Aroma Profile: Cis-3-Hexenol

cis-3-hexenol-1000x600


Musings on making scents with … cis-3-hexenol. While I was doing this evaluation I was really mad — pissed off to be quite honest — with LV and seeing as how I was unwilling to let that ruin my plans for the day, I went ahead with my evaluations anyway but what I did notice was how difficult it was to focus on the olfactive sense when upset! Who knew?! When I did allow myself to let go and abandon to my sense of smell, Cis-3-hexenol swept in all flouncy and green to lift my spirits (well, that and Pat Metheny playing softly in the background) along with the absolutely stunning autumn day that came to greet me! Yes, I’m blessed I finally ended up realizing, inspite of and because of the sometimes crumminess that life can be. Hurray!

Common name(s): Cis-3-Hexenol a.k.a. leaf alcohol or (Z)-3-hexen-1-ol

Chemical name: cis-3-Hexen-1-ol

CAS #: 928-96-1

Supplier: Hermitage Oils (I originally purchased mine from Pell Wall) in the US via Perfume Supply House

Note: Top

Family: Green

Diffusion: 7

Dilution: 10

Blends well with: bay leaf oil, cedarwood oil virginia, clary sage, fir balsam abs., galbanum oil, ho leaf, leerall, lavender abs., linalool, lime oil, litsea cubeba, mimosa abs., oakmoss abs., black pepper., phenethyl acetate., etc. (TGSC

Interesting bits: Cis-3-hexenol is an alcohol and its esters are also important flavour and fragrance raw materials. It is a colorless oily liquid with an intense grassy-green odor of freshly cut green grass and leaves. It is produced in small amounts by most plants and it acts as an attractant to many predatory insects. Cis-3-Hexen-1-ol is a very important aroma compound that is used in fruit and vegetable flavors and in perfumes. (Wikipedia)

Also called Leaf Alcohol this chemical is immediately reminiscent to most people of the smell of a freshly mown lawn: distinctive, evocative and very green. It is widely released by plants when they are damaged and forms part of the scent of many freshly crushed leaves and is present in traces in many essential oils. Use this in tiny amounts to add a bright, green top-note to florals of many kinds: it is especially effective in carnation and lily of the valley scents. In larger amounts it is effective to give a modern freshness to Fougère or Chypre types among others.Can be used to good effect in combination with the acetate. (Hermitage Oils)

Their nose: fresh green cut grass foliage vegetable herbal oily; green, grassy, melon rind-like with a pungent freshness; fresh, green, raw fruity with a pungent depth (TGSC)

A versatile green, characteristic grass note, excellent addition to strawberry and raspberry and other fruity fragrances. (Perfume Supply House)

My nose: Cis-3-hexenol opens green, somewhat sharp with a hint of floral freshness, springtime, also I get the smell just after a rainy moment, pungent. There is a softness I have never noticed before as this is not my first time smelling it. 15min and now I get the cut grass effect, hay a bit, but already making a retreat (seriously???!). Yep, wet, cut grass. Wet hay. 30min later I couldn’t believe my nose picked up a spicy, curry scent! Fading with every minute but I still pick up the green grass thing. Should have been obvious but it still shocked me to note that I was also picking up on a sense of groundedness to cis-3-hexenol! 45min and I find the scent just about gone and all I get is spices and fresh cut, wet hay not grass — the music in the background has stopped so there’s no way that I am confused about this, that’s definitely what I get. After 1hr the green, spicy, grass trio is almost gone. What’s left smells like old, wet grass, mouldy almost if I keep sniffing long enough. 2hrs into the evolution and I get dry, dry, dry. If I could only harness that dryness into a deodorant I would be happy camper, the answer to my natural DIY skin care prayers! But I digress…still getting the curry scent and there’s nothing at all refined about cis-3-hexenol now, it’s totally bland to my nose at this point. Lacklustre. It continues to be dry after 3hrs only now I pick up a colour that seems to accompany it and it’s not green but brown. Brown like the crisp, dry, autumn leaves that crunch under your feet on a cool October morning. Curry still but mostly dry is the predominant sensation. 7hrs into the drydown and cis-3-hexenol seems to emit a touch of cut onions, forget grass! It’s pale and dry and old. But hey, it still leaves an impression on the strip. That, I was not expecting. Hint of green grass, too. 12hrs and that wonderful powdery, softness that was there right at the opening is back! It’s evolved into a floral, feminine, girly, gentle and kind scent now. How interesting is that? Perhaps it’s because during the evolution of the drydown I have evolved and feel a need to be kinder to myself. Now there’s a totally unexpected revelation!

I hope you enjoyed this evaluation and I wish you a week of warm surprises!

MC


Aroma Profile: PADMA

padma-1000x600


Musings on making scents with … PADMA was a tough one to research. There’s not a ton of information on it and finding this image of the chemical structure was like searching for a needle in a haystack! If I’ve got the image wrong let me know. Maybe it’s because it’s the fall and I’m in serious is a hibernation mode, retreating, slowing down, or whatever, but I have stopped doing my evaluations at the desk and decided to do them on the sofa in my studio. I downloaded a clock for my computer, put it on the desktop and for the first hour only focus on smelling and listening to music softly in the background and just being with the scent. I used to do it at the desk and in between evaluations surf the Net but that was waaaay too much sensory input and damn-near drove me over the edge, made me all jittery. Gotta say I am loving this new approach, lot less pressure. I should probably mention it’s about 22°C in here with the fire going so the strips are probably evaporating faster than usual.

