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.




aromatic profile: tuberose absolute


Common name: Tuberose

Genus name: Polianthes tuberosa

Supplier: Proxisanté

Note: Heart

Family: Floral

Diffusion: 7

Blends well with: carnation, gardenia, jasmin, neroli, peru balsam, rose otto, violet, ylang ylang (Artisan Aromatics). Beeswax absolute, benzoin absolute, bergamot, amyris, bois de rose, caraway seed co2 and eo, carrot seed co2 and eo, clary sage eo and abs, clove bud eo and abs, coriander seed co2 and eo, frangipani abs, geranium eo and abs, ho wood eo, labdanum abs, mandarin eo, narcissus abs, neroli eo, oakmoss abs, orange flower abs, mandarin petitgrain eo, petitigrain eo, lemon petitgrain eo, rose abs, tonka bean abs, violet leaf abs, sandalwood eo and abs, ylang ylang abs and eo (White Lotus Aromatics)

Chemical components: Methyl benzoate, methyl anthranilate, benzyl alcohol, butyric acid, eugenol, nerol, farnesol, geraniol, 1,8-cineole, limonene, sabinene, a-pinene, b-pinene, indole, myrcene, camphor, methyl salicilate

Interesting bits: “The Pre-Columbian Indians of Mexico first domesticated the Tuberose, one of the most fragrant of all flowers. It was one of the first plants introduced to the Old World from Mexico.” – Eden Botanicals

“Tuberose (Polianthes tuberose) is a plant belonging to the lily family (Amaryllidaceae) native to Central America. Like most night blooming flowers, tuberose is pollinated by nocturnal moths, which explains the white shade of the flowers. Like jasmine, tuberose continues to produce its scent even after the flower is picked, thus, lending itself as a perfect candidate to the traditional painstaking enfleurage method.” – Bois de Jasmin

“In Ayurvedic tradition, tuberose is also known to stimulate serenity, creativity and psychic powers….tuberose is frequently combined with jasmine and orange blossom, lending further opulent depth to one and dark richness to the other.” -Bois de Jasmin

Their nose: “tuberose absolute opens up with a faint green note before warming into a sweet jasmine-like scent underscored by a rubbery accord. It vacillates between the coconut sweetness and the warm skin impression, as it dries down.” – Bois de Jasmin

“This sensuous deep orange-golden brown oil has a warm, very sweet, “plump” and most intoxicating floral aroma with peach leaf and soft spice-like background notes.” – Eden Botanicals

There’s a great article on Fragrantica with perfumer Pierre Bernard around the Tuberose note. It’s an insightful read with lots of good information.  I could cut and paste forever but the best thing would be for you to just mosey on over there and give it read.

My nose: as Tuberose opens up I get waxy, warm, soft, fruity, sweet and thick. 15min later it’s still warm, comforting, blossoms, the colour orange just jumped out, carnal, fleshy, natural, exotic and lush is what strikes me. 30min later and now its fully floral-POW! In your face floral, sweet, thick, lushiousness, plummy, deep, feminine, golden and oh, so beautiful! After 45min it gets fuller, almost as if it’s now waking up. It’s beguiling, tempting, engaging. This note saunters, sways, it’s in no rush; aphrodisiac, almost like you don’t recognise it’s a floral. As it slides into the heart notes 1 hour later I get such a strong impression of a woman! Fully present now, like a liqueur, yes, smooth, sensual, like a liqueur. Elegant and sublime. 2 hours and now it’s less warm, I sense it now ready to interact with other notes, seems like the true heart moment is opening up at this point; it nuzzles, comforts and reassures you.  3 hours and now it’s becoming sweeter, softer, more floral still, I can smell a slight decay of petals and it’s more quiet and even more composed if that is at all possible.  7 hours into the dry down and do I smell it together with pepper? Now I smell a powdery aspect that wasn’t there before; it’s greener too, also more fruity, drier, more down to earth. 24 hours and it’s settling down into the base notes and it’s still present on the strip though much softer, more alluring, the sweetness is a pure delight. This is a beautiful note all by itself! 4 days later and Tuberose is still identifiable on my scent strip!

Musings on composition: being a night blooming flower makes me consider other night blooming flowers to pair it with but also makes me want to take much care in supporting its gentle opening; notes that coax and coddle rather than poke and prod. Since I am drawn to compose by pairing or juxtaposing chemical compounds camphor strikes me as a possible note to pair with Tuberose, an aspect that would almost wake it up with verve the way I like to get up in the morning.

