, monoterpenoles, sesquiterpenols and ketones. It has a good balsamic sweet fragrance, while the Indian frankincense oil has a very fresh smell. Steam or hydro distilled frankincense oil does contain a number of boswellic acids (triterpenoids), which represents a method of validating the authenticity of the essential oil. The chemistry of the essential oil is mainly monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, with small amounts of diterpenoid components being the upper limit in terms of molecular weight. (Wikipedia)
Interesting bits: is an aromatic, congealed, resinous sap from a specific variety of trees in the genus Boswellia of the family Burseraceae. Most of the trees in the Boswellia genus are aromatic, and many of them produce a scented resinous sap. Some of the known species are B. Sacra (grows in Oman and Yemen), B. Carterii (Somalia), B.Thurifera (Africa, Yemen and countries around the Red Sea), B. frereana(northern Somalia), B. Papyrifera (Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan) and B.Serrata(India). According to the latest scientific opinion both B.Sacra and B.Carterii are the same and should be correctly called B.Sacra. Boswelia sacra, produces the highest grade of frankincense. The trees require an arid climate where moisture is provided by morning mist. The few ideal environments in the world for this small prized tree are found in Southern Arabia (Oman and Yemen), India, and Northern Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Kenya). Further, frankincense trees require a limestone-rich soil and are mostly found growing on rocky hillsides and cliffs, or in the dried riverbeds below. The rarest and the purest of the all frankincense is Boswellia sacra. It is considered the highest grade of frankincense. It grows in the Dhofar region of Oman and this very special frankincense was reserved just for the kings and queens. This species has a higher content of the constituent alpha pinene. (Fragrantica)
The English word is derived from Old French”franc encens” (i.e., high quality incense)….There are four main species of Boswellia that produce true frankincense. Resin from each of the four is available in various grades. The grades depend on the time of harvesting; the resin is hand-sorted for quality.(Wikipedia)
In Oman there is a place called “Wadi Dawkah Frankincense Reserve, a forest of five thousand trees that’s twenty-five miles north of Salalah and a UNESCO World Heritage Site near the ruins of a five-millennia- old caravan depot.” (Conde Naste Traveler)
Their nose: As a perfumery note, frankincense is remarkably versatile, being as naturally suited for the dark heft of an oriental fragrance as for the effervescent sparkle of citrus cologne. The smell of frankincense oil in its pure state is fascinating. At first, it is reminiscent of freshly ground black pepper, with a twist of lemon peel in the background. As the oil dries down, it reveals its dry woody character, which lies halfway between balsamic richness and flinty mineral crispness. Although incense tends to be associated with heavy, dark fragrances, it is actually a common note in fresh citrus and green fragrances. Paired with sparkling, effervescent notes, frankincense can lend a nice lift, like the fizz of champagne bubbles. It contains both cold and warm elements: a citrusy, peppery top note and a dark, balsamic finish. (Bois de Jasmine)
Olibanum is characterised by a balsamic-spicy, slightly lemon, fragrance of incense, with a conifer-like undertone. (Wikipedia)
My nose: This Frankincense opens with a woody note, twigs, lightly camphoraceous, burnished, soothing, slightly lemony, sharp, to me it smells like a celebration. A deeply hidden lemon note reveals itself after 15min as if it couldn’t wait to burst through! It’s warm and meanders about slowly, deliberately, somewhat herbaceous. After 30min it feels a bit more used up, scorched, the lemon aspect is really foremost to my nose, yep, there’s also a pepperiness too like pink pepper — could be a good match, non? Still in top notes territory at 45min and the strip smells parched, pristine, clean, lemony, evocative, ageless, timeless and ancient all at the same time. This note fills me with serenity, peace and calm. It’s also sharp and thin in texture. 1hr on and Frankincense is vibrant, alive and energetic like beams of sunlight piercing the clouds, zesty — zaftig, there’s a lot of action in this note and it seems to now be picking up speed! 2hrs later and now it’s much warmer, more discreet, but there’s an edginess about it; it feels golden and fizzy too, yet still herbaceous. After 3hrs it’s only now beginning to fade, open, cooler, the scent is more muffled, still lemony just below the surface, but definitely receding. This material becomes a lot more translucent after 7hrs, straining a bit more as it trails off all in one piece. It remains light and glistening now. 12hrs later this note is much more bare bones yet still feels like a top note and acts like a top note even in the dry-down. It’s stripped, drier and just as lovely!
I only made it to a 12 hour evaluation in this session but I plan on updating it with a 12hrs, 48hrs and beyond look at Frankincense, Oman. My computer is getting a tune up leaving me to fend for myself with the iPad, it’s not the perfect answer but it gets the job done. Updates and tweeks to follow. You’ll also note changes I’ve made to the images. I’m not sure if this is the look I’m after but I’m trying things out like a new wardrobe and it’s never really clear what fits I see it in context. Thanks for being patient.
Sweet Basil eo and Beeswax absolute are up next this week.