Common name(s): PADMA

Chemical name: phenyl actaldehyde dimethyl acetal

CAS #: 101-48-4

Supplier: Pell Wall Perfumes (at the time I couldn’t find it anywhere else, now Plush Folly in the UK sells it.)

Note: Top-Heart

Family: Green/Floral

Diffusion: 6.5

Dilution:10

Blends well with: violet, leaf, champa, rose, plum, hyacinth, green, gardenia, lavandin, benzyl acetate, propionate and salicylate, citronellOL and citronellAL, clove bud oil, coriander, alpha and gamma damascone, galbanum resin, geraniol, linalool, nerolidol, peony alcohol, tonka bean abs., etc. (TGSC)

Interesting bits: used in apricot, cherry and honey flavouring so stands to reason, (imho) that if I’m trying to achieve this through scent then I could use it trying to round off an apricot, cherry or honey aspect of my formula. Non?

Their nose: “Strong-smelling, sweet, earthy, mushroomy, phenylethyl alcohol-like, rosy, foliage, honey, waxy, powdery, floral, hyacinth-like odour. Interesting and more natural-smelling in proper dilution than one could expect. Nice green, floral, cologne, with hedione and hexyl cinnamal.” (Perfumechemicals.com)

“green, medium, green foliage, floral, rosy, earthy, mushroom, dry, green, floral, fruity, citrus peel, rose.” (TGSC)

“pleasantly floral-rosy, green and somewhat mushroomy” (Symrise)

My nose: the opening of PADMA is pungent, Indian, oriental, spicy, green and fresh too. Dry, and somewhat brittle. After 15min there’s something old clothes closet about this to me…rose, floral, not the fullness of rose, just an aspect — yes floral and sweet. 30min now and it’s a much more voluptuous, open, floral, it’s like I can sense her petals, but I also get something plummy and fruity in there too. At 45min still it’s wonderfully floral, still reminiscent of India, sharp, green, pungent but becoming more tamed, spreading out more and thereby losing some intensity, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At the 1hr mark the scent is still prevalent on the strip, albeit much softer now, floral, flouncy, somewhat thinner and airy. 2hrs later yet, it’s still floral, hugging onto the breeze, lightly now, it’s like a warm summer sip of cool lemonade, dimming now, drier, of course, and more brittle. 3hrs into the heart note and PADMA is sweet, sweet pea sort of, still quite vibrant, just a bit more vague, now I get feminine. 7hrs now I get baby powder! Like a fresh clean diaper. Soft, talc-y, slightly floral but still quite present even now. 12hrs later, wow, this is still green, sharp, linear, dry but more of the fresh cut grass, type of dry. It’s early morning now and I did the initial evaluation in the afternoon something I’ve never done before, so I have to factor in my change in consciousness, too. I realize everything is important when learning to smell.

Hope you enjoyed PADMA and are having a wonderful day!

MC


 

Coming Home

coming-home-1000x600


Well, I’m finally back and thought it only fair to let you know what the heck’s been going on around here.

Part of my silence has been due to me trying to figure out what, if anything all, to do with this blog. But more honestly it’s been about deciding if I wanted to share anything in writing at all. Because, let’s be honest, we don’t always feel like sharing. But it was about more than that.

When I first started out on the path to perfume making three years ago it was with a dream to turn my hobby into a business in some way shape or form. In time after a harsh reality check came the acceptance of the enormous cost of that dream be that logistical, bureaucratic, or financial living here in Italy. It became painfully clear that perfumery was not going to become a career path for me and I really struggled with that truth.

But, making perfumes has been, and still is, important to me.

A lot has come out of letting that desired outcome go, a much more important awareness in my opinion, the discovery of simply making things, exploring simply for the joy of exploration, to create in as many forms and mediums as one is attracted to and can afford. And that’s a lot when you think of what can be done with the humble pen and paper! Calligraphy, photography, watercolour, drawing. These are the things that are calling to me to come out and play.

So, what about perfumery then? What about the evaluations, where do they fit in? And that’s what’s been bothering me. Well more like bothered, impatient and curious at the same time. Has life really led me on this wonderful olfactive journey that has cost a small fortune only to abandon it just because it doesn’t have business potential? Give it up? Give away all my olfactive treasures that I have so lovingly diluted and aged for three years? No. I couldn’t accept that as the end.

Sometimes it’s hard to let a dream go or allow it to morph into something better, more well suited to who you are now.

And it was clear that I had to let the dream go of turning this into a career. With that came the understanding that I didn’t have to let go of the art form; it could still be a very important part of my creative life.

Being someone who needs an objective and having grown up and lived in North America for most of my life I assumed without question that a financial objective was the only or the most important objective to aspire to when choosing to do something, anything. I was wrong.

There is a delicious satisfaction that bubbles up from deep within when I make my mark either as words, as scribbles on a page, or as an olfactive signature. Whether that mark is the perfect S that my eye, hand and nib have formed in perfect harmony on the page or my first blind contour drawing or being outside, shy, tentative afraid even to make a mark with my watercolours, brush and blank paper because painting plein air is so intimidating! That is until I catch a whiff of Larch resin on the crisp autumn breeze from somewhere in the distance. Then another deep breath as I fill my lungs with its chemistry, its magic and mystery and so my courage begins to expand equally and I make a stroke with the brush. This sort of exploration and discovery of self has its own rewards, in unexpected, and often immeasurable ways.