Keep exploring, being curious and wondering!

aromatic profile: osmanthus absolute


Common name: Osmanthus absolute

Genus name: Osmanthus fragrans

Supplier: Proxisanté

Note: Heart-Base

Family: Floral

Diffusion: 8+

Blends well with: champa abs., benzoin abs., styrax eo, agarwood eo, agalia odorata abs., cassie abs., mimosa abs., ambrette seed abs., ylang ylang abs and eo, davana eo saffron eo, jasmine sambac abs, jasmine auriculatum abs., broom abs., orange blossom abs., fir balsam abs., tuberose abs., frangipani abs., bakul abs. (White Lotus Aromatics)

Chemical components: “The essence of osmanthus naturally contains cis-jasmone (a white floral note), gamma-decalactone and various delta-lactones (peachy-milky notes) as well as several ionones derivates, which accounts for its violet-like sweetness” – Perfume Shrine

“Among the carotenoids of Osmanthus are all trans-beta-Carotene, all trans-alpha-Carotene and Neo-beta-carotene B.” – Fragrantica

Linolenic acid – 17.4%, Linoleic acid – 8.7%, Hexadecanoic acid – 8.6%, b-ionone – 7.6%, dihydro b-ionone – 6.4%, Geraniol – 1.2%, Linalool – 0.8% and a-ionone 0.6% – Essential Oil University

Interesting bits: native to Asia from the Himalayas through southern China to Taiwan and southern Japan and southeast Asia as far south as Cambodia and Thailand. (Wikipedia).

According to Leffingwell: “While the flowers of osmanthus range from silver-white (Osmanthus fragrans Lour. var. latifolius Mak.) to gold-orange (Osmanthus fragrans Lour. var. thunbergii Mak.) to reddish (Osmanthus fragrans Lour. var. aurantiacus Mak.), the extract (alcohol absolute) is usually prepared from the gold-orange flowers.”

“Member of the Oleaceae family like olive and Lilac.  Highly valued as an additive for tea and other beverages where the aromatic extract comes from the golden yellow flowers variety…the variant Osmanthus fragrans Lour. has more carotenoids in its chemical make-up which contributes both to the sunnier colouring as well as the enhanced aroma.” Perfume Shrine

This is an evergreen shrub or a small tree.  I don’t know why, but in my mind I pictured this as a big ol’ tree.

Their nose: “the initial top note is somewhat fruity and sweet comparable maybe to eating yellow Mirabelle plums late in the summer. However it is the heart note that makes this utterly spectacular as I detect an infusion of sweet juicy Apricots, fresh cream and a thick helping of Greek Honey.” – Hermitage

“a complex, incredibly rich, sweet, honeyed, floral, leathery, fruity bouquet with elegant precious woods, animalic, spicy undertone.” – White Lotus Aromatics

“It has a green note, but also a dark, earthy quality – almost like old leather – and a fruity, violet floral (methyl ionone & beta ionone) note, which I suspect many people will experience as fresh raspberry-like. It’s very complex and deep, but really not much like smelling the flowers.” – Chris Bartlett of Pell Wall Perfumes, on Basenotes

“fruity-leathery smells evoking plums, apricots and prunes” – Fragrantica

My nose: this is a power floral to me!  There’s nothing, faint, quaint or “nice” about Osmanthus. Those just aren’t words that come to mind when I smell this note. Osmanthus opens up waxy, orangey, BIG, BOLD, and warm, with a very heavy presence for me. After 15min the olfactive “size” is what sticks out most, it’s cloying, cluttering, demanding and there’s still a very strong element of waxiness but now that seems to be settling down, warm and sweet.  30min later and I smell it with Tobacco absolute.  Dense and thick like a thick floral, fruity fog, I feel prisoner, held in its gutsy, juicy pressing folds.  45min into the evaluation and this note just seems to get bolder and bolder! Still a bit waxy but not distractingly so, definitely floral, something assertive in this note that’s why I smell it with Tobacco, a very male presence, dominating, at its core.  1 hour later and it’s still waxy, but now the fruity aspect is more front and centre, sweet, thick, bountiful, gives the impression of abundance.  Very deep scent, sensual and direct.  2 hours later and this note is still loud. It can be “heard” above the other two notes I’m evaluating (Tuberose and Peach concrete).  A bit waxy still but now it’s like it’s freer, more narcotic, oriental, in a word voluptuous.  Its proportions are XL. 3hours into the dry down and its only now I smell the apricoty fruity nuancees. I get dappled sunlight in summer, laying in the grass after having eaten a fruit, jammy ripe, but it’s beginning to taper off to something more subdued.  7 hours later and this seems to be full blown now!  Like its sort of exploded.  Definitely a drier floral note, but still rich and ripe, the fruity aspect has really taken a back seat, still very heavy.  24 hours later and it’s softer, more aged in character but still bold, round, now it’s totally approachable, no longer dominating, it has settled into something much more elegant and refined.  3 days later and it is still present on the scent strip! Monstrous!

