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

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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