Bergamot, organic essential oil (White Lotus Aromatics)

Common name: Bergamot, organic, essential oil

Botanical name: Citrus bergamia/Citrus aurantium var. bergamia

Supplier: White Lotus Aromatics

Note: Top

Family: Citrus

Diffusion: High

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: jasmine, chamomile, lavender, neroli, rosemary, benzoin siam resin, blood orange eo as well as most other citrus oils, boronia, citral, clary sage, clove bud, dihydrojasmone, ethyl linalool, geraniol, geranium bourbon eo, cis jasmine, jonquils, mimosa, patchouli, etc. (TGSC)

African bluegrass; amber sweet melange; anise star eo and co2; apple melange; apricot melange; basil eo and abs; bay leaf eo; benzoin abs; bois de rose eo; blood orange eo; boronia abs; cananga eo; cardamon eo, co2 and abs; cassie abs; chamomile english/roman eo and abs; chamomile wild eo and abs; chamomile blue eo, co2 and abs; champa white flower eo; champa white leaf eo;  citronella eo; clary sage eo and abs; clove bud eo, co2 and abs; clementine eo;  coriander see eo, co2 and abs; cubeb eo; cypress eo and abs; davana eo and co2; elemi eo and abs; erigeron eo; eucalyptus lemon ironbark; eucalyptus citriodora; fir balsam eo; fir silver eo; fir douglas eo; frankincense eo, co2 and abs; grapefruit eo;  galbanum eo, co2 and abs; geranium eo and abs; gingergrass eo; ginger eo, co2 and abs; galangal eo;  hay abs; hinoki eo; hiba eo; juniper berry eo and co2;  ho wood eo; jonquille abs; lemon eo; lemon essence eo; labdanum eo and abs; lavender eo, co2 and abs; lavandin eo and abs; lime eo; lemon eo; lemon essence eo; lime essence eo; mandarin eo;  mimosa abs; myrtle eo; neroli eo; orange sweet eo; orange bitter eo; opoponax eo and abs; pine eo and abs;  peach melange; pear melange; pineapple melange; petitgrain eo; patchouli eo, co2 and abs; plai eo; raspberry melange; sandalwood eo, co2 and abs; spruce eo and abs; tea green abs; tangerine eo; tangerine essence eo;tonka bean abs; turmeric eo and co2; vanilla abs and co2; ylang eo and abs; yuzu eo; zdravetz eo and abs  (White Lotus Aromatics)

Chemical components: some of the main volatile compounds are: Limonene (37.2%), Linalyl acetate (30.1%), Linalool (8.8%), gama-terpinene (6.8%), beta-pinene (2.8%); the minor volatile compounds make up 14.3%. Some of the major non volatile compounds are Bergamottin (21.42%), Citropten (2.58%) and Bergapten (2.37%).

Interesting bits: You can make an oriental or even a cologne without bergamot, but the classical chypre family is impossible without this citrus note. Bergamot offsets the inky, bittersweet roughness of oakmoss and prevents you from smelling like a moss festooned tree. (Bois de Jasmin)

*** Bergamot is a photosensitizer (increases the skin’s reaction to sunlight and makes it more likely to burn).

“Bergaptene is the naturally occurring chemical constituent found in cold pressed Bergamot Essential Oil that makes the cold pressed oil highly phototoxic. Varieties of furocoumarin-free (FCF) cold pressed Bergamot Essential Oil are available that have the bergaptene synthetically removed. Bergamot Essential Oil is also sometimes available as a steam distilled oil.” (Aromaweb)

Bergamot essential oil is a cold-pressed essential oil produced by cells inside the rind of a bergamot orange fruit. It is a common top note in perfumes. Bergamot essential oil is a major component of the original Eau de Cologne composed by Farina at the beginning of the 18th century. The first record of bergamot oil as a fragrance ingredient is from 1714, found in the Farina Archive in Cologne. One hundred bergamot oranges will yield about three ounces (85 grams) of bergamot oil.[1] The scent of bergamot essential oil is similar to a sweet light orange peel oil with a floral note.[2]

“Earl Grey tea” is a type of black tea that contains bergamot essential oil as a flavouring.

The main compounds in the oil are limonene, linalyl acetate, linalool, γ-terpinene and β-pinene,[4] and in smaller quantities geranial and β-bisabolene.

