Benzoin Siam, resin (De Hekserij)

Common name: Benzoin Siam

Botanical name: Styrax Tonkinensis

Supplier: De Hekserij

Note: Base

Family: Balsamic

Diffusion: Medium

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: agarwood/oud eo, ambrette seed eo, ambroxan, iso-amyl benzoate, iso-amyl salicylate, angelica root eo, beeswax abs., benzyl benzoate, bois de rose, cistus, conifer acetate, copaiba balsam, costus root, elemi resin, fir balsam, frankincense, heliotropin, indole, etc. (TGSC)

Chemical components: of the volatile compounds which account for 30%-40%, some of the major ones are: vanillin, benzoic acid, cinnamic acid, benzyl cinnamate. Of the non-volatile compounds which account for 60%-70%, some of the major compounds are: coniferyl benzoate, cinnamic cinnimate, p-coumaryl cinnamate and some of the minor ones are: p-coumaryl benzoate, benzyl cinnamate, cinnamyl benzoate, conniferyl cinnamate, siaresinolic acid, sumaresinolic acid, 3-oxo-siaresinolic acid. (Research Gate)

Interesting bits: Benzoin /ˈbɛnzoʊ.n/ or benjamin is a balsamic resin obtained from the bark of several species of trees in the genus Styrax. It is used in perfumes, some kinds of incense, as a flavoring, and medicine (see tincture of benzoin). It is distinct from the chemical compound benzoin, which is ultimately derived from benzoin resin; the resin, however, does not contain this compound.

Benzoin is also known [as] gum benzoin or gum benjamin, but “gum” is misleading as benzoin is not a polysaccharide. Its name came via the Italian from the Arabic lubān jāwī (لبان جاوي, “frankincense from Java”).[1] Benzoin is also called storax, not to be confused the the balsam of the same name obtained from the Hamamelidaceae family.

Benzoin is a common ingredient in incense-making and perfumery because of its sweet vanilla-like aroma and fixative properties. Gum benzoin is a major component of the type of church incense used in Russia and some other Orthodox Christian societies, as well as Western Catholic Churches.[2] Most benzoin is used in Arab States of the Persian Gulf and India, where it is burned on charcoal as an incense. It is also used in the production of Bakhoor (Arabic بخور – scented wood chips) as well as various mixed resin incense in the Arab countries and the Horn of Africa. Benzoin is also used in blended types of Japanese incense, Indian incense, Chinese incense (known as Anxi xiang; 安息香), and Papier d’Arménie as well as incense sticks.

There are two common kinds of benzoin, benzoin Siam and benzoin Sumatra. Benzoin Siam is obtained from Styrax tonkinensis, found across Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Benzoin Sumatra is obtained from Styrax benzoin, which grows predominantly on the island of Sumatra.[3] Unlike Siamese benzoin, Sumatran benzoin contains cinnamic acid in addition to benzoic acid.[4] In the United States, Sumatra benzoin (Styrax benzoin and Styrax paralleoneurus) is more customarily used in pharmaceutical preparations, Siam benzoin (Styrax tonkinensis et al.) in the flavor and fragrance industries.[5]

In perfumery, benzoin is used as a fixative, slowing the dispersion of essential oils and other fragrance materials into the air.[3] Benzoin is used in cosmetics, veterinary medicine, and scented candles.[4] It is used as a flavoring in alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, baked goods, chewing gum, frozen dairy, gelatins, puddings, and soft candy.[6] (Wikipedia)

“…This large tree that looks like a birch is called benzoin Laos, benzoin Siam, or benzoin aliboufier. The tree’s fragrant exudation, benzoin gum, is what is harvested. Production of this resin is artificially stimulated by making incisions in the trunk of a mature tree in the month of September. Several incisions are made on the same tree; a tree can produce for two to three years. The incision in the bark is in the shape of a “V” or a rectangle, so that the precious resin accumulates between the flap of bark and the trunk. Benzoin flows down the trunk in brittle, white tears a few weeks after the initial tapping. The year’s one harvest takes place in January and February. The benzoin tears are then cleaned and sorted by size and color to be given different grades No. 2 gum, No.3 gum, or No. 5 gum each with its own olfactory qualities. The tears are then shipped in wooden crates to our production plant in Spain. The ethanol distillation of the No. 3 gum results in the solid No. 3 benzoin resinoid. Diluting this substance in the DPG solvent means the resinoid can be more readily incorporated into formulae. Its sweet, milky, vanilla-like smell is reminiscent of vanilla beans. The No. 5 resinoid, with even sweeter notes, is produced from the No. 5 gum. (Albert Vieille SAS via TGSC)