Yes, the evaluations do take a lot of time to do it right, but I’ve decided to continue doing them, I’m not even sure why, I trust the answer will reveal itself in time.

I entertained the idea of doing workshops of putting together a course on YouTube or something like that, but honestly, I don’t feel that to be my contribution. I’d like to continue giving through these posts, with my particular brand of evaluating that hopefully stirs you to even greater discoveries.

Perhaps, when it comes to perfume making, doing the evaluations and sharing my own particular insights with you is what I’m meant to give and share with the world and not a finished perfume. And perhaps what’s important about perfumery in my life is that it’s a vital connection between my brain and the world around me and that it makes me happy.

I have never been comfortable with ambiguity but in the last few months I’ve had to come to terms with it through perfumery and deciding if and how it would continue to be a part of my life. I still don’t know for sure what the answer is and after months of soul searching I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s okay.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for your patience during the silence and on Monday I will be back with a new evaluation.

Wishing you a wonderful day!

MC


 

 

 

Too Hot!

too-hot-1000x600


It’s too hot and I can’t think! Here in the Alps temperatures are hitting the 40s! Really?!

I do not do my best work when it’s hot. I drag my feet, I procrastinate, it’s really not a pretty sight. So I’m learning to just flow with it, it’s my down time and things work better when I respect this rhythm.  I am at my best, more energetic, most productive when it’s raining — go figure — and there’s none of that in sight for at least a week!

Today I’m working on the introduction to the aroma chemistry series and it’s taking a lot of energy just to gather my thoughts into some semblance of order to produce what I want, so I’m taking it slower than I usually would and as a result the intro just isn’t ready yet. Sometime next week is my goal.

Wishing you all a marvellous, hot weekend!

MC


 

Aroma Profile: Sweet Orange 10 Fold

sweet-orange-10fold-1000x600


Musings on making scents withsee the post on Sweet Orange 5 Fold essential oil

Common name: Sweet Orange 

Botanical name: Citrus sinensis

Supplier: Alambica

Note: Top/Heart

Family: Citrus

Diffusion: 5

Dilution: 10

Blends well with: see the post on Sweet Orange 5 Fold essential oil

Chemical components: see the post on Sweet Orange 5 Fold essential oil

Interesting bits: see the post on Sweet Orange 5 Fold essential oil

Their nose: see the post on Sweet Orange 5 Fold essential oil

My nose: At the first sniff my Sweet Orange 10 fold essential oil is more blunt than the 5 fold, not sharp at all, with the obvious citrus outlines, but barely though. This one is thick and deliberate, ponderous and even heavy. What a difference between the two folded oils! After 15min it’s now a lot warmer, thicker, where the 5 fold was thinner, still very identifiable as orange even if it seems to be only now waking up. 30min and it appears to be fading quickly — too quickly! I mean, it’s there but I am finding that I have to work hard to reach it. 45min now it’s a very, very sleepy orange. Still present but seems to have retreated somewhere inaccessible. At 1hr this is much, much softer than the 5 fold. It’s plush, lush, citrus and the orange-ness seems to be lagging behind, yet is quite comforting and warm which I find odd for a citrus. 2hrs later and it’s growing harder and harder to discern this scent! It appears more nebulous, almost gone, very understated and smells more like mandarin to my nose than orange at this point. At 3hrs it’s just about gone, there’s not much left but a delicate roundness too that remains like an aura. 7hrs now, just a very thin whispery layer left, I almost can’t sense it. The 12hr mark and strangely enough this is still around, but just a hint, a mere flutter or just my imagination? After 24hrs on a very deep inhale what I get is a sense of that round, sweet, softness before it disappears.

12/24 comparison: The 24hr strip is warm, soft and sweet still, even if all you get is a very short moment with it and then it’s gone. The 12hr strip is very much the same impression only it lasts for longer. But, it really is strange that a citrus is able to hang around for 12hrs and beyond.

I’m a bit late posting today, life happening is all :). One long To-Do list and I was only able to get about 3 things done, oh well. Have a great Wednesday and Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians!

MC


Aroma Profile: Sweet Orange 5 Fold

sweet-orange-5fold-1000x600


Musings on making scents with Sweet Orange essential oil 5 fold … I’m doing this profile while on holidays at my daughter’s place and it’s a first for me so I’m wondering how differently, if at all, the nose will react to a change in setting. In my studio I’m more sure of things, of myself, (well, at least I pretend to be :)) but here as I look around at unfamiliar objects and do feel a bit uncertain. This is interesting to note and be aware of…

Common name: Sweet Orange

Botanical name: Citrus sinensis

Supplier: Alambica

Note: Top/Heart

Family: Citrus

Diffusion: 7

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: cinnamon, coriander, clove, frankincense, jasmine, lavender, bergamot, myrrh, sandalwood, nutmeg, mandarin, tangerine, nerolidol, petitgrain.

Chemical components: Limonene gives citrus fruit their familiar aroma (Wikipedia); limonene (up to 97%!), a-pinene, sabinene, b-pinene, myrcene, octanol, linalool, delta-3-carene, decanal.

Interesting bits: First of all what is a folded oil? What I found out is that the folded essential oils are more concentrated and have a richer, more intense aroma than the oils produced through simple expression. Think croissant pastry dough how it gets gently folded many, many times into itself to produce that fluffy quality. 