Linalyl acetate and linalool are qualitatively the most important components of the bergamot oil.

The bergamot essential oil is particularly subject to adulteration being an essential oil produced in relatively small quantities. Generally adulteration is to “cut” the oil, i.e. adding distilled essences of poor quality and low cost, for example of bitter orange and bergamot mint and/or mixtures of terpenes, natural or synthetic, or “reconstruct” the essence from synthetic chemicals, coloring it with chlorophyll. Worldwide, each year, around three thousand tonnes of declared essence of bergamot are marketed, while the genuine essence of bergamot produced annually amounts to no more than one hundred tons. (Wikipedia)

Bergamot orange (Citrus aurantium var. bergamia) is a small, roughly per-shaped citrus fruit, which grows on small trees known as bergamots. It is a cross between pear lemon and Seville orange or grapefruit. Production of bergamot is mostly limited to the Ioanion, coastal region of the province of Reggio Calabria, South Italy, where the soil and climatic conditions are very favourable for its cultivation. It is also cultivated in Ivory Coast, Argentina and Brazil, but in no other part of the world does it fructify with the same yield and quality of essence. Bergamot is named after Italian city of Bergamo, in which its oil was first sold, and it has become a symbol of the entire region and city.

This fruit is not edible and is cultivated for production of its essential oil. The essential oil of bergamot is expressed from the ripe fruit peel and is used extensively in perfumery for its sweet freshness. Bergamot oil is also used for flavouring purposes, e.g. Earl Grey tea and the so called althea drops, candy-making, in aroma therapy to treat depression, and also as digestive aid. (Fragrantica)

Their nose: Fresh, orange/lemon/citrusy, slightly floral. (Aromaweb)

citrusy, bitter and sour, elegant light note, complex with nuances of fruit and aromatic elements, reminiscent of eau de Cologne, flavors Earl Grey tea. (Fragrantica)

complex citrus, tangy-green, sweet, fresh and clean, slightly floral and spicy (Floracopeia)

citrus woody orange linalyl acetate (TGSC) 

citrusy, agrestic, reminiscent of lavender (Albert Vieille SAS via TGSC)

a fine, rich, juicy, sweet, fruity bouquet with an elegant herbaceous, balsamic undertone. (White Lotus Aromatics)  

My nose: Bergamot, organic essential oil starts off uplifting, invigorating, revitalising but also tense and terse, fever-pitched, feeling like it bursts out and grabs you as it wakes up with it’s battle cry I’m alive! A scant 15min later I’m getting a sense of a cool, bracing and frozen temperature. It’s lemon-lime in scent too and I get the sense that this would pair very well indeed with a spicy, peppery note. It’s movement is quick-paced and zesty. After 30min this note is beginning to lessen in intensity but it still has a strong lemon-lime characteristic. The impression is becoming thinner, simpler, less exuberant and drier. Just heading into 45min and it’s a light, lime, lemon, note as it fans out. Also as it heads into the dry down it becomes much more one-dimensional. The 1hr mark opens up a less dramatic landscape and it’s much more mellow in tune, dwindling now it reminds me of the petals of a fading rose, and with it a sense of warmth. 2hrs in and what I get is a dry, almost stale impression. It’s slightly translucent and beginning to expire, as if it’s flickering on and off. It’s still present on the strip after 3hrs, although in an isolated way and with scant reference to the beginning impression. Now it’s minimalist and pristine. 7hrs sees this note to be much more stale, dry and oddly herbaceous totally not what I was expecting in the dry down, now I can pick out commonalities with Lavender. 10hrs into its evolution and the scent is almost gone, just a faint breath remains and that impression is dry, lemony, smelling faintly of cleaning product. The final evaluation at 24hrs reveals a hint, just a whiff that seems very pale and bleached out, but I’m amazed that it’s still on the strip! Holy cow!

While I originally purchased this from WLA they don’t currently have the organic version as they like to deal with fresh product so when that runs out that’s it until they stock more. So if you’re interested keep an eye on their shop for when it becomes available. As I am a lover of Earl Grey tea, you can well imagine how much I adore the smell of Bergamot essential oil and even when you think you know a material because you’ve heard about it so often as is the case with many citrus oils, or you smell it every single day in your tea, like me, there is always some new, undiscovered facet that reveals itself upon closer observation, living with the scent around you for longer, such was the case with Bergamot, organic, essential oil.

