Aromatic Profile: Ho Wood


Common name: Ho Wood essential oil

Genus name: Cinnamomum camphora ct. Linalool

Supplier: Néroliane

Note: Top/Middle

Family: Woody

Diffusion: 5

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: cedarwood, coriander, frankincense, geranium, blood orange, sweet orange, rose maroc, rose otto, sandalwood, tangerine, ylang ylang extra.

Chemical components: linalool, cis and trans linalool oxide, camphor, gamma terpinene, myrcene. There are six chemical variations/chemotypes of Ho Wood: borneol, camphor, linalool, 1,8-cineole, nerolidol and safrole.

Interesting bits: ….general blender-modifier in a wide variety of compositions due to its soft, sweet bouquet which melds well with almost every type of perfume compositions. (WLA)

The chemical variants (or chemotypes) seem dependent upon the country of origin of the tree. The tree is native to China, Japan, and Taiwan. It has been introduced to the other countries where it has been found, and the chemical variants are identifiable by country. e.g., C. camphora grown in Taiwan and Japan is normally very high in linalool, often between 80 and 85%. In India and Sri Lanka, the high camphor variety/chemotype remains dominant. C. camphora grown in Madagascar, though, is high in 1,8 cineole (averaging between 40 and 50%). The essential oil from the Madagascar trees is commercially known as ravintsara. (Wikipedia)

Though of the same species, Ravintsara and Ho-wood differ in their chemical compositions. Ho-wood’s high linalool content gives the tree bark floral notes, while the high concentration of cineole in the bark of Ravintsara exudes fresh notes…ideal substitute for the significantly pricier rosewood.  Ho-wood adds delicate woody notes to fragrances, along with floral and aqueous facets. (Albert Vieille)

Belongs to the Lauraceae family, the same botanical genus as cinnamon and Ravintsara.

Their nose: sweet, woody-floral bouquet with a delicate balsamic-herbaceous undertone (WLA)

Light, clean, woody, floral-rosy and a little warm, and very diffusive. Ho Wood is a top note much valued in floral and floriental compositions as well as Fougere. (Ayala Moriel)

My nose: The opening of Ho wood is blanched, slightly floral, and there’s something citrusy about it; it has a zing, there is a lift and a radiance, it’s bright, light and happiness. It’s girly! After 15min there is transparency, it’s light, gossamer soft but there is also a textured quality that is a bit rough, as well as a sort of wildness too. I can smell similarities with lavender – that dry, twiggy quality that is so particular to lavender for me. Yes, definitely, arid is the word that comes to mind. The 30min layer is brisk, quick, and brings to mind summer and heat. It’s drier now. This is an innocent scent to me, and is what I imagine a pale wood to smell like, very pleasant. 45min and Ho wood is placid and poetic, resplendent and sunny; gay. It’s a fluttering and a puff and I can smell this in a cologne. After 1hr it seems to be retreating, like’s it’s decided to take a back seat. I can smell commonalities with Santolina (Lavender Cotton), too. Very faded now. 2hrs into the heart note and it seems paper thin! It’s just about disappeared, like a twinkle or the tinkle of a bell. I don’t know how else to describe the smell other than in the form of a sound. After 3hrs the smell is almost gone now but there’s still a hint of something…limonene? It’s clean and dry. Now we’re into the base of Ho wood and at 7hrs the smell is very faint, like it’s almost a dream, like I dreamt the whole experience. Dry and very faint. After 12hrs it’s completely gone, I can’t pick up a thing. 24hrs it’s gone but for the most fleeting citrus impression!

12/24 comparison: Okay, so at 12hrs the smell was pretty much gone, disappeared and what’s interesting is that when I did a direct comparison of the two layers, 12 and 24 hours, I got no real difference between them. I find this really odd because until now I have always experienced a pretty distinct difference but with Ho wood after 12hrs the effect is pretty much the same.

Wishing you a wonderful week!


Aroma Profile: Ethyl Linalyl Acetate


Common names: Ethyl Linalyl Acetate

Chemical name: [(6E)-3,7-dimethylnona-1,6-dien-3-yl] acetate

CAS #: 61931-80-4

Supplier: Perfumer’s Apprentice 

Note: Top/Heart

Family: Floral

Diffusion: 5

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: Ambroxan, iso-amyl salicilate, cardamom, cistus, coriander seed, Fir balsam absolute, cyrpress, bois de rose, angelica root, Frankincense, geraniol, juniper berry, galbanum, patchouli, black pepper (TGSC)

Their nose: floral, bergamot, fruity, tropical, rose (TGSC)

Floral linalyl acetate fruity, softer, more floral, more bergamot and less lavender than Linalyl Acetate. It has an elegant, refreshing effect in floral bouquets. (Perfumer’s Apprentice)

My nose: Ethyl linalyl acetate opens dry, wood, crisp, sweet, soft and beautiful to my nose. Lightly floral, somewhat sharp, too. After 15min it is still dry but more linear, more sharp, it makes me smile and sounds like a high pitched note and it’s calming to me. 30min later it’s becoming a bit heavier, more dry and woody, I find it to be very one dimensional but this makes it reliable somehow. Clean and clear are the two words that come to mind. 45min into the top notes and wow! It’s softer! More powdery and whimsical, it also has a feline quality around the edges. Still dry and bright and a bit sweet. It’s now 1hr and ethyl linalyl acetate is dry, woody and quick. I forgot to mention that very fast paced smell and thin. Yes, definitely a staccato sort of impression. Now, 2hrs and the smell is thinner, crisper, and a bit more blunt, bracing and cooler, it has become more distilled and simplified. 3hrs now and it’s just about disappeared, a very thin, dry layer now remains. At the 7hrs mark it’s completely and definitely gone. 12hrs, can’t smell a thing. 24hrs gone.

making perfumes with cinnamon bark CO2 total extract


Cinnamon bark CO2 total extract is a wonderful accent. Betcha never thought of it that way, huh? If you’re pondering the possibility of making scents with an Oriental base, in an incense or a spice blend, then I invite you to consider cinnamon bark CO2, the super critical fluid extract version of the cinnamon oils the effects of which can be felt, once the blend has aged, at even just 1% dilution. Think about that for a moment!

Common name: Cinnamon bark, CO2, total extract, organic, Sri Lanka

Genus name: Cinamomum zylanicum

Supplier: White Lotus Aromatics

Note: Heart/Base

Family: Spice

Diffusion: 4

Dilution: 10% (but best if diluted even further, recommended smelling at 1%)

Blends well with: Frankincense, lavender, cedarwood, orange, lemon, neroli, and ylang-ylang, mimosa absolute, patchouli absolute, linalyl acetate, germacrene D, etc.