Benzoin is the fragrant, resinous exudation secreted by a tree the Styrax tonkinensis after an attack by a parasite or an incision in the trunk. In September, the styrax growers manually tap the tree, making multiple incisions on the trunks of mature trees to encourage exudation of the precious gum. After only a few weeks, the white, brittle tears of benzoin flow down the trunk. Oxidation of the tears, caused by contact with the air, will give them a superficial, orangey-brown color. Harvesting the tears does not take place until January and February. The tears of various sizes (grades 2, 3, and 5) are then sent to a warehouse to be cleaned and sorted by size and color. They are next shipped in wooden crates to our production site in Spain to undergo an ethanol extraction resulting in benzoin resinoids No. 3 and No. 5, depending on the grade used. The sweet, vanilla-like smell of No. 5 benzoin resinoid is very popular in gourmand perfume compositions. Diluting the resinoid in a solvent makes it easier to use in formulas. (Albert Vieille SAS via TGSC)

Benzoin – not to be confused with ‘benjamin gum’ or Benzoïne – is a balsamic resin or balsam (AFNOR NF T 75-006, 1998) exuding from Styrax species (Styracaceae) that was employed since ancient time. First evidences confirmed that benzoin balsam was traded to China about A.D. 800 to be used notably as a fixative for perfumes (Arctander, 1960; Langenheim, 2003). In the Mediterranean basin, it was valued for its therapeutic, pharmacological and odoriferous properties: it was notably used in the Middle-East as a substitute to incense in religious ceremonies, often in combination with frankincense (Hovaneissian, Archier, Mathe, Culioli, & Vieillescazes, 2008; Hovaneissian, Archier, Mathe, & Vieillescazes, 2006; Modugno, Ribechini, & Colombini 2006).

The Styrax trees and shrubs originated from regions displaying warm and temperate climates mainly from Southeast Asia (Hovaneissian et al., 2006). Nowadays, the main benzoin producersare the deciduous Styrax tonkinensis (Pierre) Craib ex Hartwich. On one hand, and the evergreen Styrax benzoin Dryander and Styrax paralleloneurum Perkins on the other hand. Styrax tonkinensis was tapped for centuries mainly in Laos and probably also in Thailand to obtain the so called Siam benzoin balsam. S. benzoin and S. paralleloneurum are essentially native to Indonesia (Sumatra and Java) and produce Sumatra benzoin balsam (Fernández, 2004;Supplementary material 1). The generic term ‘benzoin’ either consists in the exudate of one or the other of the two sources or in their mixture (WHO technical report 966, 2011).

Benzoin balsam does not exude naturally from the trunk, but is rather a pathological product resulting from tapping Styrax trees, e.g. cutting multiple superficial incisions through the cambium of these trees (Langenheim, 2003; Pauletti, Teles, Silva, Araújo, & Bolzani, 2006). As excessive tapping often induce the death of the tree, this traditional practice is nowadays well-defined: S. tonkinensis tree may be tapped once a year for about ten years once it is 7 years old, whereas S. benzoin and S. paralleloneurum may be tapped twice a year for about twenty years once they are 8–10 years old (Chagnaud, pers. comm.). After the yellowish exudate hardens upon exposition to air, it is collected by scraping the cut in the trunk (79th JECFA – CTA, 2014; Langenheim, 2003). Once collected, benzoin balsam is cleaned, sorted into four different grades according to the size and the homogeneity of the pieces, and then matured. The production remains nowadays entirely manual, from tapping to packaging (79th JECFA – CTA, 2014).

These three Styrax species are the most significant producers of balsam in terms of tonnage per year (Kashio & Johnson, 2001) (Research Gate)

Their nose: sweet, vanilla, balsamic, woody.  Sweet, vanilla-like with an almond facet. (TGSC)

My nose: Right within the opening, Benzoin Siam casts a spell that is ambery, balsamic, edible, rich, round and mellow. Soft, sweet and velvety warm. More than the odour of liqueur I instantly associate its colour to Benzoin Siam. It’s carmel, vanilla, deep and thoughtful. A scent tugs at the edges of my memory – I know it will continue to haunt me until I remember, but alas it remains elusive so I relinquish the chase – for now. After 15min the vanilla, caramel profile is in the forefront, and it continues to move in that rich, warm direction, comforting like a slow yawn; soothing and reassuring in it’s quiet rhythm. Receding somewhat, after 30min it keeps its vanilla profile intact. I get a sort of sticky feeling. It’s sensual and serene, very laid back right now. 45min on and yes, the vanilla is still prominent, solitary, creamy, thick and confident. But, wait, I remember now! More than remember, I am gripped by a memory: Root Beer, A&W Root Beer to be exact and with it the other memories coming charging in of summer, sweltering heat and Dad bringing home a red case of various flavoured sodas to quench our thirst from The Pop Shoppe which the four of us kids swarmed on like worker bees to their queen. Really though, where the hell was that memory hiding out until now?! Yes, scent is power stuff, indeed. As Benzoin Siam meanders into the 1hr mark it goes back to being warmer, less bold, more of a pulse now, and yes, the vanilla aspect is still there but slightly toned down, less projection as it becomes an entrancing lullaby. 2hrs later and I find it drier, still warm, much more intimate as it seems to be burying itself deep into the fibres of the scent strip. It is here that I catch how this note could easily become bonded to the one wearing it. Continuing on its journey 3hrs sees this note expanding deep and out, like the roots of vetiver. I get an impression that is slightly dark and meditative and amber – yes, this has something in common with my recent amber tincture which conjures up possible accords to experiment with. Such is the organic nature of fragrance formulation. 7hrs later it is warm but thinner somehow, still comforting and reminiscent of winter, this note is like a big, warm hug. It is the note that encompasses the sense of the Danish term Hygge. Around 10hrs into the dry down Benzoin Siam is a strangely, haunting Gregorian chant of amber, warmth and cosy winter evenings. Round and smooth. A full 24hrs later it hits me again, another memory – vanilla extract and baking in the kitchen with Mum as we bond over flour and eggs and sugar and the sticky, gooey mess of baking. Ahhh! Soft, comforting and still very much alive on the strip though definitely much more subdued. What an unexpected trip this note has been :).