Take good care, make lots of scents and I’ll be back on Friday with an evaluation of Birch Tar rectified essential oil.

MC

Benzoin Siam, resin (De Hekserij)

Common name: Benzoin Siam

Botanical name: Styrax Tonkinensis

Supplier: De Hekserij

Note: Base

Family: Balsamic

Diffusion: Medium

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: agarwood/oud eo, ambrette seed eo, ambroxan, iso-amyl benzoate, iso-amyl salicylate, angelica root eo, beeswax abs., benzyl benzoate, bois de rose, cistus, conifer acetate, copaiba balsam, costus root, elemi resin, fir balsam, frankincense, heliotropin, indole, etc. (TGSC)

Chemical components: of the volatile compounds which account for 30%-40%, some of the major ones are: vanillin, benzoic acid, cinnamic acid, benzyl cinnamate. Of the non-volatile compounds which account for 60%-70%, some of the major compounds are: coniferyl benzoate, cinnamic cinnimate, p-coumaryl cinnamate and some of the minor ones are: p-coumaryl benzoate, benzyl cinnamate, cinnamyl benzoate, conniferyl cinnamate, siaresinolic acid, sumaresinolic acid, 3-oxo-siaresinolic acid. (Research Gate)

Interesting bits: Benzoin /ˈbɛnzoʊ.n/ or benjamin is a balsamic resin obtained from the bark of several species of trees in the genus Styrax. It is used in perfumes, some kinds of incense, as a flavoring, and medicine (see tincture of benzoin). It is distinct from the chemical compound benzoin, which is ultimately derived from benzoin resin; the resin, however, does not contain this compound.

Benzoin is also known [as] gum benzoin or gum benjamin, but “gum” is misleading as benzoin is not a polysaccharide. Its name came via the Italian from the Arabic lubān jāwī (لبان جاوي, “frankincense from Java”).[1] Benzoin is also called storax, not to be confused the the balsam of the same name obtained from the Hamamelidaceae family.

Benzoin is a common ingredient in incense-making and perfumery because of its sweet vanilla-like aroma and fixative properties. Gum benzoin is a major component of the type of church incense used in Russia and some other Orthodox Christian societies, as well as Western Catholic Churches.[2] Most benzoin is used in Arab States of the Persian Gulf and India, where it is burned on charcoal as an incense. It is also used in the production of Bakhoor (Arabic بخور – scented wood chips) as well as various mixed resin incense in the Arab countries and the Horn of Africa. Benzoin is also used in blended types of Japanese incense, Indian incense, Chinese incense (known as Anxi xiang; 安息香), and Papier d’Arménie as well as incense sticks.

There are two common kinds of benzoin, benzoin Siam and benzoin Sumatra. Benzoin Siam is obtained from Styrax tonkinensis, found across Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Benzoin Sumatra is obtained from Styrax benzoin, which grows predominantly on the island of Sumatra.[3] Unlike Siamese benzoin, Sumatran benzoin contains cinnamic acid in addition to benzoic acid.[4] In the United States, Sumatra benzoin (Styrax benzoin and Styrax paralleoneurus) is more customarily used in pharmaceutical preparations, Siam benzoin (Styrax tonkinensis et al.) in the flavor and fragrance industries.[5]

In perfumery, benzoin is used as a fixative, slowing the dispersion of essential oils and other fragrance materials into the air.[3] Benzoin is used in cosmetics, veterinary medicine, and scented candles.[4] It is used as a flavoring in alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, baked goods, chewing gum, frozen dairy, gelatins, puddings, and soft candy.[6] (Wikipedia)