Chemical components: Cinnamaldehyde 71.7% (about 20% higher than the average value of steam distilled essential oil), Coumarin 0.01%, Cinnamyl alcohol 0.80%, o-menthoxy cinnamaldehyde 2.4%, Eugenol 2.2%,Cinnamyl Acetate 4.5% (Hermitage Oils)

Interesting bits: “Very small amounts(less than 1%) can produce fine effects in many compositions” (White Lotus Aromatics)

Their nose: “Deeply woody and earthy, sweet, uplifting, warm, spicy.” (Eden Botanicals)

“intensely sweet,  warm, spicy, dry powdery bouquet with a delicate balsamic-woody undertone. The odor is very diffusive with good tenacity” (White Lotus Aromatics)

“Cinnamon Bark CO2 Oil has a warm, spicy scent that is somewhere between clove and cinnamon. It is slightly herbaceous with pepper notes.” (Sunrise Botanics)

My nose: To my nose cinnamon bark CO2 total extract opens thick and resinous, woody, deeper than the essential oil, soft. And oh! I can smell this with ambergris or certain animalic accents! It’s hushed and mildly hot in temperature not blazing-sun-hot like the essential oil. After 15min it’s quite different. It now has nuances; the woody aspect is wow! There’s a playfulness going on in the background, but it’s all quite profound and private. 30min on and the top note of cinnamon bark CO2 expresses itself as soft, soft, plumes, powdery soft, weightless, sensual, sophisticated, instant style! After 45min I’m amazed at how this has transformed into a total base note, it has the olfactive vibration of a note that is in perfect harmony with other base notes. It’s distinguished, more earthy now, real and grounded but light like a warm embrace. The 1hr impression of this note is wholeness. It’s round and generous, so much more than the essential oil. It seems to have a glow, like embers and I can smell it with Black Spruce absolute. Or is that just my overly enthusiastic impulse to put Black Spruce absolute everywhere?  I also get old Europe at this point, too. 2hrs now and it’s drier, tempered, more muted, placid and yup, poetic. There is a slight sharpness on the inhale, still and sweet. After 3hrs it’s so warm! Woody and resinous, the sense is more lulling and muffled, continuously comforting this note is a dream. It’s now 7hrs, dry down time, and this material only shares things in common with the essential oil and leaf. It’s tepid in temperature, fading quicker than the other examples of cinnamon, which I find quite odd and it’s mysterious. The 12hr evaluation was missed so on to the 24hr and final evaluation of cinnamon bark CO2: warm, much more spicy and sharp! Still alive on the strip; woody and it warms you right to the heart.

Have a wonderful weekend!


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!



making scents with kephalis


Making scents with  Kephalis opens you up to a wide range of possibilities as a perfumer because, as Givaudan, the maker of the molecule, puts it “Kephalis is a very versatile and rich product, used as a long lasting heart note.” Honestly, I was totally caught off guard to note what a subtle player it was. From the beginning to the end of the evaluation this molecule surprised me.

Common names: Kephalis, Woody cyclohexanone

Chemical name: 4-(1-ethoxyethenyl)-3,3,5,5-tetramethylcyclohexan-1-one

CAS #: 36306-87-3

Supplier: Perfumer’s Apprentice

Note: Heart-Base

Family: Wood/Amber

Diffusion: 5

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: Ambroxan, amyris, benzyl benzoate, ambrette seed, iso butyl quinoline, cedramber, carrot seed, hay, fir balsam absolute, ho leaf, labdanum, mastic, tonka bean, vetiver, patchouli, nerolidol, etc. (TGSC)

“It blends well with floral notes (jasmine, rose, violet, lavender, etc.) as well as sophisticated amber, woody-aldehydic, tobacco and masculine creations.” (Givaudan)

Their nose: woody-ambery facets, resembling cedar, that blends well with florals and tobacco, very popular with modern fragrances…brings warm, and rich aromas of amber and tobacco. (Fragrantica)

My nose: Interestingly, from the beginning Kephalis, comes off cold for me.  Not freezing cold, but with a sharp, pungent top note that seems to have the ability to elevate. It’s decisive and decidedly masculine, it feels dry and rugged. Totally not what I was expecting and in this regard it’s a surprise. 15min and now it’s warmer! I get an impression of fire, smoky but just a hint of it. Still more jagged and succinct, dark like the dark days of winter. At 30min how can it be warm and cool at the same time?! But it is! It’s like Kephalis keeps changing temperature. Now it’s much more discrete, hiding a bit, more elegant and pristine now. Had to skip the 45min evaluation so on to the 1hr: there is still that high note that hits you initially, sharp and penetrating, metallic; this is a very structured molecule. And yet, there’s a hint of mint in there somewhere, that’s what that sharp note is, mint! (Well, at least to my nose.) After 2hrs this note is sweet, pungent and sharp upon the first intake of breath, very refined and there’s a sparkle to it, a certain purity of expression that, again, I was not expecting.  3hrs and now it’s sweet, sharp, thinner, masculine and assertive. At the base of Kephalis, 7hrs, there is a powerful, golden, warmth that is now less jagged than the top expression, earthy and gutsy, contemporary. At this point it’s much more meditative. Billowy. 12hrs into the dry down and it’s puffy, arid, much more warm now. It’s a sigh as it shifts into the late stages, giving a sense of spaciousness. After a full 24hrs Kephalis is clear, cleaner, like being at high altitude, thinner and greener.

This aroma chemical has taught me the importance of being open to surprises. As perfumers in training we tend to want a sure thing, a hit, our first success. But this can cut us off to the wonder and the curiosity that is a key ingredient to the very thing we strive for.

So, for today, allow yourself  the space to be surprised :).



making scents with cedramber


Thinking of making scents with Cedramber? This aroma chemical is made from Cedrol and according to Hermitage Oils Cedramber is a very nice ambery cedarwood substitute – a low cost alternative to the more costly synthetic ambergris forms – very widely used and particularly effective combined with the related Vertofix. Has both fixative and diffusive effects.

