Aroma Profile: Nootka Tree

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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

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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