Aroma Profile: Ledon essential oil


Musings on making perfumes with Ledon essential oil: Hmmm, this would be a tricky note to master within an accord but satisfying once achieved. I love the many hidden qualities that seem to jump out at you unexpectedly with Ledon – this note can definitely spark a fire to try something new.

Common name: Ledon essential oil, Ledum, Labrador Tea, Marsh Tea

Botanical name: Ledum Groenlandicum

Supplier: Florihana (organic, wild, country of origin Canada, steam distillation from the flowering plant)

Note: Heart/Top

Family: Herbaceous

Diffusion: 6

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: Citruses, nutmeg, black pepper, carrot seed, fennel, Elemi, Cistus, Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Geranium, lavender, clove, ginger, vetiver, helichrysum, myrrh, patchouli…

Chemical components: The monoterpene family is represented by sabinene as a major product. The limonene concentration depends sharply on the vegetative period, being more important during the flowering period. Terpinen-4-ol and myrtenal are the main compounds of a variety of oxygenated monoterpenes (

Some of the most prominent chemical components straight from the Florihana Chromatography sheet are: alpha/beta-pinene 8% each, sabinene 25%, a-terpinene 3.5%, g-terpinene 10%, limonene 1.6%, p-cymene 2.7%, b-selinene 7%, a-selinene 2%.

Interesting bits: Florihana is a great company. Not only are their products organic or of wild origin of superior quality, but they provide all the necessary documentation you could ever need: MSDS, IFRA certificate, and chromatography.

Their nose: Ledum has a very complex odor profile, herbaceous with cuminic notes and a dry, leathery backnote, as well as faint Citrus notes. It is a very pleasant, strong aromatic, somewhat similar to the Rhododendrons. Dryout is cuminic, seedy and soapy with woody aspects. (

My nose: The opening of Ledon is somewhat like cypress, pencil shavings-ish, thin, warm, and sharp. Outdoors, cool, but with something floral to it. After 15min I find that something goes straight inside and touches me deeply with this note, it’s direct. There is still the suggestion of a floral with the pencil shavings, only slightly though, a faint sweetness and it’s calming and soothing. 30min into the top notes and Ledon is pristine, sheer, light, enigmatic, perhaps because it’s unfamiliar, exciting and titillating, which I attribute to it’s cool effect. 45min now and I get warm, sharp, spicy, but which spice? More like a carrot seed spicy. Cumin spicy. There’s something peppery about it, even slightly citrusy and astringent. 1hr on and you get this wonderful peppery-ness that gives a feeling of expansion and opening, it rustles like dry leaves in the fall, it’s a fall retreat in the mountains. 2hrs and we’re heading into the heart notes which start off soft, romantic and luscious. I sense this now opening up and becoming confident, like it’s spreading its wings and it’s delightful. Just around the corner, a few steps beyond the sharp quality there is serious side to this note. At 3hrs I find it absolutely gorgeous! It is still pulsating with life and feels wonderfully content. Entering the base notes after 8hrs there is something more interesting going on here than just the obvious pencil shavings quality, there’s a hint of the citrus, tart and tangy, that add depth and interest. 12hrs later and what the hell? Holy pencil shavings and cumin! Sharp, spicy, pungent, fast, thinner now with a lot of character. But, aren’t these notes supposed to die down after 12 hours?! The final 24hr mark still reveals a spicy, peppery side, like cumin. Quite strong still but the sweetness, the soft floral-ness is gone, leaving just a sharp note. Wow. Totally wasn’t expecting that.

12/24 comparison: The 12hr strip is very cumin-like, pungent, cool, dry and brittle even. The 24hr strip in contrast, is almost imperceptible, the predominant aspect is the pencil shavings effect.

Happy perfuming!


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!


spice family

the-spice-familyI’m a native of British Guyana (now just Guyana), South America and grew up with spices. Curry, black pepper, hot peppers, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, we used it all and more. Spices were an integral part of our food, our drinks and our moments of celebration. Spices even permeated our clothing both from cooking and in our sweat and as new immigrants it created what seemed like an ocean between “us” and “Canadians” that had been living there for generations .  In the beginning, even more than our skin colour, smell separated “us” from “them” until we started eating more of the same food and smelling more or less the same.

Hmmm, I think I need to write more about this so I’ll save it for another time.  My own experiences with this phenomenon is a topic definitely worth exploring.

For me spice means home, celebration, closeness, fun!  So of course it was a joy to explore this family of odours in greater detail and from a different perspective other than the culinary.

Black Pepper:  this opens with a punch, windy, sharp and cool. It’s also clear, exciting, it gives me the impression of a splash of cold water on the face in the morning, take a plunge on a hot day, mom’s cooking, dry, quickening, speed, gives me a sense of height. Whoa! That’s a mouthful!.  The dry down is fleeting, it’s almost gone after 6 hours, very dry now, something in common with tobacco?  Volatility: high.