Musings on composition: there’s a lot to say about Osmanthus, as you can see. It’s a BIG scent, that’s for sure and so my instincts draw me to counter balance that by little things, supporting actors that totally make this note either shine on its own or convince it to contribute its greatness to the “good of the whole” thereby raising the entire perfume to a whole other level. Of course you’ll have to research and experience what those supporting actors could be for you. As I mentioned above I totally smell an invisible synergy with Tobacco – I’ll have to prove that in some trials eventually. In reading I found that the plant matures in the spring, about six months after flowering. When I check this seeming nothingness with my notes I see that to me it becomes full blown after 6 hours. Hmmm, just another way to look at composition ideas.

Happy Monday!  Remember to love and laugh too.

what’s a new olfactive experience worth?


You wouldn’t believe the paper work, documentation and customs forms that are needed to get a few bottles of stuff from suppliers outside of the EU.

On the left is the final FedEx document I had to sign for — after paying €40 that is — to get my little box of goodies.  Before that I had to fill out 5 pages of forms for the customs clearance agent (read: middle man) to send it to another government department in order for it to be declared as safe — this after sending them €40 for their service.

On the right is the prize: Copaiba Balsam, Black Spruce Absolute, Agarwood Attar, Frangipani Absolute, Pink Lotus Absolute, Bergamot Mint and — drum roll please — some 5 year old Patchouli!

It was Black Spruce Absolute that drove me to purchase the bunch.  My olfactive exchange partner shared a sample with me and I literally went bonkers because the scent haunted me for days!  It was nothing less than mesmerising and I knew that before I hunkered down over trial vials and test formulations in the coming fall and winter months I wanted Black Spruce with me — need it — as material I know in my bones will be an important element in my final perfume project.

So I guess in the end the answer is just like any other experience, it’s worth what you’re willing to pay for it.

I literally went to bed with the scents in my head and their memories were like a lullaby.

Yes, definitely worth it.

dilution woes


I had the devil’s own time diluting Tonka Bean Absolute, Cistus Absolute, Labdanum Absolute, Helichrysum Absolute and Mango Ginger CO2.

The picture above shows you the fight we’re still having after a hot water bath. Arghhhh!!!!

Cistus and Labdanum absolutes I had to put in a bain marie without the labels and almost screwed up which was which when they finally became pourable and I was ready to dilute.  Speed is of the essence as that pourability only last about 2 minutes before it starts going all hard again.

With some of them, after heating the original absolute and measuring it out on the scale, once in the alcohol I still had to remove some stubborn lumps.  I shook it for what seemed like forever and after that still didn’t work I ended up heating the alcohol solution in hot water with the cap slightly loose, swooshing it slowly every once in a while and that did the trick (please be careful when heating alcohol though it can be dangerous — I did not use an open flame, just hot water).

All except for Tonka Bean Absolute, it remains resolute and unbending, but I will be the last (wo)man standing.

**** Update: July 24, 2014 ****

Finally got the this beast diluted! In the end I decided to dilute the whole 5ml into a 50ml bottle.  Had to put the bottle of absolute in a pot of water in a pan of water over a low flame on a small burner (later a post from, Eline, one of my blog readers, confirmed that she does the same thing!). After about 30 minutes it became fully liquid and then I added 39gr of alcohol.  It’s now more like a 13% dilution.  What’s really odd now is that the diluted absolute has a faint fecal-like smell, it’s less vanilla-y than when I first smelled it straight from the bottle, now it’s more animalic, even a faint impression of urine.  Really weird.


aromatic profile: lavender seville, absolute

lavender seville essential oil

Common name: Lavender Seville (Spain)

Genus Name: Lavandula luisieri

Supplier: White Lotus Aromatics

Note: base-mid

Some interesting bits: the absolute is extracted by Hexane

The essential oil was only analysed for the first time in 1992!

A hybrid and sub-species of the L. stoechas, native to coastal and inland Portugal and neighbouring Spain.

According to the French, essential oil producer, Albert Vieille, “the properties of Seville Lavender essential oil and absolute have little in common with those associated with Lavandula officinalis or lavandin.  Their fragrances, in particular, are completely different.”  and, “The composition of Lavandula luisieri absolute is exceptional.  As with the essential oil, we find a series of irregular terpenoids with cyclopantanic structures that are rare, if not unique, in the vegetable kingdom.”

Main Chemical Components: Trans-alpha-necrodyle acetate 18%, Eucalyptole (1,8 cineol) 12%, Trans-alpha-necrodol 5%, Lavandulyle acetate 4%, T-muurolol 3%.