I’d like to share with you some thoughts that popped into my head and interesting things learned while interaction with Benzoin Siam the first being that this is not a “gum” and that in reference to perfumery materials this means soluble in water (like gum Arabic) which this is not so it’s incorrect to call it thus, this is a balsamic resin. The other thing is prior to starting this evaluation I didn’t care too much for the vanilla notes so I had to constantly guard against this prejudice and stay open to its discourse, easier said than done when scent is such a powerful sub-conscious trigger, but that relationship changed as the scent evolved around and through me. Oh, and since I mentioned it, back in December I tinctured a piece of Amber that I bought from a stall at the Christmas market which is maturing in the most scrumptious way, I’ve got that coming up this month.

Well, this was probably my longest post to date. Phew! Thanks for joining me and I hope this helps you on your scented journeys. See you Wednesday when I unfurl organic Bergamot essential oil from White Lotus Aromatics.

Have a beautiful start to your week!

MC

Galbanum Coeur 1%

Common name(s): Galbanum Coeur, Galbanum Replacer

Chemical name: 2-methyl-4-phenyl-2-butyl acetate

CAS #: 8023-91-4

Supplier: Pell Wall

Note: Heart

Family: Green

Diffusion: 4

Dilution: 1%

Blends well with: Now it stands to reason that since this is a synthetic galbanum replacer, it should blend well with those notes that galbanum absolute blends with such as: ambroxan, green algae absolute, benzyl benzoate, bois de rose, cistus, clary sage, costus root, ethyl linalool, fir balsam absolute, flouve absolute, ho wood, linalool, lavender absolute, mimosa absolute and so on… (TGSC)

Their nose: dry, green, balsamic, galbanum, herbal/herbaceous

My nose: right away in the opening the obvious impression is green, but as I scrutinise this smell further there is a youthful, early springtime joyful feeling to it. There are elements of sharpness, it’s high-pitched, vibrant and happy. A scant 15min later and now I smell similarities with castoreum! What the heck?! Still green and dry. 30min into the evaluation and the impression is more a faded green and it’s beginning to seriously morph and retreat right before my consciousness. It leaves me question if it’s off, gone bad, or stale? Now it’s 45min and there is still a hint of the animalic, less luminous than before, and the green is still prevalent. After 1hr it seems I’ve sort of lost the thread of this note. How does that happen I wonder…and then it strikes me that this could be a characteristic to be exploited this weaving in and out, disappearing act that this note could perform in a blend. 2hrs and all I can get is a sweaty armpit odour and nothing else. Just a hint of green remains. One sniff of green is all I am able to capture 3hrs later. I feel so let down, I expected a lot of this material. Had constructed a whole impression in my head only to be “disappointed” by the real thing. 7hrs into the dry down and nothing. I can no longer smell this on the strip. There seems to be something but I’m afraid I could be making it up in my mind and so I hesitate. After 10hrs there is a thin veil of green galbanum and then it’s gone, poof! Invisible to my nose. 24hrs have passed now and I can pick up a hint of the green characteristic of galbanum, reminding me of a cool autumn day. Odd that this came alive again and accompanied with a cooler temperature impression.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my getting to know Galbanum Coeur and I would love to hear what your impressions are of this interesting material if you have it in your scent library.

Until Monday, have a wonder-filled week-end!

MC

Aldehyde C14

Common name(s): Aldehyde C14, Gamma-undecalactone

Chemical name: 5-heptyloxolan-2-one

CAS #: 104-67-6/57084-17-0

Supplier: 

Note: Heart

Family: Fruity

Diffusion: 3-5 (medium)

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: Nonalactone, Oranage Blossom, Gardenia, Tuberose, beeswax absolute, benzyl salicylate, cassia bark eo, coriander seed eo, ethyl vanillin, lavender absolute Bulgaria, oakmoss absolute, sandalwood, vetiver eo, violet leaf absolute, ylang ylang, tonka bean absolute.