Common names: Cedramber

Chemical name: Methyl cedryl ether

CAS #: 67874-81-1

Supplier: Perfumer’s Apprentice

Note: Base

Family: Wood/Amber

Diffusion: 6+

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: Cedarwood, sandalwood, labdanum, ionones, clove, cinnamon, civet, castoreum, vanilla, plum, some florals.

iso butyl quinoline, cistus twig/leaf oil, heliotropin, leerall, nutmeg, patchouli, calamus root, benzyl salicilate (TGSC)

Their nose: “Refined-woody, pleasantly green odor of good tenacity. This ether, occasionally offered commercially, may give refreshing and novel tonalities to woody and powdery fragrances, particularly those employing large amounts of Ionones, Labdanum, etc. Its odour type is not exactly a rare one, and it tends to put rather narrow limits to the application of this ether. It will inevitably detract from the amount of sweetness already present in a composition, but it is stable and non-discolouring in soaps and powders, etc. Overall, it is a material of little interest to the perfumer.” (Steven Arctander)

“extraordinary and has a bright quality between amber and patchouli. This is one of my favourite aromatics and it can be used in luxury perfumery as well as to give vitality to the qualities of Vertofix, as in functional perfumery, where it confers an uncommon character and fixes marvellously well the floral-aldehydic notes of undecylenic and cyclamen aldehydes, Lilial, Lyral and others.” (Arcadi Boix Champs)

“dry, very diffusive, true ambergris note that also has rich woody, cedarwood, dry aspects.” (IFF)

A dry, very diffusive, true ambergris note that also has rich woody aspects. (Perfumer’s Apprentice)

This is a lovely woody amber base comprising of Cedarwood frame with a soft warm Ambergris character. It has the complexity of Cedarwood with none of the harsh ‘pencil shaving’ notes. (Olfactik)

My nose: Cedramber opens up soft and plush, woody, pale, like twilight, it wraps you in a golden glow all neatly tucked away in a mother’s arms. Very, very, comforting. After 15min it settles into itself right away and remains soft and somehow even more silky and sumptuous. At 30min this is like silk and cashmere all rolled into one. It’s refined and whimsical, cedramber is like a slow dance with someone you never want to stop touching. I had to skip the 45min evaluation so on to the 1hr:  this layer remains warm, soft, delicate like ambergris, but it’s becoming dim. Still like an embrace. It’s dusty, more well-worn and comfortable. After 2hrs the ambergris element remains the central theme and it’s becoming more blanched, papery, dry warm and naked. 3hrs into the dry down and it’s totally ambergris and so similar to Ambroxan, wow! Warm, like liqueur and the colour vibration is just as golden. 7hrs now and it’s receded quite a bit like lukewarm water, dim, still effective but now it’s more early evening gloom. Earthy, ambergris, delicate and fluid. 12hrs brings to the forefront a light warm dusky, private sensation, it’s like a warm sanctuary that only a serious sense of duty can pry you from. The 24hr strip scent is just about gone, but the effect is still there, it’s close and indirect.

I think I’ve found a wonderful companion to my incenses and ambers. Yippee!

Whatchagonnamake this week?



making scents with ylang ylang III


If you feel you’re getting K.O’d by Ylang Ylang Extra and are looking for a tamer more gentile version of this sultry beauty, then check out these musings on making scents with Ylang Ylang III essential oil. The III (third) fraction is collected from the last hours of the distillation process. Find out more about the profiles of the Complete and the Extra fractions. The complete fraction profile is seriously on the skimpy side and I’ve put it on my list of things to revisit and beef up when time permits but at least it gives you something to go on for now.

Common name: Ylang Ylang III (pronouced eee-lang eee-lang); sometimes called the poor man’s Jasmine.

Genus name: Cananga odorata

Supplier: PAS (part of our school kit)

Note: Heart

Family: Floral

Diffusion: 5

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: Bergamot, chamomile, coriander, geranium, helichrysum, jasmine, lavender, lemon, lime, may chang (litsea cubeba), neroli, orange, rose, rosewood, sandalwood, vetiver

Chemical components: The III fraction has the following chemical characteristics:  Class: Sesquiterpene. Farasene high %, methyl benzoate, methyl salicylate, eugenol, geraniol, pinene (Gritman Oils)

Germacrene D, (E) (E) farnesene, beta-caryophyllene, benzyl benzoate (Albertvieille)

Ylang Ylang is high in sesquiterpenes. Ylang Ylang III essential oil, the last fraction collected during the last hours of distillation, is a slightly thicker, more earthy and less sweet oil, and is composed almost entirely of sesquiterpenes. Sesquiterpenes are a class of chemicals common in higher plants that are naturally occurring alcohols. Sesquiterpenes rarely exist in volatile aromatic oils.(Health Mastery Systems)

Interesting bits: The fruits of the Cananga odorata are inedible. When flowers are picked at night they are the most fragrant and the resultant essential oil is known as the “Queen of Perfumes”. It is a little-known fact that it is used in confectionery, enhancing fruit flavors such as peach and apricot, for candy, icings and baked goods, as well as in soft drinks and chewing gum. (Aromatic Plant Project)

Cananga odorata originated in South East Asia, discovered around 1740 in Malaysia by the French botanist Pierre Poivre, and it was introduced to the Comoros Islandes in 1909. It naturalized as far as Papua New Guinea, the  Pacific Islands and the Philipines; basically climates of humid warmth. It has also been introduced into tropical countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and even the Americas, specifically as an essential oil plant.

For all its atrributes, ylang ylang is a very frequent floral essence in fine fragrance perfumery …

It naturally encompasses salicylates and eugenol (a spicy ingredient); the former in the form of benzyl salicylate is the basic ingredient in the Ambre Solaire suntan lotion, with its white flowers tinge, which is synonymous with summer vacations to many Europeans (The ingredient first entered the composition for its sunscreening properties and later overstayed thanks to the fond reactions of users to its smell).This is why many ylang ylang dominant fragrances produce the association with suntan lotions: so many people have used a suntan lotion aromatized with salicylates/ylang ylang in their lives!

It is notably a signature trademark of most Guerlain fragrances, including many of the revered classics, such as Mitsouko and L’Heure Bleue. Guerlain indeed value so much the production of ylang-ylang in Mayotte that they bought 20% of the plantation of Combani. Jean Paul Guerlain personally inspected the hectares with ylang-ylang there in the years from 1995 to 2002. (Perfume Shrine)

The Ylang Ylang tree requires care from human hands for its warm, sweet fragrance to develop. Left wild in nature the blossoms of the Ylang Ylang tree have little or no scent. Ylang Ylang trees must be given constant attention and require trimming every two months. The Ylang Ylang blossoms must be picked each fall. As with Jasmine and Rose the blossoms must be harvested early in the morning and immediately prepared for steam distillation.  As with all oils the quality of distillation varies among distillers, as well as crop conditions for that season, as well as the moment chosen for harvesting and distillation. The distiller’s art for the production of exquisite oils is rare and reflected in the price of an oil.  (Health Mastery Systems)