“…This large tree that looks like a birch is called benzoin Laos, benzoin Siam, or benzoin aliboufier. The tree’s fragrant exudation, benzoin gum, is what is harvested. Production of this resin is artificially stimulated by making incisions in the trunk of a mature tree in the month of September. Several incisions are made on the same tree; a tree can produce for two to three years. The incision in the bark is in the shape of a “V” or a rectangle, so that the precious resin accumulates between the flap of bark and the trunk. Benzoin flows down the trunk in brittle, white tears a few weeks after the initial tapping. The year’s one harvest takes place in January and February. The benzoin tears are then cleaned and sorted by size and color to be given different grades No. 2 gum, No.3 gum, or No. 5 gum each with its own olfactory qualities. The tears are then shipped in wooden crates to our production plant in Spain. The ethanol distillation of the No. 3 gum results in the solid No. 3 benzoin resinoid. Diluting this substance in the DPG solvent means the resinoid can be more readily incorporated into formulae. Its sweet, milky, vanilla-like smell is reminiscent of vanilla beans. The No. 5 resinoid, with even sweeter notes, is produced from the No. 5 gum. (Albert Vieille SAS via TGSC)

Benzoin is the fragrant, resinous exudation secreted by a tree the Styrax tonkinensis after an attack by a parasite or an incision in the trunk. In September, the styrax growers manually tap the tree, making multiple incisions on the trunks of mature trees to encourage exudation of the precious gum. After only a few weeks, the white, brittle tears of benzoin flow down the trunk. Oxidation of the tears, caused by contact with the air, will give them a superficial, orangey-brown color. Harvesting the tears does not take place until January and February. The tears of various sizes (grades 2, 3, and 5) are then sent to a warehouse to be cleaned and sorted by size and color. They are next shipped in wooden crates to our production site in Spain to undergo an ethanol extraction resulting in benzoin resinoids No. 3 and No. 5, depending on the grade used. The sweet, vanilla-like smell of No. 5 benzoin resinoid is very popular in gourmand perfume compositions. Diluting the resinoid in a solvent makes it easier to use in formulas. (Albert Vieille SAS via TGSC)

Benzoin – not to be confused with ‘benjamin gum’ or Benzoïne – is a balsamic resin or balsam (AFNOR NF T 75-006, 1998) exuding from Styrax species (Styracaceae) that was employed since ancient time. First evidences confirmed that benzoin balsam was traded to China about A.D. 800 to be used notably as a fixative for perfumes (Arctander, 1960; Langenheim, 2003). In the Mediterranean basin, it was valued for its therapeutic, pharmacological and odoriferous properties: it was notably used in the Middle-East as a substitute to incense in religious ceremonies, often in combination with frankincense (Hovaneissian, Archier, Mathe, Culioli, & Vieillescazes, 2008; Hovaneissian, Archier, Mathe, & Vieillescazes, 2006; Modugno, Ribechini, & Colombini 2006).

The Styrax trees and shrubs originated from regions displaying warm and temperate climates mainly from Southeast Asia (Hovaneissian et al., 2006). Nowadays, the main benzoin producersare the deciduous Styrax tonkinensis (Pierre) Craib ex Hartwich. On one hand, and the evergreen Styrax benzoin Dryander and Styrax paralleloneurum Perkins on the other hand. Styrax tonkinensis was tapped for centuries mainly in Laos and probably also in Thailand to obtain the so called Siam benzoin balsam. S. benzoin and S. paralleloneurum are essentially native to Indonesia (Sumatra and Java) and produce Sumatra benzoin balsam (Fernández, 2004;Supplementary material 1). The generic term ‘benzoin’ either consists in the exudate of one or the other of the two sources or in their mixture (WHO technical report 966, 2011).

Benzoin balsam does not exude naturally from the trunk, but is rather a pathological product resulting from tapping Styrax trees, e.g. cutting multiple superficial incisions through the cambium of these trees (Langenheim, 2003; Pauletti, Teles, Silva, Araújo, & Bolzani, 2006). As excessive tapping often induce the death of the tree, this traditional practice is nowadays well-defined: S. tonkinensis tree may be tapped once a year for about ten years once it is 7 years old, whereas S. benzoin and S. paralleloneurum may be tapped twice a year for about twenty years once they are 8–10 years old (Chagnaud, pers. comm.). After the yellowish exudate hardens upon exposition to air, it is collected by scraping the cut in the trunk (79th JECFA – CTA, 2014; Langenheim, 2003). Once collected, benzoin balsam is cleaned, sorted into four different grades according to the size and the homogeneity of the pieces, and then matured. The production remains nowadays entirely manual, from tapping to packaging (79th JECFA – CTA, 2014).