Interesting bits:  In spite of the name this material is not an aldehyde but a lactone as the chemical name confirms.

Not actually an aldehyde, it was given this name by the original creators to hide it’s true origins. (Olfactik)

Arctander has quite a bit to say about gamma-Undecalactone, including: “This material is widely used, although in minute amounts, in perfume compositions. In order of frequency in use, it ranks very high among the materials on the perfumer’s shelf. But it is not the kind of material ordinarily sold in drum-lots. However, after the success of a new perfume (type) in the 1950s, the title material had a further increase in popularity, when numerous perfumers used it at unusually high levels along with new non-Nitro musk chemicals, in order to duplicate part of the new note in the successful perfume. The author has yet to see a duplication which sells better than the original (in perfumes), but it must be admitted that Undecalactone drew benefit from this popularity. lt blends excellently with Nonalactone in Gardenia and Tuberose, and in many versions of Lilac bases. It extends the depth of an Orange blossom often too harsh with conventional materials, and it is a frequent component of Honeysuckle, etc. Concentrations far below 1% are effective, and it is at times possible to ruin a fragrance with 0.1 or 0.2% of the title material, just as well as it is possible to double the floral sweetness and depth of another fragrance with that amount of Undecalactone. The material was originally used in Violet perfumes, so popular at the time of discovery of this Lactone (about 1900). But its most important use today is in flavors, primarily in imitation Peach, but also in many fruity types, often as a fixative for the very volatile fruit esters.” (Pell Wall)

Their nose: Fruity, peach, creamy, fatty, lactonic, apricot, ketonic, coconut, nutty, vanilla (TGSC)

My nose: Aldehyde C14 has a sharp, somewhat soft opening, I know those two terms seem juxtaposed, but that’s how my brain interprets it. It twinkles a bit, smells somewhat oily and quickly moves into dry territory. After 15min it smells quite dry, polished, smooth with a hint of a paint-like effect. 30min after the opening this note is sheer, light, considerably dusty, thin and I can pick up the smell of the paper through the scent. 45min now and I’m still struck with how dry this note is, not so unpleasant to me as when I first met it a couple of years ago, I couldn’t stand it! It’s a pale note, stiff and scorched. 1hr later there is a tartiness, that remains piercing and dry although now a green quality seems to have shown up and a vacant sort of emptiness dots the olfactive landscape. It remains shrill as a note, thin and even unsettling, sharp and biting. The dryness is what satisfies me about this material after 2hrs. In the 3hrs of its evolution what remains is the green, dry, stripped bare expression, keeping it thin and sleek. I can see it adding this specific quality to a formula. 7hrs on and Aldehyde C14 remains thing, long and lanky. It’s polished, assertive and yes, still green somehow this keeps up in the background. 10hrs into the dry down and what I smell is twinkling light and airy. I can smell the paper, brisk and bright even after 10 hours. 24hrs later this is pretty much the same as before only bone dry, arid and unswept, piercing and brittle.

Some of the things I mused on while profiling this material: not to overthink what I was experiencing. Some relationships and connections my brain and nose would make seemed really odd to me at the time but I accepted them for what they were. I trusted what my brain told me, that what I smell is what I smell, and keep the profile simple.

Aldehyde C14 seemed to score the paper, making it a part of itself and the impression I picked up. And finally after hanging out with this note for 5 days the scent has polluted the other two scent strips I am testing. Insane! This is a heads up for me that olfactive pollution does happen and scent molecules from one material can affect those around it. That’s why some of my aroma chemicals are in double zip-lock bags.

If you have any particular questions that you’d like answered please let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear them!

See you on Friday!

MC

Lessons In Perfumery 9

lessons in perfumery 9


One of the things that I’m learning from developing other skills like drawing and painting, is how important it is to free myself from the need to be perfect to create something, anything, when what really matters is the truth that even a creation that sucks is better than not having created anything at all.  Those other arts help me do that.

It’s imperative to find a way to freedom from perfection because this need to put perfection before presence kills more dreams than any dictator ever has.

Sad really.

Of course I get it, many good perfumery materials are expensive and the typical amateur perfumer has a limited budget and feels a great need to not waste a single drop of juice and create something perfect the first go.

Laugh.

Even if success does happen right away, not an impossibility, what is more important is if we are able to reproduce that success. If we are not we’re screwed. Not only but perfection is in direct opposition to the terms beginner, or perfumer in training, student, apprentice, or amateur. We have effectively built ourselves a great prison of procrastination leaving it impossible to be what we are, absolute beginners. There will never be another time for us to be free to make mistakes as when we are beginners, and yet we hastily want to cash in those chips for perfection. We must be free. We must leave room for serious and frequent mess ups it’s the only way out and forward.