Their nose:  Exquisite, heady, tropically sweet scent that is close to that of jasmine (Perfume Shrine)

Softly sweet and warm the scent of Ylang Ylang III (pronounced “eelang”) is more earthy than the other “fractions” of this aromatic plant. Ylang Ylang has an unforgettable intoxicating aroma with sensual overtones (Health Mastery Systems)

The Comoros ylang-ylang third essential oil is obtained after six to 20 hours of distillation. Its olfactory notes differ from those of other qualities, because the odorant molecules are not as numerous. In addition to its floral and jasmine notes, this essential oil also has dry smoky and woody facets. (Albertvieille)

My nose: The top note of Ylang Ylang III essential oil is much less creamy, much more delicate than the Extra fraction! It’s lush, golden, elegant, more refined, sweet yes, but not right away. After 15min one is greeted with the soft warmth of an embrace, it’s understated and I must close my eyes to get a hint of the herbaceous-ness. It’s like the membrane of Ylang Ylang Extra, muffled and inviting. 30min into the top note and now this is everything that the Extra fraction isn’t! Much more innocent, softly sensual, understated, it’s also less tenacious with a hint of something peppery hiding in the background. 45min on and it still is a mix of spicy softness, it’s a lot more linear, sleek, delicate, and there’s a sign of retreat. Already?! Or is it just teasing? 1hr had to skip this evaluation. 2hrs later and it’s thinner, still a hint of the spice although which I’m not sure, if I had to pick I’d say a soft pepper. This has good projection, and it seems that now it’s flexing its muscles; sharper, bolder, more intent. Yes, this layer is intentional. 3hrs now and Ylang Ylang III is soft, feminine, feathery and light.  The 7th hour reveals a layer of warmth, but with an edge. It shimmers and shines, like a glint of floral sunshine. It’s all ruffles so there is a powdery side here too, it’s radiant where the Extra fraction is sexy. The 12th hour comes up still shimmering and elegant and refined. I see brushed metal surfaces, radiance, luxury and it’s lasting quite well because even though it’s less diffusive Ylang Ylang III still remains whole and integral!  24hrs later and it’s now much more subdued than the extra of course, it’s weightless, yet curiously tenacious – what an intriguing combination. Wow. Still noticeably a floral with a wonderful dry down. Incredible! This is Femme where the Extra fraction is Femmena.

12/24 comparison: Now, what does the side by side comparison reveal? The 12hr scent strip is odd, I pick up spices, just a hint, but that pungency is there. Warm, much brighter than the other, a hint of vanilla, that’s the sweetness, ah, okay. But it’s much more noticeable side by side. The 24hr scent strip on the other hand reveals a blanched quality in the dry down that I didn’t notice before. Yet, it’s still capable of eliciting emotion; still provocative but you must get up very close if you want the effect and then not for too long. It’s a gentle, warm caress. In this layer the sweetness is gone.

Now if you’re thinking that of course I have to complete the quartet and source a proper Ylang Ylang I and II you’d be right —  they’re already on the list :).

Have a beautiful weekend!


making scents with ylang ylang extra


Today’s musings on making scents with Ylang Ylang Extra have to do with choices, choices and more choices for building a floral accord — but also with luxury and s*x. When you want to think beyond the classical Rose or Jasmine consider Ylang Ylang in all the various fractions as an open field of possibilities for expanding your olfactive palette.

Common name: Ylang Ylang (pronounced “eelang-eelang”)

Genus name: Cananga odorata

Supplier: Perfumery Art School (part of our kit)

Note: Heart

Family: Floral

Diffusion: 7

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with:  Peru balsam, bergamot, carnation, cassie, citronella, grapefuit, jasmine, labdanum, lavender, lemon, melissa, neroli, orange, oakmoss, patchouli, rose, sandalwood, tuberose, verbena, vetiver.  Or why not try blending the various types together to create your own ylang ylang accord, suggests Eden Botanicals.

Chemical components: Linalol, farnesol, geraniol, geranial, benzyl acetate,benzyl benzoate, geranyl acetate, eugenol, methyl chavicol, b-caryophyllene, farnesene, p-cresyl methyl ether and other sesquiterpenes. 

Interesting bits:  Tropical tree native to the Philippines was later adopted in countries like Comoros, Madagascar, Reunion and Indonesia.  Although derived from the same tree, ylang from Comoros and Madagascar have distinctly different compositions and odors. (Biolandes)

The Extra … contains the highest amounts of esters and therefore has the sweetest odor, while the later pressings have a less-sweet odour. The ‘extra’ is not used in aromatherapy, but used in the perfume industry…(Esoteric Oils)

The Extra fraction of Ylang Ylang is the oil that is collected from the first hour of distillation; this fraction of Ylang Ylang is generally the most desirable grade of all the ylang ylang oils and usually comprises about a third to nearly half of the total distillate. It is used mainly in high-end perfumery. The I (first) fraction is from the next 2-1/2 hours, the II (second) fraction from the next 3-4 hours of distillation, and the III (third) fraction is collected from the last hours of the distillation process. Ylang Ylang Complete is a continuous distillation of 6-7 hours, rendering a full-spectrum, non-fractionated (complete) oil. (Eden Botanicals)

Products known as “ylang complete” are available which can be either a blend of the three grades of ylang or the complete oil that results from the full, uninterrupted distillation of the flowers. No uniform standard exists as to when the distillation is suspended and each grade of ylang drawn off. This results in a notorious inconsistency of aroma across the three grades; an experienced nose is required for accurate evaluation. If ylang extra is taken too soon, for instance, many of its outstanding aroma characteristics could show up in the secondary ylang II oil — thereby creating an outstanding ylang II but a weak ylang extra. If the secondary ylang II distillation is allowed to go too long, some of the less fine aroma characteristics of ylang III might show up in the ylang II.

Ylang tends to predominate, so it should be used in small amounts on its own or when blending with other oils. Too much of a good thing might evoke negative effects; restraint is the key to working successfully with ylang. When creating blends, start with amounts that seem too small. Let the blend age for several days before evaluating the aroma, so the power and radiance of the ylang can expand through the blend and reach its ultimate presence. You may find that a blend comprised of as little as 5 to 10% (in aromatherapy) ylang smells like 20 to 30%.


Their nose: Fresh, sweet, floral, slightly fruity, fragrant yet delicate.