Folded essential oils are those that have been further distilled and concentrated to create a more concentrated, and usually stronger smelling, essential oil. The oils should have a longer shelf life because some of the terpenes that contribute to oxidation of the oil have been removed, and they should be safer to use in leave in products thanks to the removal of those same terpenes. (Point Of Interest)

“A “folded” essential oil is an essential oil that has been further distilled and concentrated from its already highly concentrated form. Citrus oils (like orange, lemon, grapefruit, lime, tangerine, blood-orange, mandarin, and bergamot) are the most commonly found in “folded” versions, and the most common “folds” are 5-fold and 10-fold.” (About Home)

Orange is a citrus fruit and a hybrid between pomelo and mandarin….Even though oranges remind us of distant tropical islands and exotic rainy forests, the sweet orange doesn’t occur in the wild. This hybrid species had been first cultivated in southern China and Europeans became acquainted with it in the 11th century, and used it widely for medical purposes. Italian traders have spread the seed to the Mediterranean area in mid 15th century, and since then the sweet orange has rapidly spread all around the globe, being quickly adopted as a delicious juicy fruit. The sailors from the Old Continent planted Oranges along their trade routes to prevent scurvy – same as the pirates of the Caribbean used lemon and rum, to make their favorite alcoholic beverage (and a natural remedy) called Grog. People of the freshly discovered Americas have introduced rum to the old Europe, while Europeans (Christopher Columbus himself!) brought the seeds of oranges, lemons and citrons to the Caribbean….one of the most commonly used aromatic ingredients in perfume industry, especially in floral and Cologne type fragrances….There are many different variants of orange and each of them possesses different olfactory properties. Bitter Orange, Blood Orange, Orange Blossoms and Mandarin Orange are most commonly found in fragrant compositions. Orange blossom and neroli are extracted from the flowers of the bitter orange tree (also known as Sevile orange or Citrus aurantium). The only difference between them is that orange blossom is extracted using the volatile solvents, while neroli is steam-distilled. Neroli has a wonderful and heady refreshing but spicy floral aroma, which makes it a great addition to all kinds of floral compositions, eau de colognes and skin-care products. Another derivate from bitter orange is the bitter orange oil that has a distinctive citrusy aroma placed somewhere in the middle of sweet orange and bitter grape. The leaves of bitter orange, as well as the flower buds, are steam-distilled to produce petitgrain, an essential oil that has a greenish woody orange scent. (Fragrantica)

Their nose: a delicious sweet, fruity, fresh and tangy smell (Fragrantica)

 … full bodied and has a deliciously sugary sweet, orange heart note. (Hermitage Oils UK)

My nose: from the opening sweet orange 5 fold fans out immediately with a sweet smell, almost like mandarins! Sharp, orangey, rind, yet plush. 15min and it’s still very sharp, tangy, pungent, rind odour, although I have to lean in a lot closer to get at it. 30min later the smell is nice and bright and alive on the strip. It seems to be leaping out at you. Now fresh and citrusy, succulent even. At 45min it’s still alive and awake on the strip, smelling more like the peel now, thin, but still orange. 1hr later and sweet orange 5 fold essential oil remains a very citrusy orange, the projection is less but still very noticeable although a bit more bare bones. After 2hrs on the strip it is very orange-y, now more luxurious, smooth, less bracing and splashy than in the beginning. 3hrs and wow, this is still hanging around! Very much an orange odour, it has a nice hold and this layer is drier, but still appears whole and intact, definitely not disintegrating as I assumed it would. 7hrs later and it is a lot greener, thinner, delicate and yes, still orange. 12hrs on and sweet orange 5 fold essential oil is now much more worn out but one can still make it out. I’m quite amazed it’s still present. Smells dry and satisfying, comforting too. The final evaluation at 24hrs and on the strip this still has a life of its own, but much softer and sweeter somehow, drier and more brittle.

12/24 comparison: The 12hr strip is more noticeable and in a direct comparison the 24hr one seems nonexistent, which begs the question: did I imagine it?!

Wishing you all a wonderful beginning to your summer and remember your sunscreen!

MC

Aroma Profile: Nerolidol

nerolidol-1000x600


Musings on making scents with Nerolidol…I think this is quite a versatile ingredient and its performance impressed me both alone on the strip and together in pairs with Sandalwood absolute.

Common name(s): Nerolidol

Chemical name: 3,7,11-Trimethyl-1,6,10-dodecatrien-3-ol

CAS #: 7212-44-4

Supplier: Hermitage Oils UK

Note: Heart

Family: Floral

Diffusion: 2

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: ambroxan, iso amyl salicilate, amyris, benzyl benzoate, benzyl salicylate, carraway seed oil, carrot seed, clove bud, black currant bud, fir balsam abs., guaiacwood, hay abs., geraniol, geranium bourbon, indole, nerol, patchouli, tonka bean, veramoss, etc. (TGSC)

Interesting bits: Nerolidol, also known as peruviol, is a naturally occurring sesquiterpene found in the essential oils of many types of plants and flowers.[1] There are two isomers of nerolidol, cis and trans, which differ in the geometry about the central double bond. Nerolidol is present in neroli, ginger, jasmine, lavender, tea tree, Cannabis sativa, and lemon grass. The aroma of nerolidol is woody and reminiscent of fresh bark. It is used as a flavoring agent and in perfumery. It is also currently under testing as a skin penetration enhancer for the transdermal delivery of therapeutic drugs. (Wikipedia)