This is why being present is so important. For each one of us it will look like something different. For me it means, sitting down every day – typically in the winter this means starting a fire in a room that is 14° – of every week to do scent evaluations which gets me closer to the insights, the happy coincidences, the intuiting possible accords which in turn gets me closer to a scent that I like, that works, that’s in line with an original vision or plan.

There’s no way around it, plan to be present every day for your scent encounters and it will be like taking your vitamin C and eating lots of fruit during the winter time, it won’t immunise you from a cold or the flu, but it’s good insurance that you’ll get stuff done and move forward in your learning.

Have a wonderful week,

MC

Sweet Basil, essential oil

Musings on making scents with … Sweet Basil essential oil. I just could not pick up a trail on this one, again probably due to the cold in the room. Now it’s probably my lack of many years of trained smelling but to me this is a natural essential oil with the most linear dry down I’ve ever experienced! I mean this smells very much the same from opening to final dry out.

Common name … Basil, sweet, essential oil

Botanical name ... Ocimum basilicum

Supplier … White Lotus Aromatics

Note … Top/Heart

Family … Mint/Green

Diffusion … 5

Dilution … 10%

Blends well with … Bergamot, black pepper, cardamom, citronella, clary sage, coriander, geranium, hyssop, lavender, lime, marjoram, melissa, neroli, oak moss, orange, peppermint, rosemary ct. verbenone, sandalwood, spearmint, verbena, ylang ylang. Basil essential oil had a valuable modifying effect on green notes. (Eden Botanicals)

My nose … Sweet Basil starts off pungent and crisp, cool, clean, medicinal, light and a hint of oak moss (I know, weird, huh?). Then, in a total twist, after 15min I can pick up commonalities with lavender, dry and twig-like, with something floral now poking out. It’s still very sweet after 30min with a hint of mint. At 45min it’s now crisp and clean with a bit more body, not as flimsy and weak in the opening. 1hr after the opening there is a vague sense of the floral but it sort of fades into sobriety becoming serious and discreet, definitely less screechy, less shrill. It’s dry, woody with still a hint of the floral lingering and a bit of the coolness of lavender dangling from the shirt tails after 2hrs. Heading into the 3hr mark it begins to warm up, just a bit, yet remains sweet and candy-like with a daub of peppermint. There’s a soapy quality at 7hrs that’s quite surprising, and though the candy note is still noticeable it appears quite flat. 24hrs on and this note is very much like lavender, twiggy, dry, parched with a touch of sweetness and the medicinal, but still very much alive on the strip. I followed sweet Basil essential oil to 36hrs and it held onto that peppermint quality but the most surprising thing was how much warmer it had grown with time compared to the opening.

Well that’s it for this week. I’m not sure which three synthetics I’ll be evaluating next week because I want to surprise myself too.  I wish you a wonderful weekend.

Take good care,

MC

Beeswax Absolute

Musings on making scents with … Beeswax absolute. The room is mighty cold, less than 12 degrees in here (don’t ask!) so I’m pretty sure the note didn’t evaporate as it typically would; I’m a bit out of practice and the dilutions are a bit aged, not a bad thing because if this means they’ve gone “off” or “bad” it’s just one more exercise for my nose to learn about this scent. Remember, only your nose can tell you if something does or doesn’t smell right. If to your nose it smells like its gone bad then it has, the ultimate authority where it comes to smell is you.

Source: Alambica

Common name: Beeswax absolute

Botanical name: Cera Alba

Note: Heart/Base

Family: Gourmand/Balsamic. Sometimes I really struggle with putting notes into a specific family because there are those that could fit into more than one, or those that fit almost but not perfectly, such is the case with beeswax absolute. Let your nose be the judge.

Diffusion: 3

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: Ambrette seed, Cassie, chamomile, champaca, clary sage, clove bud, coconut, fir balsam, galbanum, ginger, hay, helichrysum, jasmine, mandarine, mimosa, orange blossom, orris root, osmanthus, rose, tobacco, tonka bean, tuberose, vanilla, vetiver, ylang ylang. Beeswax absolute is useful in perfumes where similar notes occur (as a modifier). (Eden Botanicals)