Our organic Ylang Ylang Extra is intensely sweet, highly floral, and ethereal, with watery undertones. The intoxicating aroma of Ylang Ylang conjures palpable images of the flowers’ paradisial origins: palm trees swaying over sun-drenched beaches, exotic spices, peaceful island breezes, gossamer rays of moonlight, and the rhythm of the ocean’s song. Such is the power of Ylang Ylang’s amazing aroma for easing the mind, as well as for its effect in the composition of perfumes. It is one of the finest aromatic materials in the perfume industry. (Eden Botanicals)

The standard bearer of all ylang grades is ylang extra, which has a creamy, delicate aroma, never overpowering or too densely sweet. Aroma-sensitive individuals sometimes experience headaches when inhaling the potent ylang III, but usually don’t when inhaling the subtle sweetness of ylang extra. (Auracacia)

An elegant intensely sweet floral odor with a refined vanillic, fruity, spicy undertone. (White Lotus Aromatics)

My nose: Ylang Ylang Extra literally explodes as a thick, floral big-petaled bomb! It’s like the word in Italian “femmena” (really it’s “femmina”, meaning female, but said with a southern Italian accent it comes out as this beautiful, heavy, important word.) There is nothing discrete about Ylang Ylang Extra. It’s evocative, cloying, creamy and dominating.  Ylang Ylang Extra is all that and then some! 15min and now it’s juicy, heady, intoxicating, opening up seriously now, over blown, like a storm of floral power blasting you. 30min and to me this is now like s*x. So far no other floral or material for that matter has made such an impression upon my mind. It’s total sexual abandon. (I had other words to describe it but had to keep this post G-rated ;). S*x without fear, sweet thick, succulent, satisfying, sultry, carnal and of course floral. 45min into the top notes and any hint of submission is only a deception. She’s cheating because later Ylang Ylang Extra comes back! She remains carnal, still s*xually disruptive, but now there’s a hint of green, a bit of shine, but the projection remains powerful. 1hr now but I had a phone call and didn’t evaluate. 2hrs and it’s warm, sweet, still gutsy, a bit more aged but there’s a roundness to the shape, thick, still loaded with this warm sensuality. 3hrs into the heart now and it’s round, bold, extravagant, exotic and voluminous. After 7hrs now Ylang Ylang Extra is wonderfully soft, plumy, warm, floral, like late summer languishing over a beautiful glass of wine at the golden hour. I can’t believe how bold this layer still is!!! 12hrs later and this is so pleasing. The first inhale brought a smile to my lips. It’s more ethereal now, I can smell commonalities with Rose, but still she remains generous and a sheer delight. The final 24hrs evaluation is WOW! Ylang Ylang Extra is intensely floral, even after a whole day on the scent strip! It remains thick and commanding. But, now it’s expression is much more classically floral and approachable, still a voluptuous, Botticelli beauty! If anyone just a few months ago would have told me that I would have been this overcome by a floral I would have laughed. And not ha-ha-hehe. But ha-ha-WHATEVER! But this just shows me that I am making progress in my olfactory training as I develop an ability to smell beyond my olfactive boundaries set only by my past opinions, culture and a whole host of assumptions!

12/24 comparison: The 12/24 comparison yielded some interesting insights: the 12hr strip was pungent, arresting, consuming; this layer was still powerfully floral! But at this stage I prefer it’s carnal suggestions more. In a straight comparison it’s much more exciting. Which leads me to believe that interacting with other materials this facet of excitement could become highlighted. The brightness is still there. Whereas on the 24hr strip comparing the two, this one is simply beautiful, it’s pure poetry now. There is a fuller appreciation that emerges when you do the comparison that you just don’t pick up on its own! I can appreciate this so much more for how it suggests sensuality during the comparison. The brightness is gone but what remains is a glow, the embers of a wild night that coax you into a warm slumber with a smile on your face.

The gift of this floral is that Ylang Ylang Extra reminds me to luxuriate in all that life is and to take pleasure in the simple things.

Enjoy your mid-week!


making perfumes with cistus absolute


My musings on making perfumes with cistus absolute are many today as I am slowly getting clear on the various products obtainable from the Cistus ladaniferus bush (like Labdanum absolute), but that’s fodder for a future post (yep, it’s on the list). From now on I’m going to provide a direct link to the page of the supplier.

Common name: Cistus

Genus name: Cistus ladaniferus

Supplier: Hermitage

Note: Base

Family: Amber

Diffusion: 5+

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: essential ingredient to amber bases and Orientals.  Use with citrus, cinnamon, pine, fir, florals, vanilla, oakmoss absolute, clary sage, black spruce, fir, juniper berry, myrrh, lavender, lavandin, bergamot, cypress, vetiver, sandalwood, frankincense, chamomile, benzoin siam, boronia, cassie, cypress.

Chemical components:  the most volatile fraction is made up of terpenes, alcohols, and of ketones (among those a-pinene, borneol, ledol, ledene etc. Diterpenes include Labdene-7,8-op-15, labdanolic acid, etc. Acids including benzoic, cinnamic (cis and trans), as well as fatty acids.

The chemical composition of labdanum contains around 250 compounds, 75 of which had been identified, including 25 phenols, 9 lactones and 8 acids. Weyerstahl et al. (1998) attempted to assign labdanum’s odour characteristics to some of the constituents. Dihydroambrinol contributes a powerful woody-amber, with an ambrinol-like nuance, while a-ambrinol is strong, amber and woody, having an exceptionally strong odour of damp earth with a crude civet sub note, which on high dilution gives a warm animal amber scent. Drimenone is described as powerful tobacco and amber, and various other components give soft, warm, woody amber notes, sometimes with animalic or resinous variations.  Weyerstahl et al. (1998) also reported the isolation of another key tone — 6,6,10-trimethyldecal-2-one — which they describe as ‘strong woody — dominant tonality — with a distinct note of damp earth, cellar, geosmin’ (Fragrance and Wellbeing by Jennifer Peace Rhind)

Interesting bits: The cistus absolute is obtained after the cistus concrete, itself the result of a hexane extraction of the young branches, is washed with ethanol. This unique plant with amber accents expresses its olfactory character in different ways, depending on the process: cistus essential oil, cistus Tradition quality essential oil, labdanum absolute, labdanum resinoid, and even labdasur…Products bearing the name “Cistus” come from the direct processing of the shrub’s young leafy twigs by distillation or solvent extraction. They include cistus essential oil, Tradition quality cistus essential oil,cistus concrete, and cistus absolute. (Albert Vieille)

Their nose:  Ambery, vanillic woody, terpenic, leather with spicy tobacco notes.  Warm, woody, spicy herbal, sweet ripe fruit and chamomile-like with a notable resinous, animalic and “cold smoke effect”.