A highly unusual material, rarely offered in small quantities, Nerolidol was used in the 1950s in only the most expensive floral and fine woody fragrances. Today it is in more widespread use but still less used than it could be in fragrance and only really popular in constructing certain fruity flavours. Nerolidol is a beautiful, but subtle material in it’s own right, but it also has excellent fixative properties that make it doubly useful. Occurs naturally in a vast range of fruit, herb and spice essential oils usually in very low quantities but occasionally forming a significant proportion of the oil. (Hermitage Oils UK)

Used in fragrances for woody, tea-like notes (Bedoukian)

“Mild and delicately woody-floral, slightly green odor with remote resemblance to Apple and Lily…an extremely useful chemical, not only because of its delicate and very versatile notes, but also, because of its fixative value and blending properties. The title alcohol is an excellent “fond” in Sweet Pea, Muguet, Honeysuckle, Peony, etc,, and a fine companion to Sandalwood, Oakmoss, Perubalsam, Tolubalsam, Clary Sage products, Ylang-Ylang, etc.” (Steffen Arctander)

Nerolidol, a natural isolate from France, is extracted from cabreuva essential oil. This base note has its greatest use as a fixative, prolonging a natural perfume without contributing much to the overall aroma. Nerolidol, with its weak apple and rose aroma, is a great blender orchestrating and rounding out other essences in a blend. (Aftelier)

Their nose: Floral, green and citrus like, with woody waxy nuances. (Hermitage Oils UK)

A woody, floral, green odor (Bedoukian)

nerolidol-and-sandalwood-absolute

My nose: Nerolidol opens with a floral twinkle, this is even harder to discern than HydroxycitronellOL! It’s just a whisper. After 15min it finally begins to wake up a bit more! Floral, bright, light and nimble. 30min and it’s a fresh sort of floralness although a bit on the sharp side. 45min here the floral, sweet, delicate natural feels almost child-like, my impression is infant, baby, fragility. At 1hr this is now sweet, delightful, tawny and dewy fresh. For the 2hr mark I get a sense that Nerolidol could act like the underpinning, like the veins of a leaf, support for a soft, delicate effect that has bones. After 3hrs this is sweet, soft, floral and the impression remains that of being well-grounded. 7hrs on Nerolidol is floral with a hint of coolness, this note meanders and is quite clear even now. At 12hrs WOW, this seems to have exploded even strenghthened! In a soft way though, it retains it’s femininity by remaining floral and fresh. The final evaluation after 24hrs and it is still alive on the strip. Alive and fresh and still floral with a wonderful grip!

Nerolidol & Sandalwood Absolute: the opening of this pairing makes the sandalwood pristine! I get an image of a road that previously was overgrown with weeds that has been recently cleared. The Sandalwood appears more beautiful and pure, more precious. The floral of the Nerolidol seems to enhance the Sandalwood giving it a very interesting nuance. Around 1hr something warm and round comes out from this pairing, it’s multi-faceted, soaked in context and texture! After 2hrs the Sandalwood is much more direct, like being pierced by it intravenously. It is much more luminous than on its own, more gutsy and bold. 5hrs now and Sandalwood is creamy, fleshy, warm. I think Nerolidol isolates the main profiles of Sandalwood helping to show it’s “best side”. The effect is a Sandalwood that is more measured, timed and tempered. 10hrs, the final evaluation, and it’s like Sandalwood has been one long musical note that can just go on indefinitely! Soft, constant, pure, woody. This is simply captivating right now. Love it!

Above, my colour interpretation of this pair using Rose Madder and Gamboge watercolours.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first pairings as much as I’ve loved doing them.  See you Monday and enjoy your weekend!

MC


Aroma Profile: HydroxycitronellOL

hydroxycitronellol-1000x600


Musings on making scents with HydroxycitronellOL… this is one of those synthetics that you just have to do a lot of your own research to discover what it’s all about. I could barely find anything at all on the net about HydroxycitronellOL. The product description on the Hermitage Oils UK site made me curious enough to purchase a small amount because I would really like to create a rose accord that thrills me so I was on the hunt. But that’s not enough with the synthetics, it’s important to throw the net a lot wider when experimenting with these tools.

Common name(s): HydroxycitronellOL

Chemical name: 3,7-dimethyloctane-1,7-diol

CAS #: 107-74-4

Supplier: Hermitage Oils UK

Note: Heart

Family: Floral

Diffusion: 3

Dilution:10%

Blends well with: bergamot mint, bois de rose, ethyl linalool, farnesol, ho wood, leerall, mughet ethanol, petitgrain, ylang ylang, linalool, etc.

Interesting bits: Very mild (weak) clean-sweet, floral odour of considerable tenacity. The floral type is Rose-Peony, typically less green, less Lily or Muguet than the aldehyde. This alcohol, now often manufactured as an intermediate in the production of Hydroxycitronellal, is used in perfume compositions originally with the intention of stabilizing Hydroxycitronellal and prolonging the odour life of that aldehyde in composition. However, there are other uses for this alcohol, not always obvious from a brief glimpse at the odour, which is, truly, not immediately impressive. It has an excellent fixative effect upon many types of delicate floral fragrance, and as a blender/modifier for other types. (Steffen Arctander)