These three Styrax species are the most significant producers of balsam in terms of tonnage per year (Kashio & Johnson, 2001) (Research Gate)

Their nose: sweet, vanilla, balsamic, woody.  Sweet, vanilla-like with an almond facet. (TGSC)

My nose: Right within the opening, Benzoin Siam casts a spell that is ambery, balsamic, edible, rich, round and mellow. Soft, sweet and velvety warm. More than the odour of liqueur I instantly associate its colour to Benzoin Siam. It’s carmel, vanilla, deep and thoughtful. A scent tugs at the edges of my memory – I know it will continue to haunt me until I remember, but alas it remains elusive so I relinquish the chase – for now. After 15min the vanilla, caramel profile is in the forefront, and it continues to move in that rich, warm direction, comforting like a slow yawn; soothing and reassuring in it’s quiet rhythm. Receding somewhat, after 30min it keeps its vanilla profile intact. I get a sort of sticky feeling. It’s sensual and serene, very laid back right now. 45min on and yes, the vanilla is still prominent, solitary, creamy, thick and confident. But, wait, I remember now! More than remember, I am gripped by a memory: Root Beer, A&W Root Beer to be exact and with it the other memories coming charging in of summer, sweltering heat and Dad bringing home a red case of various flavoured sodas to quench our thirst from The Pop Shoppe which the four of us kids swarmed on like worker bees to their queen. Really though, where the hell was that memory hiding out until now?! Yes, scent is power stuff, indeed. As Benzoin Siam meanders into the 1hr mark it goes back to being warmer, less bold, more of a pulse now, and yes, the vanilla aspect is still there but slightly toned down, less projection as it becomes an entrancing lullaby. 2hrs later and I find it drier, still warm, much more intimate as it seems to be burying itself deep into the fibres of the scent strip. It is here that I catch how this note could easily become bonded to the one wearing it. Continuing on its journey 3hrs sees this note expanding deep and out, like the roots of vetiver. I get an impression that is slightly dark and meditative and amber – yes, this has something in common with my recent amber tincture which conjures up possible accords to experiment with. Such is the organic nature of fragrance formulation. 7hrs later it is warm but thinner somehow, still comforting and reminiscent of winter, this note is like a big, warm hug. It is the note that encompasses the sense of the Danish term Hygge. Around 10hrs into the dry down Benzoin Siam is a strangely, haunting Gregorian chant of amber, warmth and cosy winter evenings. Round and smooth. A full 24hrs later it hits me again, another memory – vanilla extract and baking in the kitchen with Mum as we bond over flour and eggs and sugar and the sticky, gooey mess of baking. Ahhh! Soft, comforting and still very much alive on the strip though definitely much more subdued. What an unexpected trip this note has been :).

I’d like to share with you some thoughts that popped into my head and interesting things learned while interaction with Benzoin Siam the first being that this is not a “gum” and that in reference to perfumery materials this means soluble in water (like gum Arabic) which this is not so it’s incorrect to call it thus, this is a balsamic resin. The other thing is prior to starting this evaluation I didn’t care too much for the vanilla notes so I had to constantly guard against this prejudice and stay open to its discourse, easier said than done when scent is such a powerful sub-conscious trigger, but that relationship changed as the scent evolved around and through me. Oh, and since I mentioned it, back in December I tinctured a piece of Amber that I bought from a stall at the Christmas market which is maturing in the most scrumptious way, I’ve got that coming up this month.

Well, this was probably my longest post to date. Phew! Thanks for joining me and I hope this helps you on your scented journeys. See you Wednesday when I unfurl organic Bergamot essential oil from White Lotus Aromatics.

Have a beautiful start to your week!

MC

Sweet Basil, essential oil

Musings on making scents with … Sweet Basil essential oil. I just could not pick up a trail on this one, again probably due to the cold in the room. Now it’s probably my lack of many years of trained smelling but to me this is a natural essential oil with the most linear dry down I’ve ever experienced! I mean this smells very much the same from opening to final dry out.