The smell of Cistus is a fruity version of Labdanum, beautiful, green, fresh and mystic. (

Distinct labdanum note, warm, balsamic, woody, spicy with herbaceous nuances. (Ventos)

It has a complex odour, usually described as rich, sweet, slightly herbaceous-balsamic (Lawless 1994); or powerful, sweet, and recalling ambergris (jouhar 1991); or as having a sweet, rich, balsamic amber character with warm, dry, woody back notes (Lawless 1994). Williams (1996) wrote that cistus oil has powerful, warm, agra-like top notes, and the body is rich, warm, agra and balsamic, with a  dry, balsamic dryout. (Fragrance and Wellbeing by Jennifer Peace Rhind)

My nose: the top of cistus absolute opens up with animalic, yet vanilla qualities at the same time! Warm with a hint of fruit, it fans out softly, lovely and bewitching. 15min and it’s soft, a bit vanilla-y, hint of cognac, oakwood barrels, warm and animalic, earthy, mesmerising. 30min later and now the vanilla note has taken centre stage, animalic next, I can also smell commonalities with Ambergris, and the most fantastic thing, my mind out of nowhere conjured up the smell of Black Spruce! Cistus is like a throb, a persistent, deep, pulse of the earth, to me it’s profound. 45min and the main impressions are earthy, settling down to a creamy, woody blanket, it seems to have retreated quite a bit…probably just resting. 1hr and Dalma called so I nothing to add. 2hrs later and there is a green quality, earthy, animalic, brown, a bit lack-lustre now, dry, with a hint of woodiness. After 3hrs cistus absolute is warm, and the vanilla is back, sweet, it seems to be moving into a much darker layer of itself, more open now, like an exploration. The 7hr drydown is warm, vanilla, and yes, still very much alive. This layer is much more earthbound, more well-defined than previous layers. 12hrs on and there is now a mere hint, the faintest of sorts, of a lemon quality, more like Elemi than actual lemon, very natural, not at all bland in the drydown, just more quiet, more thoughtful. 24hrs later and yes, there is still a hint of that lemon/Elemi quality, now everything is much lighter but this layer is still alive on the scent strip, without a doubt.

12/24 comparison: the 12hr scent strip is more pungent, bracing, it’s form is more clearly defined and it’s distinctly drier, too. The 24hr scent strip side by side only provides a hint, leaves a trail of that pungency, it suggests dryness rather than exhibits it. The impression is that this layer has been stripped in the sun, but has left a trail of warmth behind, like breadcrumbs so you don’t ever get lost or forget.

Have a wonderful week-end!


making perfumes with labdanum absolute


If you’re thinking about making perfumes with a warm, dark, woody animalic base note or you want to add a note of moss or leather to your composition then have a look at Labdanum absolute.

Common name: Labdanum absolute

Genus name: Cistus ladaniferus

Supplier: Hermitage

Note: Base

Family: Amber, Leather (originally I had this down as part of the Wood family because I was smelling with my “assumptions” and not in the present moment; assuming that since it was obtained from a bush that effect should be that of a more woody note, but the more I research and profile this the more it’s clear that it’s part of the Amber, Leather family so I had to change it).

Diffusion: 5

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: amber, bay laurel, calamus, cardamom, chamomile, copal-black, iris root, lavender, musk seed, nutmeg, oakmoss, opoponax, patchouli, rosemary, rose, saffron, sandalwood, spikenard, storax, tolu balsam, turmeric, frankincense, opoponox, bergamot, clary sage, cypress, juniper berry, lavender, olibanum, vetiver…

Chemical components: spring harvest has more terpenes, carbonyls. Fall has more alcohols. All have little pinene. (Gritman Essential Oils)  The main chemical components are: camphene, myrcene, sabinene, phellandrene, cymene, limonene, cineole, nerol, borneol, geraniol and fenchone (OnlyNaturalEssentialOil)

Interesting bits: It is used primarily as a perfume oil to ground and balance competing scents…There is also cistus (C. ladanifer) coming from the same plant, but it is processed differently than labdanum. Cistus is a rare or precious oil distilled from the flowers and leaves, while labdanum is made from the crude gum of the plant. (Gritman Esssential Oils)

“It is well known to our readers by now that chypre perfumes are dependent on a strict formula that juxtaposes bergamot and oakmoss, interlaying labdanum and other earthy elements such as vetiver or patchouli…It (labdanum) comes as a sticky dark brown resin exudate from two sources: from the shrubs Cistus ladaniferus (western Mediterranean) and Cistus creticus(eastern Mediterranean), both species of rockrose. Rockrose forms the Cistaceae (or rock-rose family), a rather small family of plants reknowned for their beautiful shrubs, covered by flowers at the time of blossom. It consists of about 170-200 species in eight genera and those are distributed primarily in the temperate areas of Europe and the Mediterranean basin, although they can be found in North and South America too in some instances. The flowers themselves have a faint odour and are not used in perfumery.

Labdanum is a natural oleoresin but it differs slightly from other oleoresins in that it contains more waxes and less volatile oil than most of the other natural oleoresins.

“The method of extracting it is unusual and highly entertaing at that. Herodotus and Pliny report that labdanum was collected by combing the beards of goats, which were impregnated with the substance. The goats graze from the branches and the sticky resin gets stuck on their beards. Upon their return, their owners comb the resin our of their beards and extract the resin. Also a rakelike instrument with long strips of leather attached to it, which they drag across the bushes to collect the resin, is used, called ladanesterion.  To this day labdanum is still gathered in Crete by driving goats into the thick forests overgrown with labdanum bushes. It is difficult work as it is best done in hot weather, under bright sunlight in the summer months. Sises is a Cretan village near Rethymnon, where such work is done to this day.

Today modern production is mainly concetrated in Spain and is done through easier means. However there is something to be said about the small, manual labour of cretan production that is of top quality. The modern method involves boiling the leaves and twigs of this plant in water and the gum being skimmed off the surface and mixed with other resinous matter, which sinks to the bottom of the boiling water, as the resinoid is unsoluble in water. The extraction of the crude or cleaned labdanum gets done with a hydrocarbon solvent, whereas petroleum ether is being used increasingly because it yields a light amber resinoid which contains the most wanted odour principles in high concentration: cinnamon base – (isoeugenol) and labdanum resinoid. An absolute is obtained by solvent extraction whereas an essential oil is produced by steam distillation.” (Perfume Shrine)

“Labdanum can be found all over the Mediterranean coast. This particular species of cistus is remarkable for the gum it produces in the summer which has been used in perfumery for over 3000 years. The gum Labdanum has an exceptionally strong balsamic and ambery odour which made it highly considered amongst the « incense » of Antiquity when it was known as Ladanum Resin.

