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.




raw propolis tincture


Today I’m doing a raw propolis tincture from our Alps here in Valtellina.  I went to visit Mirko of Miele di Valtellina to get the goods and thankfully he sells in small quantities!

First off I have to say my interest in propolis was piqued with a conversation I had with my French exchange partner from school, she gave me a really nice verbal description of her olfactive impression of propolis which led me to Francis Schofield’s site, she’s a Basenotes DIY forum member, and part of her site focuses on tinctures and in the forum she speaks quite a bit about the use of propolis in some blends.

Mirko is a young guy that has taken over the business from his father and is caring on the noble tradition of apiculture, God bless him, and he gave me the 411 on propolis, which I share here with you as well as a bit of research I did on my own to satisfy my own curiosity.

So what the heck is propolis anyway? The word “propolis” comes from the Greek “pro”, which can be translated as “in front of” and “polis”, the word for “city”. (World of Honey) According to Wikipedia, “‘Typical’ northern temperate propolis has approximately 50 constituents, primarily resins and vegetable balsams (50%), waxes (30%), essential oils (10%), and pollen (5%)”. Apparently, propolis is used by the bees as a hive sealer for small gaps to isolate their hives and to isolate, imprison and mummify any intruders like other insects or small animals that might be so daring to make it inside (good luck to them!).

I had no idea that bees need, actually they thrive, on an increase in ventilation during the winter months! So propolis isn’t about sealing themselves in for the winter, but Wikipedia says that Propolis is more about:

  1. reinforcing the structural stability of the hive;
  2. reducing vibration;
  3. making the hive more defensible by sealing alternate entrances;
  4. preventing diseases and parasites from entering the hive, and to inhibit fungal and bacterial growth;
  5. preventing putrefaction within the hive. Bees usually carry waste out of and away from the hive. However, if a small lizard or mouse, for example, finds its way into the hive and dies there, bees may be unable to carry it out through the hive entrance. In that case, they would attempt instead to seal the carcass in propolis, essentially mummifying it and making it odorless and harmless.

He told me that he lets his bees loose around the “bassa valle” or foothills of the alps not at high altitudes, making his raw propolis a mixture mainly of resin from Chestnut, Robinia and Tiglia (Linden) trees and of pollen and wax. This propolis from the alps is usually clearer than the propolis found growing along the plains.

So, here’s what I’m curious about: I wonder if propolis could have similar effects on a blend, on the whole composition? For example I’m curious to experiment and see if it could nullify or greatly reduce the odour strength of an ingredient or if it could reduce the stability or–okay I’m going out on a limb here, I know–reduce the intensity of a note?  We shall see.

raw propolis

Here’s a pic of what it looks like, pretty much like loose soil. I bought 90 grams of the raw stuff and I’m going to do a split: 45gr at 20% and 45gr at 30% to see if there are any noticeable olfactive differences. Mirko let’s his raw propolis tincture for about a month shaking it daily, as usual I’m just going to let mine sit for as long as I’m inspired, till I get the nudge to remove it and filter.

Here’s to wonderful discoveries!