Their nose: The absolute is a viscous liquid at ambient temperatures, dark olive green in colour, with grassy, vegetal…notes, recalling liquorice and fig leaves.  The heart-note has a sugary character, amber, evoking dried fruit and jam.  The base-notes retain characteristics at once sugary, vegetal, hay-like, and acidulated. (

My nose: First impression straight out is that it’s much heavier than I expected; it’s thick and quite beautiful, like a woman with curves, dark, very woody, earthy, with a hint of camphor and only recalls the memory of Lavandula oficinalis.

After the 1st hour I gotta be honest, I wasn’t liking this too much, so I tried to practice what I’d read about an important aspect of scent evaluations and that is to try to keep your opinions detached from the exercise.  The note is much smoother now only more herbaceous.

After 3 hours this is still good into the dryout phase, dry and woody, warm, parched and more hushed. This is a stirring note, it moves the soul, touching deeply.  It is in no way as superficial as the lavender essential oil, but thoughtful and thought-provoking.

1 day later this note is still present, warm and parched and only now is beginning to fade.

Okay, evaluation over: I am enthralled by this note and wish one day to do it honour in a composition.


aromatic profile: sandalwood absolute

sandalwood absolute

Common name: Sandalwood

Genus name: Santalum Austro Caledonicum (New Caledonia)

Main chemical components are: α-Santalol(38.2%),β-santalol(18.2%),trans-α-bergamotol(9.9%),lanceol(9.1%), and epi-p-santalol(3.8%). But I learned something interesting from White Lotus Aromatics about New Caledonia Sandalwood, that “GC-olfactometry revealed, that iso-β-bisabolol [2], a new odor active sandalwood trace constituent, having a strong floral, muguet-like, very pleasant smell (16-18) was also present in the oils from New Caledonia.”

Some interesting bits: New Caledonian sandalwood oil is long-lasting, has little or no particular top note and smells soft, sweet-woody, nutty, animalic-balsamic, but is weaker and less radiant than its East Indian counterpart, according to WLA.  Victoria of Bois de Jasmin, says “in some parts of India sandalwood flavors milkshakes and sweetmeats.” Sandalwood, sadly, is among the threatened species because of overharvesting in many countries.  The chewing tobacco market in India is a huge consumer of the essential oil.

Their nose: “a rich, soft, sweet, creamy, balsamic, precious woods odor which is uniform in olfactory properties throughout the long life of its dry out. The heart note is softer and creamier in aromatic texture than the Sandalwood from India and Sri Lanka.” ,WLA. “Sandalwood has a rich, balsamic, sweet fragrance with delicate wood notes. The oil has a woody, exotic smell, subtle and lingering and the color is pale yellow to pale gold.”, Fragrantica.

My nose’s immediate impression is very light, woody and soft, intimate and silent.

After 1 hour I find that with this absolute I have to be in a calm space in order to fully appreciate it, I can’t be stressed or have a gazillion things going on, can’t be in a rush,…after a while I smell more of the wood but in a coy, cajoling sort of way.

After 3 hours it reminds me of paper and I LOVE paper! Dry.

1 day later and now this one just continues to surprise me, holy smokes! It’s so smooth and soft, more of a woody landscape yes, and wonderful base note!


aromatic profile: styrax

styrax absolute


a.ka. Liquidamber styraciflua.  Mine is a 30ml bottle of wild harvest from Honduras that I got from White Lotus Aromatics.

When I first started out a year ago getting into all this I had some confusion, still do, have to admit, about Styrax, Benzoin Resin and Storax, often mentioned interchangeably. They are all are fixatives.

It is a balsam first of all, and according to Bo Jensen, there are two types: Liquidambar styraciflua and Liquidambar orientalis. Here’s how Bo defines Liquidamber:

Etymology: The generic Latin name, styrax, meaning balsam or fragrant resin, is also found as the genus name of the unrelated Benzoin trees, Styrax benzoin and Styrax tonkinensis (Styracaceae), from which the more valuable gum resin “benzoe” is obtained.

So I’ve come to conclude that, Styrax has nothing to do with Styrax benzoin and Styrax Tonkinensis, nor Storax for that matter.  Chris Barlett of Pell Wall perfumes in the UK explains the differences on the nose in his blog post, here.

Onto the odour evaluation.  It’s quite thick and straight out of the bottle it smells strikingly of leather and shoe polish to my nose. When I diluted it to 10%, I must note that I still have some sediment at the bottom of the bottle but the immediate impression was still of shoe polish, sharp, of make-up? woodsy.  I really like this smell on the smelling strip, it sort of hides in the background.

After 1 hour its note is much softer and much, much drier.

3 hours into the dry down and it’s still very dry, still noticeable and strong, but now it seems to be heading into a trail of coolness, aloof would be the term that comes to mind…

1 day later and oddly enough this now smells sweet! with a bit of a woodsy nuance.

I dug deeper into the 2 day frontier and could perceive hints of the original note with some sweetness remaining but softer, lighter, lifted to a higher level somehow.