Common name … Basil, sweet, essential oil

Botanical name ... Ocimum basilicum

Supplier … White Lotus Aromatics

Note … Top/Heart

Family … Mint/Green

Diffusion … 5

Dilution … 10%

Blends well with … Bergamot, black pepper, cardamom, citronella, clary sage, coriander, geranium, hyssop, lavender, lime, marjoram, melissa, neroli, oak moss, orange, peppermint, rosemary ct. verbenone, sandalwood, spearmint, verbena, ylang ylang. Basil essential oil had a valuable modifying effect on green notes. (Eden Botanicals)

My nose … Sweet Basil starts off pungent and crisp, cool, clean, medicinal, light and a hint of oak moss (I know, weird, huh?). Then, in a total twist, after 15min I can pick up commonalities with lavender, dry and twig-like, with something floral now poking out. It’s still very sweet after 30min with a hint of mint. At 45min it’s now crisp and clean with a bit more body, not as flimsy and weak in the opening. 1hr after the opening there is a vague sense of the floral but it sort of fades into sobriety becoming serious and discreet, definitely less screechy, less shrill. It’s dry, woody with still a hint of the floral lingering and a bit of the coolness of lavender dangling from the shirt tails after 2hrs. Heading into the 3hr mark it begins to warm up, just a bit, yet remains sweet and candy-like with a daub of peppermint. There’s a soapy quality at 7hrs that’s quite surprising, and though the candy note is still noticeable it appears quite flat. 24hrs on and this note is very much like lavender, twiggy, dry, parched with a touch of sweetness and the medicinal, but still very much alive on the strip. I followed sweet Basil essential oil to 36hrs and it held onto that peppermint quality but the most surprising thing was how much warmer it had grown with time compared to the opening.

Well that’s it for this week. I’m not sure which three synthetics I’ll be evaluating next week because I want to surprise myself too.  I wish you a wonderful weekend.

Take good care,

MC

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.

Cheers!

MC

2016 A Year In Review

2016 A Year In Review

Where to begin?

Probably the biggest discovery is that it was the first year in decades that I hadn’t made any goals for myself – neither mentally nor written. Yikes! And as a result I was all over the map last year.

So what really happened in 2016? Here’s the overview in bullet points:

  • Brain Pickings – this has got to be the best site I was led to read. It’s written by the very talented Maria Popova who describes herself as a reader, writer, interestingness hunter-gatherer, and curious mind at large. I have learned so much in the few short months that I’ve subscribed and what she writes moves me to the point where I donate monthly because it is clearly written with love. The post that got me hooked on Brain Pickings is one where she wrote a review of the book How To Love by Thich Nhat Hanh and the quote is “…The most precious inheritance that parents can give their children is their own happiness.” I always feel that every minute reading her posts is time well spent, and that’s a rarity these days online.
  • Which leads me to one of the highlights of the year, that I became a grandmother! This put centre stage for me the importance of curating my own happiness to lighten not only my daughter’s life but that of my granddaughter. Her birth urged me to make my own happiness a serious priority not as a point of selfishness but of love.
  • I allowed things to fallow and go untended on purpose.
  • I moved the blog from a paid WordPress hosting back to the free WordPress platform. Breathing room. Less pressure.
  • I took a hard look at teaching ESL and am convinced this type of setting is not the right one for me but that I do love to teach and share. Doesn’t totally answer all my questions but it does shine some light. Clarity is a wonderful thing.
  • I invested in a load of new raw materials, mainly aroma chemicals, to add to my olfactive library.
  • I didn’t do as much blending as I wanted to do which is a bummer so I gave myself a challenge making it necessary to blend, a lot, faster…
  • I signed myself up for the town’s Christmas market and made my very first fragrances to sell and sold them! More on that in another post.

I figured I could either waste time flogging myself for time “wasted”, stagnant stats and traction lost (is anything ever lost?) or I could get back to writing about making scents and making sense of scents, my way. I opted for the latter.

If nothing else I learned that I am allowed to be human, make mistakes, not have all the answers and yes, bugger things up a bit every now and then.

I hope you join me Monday as I start off the week with an evaluation of Frankincense essential oil.

Cheers and love!

MC

A Vineyard Lies Fallow

A vineyard lies fallow

 

Fallow: adjective

The definition of fallow is inactive.