Up until the 20’s the gum was collected directly from the plant and made into balls or bars. Originally it was collected by the shepherds from Crete or Cyprus from the fleece of goats covered in gum by wandering in the cistus fields. Later on the gum was collected by whipping the twigs with a large rake called a Ladanisterion, which was made of strips of leather from which the gum was scrapped with a knife.  From 1920, companies in Grasse began to produce the essential oil by distillation of the cistus from the Estérel region. At the same time in the Salamanca province of Spain harvesters began to collect the gum by boiling the twigs.” (Biolandes)

Their nose: “The fragrance of Labdanum is very complex. This waxy resin produces a balsamlike, woody, earthy, marshy, smoky, ambergrislike, leathery, flowery…” (Scents of Earth)

“It is balsamlike, with woody, earthy, smoky, and even marshy undertones. Some even desrcibe it as ambergris-like, or leathery and honeylike with hints of plum or oakmoss after a rain. Usually it is referred to as ambery, but it is mostly used to render leather or ambergris notes, the latter especially after its ban on using the real animal-derived material, as there were concerns about the ethical production of it from sperm whales from which it originates (Ambergris is therefore very rare and costly if ethically harvested and is mostly synthesized in the lab.)” (Perfume Shrine)

My nose: the top note opens up with a green note that is a bit more ‘refreshing’ than the cistus absolute; animalic, musky, discrete, with a hint of vanilla, thick and deliberate.  After 15min it’s warm, dark and dense with a hint of woodiness; it lingers, and isn’t as imposing as cistus. I get a vision of cathedrals, huge vaulted ceilings and incense wafting in the air. 30min into the top notes and it’s exuding a sleek, feline, feminine quality, where cistus has a more masculine vibe. It’s rich with a sense of timelessness, and the impression is more of the action of a flutter and puff of smoke. After 45min I find myself having to slow down, to be more present with this one, it’s so soft, now a whisper, it’s almost religious, like a constant note in a piece of music that you can consciously, continuously follow from begin to end. 1hr – (Dalma called so I decided to skip this evaluation and move on. Priorities.) 2hrs later and it dries down to a dry, library, churchy, understated impression; there’s a hint of radiance still there and it’s holding up quite well.  After 3hrs this is more sharp and has now acquired an edge to it that cistus doesn’t have, it’s also drier, more woody, more still; where cistus absolute is ’round’ labdanum absolute is ‘angular’. It’s now 7hrs later and labdanum absolute is like a warm summer breeze, solitary, aloof, yet very present, still noticeable. It settles into something more aged and mature quicker than cistus. 12hrs now it’s still holding onto the musky, animalic layer tightly, I can pick up amber here too and it develops into delicate tawny ribbons of comfort.  Some random associations that come to mind are: a trail, the desert, a lion.  This still has a wonderful grip. 24hrs later labdanum is light as a feather, warm, comforting, lasting and supportive, tranquil too. It still has a solid effect. And I still get incense and a church atmosphere making an impression.

12/24 comparison: in the side-by-side comparison the 12hr strip is very much the church scent that is a constant. I can pick up the vanilla a lot more and this strip conjures adventures in the desert much more rapidly. This layer seems to penetrate the Soul, touching every part of me, relaxing the spaces and corners within to remind me to be at peace. So very warm. The layer that is revealed in the 24hr strip is a whisper of these adventures, like an old man telling tales of his youth to children gathered at his feet in awe. I find this layer warm, loving and very protective.

I hope you enjoyed the profile on labdanum absolute as much as I have sniffing and researching it. It’s a totally inspiring material and one that I reach for often.

Have a wonderful Wednesday and I’ll be back Friday with a profile on the sister scent, Cistus absolute.



making perfumes with palo santo essential oil


Musings on making perfumes with Palo Santo essential oil: holy smokes is this oil interesting! I had no idea! It’s totally given me a whole different appreciation for this oil as a perfume ingredient.  In doing the research for this post I realise that my sample of Palo Santo is from the flowers but I’m finding that most oils are harvested from the heartwood. So of course I now need to try the heartwood version. Researching this oil led me to some interesting revelations into my perfume project and what to trust in myself as I develop this art. Since my thoughts were to profile Palo Santo as a possible addition in the heart of my perfume I really focused my attention on what it expressed between 1-3 hours. This material is incredible!  This is a long profile but well worth it, trust me:

Common name: Palo Santo, (Holy Wood)

Genus name: Bursera Graveolens

Supplier: Neroliane  (obtained by hydro distillation from the flowers of the plant)

Note: Top to Heart

Family: Wood

Diffusion: 6

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: jasmine, grapefruit, cedar wood oils, frankincense, sandalwood, myrrh, vetiver, champa flower, white sage, patchouli, lavender, neroli, rose, ylang ylang, benzoin, iris root, oakmoss, tolu, tonka, vanilla, cistus, oudh.

Chemical components: limonene 58.6%, a-terpineol 10.9%, menthofuran 6.6%, carvone 2%, Germacrene D 1.7%, y-Muurolene 1.2%, trans-Carveol 1.1%, Pulegone 1.1%. Neroliane has this particular version containing also: b-bisabolene, para-cymene and forneol.

Interesting bits: the tree belongs to the same family as Frankincense and Myrrh. Palo santo is a wild tree native from Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula to Peru and Venezuela. The aged heartwood is rich in terpenes such as limonene and a-terpineol. Chemical composition, as reflected by aroma, is variable. It’s use reportedly dates back to the Inca era.  The aromatic wood of palo santo has also been used in South America to make barrels for ageing wine and beer. (Wikipedia)

The genus Bursera is named after the botanist Joachim Burser, who lived from 1583 – 1649; graveolens is Latin for “heavy, penetrating odour”. The natives say that the tree can live for 50 years without water! The tree does not have a long tap root, but instead has superficial roots that allow it to absorb water quickly; this is similar to frankincense, which in some cases has no roots at all, just a base that attaches to rocks. Palo Santo is obtained from the wood after the natural death of the tree, or from pieces found on the ground. To retain its special properties, the dead tree must lay on the ground for another 3- 6 years before harvesting the wood for its “holy” properties.  The wood is then cut into sticks or ground into sawdust to form incense cones.  Essential oils can be extracted from the tree but will only produce any essences if the tree goes through the process of natural death and resting for 6-10 years. After a natural death, the Palo Santo tree will remain standing for several years. In Peru, Palo Santo wood is harvested under government supervision by the natives of the Peruvian jungle. In Ecuador for every tree used for the oil, about forty new trees are planted.During the first part of the distillation the oil is a light yellow colour has more top notes of citrus.  At the end of the distillation the oil is more gold in colour and has more of the base notes of the wood. In the regions where Palo Santo grows poverty was endemic but the gathering of the wood, distillation of the oil and handicrafts made from the wood provide income and livelihood for local communities. One large tree can give up to 20 litres of oil, which is worth about $4,000.00 USD wholesale to international clients; it will also provide about $2,000.00 in medicinal sticks and another $1,000.00 in incense.   This is enough to support seventeen families for one month on normal wages.  This is especially significant for women who are the majority of the people working with Palo Santo. (