Cinnamon Leaf: candies, piercing, happy, light, red, playful.  It’s a colourful note with lots of joy and warmth but at the same time it’s light, there’s a quickness to this one too, like a fast flowing river, active, dancing.  The dry down is beautiful, still warm, sweet, shares things in common with clove, I can pick out the Eugenol, spice, with woody edge to it, the character is still integral even after 6 hours.  Volatility: mid-low.

Clove Bud: sweet, soft, familiar, uplifting. Bursting, exciting and enchanting.  It’s warm like a winter blanket, a soft rain in the fall, it’s surrender.  The dry down is still sweet, warm, woody, spicy of course, like a familiar room in the home, the kitchen, it’s like coming home, family, belonging, acceptance.  Volatility: mid-low.

Nutmeg: similar to black pepper but more, more something, just can’t narrow it down.  It’s like my mind is having a hard time making connections with this one.  I get baking cakes, images of a forest. It’s a very persuasive note, bold, but soft at the same time, with a golden glow, the colour of liquid gold comes to mind.  After 6 hours it dries down to a woody, coconutty(?) smell.  It is almost gone at this point, but still more present than black pepper and drier.  Volatility: mid-high.

Wow.  Who knew the spice family had all that wrapped up in it and more!  More and more I’m discovering that you can’t say, “yeah, yeah, I know that smell”, and dismiss it as commonplace.  No matter how many times you’ve approached it consciously in the past.  Each time must be, will be, new. There will always be new facets revealed based on the level of awareness of the perceiver.

I love this craft.

Have a great weekend!

cultivating an interest

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Typically I spend my Saturdays doing a lot of running around both for LV and I and my in-laws, house work and I’ve got a couple private students that I tutor in English.  Usually after that I’m wiped. But Sunday we take for ourselves either together, going for a walk or a hike or alone doing whatever we need to to recharge our individual batteries.  This Sunday, since I’ve been doing a lot of reading (Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza – nothing short of miraculous!)and working on my inner self, I came up with a few insights:

I’m going to change things up a bit and sort of back track.  I’ve decided I want to focus first on profiling the naturals in my possession and then profile the synthetics. Why? Because learning the naturals is so much more complicated, by nature they are more complex and I’m choosing to mainly use the synthetics as accents in my perfumes anyway so for me I want the emphasis to be on learning the naturals by heart.  So from here on out the profiles will be of naturals until I’m done what’s in my organ.

The other thing I don’t think I mentioned is that from a couple profiles ago I started including information about the therapeutic benefits – body, mind and soul – of some of the naturals. This is because I’ve always approached life as a whole and even though my focus, the focus of this blog, is about my lessons in creating perfumes, I believe that I can become a better choreographer of notes if I am conscious of all the levels on which a particular essential oil or isolate can interact with us, including it’s full extension and reach on us as an organism and upon our personal environment.

And finally, as I lay languidly on the couch all afternoon reading, one part of the book struck me. It struck me because it is changing my whole approach and the dance that I’ve chosen to engage in with perfume creation: cultivating an interest.  Doesn’t seem like an earth shaker, does it? That’s my point. We’re so obsessed with making a splash, a point, passions, drives and success that we miss the gentle force of something as subtle as an interest. And something as banal as cultivating. Yet, cultivating anything takes diligence and determination in the face of the elements and unforeseen circumstances.  An interest doesn’t scream or shout, but it is something you choose to meet day after day just for the pleasure of the dance and the curiosity of getting to know your partner better.

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aromatic profile: myrtle

myrtle essential oil


Common name: Myrtle

Genus Species: Myrtus Communis

Top 5 chemical compounds found in Myrtle:

  • myrtenyl acetate (33%!)
  • 1,8-cineole
  • linalool
  • alpha-pinene
  • linonene

Myrtle contains anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.  It can have an uplifting, euphoric effect on the mind and can help balance “…the male and female energies of the body by releasing anger and inner conflict” ( Nice to know.

When I first smelled this on the scent strip I was struck with a very camphorous , fresh, clean, open air impression. Some other aromatic components that were quite palpable: a slightly woody presence, slightly sweet, bright and light.

After 1 hour I interpreted a forest, even though it was less noticeable, it did change and somehow went from a top note to a middle or base note all in just an hour! Very nice, very surprising.

3 hours later there were only slight traces of it left like a delicate summer rain, with more of the woody nuance coming to the foreground.

The next day the smell was sharper, more medicinal but with interesting corners to it, a nice dry-down that is still traceable.

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aromatic profile: Isoamyl Salicylate


Hmmm, think I got this one too from Perfumer’s Apprentice. The industry description is herbal, floral, clover, azalea, green, sweet, chocolate.

Right off the cap there is a roundness to this smell that is almost natural for a synthetic, it’s so soft it almost meanders as it trails along.