Their nose: Odour type is floral with a low odour strength has a mild, clean, floral note and is very long lasting and closer to rose than muguet, with aspects of lily and peony. (Hermitage Oils)

mild clean floral lily green peony (TGSC)

hydroxycitronellol-and-rose-absolute-3-300x90

My nose: HydroxycitronellOL opens barely noticeable, quiet, slightly floral with a faint berry quality to it. At 15min it’s still floral, there seems to be hardly any movement, soft. 30min on this is plummy, jammy and juicy and oh, there’s the rosiness! Sort of sweet, too. 45min brings on a definite soft, floral note like linen sheets, becoming more present now and a bit metallic in quality tucked away somewhere. 1hr now and it’s clean, floral and fresh. 2hrs later there’s a much softer, more yielding, feminine, and pliable side to HydroxycitronellOL that reminds me of a mother. 3hrs now and it seems to be fading ever so quickly, I can barely get a good sniff. But there’s definitely still some of the floral soft quality hanging around. 7hrs, it’s base notes time, and our subject is a clean, clear and wispy floral note; wonderfully comforting now, inviting and intimate. The 12hr mark sees this one finally fading, getting quite thin , but I still have a good grasp, a good sense of the quality. Finally at 24hrs HydroxycitronellOL is gone. I can’t discern a thing other than a faint metallic smell that is thin.

HydroxycitronellOL & Rose Absolute, from Marocco: in the beginning the rose note is clean, the rough edges are all smoothed out, whimsical, titillating, I find it makes the rose much more “readable”, you’re clear about what you’re smelling – like it’s giving the rose a sense and structure. After 1hr the rose is much more subtle and compelling, it feels more grounded, more refined. At 2hrs the combination seems to have made the rose a lot more transparent, simplified it a bit and therefore making it much more approachable. It’s still quite present on the strip. After 5hrs there’s a wonderful crumpled, worn effect that reminds me of our roses when they are dying on the branches, there is still life held in their soft folds, they still want to give you something. It’s now soft and warm and yes, HydroxycitronellOL I think helps rose be more generous toward the end, very satisfying and earthy. After 10hrs the rose is there still on the strip, integral and totally identifiable.

Above, my colour interpretation of HydroxycitronellOL and Rose absolute. I used Prussian Blue together with Carmine.

Have a great Wednesday!

MC


Smelling Pairs

smelling-pairs-1000x600


The idea for smelling pairs came while evaluating HydroxycitronellOL.  I was struggling with how hard it can be sometimes to evaluate a synthetic or an isolate individually especially when they are as weak as HydroxycitronellOL. I felt like I was pulling at olfactive straws with this one. I began seriously thinking of another approach that could help with these evaluations that could give greater depth and meaning to the profiles of synthetics and then it came to me: smelling pairs! That is, evaluate them paired with a natural and note what influence they have on each other. The idea has merit but it had to be a simple process — simple is king for me these days!

Just as smelling pairs can help with cooking, a flavour can rise to surprising heights just by pairing it with something that on its own would be totally forgettable and unimpressive, the same holds true for synthetics, I think. For me it happens with chicken broth and bay leaf, the broth is somehow lent a whole new depth that it can’t achieve on its own and so I never make soups without adding at least one bay leaf. And seeing as how we have been gifted with a ginormous bay laurel tree on our yard I feel it my duty to practice putting it to as many uses as my imagination can possibly concoct.

So beginning with the next post on HydroxycitronellOL you’ll see me pairing it with one natural to see what happens and I’ll be doing the aroma profile along side it just the same. The profile will be much more indepth and the pairing will have to be, well, “pared” down; I won’t follow it for the full 24hrs either, only 10hrs with this profile.

And as a bonus I’ll be presenting them with some watercolour pairings this way I get a double work out of learning about colour combinations and aroma combinations. Totally a win-win! It’s also a wonderful opportunity to compose perfumes using the other senses, in this case, sight, as I ask myself the intriguing question: what does the smell of sandalwood absolute look like to you and what would it look like to you combined together with Nerolidol? This is a total olfactive workout, guys!

This week watch as I profile HyrdoxycitronellOL and pair it with Rose absolute from Marocco on Wednesday and then on Friday a profile on Nerolidol along with a pairing with Sandalwood absolute.

I love it when inspiration strikes! But the saying is true however that inspiration is more likely to appear when it finds you working 🙂

In-joy,

MC


 

Aroma Profile: Nootka Tree

nootka-tree-1000x600


Musings on making scents with Nootka Tree essential oil… gotta admit, I bought this one out of pure curiosity but am not at all disappointed. What I learned is that Nootka tree essential oil isn’t really a true cypress, read on to see what I mean.  This note threw me a few aromatic curve balls which I still haven’t quite grasped. While writing this and sniffing anew I tried to pick up what those errant aspects were, but I suspect only time and experience will reveal them to me. No longer frustrated, I’m quite okay with leaving it a mystery till then.

Common name(s): Nootka Tree essential oil, Alaska cypress, Yellow cedarwood

Botanical name: Chamaecyparis nootkatensis

Supplier: Hermitage Oils UK

Note: Heart-Base

Family: Woody

Diffusion: 5

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: patchouli, vetiver, fir, grapefruit, bergamot, cardamom, juniper, labdanum, lavender, mandarin, orange, pine, etc.