“To harvest palo santo oil, only dead trees that have been left lying on the ground for a minimum of two years can be used. The resin is driven into the hardwood when the wood dies and matures, thus developing its unique and powerful chemistry. The average life of the Palo Santo tree is between 80 and 90 years.” (Floracopeia)

Their nose: citrus with resinous wood notes, fresh, soft, gentle, musky (Floracopeia) Woody, sweet, with citrus and mint undertones (Eden Botanicals) Aromatically speaking I find this material challenging as the top note is an utter whirlwind of strong fragrance types and you can never be sure what will greet you first. The notes I detect are; yellow biting lemon, entwined with honey and marshmallow sweetness, fresh water mint with Catnip idiosyncrasies and creamy notes I associate strongly with Pemou and santal austrocaledonicum. Also I must add I find every individual note is somehow encapsulated within a light spice and delicately charged herbaceous bouquet. A drop on my wrist lasts 30 minutes and I only detect water mint and creamy wood notes for the final twenty minutes. Perfumers this is fascinating experimental material that in trace amounts will provide a rebellious and outlandish edge to herbal, culinary or creamy wood compositions. (Adam at Hermitage)

My nose: this opens with a top note that is sharp and terpene-like; wet, shiny, menthol quality, bracing, like the wind at sea, uplifting, spirited. 10:15 all I can smell is the terpene flash and menthol, but there is definitely a sweet aspect hanging out somewhere in the background. It’s like sucking in a lung full of cool night winter air when you’ve been house-bound for days! 10:30 It’s alive! Expressive, still terpenic and I can still smell mint (menthol) bright, vibrant. Do I smell spices, here?! But there is a nuance of black pepper or something spicy. 10:45 the terpenic facet is now subsiding, leaving a minty, cold impression – woody is not the first impression I get from this material. It’s enigmatic, abstract almost. 1hr and the heart opens into an assertive space, it’s lost the opening terpenic pitch so now it’s settling down into contemplation, but it’s not lost its radiance. 2hrs later and oh, its heart simmers beautifully, like liquid gold. There is a hint of citrus, lemony note in the heart, sort of a jagged dry down, but bright still. After 3hrs ahhhh, the sweetness is the main greeter here, wonderful change from top to heart, more smooth, elegant and less brash now. 7hrs into the dry down and there’s a balsamic, sweet, vanilla tolu-like quality to Palo Santo, more sombre and relaxed, but with a nod to its youthful exuberance of the top notes.  After 12hrs it’s light and airy and I can still pick out the citrus note, galantly holding its own even after 12 hours! Still perceptible as a whole. It’s got grip! 24hrs on and Palo Santo even though almost gone now, is beautiful, creamy, candy sweet with a hint of mint; it has a soft dry down.

12/24 comparison: the 12hr strip still has the terpenic qualities and it’s still has sharp and jagged edges. The 24hr strip doesn’t. It’s more rounded and has almost disappeared.




making perfumes with veramoss


Some considerations when making perfumes with veramoss: “It is deceptively powerful however and can have a significant effect on a blend. It is an excellent fixative and adds great depth and substance to almost any fragrance…Used alongside natural oakmoss it is possible to create a very effective facsimile of a traditional Fougère using this material, but it isn’t a full substitute for oakmoss on its own.” (Hermitage)  “Evernyl offers the power and tenacity of oakmoss absolute. It is extremely versatile and is often used as an oakmoss replacement. Good substantivity. Great fixative” (  If you’re after a mossy effect it can help give it a boost, but from what I’m reading it isn’t a good substitute for Oakmoss.  Chris Bartlett on Basenotes says, “Works very nicely alongside woods and musks.”

Scientific name: Methyl 2,4-dihydroxy-3,6-dimethylbenzoate

a.k.a. Veramoss, Verymoss, Evernyl (Givaudan), Methyl Atratate

CAS#: 4707-47-5, 121-33-5

Supplier: Perfumer’s Apprentice

Note: Base

Family: Musky, Woody

Dilution: 10%

Diffusion: 5

Their nose: “the odour is described as mossy, oakmoss, woody, phenolic and earthy. In truth you have to work to detect most of those notes in this apparently unassuming material.” (Hermitage) Oakmoss, woody, phenolic, powdery, woody, sweet

My nose: from the get go, Veramoss is barely decipherable to my nose, I must slow right down, eyes shut, to really “get” this note. Musky, ambergris, hint of mothballs, a bit dark, austere, foggy day on the marsh sort of note, tawny, dusty, age. 15min and it’s still very hidden, I don’t get much time to sniff this one, yes, still ambergris, decay, ethereal. Haunting and evasive. 30min and my impression is very nuanced, parched, dry, it’s olfactive temperature is warm, pale and tempered. Very much a supportive, background player. 45min and it’s dry almost gone, musty, ambergris, animalic, very reserved, I almost can’t smell it anymore. I do my best not to force the issue and just set it aside. 1hr later and it’s now soft and delicate; I can smell it now again, but you can’t be in a hurry with Veramoss, it pulses feebly with life, obscure and faint. 2hrs on and it has a subtle softness like twilight, fragile, ancient, on it’s own it reminds me of a deconsecrated church, no real purpose but hollow, needing to be used by or with something else, lulling tranquil, waiting. 3hrs and it’s soft and deliberate, it has character, references to the ocean and the seaside, wind, wet, inscrutable, deep. After 7hrs it’s now beginning its decline. Warm, delicate, fragile, earthy, understated, but there is also a sense of isolation. 12hrs into the drydown and I get animalic, very subdued, it really hasn’t moved much just remained quite hidden, a gentle touch.  24hrs later and there is a hint of moss, wet, dark, ambergris, I would definitely use this as a substitute for ambergris or as an adjunct; slightly animalic, lovely and delicate.

Blends well with: woods and musks, but more specifically allspice, ambroxan, damascone beta, geraniol, frankincense, oakmoss, labdanum, etc. (TGSC)

Have a lovely week 🙂  Only 10 more days to go before Christmas!!!