aromatic profile: costus root CO2 select

costus root co2 select


 

This too came from White Lotus Aromatics.  Even though their EOs don’t currently come with GC analysis their oils are high grade, their service is top notch, and I always get a sense that I’m dealing with people of the highest integrity whenever I have dealings with them.

Costus root at 10% dilution. Get ready for this one because the aroma is anything but subtle.

The immediate impression is animalic, wet fur, dirty but not at all unpleasant, deeply natural, slightly fecal and a bit hypnotic, I say this because I just kept sniffing even with the sort of “strange” note, I couldn’t put it down.  I try to stay away from note descriptions that could be negative because the more I hang around perfume ingredients the more I realize that what may smell “bad” as a first impression is only the result of an untrained nose, we’re just not used to smelling it at all or in a certain combination.

1 hour later it still has a very strong presence but has lost its fecal edge and its soooo much more appreciable!

3 hours later it’s not so pungent but remains noticeable, holds together very well, remains integral although it seems more one dimensional now. I definitely like this effect more than that straight out of the bottle.

After 1 day, still strong, maybe even more so now that the alcohol has worn off, much less intrusive and more like a soft caress.

It has a fine tenacity and superb fixative value. Soft, delicate and warm precious woods/orris root odor. Surprising radiant tenacity for an oil which has a fairly low key odor impact. A buttery/fatty note appears shortly after one detects the precious wood/orris root odor. It lends the entire olfactory texture of the oil a very smooth feeling. – White Lotus Aromatics

Keep in mind he’s describing the essential oil and I the CO2, Select.


 

making 10% dilutions

making-dilutions

I know, pretty boring stuff, but necessary to the perfume making process to ensure that every note has the same odour intensity, so I’m going to do a very quick run through of how to do a 10% dilution.

1. First turn on your scale, then place the empty bottle on it and tare it so that it reads 0

2. This is important: say you’re using a 30ml bottle don’t plan to fill it right to 30ml, leave room for the alcohol to breathe. So plan to fill to 25ml, therefore, measure 2.5gr of your synthetic or natural with a pipette

3. Then top up with alcohol until you get 25gr

è voilà your 10% dilution!  So, before beginning to formulate all of your ingredients should be diluted.

At this point I would label it and then write a brief description of the note on a sticker and label it. You can include things like odour description, supplier, date of purchase and the CAS or FEMA number for easy re-ordering.

Happy June!                                                                                                          – M


 

 

tools of the trade

Before we dive into the single notes that make up our perfumes everything should be at the more or less the same strength because some notes have molecules that are too big for the olfactory sense to perceive.  Not only this but having each ingredient at the same dilution puts them all on the same level for mixing so one doesn’t over-power another and everything’s at the same viscosity for easy pouring.

One of the guys that does a great job at explain perfume basics in general is Chris Bartlett of Pell Wall Perfumes.  For extra reading check out his tips on diluting and of course check out Basenotes DIY Perfume forum for loads of info.

Below the pics you’ll find step by step directions.  Here’s what you’ll need:

Digital scale accurate to 0.01gr – get into the habit of measuring with a scale right away and not relying on drops (other than when testing) or measuring by volume because every essential oil has a different mass, one drop of ylang ylang will not weigh the same as a drop of mastic oil for example.

Squeeze bottle for easy dispensing of the alcohol so you don’t end up over pouring

Plastic pipettes for disposability. I ordered a box of 500/1ml droppers but also keep some 3ml droppers on hand too

Smelling strips

Wooden, disposable spatula for getting stubborn absolutes that come in a paste out of the bottle like Oakmoss or Beeswax absolute

Glass stirring rod

Glass beaker to hold the spatulas, pipettes, smelling strips and glass rods for easy access

30ml or 50ml and 100ml brown glass bottles to hold the dilutions, I like the 100ml for synthetics and the 50ml for the essential oils. I got aluminium caps and not dropper caps because over time the alcohol fumes will erode the rubber

Digital labeller for naming the bottles

Adhesive labels I use to write a quick olfactive description of the note and whether it’s a Top, Middle or Base not

96% proof ethyl alcohol which should not be denatured meaning it has been rendered undrinkable by adding additives

Fuller’s Earth clay for filtering those concretes or absolutes that leave sediments. The Encyclopaedia Brittanica says the following about Fuller’s Earth: “any fine-grained, naturally occurring earthy substance that has a substantial ability to adsorb impurities or colouring bodies from fats, grease, or oils. Its name originated with the textile industry, in which textile workers (or fullers) cleaned raw wool by kneading it in a mixture of water and fine earth that adsorbed oil, dirt, and other contaminants from the fibres.” I learned about creating a crystal clear dilution from a video by the late perfumer Alec Lawless of Essentially Me who explains filtering and fining very well in this YouTube video – time well spent.

Glass beakers of various sizes for pre-mixing before putting into your bottles so you can see if they may need filtering

And…since this post has turned out to be longer than expected I’ll do an example of a dilution tomorrow.

Have a fabulous day!                                                                                                – M


 

 

birthday buzz

birthday-buzz

Tomorrow we’re having a birthday party for LV.  Actually he celebrated his birthday a couple weeks ago but the weather was terrible so we decided to move it to this weekend.  Turns out it’s going to be one of the coldest freaking days in 200 years! So things are going to be a bit busy around here for the next 24 hours.  I’ve got school (for a couple months out of the year I prepare high school kids for the PET and the FCE exams) and my regular private English lessons that I teach on Saturdays, therefore I won’t be posting.  Actually I had decided not to post over the weekend anyway as that’s time to focus on me, life and just continuing to open myself to new experiences in a more conscious way.