1 hour later and wow, I’m still loving this one, it’s even sweeter now, still feminine.  Nice.

3 hours into it and this is pervasive almost all I can smell when I walk into the room, but still stout, light and playful, really lovely.

1 day later and it’s almost one dimensional and without character but still pleasant.

Probably the first synthetic that I’d say I’d use in a formulation…there’s lots more to explore but for this week we’re done with the synthetics and next week I can get into the more complex, much more involving naturals.

I’ve also got some skin serums that I’ve got to get making, some more Lichen and Spruce and Cedarwood resin I need to get tincturing that we collected on our walk last Sunday, and last but not least do a dry (so to speak) run of the distillation to get it ready for my first try which will be Linden flowers!…and of course there’s still the day job.

Have a great weekend!

blahniks or bluegrass?

Some women shop for shoes, I just put an order in for some amazing African Bluegrass.

I must be a sucker for punishment. There’s no other explanation for the torture I put myself through every time I order EOs from the USA.  I know it’s always going to take longer, be held up in customs, with a gazillion mis communications because there are so many layers that goods have to go through just to get to me, the lonely, little perfume creator. But I guess I also do it to plant little happy surprises for myself in the future as my sister-in-law once told me, it gets us through the rough or the boring days.

The other reason is more technical, I simply want to expand my olfactory palette while experimenting and it’s just so much fun imagining a scent and then getting the wonderful opportunity to experience it in all its layers and complexity!

So, I had a credit from a previous purchase with White Lotus Aromatics and here’s what I bought:

  • The essential oil of African Blue Grass (Cymbopogon validus)  is a pale yellow liquid displaying a  complex, rich,  sweet, fruity, floral-herbaceous bouquet with a delightful green, roseaceous-balsamic undertone of good tenacity … its olfactory properties are  completely unique among the other essential oils distilled from the grasses in the same family like Palmarosa, Gingergrass, Lemongrass and Citronella having a depth, richness and complexity that is seldom associated with the Cympobogon genus
  • Cedarwood, HimalayanHimalayan cedarwood essential oil (Cedrus deodara) is a pale yellow liquid displaying a suave, balsamic, sweet, precious woods bouquet. The aforementioned notes last deep into the lengthy dryout…can be used in … Oriental bouquets, forest notes, amber bases and is valued for its fixative effects in floral compositions particularly of the woody-floral type.
  • Blood orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis var.blood orange) is a pale yellow liquid displaying a delicate, soft, sweet, juicy, fruity-citrus aroma … used in citrus accords, colognes, top note in high class perfumes, culinary perfumes…
  • Buddha Wood (Desert Rosewood)Buddha Wood/Desert Rosewood (Eremophila mitchelli) essential oil/Australia is a copper-red viscous liquid displaying a soft, rich deep, sweet, balsamic, precious woods(cedarwood-guiacawood-sandalwood complex) bouquet with a delicate mossy-leathery-creamy undertone of good tenacity. It is distilled from the heartwood of the tree.
  • ElemiElemi essential oil (Canarium luzonicum) is a clear to pale yellow liquid displaying a fresh, lemony, terpenic, resinous, peppery bouquet with a green, balsamic, woody undertone…. used in incense bouquet, fougere, chypres, colognes, heavy-sweet floral bases, Oriental bases, resinous accords, spice accords.
  • Rosewood (Bois de Rose)Rosewood essential oil (Aniba rosaeodora) is a colorless to pale yellow liquid with a suave, sweet, woody-roseaceous odor with a spicy-floral undertone … used in floral notes(muguet, neroli, lilac, sweet pea), precious woods bases, incense perfumes and as a general fixative due to its mild, suave, rounded character
  • Choya LobanChoya Loban (special distillation using Himalayan cedarwood as a base) is a traditional destructive distillation of Boswellia serrata/Indian frankincense. The oil is brown in color with a slightly smoky, sweet resinous bouquet and a balsamic-woody undertone…used in Russian leather perfumes, forest bases, fougere, men’s colognes, leather accords, chypre, incense notes, temple perfumes.
  • Choya NakhChoya Nakh (special distillation using Himalayan cedarwood as  base) is a traditional destructive distillation of dry roasted seashells. The oil is brown in color with a smoky-oceanic, dry-mossy, woody bouquet and a  a sweet ambery undertone…used in Russian leather perfumes, forest bases, fougere, men’s colognes, leather accords, chypre, incense notes, temple perfumes.
  • Choya RalChoya Ral (special distillation using Himalayan cedarwood as base) is a traditional destructive distillation of the resin from Shorea robusta/ Sal Tree. The oil is brown in color with a smoky-leathery, dry- woody, sweet resinous aroma, with a delicate amber undertone…used in Russian leather perfumes, forest bases, fougere, men’s colognes, leather accords, chypre, incense notes, temple perfumes.

* all descriptions White Lotus Aromatics.