My nose: Right off the bat this smells a bit “off”, could be this batch of dilution has expired, or it’s too cold in the room or quite simply I’m out of practice, but I persevere: this smells sweet, thick and round if I could give it a shape. After just 15min there’s a hint of tobacco, warm, dry and intimate with very little projection. 30min on and beeswax absolute is soft, warm, comforting and close. 45min now and the scent strip smells strong, pungent, more like honeycomb, sweet and uncomplicated. It’s 2hrs into the evolution of beeswax absolute and it’s drier, and much more reminiscent of tobacco than beeswax! 3hrs later what my mind keeps noticing about this note is how it dries down to a deep tobacco absolute smell, dry – like stepping onto a bed of autumn leaves. Does my nose pick up smoke? I can’t be sure as I did just throw another log on the fire. At the 7hr mark the scent strip is very dry with barely a hint of beeswax yet still very tobacco-like. 12hrs now and oddly enough what I’m picking up is a dry, somewhat alcoholic note similar to cognac. Still powerfully reminiscent of tobacco, parched and brittle. Good tenacity, it’s holding up really well in the dry down. Subtle and intimate. 24hrs and it’s still heavily recalling tobacco. I can smell aged honeycomb hidden in the recesses. It’s dry and calming to me, like a balm – yes, it’s like smelling honeycomb wax candles! I followed this note up to 36hrs and it remains warm, soft, tobacco-like and still is very alive on the strip.

I’m still working on my iPad so no “bells and whistles” till next week, just the facts. Feel free to share in the comments your experience working with beeswax absolute and what your brain picks up when you smell it.

Cheers!

MC

Frankincense essential oil

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

Note: Base

Family: Amber, Woody

Diffusion: 5

Dilution: 10%

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.SacraBoswelia 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.

In joy,

MC

2016 A Year In Review

2016 A Year In Review

Where to begin?

Probably the biggest discovery is that it was the first year in decades that I hadn’t made any goals for myself – neither mentally nor written. Yikes! And as a result I was all over the map last year.

So what really happened in 2016? Here’s the overview in bullet points:

  • Brain Pickings – this has got to be the best site I was led to read. It’s written by the very talented Maria Popova who describes herself as a reader, writer, interestingness hunter-gatherer, and curious mind at large. I have learned so much in the few short months that I’ve subscribed and what she writes moves me to the point where I donate monthly because it is clearly written with love. The post that got me hooked on Brain Pickings is one where she wrote a review of the book How To Love by Thich Nhat Hanh and the quote is “…The most precious inheritance that parents can give their children is their own happiness.” I always feel that every minute reading her posts is time well spent, and that’s a rarity these days online.
  • Which leads me to one of the highlights of the year, that I became a grandmother! This put centre stage for me the importance of curating my own happiness to lighten not only my daughter’s life but that of my granddaughter. Her birth urged me to make my own happiness a serious priority not as a point of selfishness but of love.
  • I allowed things to fallow and go untended on purpose.
  • I moved the blog from a paid WordPress hosting back to the free WordPress platform. Breathing room. Less pressure.
  • I took a hard look at teaching ESL and am convinced this type of setting is not the right one for me but that I do love to teach and share. Doesn’t totally answer all my questions but it does shine some light. Clarity is a wonderful thing.
  • I invested in a load of new raw materials, mainly aroma chemicals, to add to my olfactive library.
  • I didn’t do as much blending as I wanted to do which is a bummer so I gave myself a challenge making it necessary to blend, a lot, faster…
  • I signed myself up for the town’s Christmas market and made my very first fragrances to sell and sold them! More on that in another post.

I figured I could either waste time flogging myself for time “wasted”, stagnant stats and traction lost (is anything ever lost?) or I could get back to writing about making scents and making sense of scents, my way. I opted for the latter.

If nothing else I learned that I am allowed to be human, make mistakes, not have all the answers and yes, bugger things up a bit every now and then.

I hope you join me Monday as I start off the week with an evaluation of Frankincense essential oil.

Cheers and love!

MC

A Vineyard Lies Fallow

A vineyard lies fallow

 

Fallow: adjective

The definition of fallow is inactive.

A piece of land that is normally used for farming but that is left with no crops on it for a season in order to let it recover its fertility is an example of land that would be described as fallow.

from yourdictionary.com

Back in the fall I passed by a family owned vineyard that had been left unattended all year. During our walks both my husband and I wondered what was going on. Then one day I saw them cutting the vines waaaay back! Of course I asked them why, and with deep sadness they shared that circumstances were making it impossible for them to take care of everything in their lives and the vineyard too so they had to let it go fallow not knowing when, if ever, they would have the opportunity to cultivate it again. And so there it remains, waiting. Not dead, or wounded, just waiting for the right time, the right mix of circumstances or people to bring it back to life. Such has been my personal journey in 2016 which of course included the blog.

It was a mistake for me to stop writing the blog for a year, man was I wrong about that. But life is full of mistakes. The question remained: now that I had the courage to admit I screwed up, what next?

It was the thinking of the doing that kept tripping me up!