Chemical components: Nootka essential oil is rich in sesquiterpenes. The main components are valencene 15%, nootkatone 2%, nootkatene 57%, carvacrol 6%  

Interesting bits: Nootka is a majestic conifer that grows in British Columbia and Alaska. The tree is of great importance to the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest who use it for many of their carvings. In fact, it’s from the Nootka Tribe that the Nootka Tree gets its name. And curiously enough, it’s from the Nootka Tree that Nootkatone (the grapefruit ingredient) gets its name. (North West Aromatics)

There are many other species of cypress used to produce an essential oil; however, C. sempervirens is considered superior (Lawless 1992). Other Cypresses. Those trees referred to as cypress that are not true cypresses include the Port Orford white cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana); the Nootka sound cypress or Alaska cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatesis); and the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), famous for its southeastern U.S. swamp growths. Frequently used in landscape plantings, the Leyland cypress is a hybrid of the Nootka and Monterey (Coombes 1992). (Agora)

Their nose: Warm woody with a sandalwood top note. Leathery and smoky with patchouli and vetiver notes. Aromatic. (North West Aromatics)

Fresh, dry, precious woods bouquet with a powdery resinous undertone (White Lotus Aromatics)

Woody, spicy, cedarwood, leathery, minty, cumin, thyme (Hermitage Oils UK)

Spicy, smoky, juniper and pine-like aroma (Agora)

It smells like a quieter cedar wood oil (commenter on Basenotes)

My nose: Nootka tree essential oil opens with a definite pencil shavings effect. Pungent — no, blunt edged, it doesn’t reach out to you but remains held in check somehow, reserved and on the aloof side (must be its majestic origins). Then 15min later I get thin, scrawny, hint of gasoline/fuel. How weird is that?! At any rate, 30min later there is a sharp, thin, rough smell that reminds me of work. A gust of wind growls and I am sent memories of school days in childhood, and old pencil sharpeners, the ones you had to get up to to use because they were nailed to the wall! 45min now it’s austere, thin yet radiant, candid, it is what is, it hints at unpretentious, simple roots. 1hr into the journey and on a thin wispy layer of terpene, I am in the middle of dusk, though the note still has zip and exuberance. It gives you the feeling of being spirited away at any moment. Nookta tree is still sharp and pungent after 2hrs, but it’s stripped bare now, very singular in expression. 3hrs finds the note to be strident, shrill and me astounded that it’s still so insistent! Dry, bracing, peppery quality, too. 8hrs takes me into base note territory and holy mackerel this note has gone all dark, moody and enigmatic! Brooding…what?! Yes, there is something else hiding behind the obvious…but what is it?! I have to let it go, frustrated though it makes me and move on. 12hrs later there is only a slight pencil shavings facet but something else is affecting the overall impression…dry, pungent, thin, crisp, yet warm. At the 24hr mark there is a weird off note happening and the pencil shavings thing is still there! 

12/24 comparison: Very pungent, very much like pencil shavings at 12hrs. Dry, cracked, brittle — this is mainly what comes through for me. Somewhere between this and 24hrs there’s an off note that presents itself, something akin to gasoline.

That’s all for now, my nose is pooped, needs a rest, so the weekend is a welcome pause. See you Monday!

In-joy,

MC


Aroma Profile: Cypress essential oil

cypress-1000x600


Musings on making scents with cypress essential oil… yikes! I have two and I can identify the supplier of one but not the other. I think it’s one of the first I started to purchase about 3 years ago from a herbal shop here in town. After doing a full profile on this oil my curiosity has been roused and I’m going to order some Cypress absolute asap. My process is to do a full profile and a few days later write up the post; then as I’m writing I like to revisit it from a fresh point of “view” with the aroma of the note touching me every once in a while just to see what else my nose picks up without trying. This time around my main impression of Cypress essential oil is fresh, and I can pick out a citrus facet that I didn’t the first time!

Common name: Cypress

Botanical name: lat. Cupressus sempervirens (cupressaceae family)

Supplier: Essential Oil University

Note: Heart

Family: Woody/Mossy (and I would add Green)

Diffusion: 6

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: benzoin, black pepper, cedarwood, chamomile, most citrus oils, clary sage, ginger, lavender, ylang ylang, agarwood, ambrette seed, cypriol, cinnamon, choya nah, choya loban, choya ral, frankincense, sandalwood, poplar bud, rose, tonka, *vetiver, labdanum, juniper, bergamot, petitgrain — this, just to name a few!

Chemical components: a-pinene, camphene, sabinene, b-pinene, d-3-carene, myrcene, a-terpinene, terpinolene, linalool, bornyl acetate, cedrol and cadinene. (Esoteric Oils)

Monoterpenes: approximately 40-50 % of alpha-pinene, 15-20 % of delta-3-carene and up to 2 % of the sesquiterpenol cedrol, contributing to its aromatic profile. The Spanish oils from Catalonia have a similar odour profile to the French cypress oils as their higher cedrol content gives a woodier character to their fragrance. Oils from Murcia are lower in cedrol and therefore more terpenic or pine-like. (Scentcillo)

Interesting bits: Cypress is a name that relates to the plants of the cypress family Cupressaceae, growing in the temperate regions of the world. This is a very ancient family of trees that grew more than 200 million years ago on the supercontinent Pangaea. Today, Cypresses are found on all continents except Antarctica. (Fragrantica)

Regions of cultivation include the South of France, Catalonia and the Murcia region of Spain, Morocco and Corsica; the crop period lasting from December to February. Harvesting of the sprouts and young branches from the tree tops occurs initially approximately 5 years after planting, allowing regeneration of the plant and continuing annually during its long lifespan. Roughly 70-80 kg of foliage and branches will yield 1kg of cypress essential oil. In perfumery cypress is utilised in chypres, fougeres, amber accords and colognes. Like cedarwood Atlas, its virile character makes cypress a popular choice in men’s fragrances. (Scentcillo)