A piece of land that is normally used for farming but that is left with no crops on it for a season in order to let it recover its fertility is an example of land that would be described as fallow.

from yourdictionary.com

Back in the fall I passed by a family owned vineyard that had been left unattended all year. During our walks both my husband and I wondered what was going on. Then one day I saw them cutting the vines waaaay back! Of course I asked them why, and with deep sadness they shared that circumstances were making it impossible for them to take care of everything in their lives and the vineyard too so they had to let it go fallow not knowing when, if ever, they would have the opportunity to cultivate it again. And so there it remains, waiting. Not dead, or wounded, just waiting for the right time, the right mix of circumstances or people to bring it back to life. Such has been my personal journey in 2016 which of course included the blog.

It was a mistake for me to stop writing the blog for a year, man was I wrong about that. But life is full of mistakes. The question remained: now that I had the courage to admit I screwed up, what next?

It was the thinking of the doing that kept tripping me up!

There was endless hand-wringing, soul-struggling and fighing with myself in these past twelve months trying to decide first whether to kill the blog, then when I finally did, whether to start it up again, and once deciding, the agony was what to write, and what would my readers think of me, how would I be judged. That was probably the biggest obstacle I had to overcome before writing even one word on paper. This endless dialogue of course kept up the procrastination game. It felt necessary at first to offer a thousand apologies but in the end all I have to offer is myself and this me needed the time away to reflect on many things. In hindsight, sure it would have been better (read: less humiliating, fearful, embarasing, humbling) not to have declared I was ending the blog but there are never any clearly defined pathways to becoming our best self and so it seems I needed this “mistake” to kick me into a year of fallow which has allowed my vision to become clearer and new projects to become more fertile and the old ones I no longer needed to weaken and fall away.

So here I am. Back. Again. Perhaps even a bit wiser and kinder, especially to myself. I’ve discovered I’m allowed.

You’ll notice that the new image format is simpler. This affords me more time to focus on writing than spending untold hours in Photoshop and Illustrator. It was important to streamline the process if I was to keep the blog going. Beyond that I’ve kept things the same with the target of three posts a week, mostly focused on olfactive evaluations of my growing scent library of aroma chemicals, naturals and tinctures.

There are some exciting, new projects on the horizon to help you and me on our journey to becoming a perfumer, but I’ll share those in the right time. How could I not have new things to share as we are all in an ever expanding journey of self-discovery.

Not everything is perfect with the blog, I’m at odds with this last paragraph, for instance; the main images aren’t exactly on point but I kinda like them, this image for instance is not what I would have wanted, but at the end of the day these aren’t the important things. What is important is that I got this post out and have started back again. Yeah to that!

Thank you for sticking around it means a lot 🙂

MC

Vetiver essential oil

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Musings on making scents with …vetiver essential oil is the kind of note that makes you want to lean in to get a better smell of someone. Vetiver encapsulates in its being all of what I aspire my perfume creations to be.

Common name(s): Vetiver essential oil, vetivert, khus, ruh-khus

Botanical name: vetiveria zizanioides

Supplier/Source: White Lotus Aromatics ?

Note: Base

Family: Wood/Green

Diffusion: 8/9

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: cassie, cedarwood, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, cocao absolute, cofee bean, frankincense, galbanum, geranium, grapefruit, jasmine, lavender, oakmoss, patchouli, rose, sandalwood, tobacco absolute violet leaf, ylang ylang. (Eden Botanicals)

Both vetiverols and acetates have softer odours and fixative qualities, and are used as blender with high-class perfumery products. They blend well with ionone, linalool, cinnamic alcohol, oakmoss, vanila, sandalwood, patchouli and rose bases, and are frequently used in western type of fragrances having chypre, fougere, rose, violet and amber aldehyde base, and oriental fragrances and floral compounds. (Fragantica)

Chemical components: the chemical composition of vetiver oil is extremely complex, mainly comprising of sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpene derivatives, of which vetiverols, their carbonyl compounds and esters, are the main constituents, and their relative abundance normally establishes the oil quality. Three carbonyl compounds, _-vetivone, _-vetivone and khusimone, are considered the primary odor-influencing components; _-vetivone has the better odor, and is considered the most important, while its major isomer nordihydro _-vetivone has a strong, rich, woody-peppery note. (vetiver.com)