There was endless hand-wringing, soul-struggling and fighing with myself in these past twelve months trying to decide first whether to kill the blog, then when I finally did, whether to start it up again, and once deciding, the agony was what to write, and what would my readers think of me, how would I be judged. That was probably the biggest obstacle I had to overcome before writing even one word on paper. This endless dialogue of course kept up the procrastination game. It felt necessary at first to offer a thousand apologies but in the end all I have to offer is myself and this me needed the time away to reflect on many things. In hindsight, sure it would have been better (read: less humiliating, fearful, embarasing, humbling) not to have declared I was ending the blog but there are never any clearly defined pathways to becoming our best self and so it seems I needed this “mistake” to kick me into a year of fallow which has allowed my vision to become clearer and new projects to become more fertile and the old ones I no longer needed to weaken and fall away.

So here I am. Back. Again. Perhaps even a bit wiser and kinder, especially to myself. I’ve discovered I’m allowed.

You’ll notice that the new image format is simpler. This affords me more time to focus on writing than spending untold hours in Photoshop and Illustrator. It was important to streamline the process if I was to keep the blog going. Beyond that I’ve kept things the same with the target of three posts a week, mostly focused on olfactive evaluations of my growing scent library of aroma chemicals, naturals and tinctures.

There are some exciting, new projects on the horizon to help you and me on our journey to becoming a perfumer, but I’ll share those in the right time. How could I not have new things to share as we are all in an ever expanding journey of self-discovery.

Not everything is perfect with the blog, I’m at odds with this last paragraph, for instance; the main images aren’t exactly on point but I kinda like them, this image for instance is not what I would have wanted, but at the end of the day these aren’t the important things. What is important is that I got this post out and have started back again. Yeah to that!

Thank you for sticking around it means a lot 🙂

MC

Keeping The Site Up

Since posting that I’ll be closing the site on the 14th of October many of you have asked me to keep it up at the very least, thanks to all of you for your support and encouragement, it really means a lot!

So, what I’ll do is move the blog from a hosted site back to WordPress free platform and that way I can keep it going indefinitely and you can continue to access the information.

If at some point in the future I pick up writing for the blog again at least this way I won’t have to start from scratch.

In the meanwhile I’m busy planning my perfume launch for our Christmas market! Wish me luck and all the best!

MC

Time to say good-bye

It’s with sadness that I say good-bye.

It’s taken me months of soul searching to finally allow myself to let go of Her Two Scents. Often when I vowed that this would be it I used several reasons to convince (force, threaten) myself to keep it going and the biggest reason was that I had invested so much time and benefitted from a certain amount of satisfaction in writing the articles so why stop now? And that’s what convinced me that I needed to let it go, the blog began feeling more like a “should” and life’s too precious to fill it with “shoulds”.  Of course I realize that there are some “shoulds” that need to be followed through with and there in lies the rub of the wisdom of living, knowing, choosing, deciding which of those to keep and which to let go.  That’s why it was so hard.

I will continue the scent journey as a personal exploration of the senses to enhance my other passions and simply for the love of perfume but I no longer feel the burning need to share my artistic journey with anyone else but myself. While it may not be true for everyone it is for me, I’ve learned, that one is either making art or talking about it. The more this truth washed over me the less I wrote because it takes an inordinate amount of time to evalute, put together and write the posts — time that could be better used learning and perfecting my art and just living life.

The blog will remain up and accessible until October when the hosting expires but the FaceBook account linked to H2S (which is the only FB account I have) will be closed by Friday.

It’s been a joy sharing my perfume journey with you, I hope it’s served you well in some way and I encourage you to continue your own scent explorations with a passion!

I thank each and every one of you who has supported this blog.  So, this is me sending you a big, warm hug and wishing you all the very best in whatever you choose to do!

With love,

Maxine

Vetiver essential oil

vetiver-1000x600


Musings on making scents with …vetiver essential oil is the kind of note that makes you want to lean in to get a better smell of someone. Vetiver encapsulates in its being all of what I aspire my perfume creations to be.

Common name(s): Vetiver essential oil, vetivert, khus, ruh-khus

Botanical name: vetiveria zizanioides

Supplier/Source: White Lotus Aromatics ?

Note: Base

Family: Wood/Green

Diffusion: 8/9

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: cassie, cedarwood, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, cocao absolute, cofee bean, frankincense, galbanum, geranium, grapefruit, jasmine, lavender, oakmoss, patchouli, rose, sandalwood, tobacco absolute violet leaf, ylang ylang. (Eden Botanicals)

Both vetiverols and acetates have softer odours and fixative qualities, and are used as blender with high-class perfumery products. They blend well with ionone, linalool, cinnamic alcohol, oakmoss, vanila, sandalwood, patchouli and rose bases, and are frequently used in western type of fragrances having chypre, fougere, rose, violet and amber aldehyde base, and oriental fragrances and floral compounds. (Fragantica)