Their nose: From my reading, it seems that cypress wood has a pungent, woody, spicy aroma that can also be sometimes resinous, coniferous, or cedar-like. (Kafkaeque Blog)

The aroma of cypress can be described as fresh, lingering, pine-like, resinous, slightly smoky with a sweet, balsamic undertone. The scent is very evocative of a forest setting, bestowing a soothing and refreshing ambience. It acts as a top to middle note and equaliser in a composition, adding harmony and smoothing out rough edges in a blend. (Scentcillo)

My nose: cypress essential oil opens clean, clear, cool, crisp and light. Outdoors, piney, pungent, bracing, like plunging your hot, aching feet into a cool stream after a long mountain hike. At 15min now it’s much thinner, piercing, very green and all I get is this overwhelming impression of the great outdoors, wild and untamed. Clean. 30min and what I get is a bit more naked, bare, more razor sharp, also it’s less urgent, more settled, anchored so to speak. 45min leads me to a thin, sparse, clear, solitary note that is also awake, bright, alive and bracing! Imagine a 4 year old jumping on your bed at 06:30 shouting “mamma get up! mamma can you make me breakfast?!” as they twirl and bounce this way and that (and, no, you are not allowed to strangle them). After 1hr cypress is softer, more tangy, which is odd! It seems to be peeking through the openings like the sun would through a mighty cypress bough caught by a stray gust of wind. It’s drier now, too and somewhat “piccante” (I guess that’s why it could be a good partner with black pepper). 2hrs later and this is getting much more one dimensional, which is a bit disappointing, basic, coniferous, piney, woody, smell that is sharp, clear and up-lifting. Into the heart note now at 3hrs and it’s beginning to disperse, growing much more intangible and ephemeral by the minute. The impression is woody and slightly resinous. 8hrs on it’s much softer, bare and barely there, thin, woody, yes, but also I am stunned by how absolutely beautiful it is now! It takes that long to come into its own. After 12hrs cypress essential oil is dry, crisp, cool and beginning to smell a tad medicinal now. I get aromatherapy — nothing wrong with that only it’s a bit lack-lustre. A full 24hrs later reveals a pale dry, brittle, thin note that is still discernible as cypress. It leaves a nice trail which isn’t at all unpleasant.

12/24 comparison: the 12hr cypress is still strong, of course, you definitely know it’s cypress, and there is a distinct edge to it. Whereas the 24hr strip barely has a hint, but it’s there, clinging to the rocky cliffs of my olfactive landscape.

Wishing you a wonder-filled Wednesday!

MC


Cross-pollination

sketch-chanel-no5-3


Good Monday morning everyone!

Above a scanned sketch I made, of a bottle of Chanel N°5 that my daughter gave me as a present. I’m a total newbie to drawing and painting so sharing these first attempts is risky. I can already pick out a gazillion mistakes and it makes me cringe, but that’s not the purpose of sharing this.

Yep, among the many things I’m learning I’ve taken up drawing and watercolour painting which segues quite nicely into todays thoughts – the cross-pollination in art and life of many things that may on the surface seem unrelated but which in fact are dear relatives. The dictionary defines “cross-pollination” as: influence or inspiration between or among diverse elements…a sharing or interchange of knowledge, ideas, etc. as for mutual enrichment; cross-fertilization.

Learning about art is a wonderful support and partner to learning perfumery – smell can take one into a heightened state of awareness and drawing allows you to loosen up and let go and see new relationships.  I find the warm up exercises, making circles with your whole arm, making lines, cubes, etc. they help me let go of the fear of making a mistake because I’m simply making marks on the page without judgment. The whole point is to loosen up and just do.

It’s easier in art to make mistakes – just erase a line or two or the whole thing or rip up the page and start all over again. Not so with learning perfumery, we tend to hold on to the mistakes because, hey, throwing away 10ml or 20ml of trials is like throwing away €50. And who wants to throw away money?! But throw away money we must if we are to get better. Learning perfumery is about experimentation – lots of it! And the learning shouldn’t be hindered by thoughts of “oh, shit, there goes €100!”.

It’s easier in art to make your mark, just pick up a box of crayons and a napkin and start doodling and call it done. A lot harder I find, to make your mark in perfumery since the challenges are many: the cost is rather high to experiment, the difficulties importing raw materials here in the EU, shipping issues, EU regulations, and simply the length of time it takes to evaluate an experiment. They all add up and many times I find the whole endeavour fraught with paralysing doubt, leading me down a path of OCD, the path of perfection, and of least practice. I had to find a way around these obstacles to learning and found that opening myself up to other avenues of creative expression does take the pressure off of learning a very expensive craft.

It’s easy to forget when working with essential oils that cost a small fortune that the important thing is to create, to do, to get your expression out of you and share it with the world. Whether we sell that expression of creativity is irrelevant to the journey of creating. What is important is to simply make – to engage with curiosity in the journey from imagination to hand to thing.

Sure it’s scary to make art or perfumes — anything that engages Soul authentically is frightening. Making art, making one’s own marks makes the heart beat faster — whether that’s painting, perfumery, sewing or architecture. But, in the words of Georgia O’Keeffe, “I have been absolutely terrified every moment of my life — and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”

So, let’s move boldly into our creations. Go make something today!

In joy,

MC