Today I made the payment to the package forwarding company, Bongo, to get the essential oils for the Chemistry of Essential Oils Home Study Course and a few other things I ordered sent to me from the US to here in Italy. Their service saves me a ton of money, time and headaches and I just love their service! Estimated time is next Thursday, yeah!

Also, gotta share!  I’ve decided, that I’m going to buy a Wacom Bamboo tablet.  One of my passions is calligraphy and of course as a consequence pens and typography and since starting this blog I’ve really been paying attention to photos and type together. Love it! I’ve been really inspired by the way handwriting, one’s own handwriting, can be put on a photo and how it just seems to warm up a photo and give the whole thing personality.  This of course with my next paycheque in June.

So, after I set aside my bit for savings – I’ve given myself a monthly budget of 300 euro to spend how I want – next paycheque will be going to that and the following essential oils from Proxisanté in France: Africa Stone absolute, Cocao absolute, Castoreum, Patchouli Coeur, Osmanthus and Carrot.

I figured, since it’s his birthday, I should get myself something as well — just to help him celebrate.

Have a wonderful weekend.


 

 

getting started

Getting started
Getting started

Above is a snapshot of some of my tinctures, essential oils and synthetics…and they just keep growing. Almost all are at 10% dilutions some of the more stronger synthetics are 3%. You’ll also need some plastic, disposable droppers and some smelling strips.

Here are the lists that I’ve compiled of all of the raw materials I am currently working with that I said I’d post. My Raw Materials List  and The Language of Perfumes.The first gives you a look at what I’m working with.  I’ve also printed them out for myself for a quick glance at what I’ve got without having to go rummaging through the actually bottles themselves. The other list is a starting off point to prime the creative pump while working on training the nose when smelling the scent strips.  Sometimes words can escape us or what I’ve found as a beginner, is that I just don’t have and am not comfortable yet using certain words to describe the impression a scent is making on me.  This list I find really helpful.

Feel free to download.


 

 

the power of scent

the-power-of-scent

Today I met a friend, he’s elderly and has a very warm vibe, we shook hands chatted a bit and parted. 3 hours later I could still smell him when I went to touch my nose. I say “him” because his scent brought up an incredibly crisp image of him in HD but it was also accompanied by my impression of him at the same time, what’s more, at the same time it took me right back to my father. That in an instant, with the intake of a breath, is the power of scent.

Silently weaving the tangible and the intangible to create a tapestry of emotion, imagination and recollection are the threads of scent that take us places real or imagined, the emotions know not the difference.

This brings to mind a most fantastical book that haunts me still, Weaveworld by Clive Barker (think I’ll give it another read). I read it ages ago but the impression it left on me remains. It is about a secret world hidden in a place one would never think to look. Perfumes, especially niche perfumes, with their greater percentage of essential oils, I believe, is a world captured in a bottle. Your world of memories, wishes, emotions and dreams unfulfilled.

Think of the various countries of origin from which these essential oils arrive: Rose Otto from Morocco and Bulgaria, Jasmine from Turkey, Agar Wood from Indonesia, and on and on. Each essential oil used in a composition comes with it’s own history – wars fought, blood shed centuries ago on the soil where they now grow, love lost and found under an Olive tree in Cypress. They all come and mingle with our own personal stories to form this magical carpet, taking us to distant places.

That’s what good perfume can do, why it’s so personal and part of the reason why I choose to approach the design or composition as a craft and art, believing inherently that each one of us is a work of art with the power to move.


 

 

what’s in your organ?

whats-in-your-organ

Before I began I knew I needed to have some raw materials and spendt untold hours deciding which ones to get first.   I found some great starter lists, such as Chris Bartlett’s list of important synthetics and naturals that he believes is a good starting place.  Most of what he suggested I did add to my own starter list.  Then of course there are so many suggestions offered by the members of Basenotes DIY forum like this one.  The answer is first decide on what approach you want to take… slow and steady or full immersion? I, true to my nature, opted for the full immersion approach and after much hand-wringing about whether to invest in naturals or synthetics finally settled on a list (I’ll post it as a link to a PDF tomorrow).  There are many places online that sell beginner kits like Perfumer’s Apprentice in the States or Olfactik here in Europe; these are great starting places.

How much to budget for in the beginning? This was answered for me when my husband, who I will refer to henceforth as LV, offered to get me a new iMac for my birthday last year and seeing as we already had a (dying) PC I chose to forego on the new computer and use the funds for a start up kit instead.  So opportunities are everywhere to follow our dreams.

I can’t remember where I read this anymore but it strikes me as a fundamental part of making great perfume, start with the best: no matter what the budget, whether we have $100 or $1,000 to invest, start with the very best raw materials money can buy.  If that means we end up starting off with 10 essential oils instead of 50 then so be it. I’ve kind of adopted it as my purchasing mantra and whenever I have to drop something from my list because of budget constraints I console myself knowing that the ones I did choose to buy are the best quality I could source at the time.

In the end what ended up in my organ, before I started training my nose, was a mix of months of research and personal preference, what I feel really drawn to, what speaks to me.  And as I grow in this craft others call me to them for exploration – and  of course I will answer.