Interesting bits: Vetiver is deep and slightly sweet, with light smoky undertones. Its pronounced earth and root notes are well-balanced with its somewhat resinous character. It is an excellent base note with very good fixative qualities. Vetiver essential oil varies dramatically in aroma depending on where it is grown (soil type, country of origin, etc.). Also known as vetivert, khus, or khus khus, Vetiver has a long history of use and is very well known as the Oil of Tranquility.1 It is obtained from the roots of a tropical grass originally from India and Sri Lanka, but the plant is now grown in many tropical countries. From time immemorial, one of the oldest aromatic uses of vetiver roots is to weave them into mats which, when dampened with water and hung in windows like curtains, cool and scent the air with a pleasant aroma.2

Vetiver oil is thick and, like Patchouli and Sandalwood, improves with age; it is a premium base note and makes an excellent fixative in essential oil formulas. (Eden Botanicals)

Essence from the Eastern Asian weed grass Vetiveria zizanoid that falls under the woods category thanks to its musty, dry, woody scent with bitter chocolate and smoke facets. Very popular in niche perfumery and masculine fragrances. The reference vetivers are Carven’s, Givenchy’s and Guerlain’s classic renditions.

Vetiver is native to South India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. It is also cultivated in Reunion, the Philippines, the Comoro Islands, Japan, West Africa and South America. The oil is mainly produced in Java, Haiti and Reunion. In World market the demand for vetiver oil is increasing day by day due to its unique odour, for which it is used in both flavour and fragrance industries. Moreover, this oil cannot be substituted with reconstituted oil and cannot be made through synthetically. Vetiver perfumes give pleasing aroma and has slow evaporation rate. Pure vetiver (Khus) root oil known in trade as “Ruh – Khus” and its use in scents since ancient time. Vetiver oil is the basis of the Indian perfume ‘Majmua’ and is the major ingredient in some 36% of all western perfumes (e.g. Caleche, Chanel No. 5, Dioressence, Parure, Opium ) and 20% of all men’s fragrances. In addition to its direct perfumery applications, vetiver oil in its diluted form is extensively used in after-shave lotions, air freshners and bathing purposes, as well as flavoring syrups, ice cream, cosmetic and food preservation. Khus essence is used in cool drinks, and for reducing pungency of chewing tobacco preparations, providing sweet note to other masticatories and incense sticks.(Fragrantica)

Their nose: Deep, slightly sweet and resinous, with pronounced earth and root notes and light smoky undertones; an excellent fixative and base note (Eden Botanicals)

My nose: the best way for me to describe the opening note of vetiver essential oil is sublime! Gorgeous, full, thick, voluptuous, enveloping, warm. To me this is the real cashmere! 15min and it’s deeply earhy, very diffusive, satisfying, dusty, weathered, and loaded with energy and life – it’s like a forest explosion! After 30min it moves into nutty, thick, plump smell that reminds me of suede and cashmere. 45min leads to a fuller expression of vetiver, it fills the nostrills eve with two full sniffs. This note is easily underestimated so easy does it. It’s thought-provoking, deep, deep, deep. Solid, foundational, contemplative. The 1hr later and vetiver essential oil is thick with character, creamy, damp, mossy, wooden forest, mysterious and alive with nature and lays heavily on the smelling strip. This note isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. 2hrs now and it’s beginning to seriously fan out! Very diffusive with a layer of extravagance and luxury that just remains clinging to the atmosphere, pungent, lush and very intriguing. As vetiver essential oil progresses through to the 3hr mark I am knocked over. Wow! This is a power note! Punchy, rousing, more raw and rugged now, it possesses a more textual quality than ever before. Entering the deeper parts of the drydown 7hrs later I wonder how is it that this note just keeps getting stronger and stronger? Sodden, thick, yet serene, stable and sensible, it is the essence of the Earth. I end the evaluation at 12hrs and vetiver is now like a warm, snuggly blanket, still very well-grounded, lulling to the point of being hypnotic. It’s a gentler, softer, much more refined reincarnation of its earlier self. This is the point where I would love it to come out and reveal itself everything previous seems over the top, too much almost. In comparison I judge this to be the finest hour of vetiver essential oil.

Today’s my 50th birthday (yeah!) so I’m going to celebrate by takeìing it easy and doing everything that I can to make myself happy! There’s already so much in my life that I’m grateful for that the impulse is not to do but to just to be. To sit quietly, take it all in and allow myself to be moved by the goodness of this life.

 Wishing you a wonder-filled weekend!

 MC