Chemical components: the chemical composition of vetiver oil is extremely complex, mainly comprising of sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpene derivatives, of which vetiverols, their carbonyl compounds and esters, are the main constituents, and their relative abundance normally establishes the oil quality. Three carbonyl compounds, _-vetivone, _-vetivone and khusimone, are considered the primary odor-influencing components; _-vetivone has the better odor, and is considered the most important, while its major isomer nordihydro _-vetivone has a strong, rich, woody-peppery note. (vetiver.com)

Interesting bits: Vetiver is deep and slightly sweet, with light smoky undertones. Its pronounced earth and root notes are well-balanced with its somewhat resinous character. It is an excellent base note with very good fixative qualities. Vetiver essential oil varies dramatically in aroma depending on where it is grown (soil type, country of origin, etc.). Also known as vetivert, khus, or khus khus, Vetiver has a long history of use and is very well known as the Oil of Tranquility.1 It is obtained from the roots of a tropical grass originally from India and Sri Lanka, but the plant is now grown in many tropical countries. From time immemorial, one of the oldest aromatic uses of vetiver roots is to weave them into mats which, when dampened with water and hung in windows like curtains, cool and scent the air with a pleasant aroma.2

Vetiver oil is thick and, like Patchouli and Sandalwood, improves with age; it is a premium base note and makes an excellent fixative in essential oil formulas. (Eden Botanicals)

Essence from the Eastern Asian weed grass Vetiveria zizanoid that falls under the woods category thanks to its musty, dry, woody scent with bitter chocolate and smoke facets. Very popular in niche perfumery and masculine fragrances. The reference vetivers are Carven’s, Givenchy’s and Guerlain’s classic renditions.

Vetiver is native to South India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. It is also cultivated in Reunion, the Philippines, the Comoro Islands, Japan, West Africa and South America. The oil is mainly produced in Java, Haiti and Reunion. In World market the demand for vetiver oil is increasing day by day due to its unique odour, for which it is used in both flavour and fragrance industries. Moreover, this oil cannot be substituted with reconstituted oil and cannot be made through synthetically. Vetiver perfumes give pleasing aroma and has slow evaporation rate. Pure vetiver (Khus) root oil known in trade as “Ruh – Khus” and its use in scents since ancient time. Vetiver oil is the basis of the Indian perfume ‘Majmua’ and is the major ingredient in some 36% of all western perfumes (e.g. Caleche, Chanel No. 5, Dioressence, Parure, Opium ) and 20% of all men’s fragrances. In addition to its direct perfumery applications, vetiver oil in its diluted form is extensively used in after-shave lotions, air freshners and bathing purposes, as well as flavoring syrups, ice cream, cosmetic and food preservation. Khus essence is used in cool drinks, and for reducing pungency of chewing tobacco preparations, providing sweet note to other masticatories and incense sticks.(Fragrantica)

Their nose: Deep, slightly sweet and resinous, with pronounced earth and root notes and light smoky undertones; an excellent fixative and base note (Eden Botanicals)

My nose: the best way for me to describe the opening note of vetiver essential oil is sublime! Gorgeous, full, thick, voluptuous, enveloping, warm. To me this is the real cashmere! 15min and it’s deeply earhy, very diffusive, satisfying, dusty, weathered, and loaded with energy and life – it’s like a forest explosion! After 30min it moves into nutty, thick, plump smell that reminds me of suede and cashmere. 45min leads to a fuller expression of vetiver, it fills the nostrills eve with two full sniffs. This note is easily underestimated so easy does it. It’s thought-provoking, deep, deep, deep. Solid, foundational, contemplative. The 1hr later and vetiver essential oil is thick with character, creamy, damp, mossy, wooden forest, mysterious and alive with nature and lays heavily on the smelling strip. This note isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. 2hrs now and it’s beginning to seriously fan out! Very diffusive with a layer of extravagance and luxury that just remains clinging to the atmosphere, pungent, lush and very intriguing. As vetiver essential oil progresses through to the 3hr mark I am knocked over. Wow! This is a power note! Punchy, rousing, more raw and rugged now, it possesses a more textual quality than ever before. Entering the deeper parts of the drydown 7hrs later I wonder how is it that this note just keeps getting stronger and stronger? Sodden, thick, yet serene, stable and sensible, it is the essence of the Earth. I end the evaluation at 12hrs and vetiver is now like a warm, snuggly blanket, still very well-grounded, lulling to the point of being hypnotic. It’s a gentler, softer, much more refined reincarnation of its earlier self. This is the point where I would love it to come out and reveal itself everything previous seems over the top, too much almost. In comparison I judge this to be the finest hour of vetiver essential oil.

Today’s my 50th birthday (yeah!) so I’m going to celebrate by takeìing it easy and doing everything that I can to make myself happy! There’s already so much in my life that I’m grateful for that the impulse is not to do but to just to be. To sit quietly, take it all in and allow myself to be moved by the goodness of this life.

 Wishing you a wonder-filled weekend!

 MC