tobacco tinctures

rolling-tobacco-tincture


I tinctured a load of natural materials over the past month and I want to share with you what’s been going on.

LV rolls his own cigarettes and I absolutely love the smell of the Golden Virginia rolling tobacco he prefers.  I love how the smell isn’t over-powering and only lightly scents his clothes with the tobacco smell. So I thought why not tincture it? Detto. Fatto.  No sooner said than done!

I started getting all excited with the desire to experiment bubbling up unstoppable so I got bold and bought a very dark, pipe tobacco and tinctured it as well.  The pipe tobacco is full of body and strong aromas, most noticeable is the vanilla!

But, since I only began tincturing them yesterday I’ll have to wait at least a few weeks before doing a scent profile for each.

These tobacco tinctures are purely for research purposes. I’m fascinated by the olfactive facets that make tobacco, cigarette, and pipe smoke such an alluring and attractive aspect in a perfume so hands on research is one way to dig deeper into those layers.  Hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to reproduce the effects in one of my own creations.

Hope the sun is shining wherever you are!

 

sweet smell of success?

Sweet smell of success?
Sweet smell of success?

…or just beginner’s luck?

The first exercise from the course was to build a cologne to get feel for the power that modifiers have to change the mood and feel of a composition.

So using a ratio of 7/5/3 I completely followed my intuition  in choosing the following notes from Top to Heart to Base:

Top: corriander, lemon, petitgrain

Heart: black pepper, clove, clary sage

Base: Jasmine absolute, labdanum, vanilla

The original was quite nice. That was it. Nice.  Nothing too special.  Not a great flop but nothing to shout about either.  I let it sit for a day to contemplate it and give it time to marry and completely forgot about the modifier.

The next day I noticed the modifier box was empty and after choosing the modifier, what I call the “wild card” I added one drop in 10ml of perfume and the effect was immediate.  The composition went from sort of flat to POW! with just one drop.

24 hours later it was more noticeable on the strip compared to the first attempt.  Now for the skin test.  I tried it and loved it!  I then had LV try it as it did indeed have a masculine edge to it, something I love, and he really liked it because it was soft.  Then I had Dalma try it and she loved it, “mom, you could sell this!”  I love her!  Then Fabio tried it and he said he liked it, it smelled nice but on him it’s not his type, it was too gourmand, but he found it to be very well balanced he said. Their feedback was very useful in moving forward.  I’m a lover of spices so I can imagine why I was drawn to structure it the way I did.

Modifiers are very powerful and must be used with restraint and discretion.

I am quite aware that many, many a perfume flop are right around the corner and I’m not exactly rubbing my hands together in anticipation but I know they are instructive so I’m going to bask in my first success.

More tinctures and an interesting experiment coming this week, stay tuned!

aromatic profile: lavender maillette

lavender maillette essential oil


Common name: Lavender Maillette (France)

Genus Name: Lavandula augustifolia “Maillette” a.k.a. English Lavender “Maillette”

Supplier: John Steele

Note: mid-top

Some interesting bits: This variety is used extensively in the production of perfumes and essential oils.  Considered one of the most precious types of lavender.

It is drought tolerant, resistant to deer and attractive to bees — in fact, we bought the most most amazingly fragrant lavender honey while in Croatia this year and anyone who tastes it can’t believe it wasn’t altered by the locals with lavender essential oil.

Has a shelf life of up to three years.

It is a French variety of lavender which also grows in England

Main Chemical Components: Linalool, linalyl acetate, 3-octanone, d-limonene, Trans-B-ocimene, Cis-B-ocimene, Camphor, Terpinen-4-ol, a-terpineol, Lavandulyl acetate.

Their nose: This essential oil has a soft, sweet, fruity, spicy, herbaceous bouquet with an green, woody undertone. (White Lotus Aromatics)

My nose: This is so light!  This is my first impression. Bright and uplifting like the first warm spring days, sweet.  Cool, luminous, pungent, even tart!  I can pick out the linalool in this.

After the 1st hour it smells more like dried twigs, has lost most of its zing which was probably due to the alcohol effect (not me, the dilution), sweeter, paler, beginning to exit.

After 3 hours strange, but, do I smell coconuts?! Dry, brittle, still faintly sweet, now beginning to fade into the paper, I can smell the smell of paper (is that even possible?!).

1 day later it is still noticeable but now only a whisper remains.


 

 

cultivating an interest

image credit: www.newhomesrule.com
image credit: http://www.newhomesrule.com

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.

Image credit: http://www.hosowo.com

aromatic profile: sandalwood absolute

sandalwood absolute


Common name: Sandalwood

Genus name: Santalum Austro Caledonicum (New Caledonia)

Main chemical components are: α-Santalol(38.2%),β-santalol(18.2%),trans-α-bergamotol(9.9%),lanceol(9.1%), and epi-p-santalol(3.8%). But I learned something interesting from White Lotus Aromatics about New Caledonia Sandalwood, that “GC-olfactometry revealed, that iso-β-bisabolol [2], a new odor active sandalwood trace constituent, having a strong floral, muguet-like, very pleasant smell (16-18) was also present in the oils from New Caledonia.”

Some interesting bits: New Caledonian sandalwood oil is long-lasting, has little or no particular top note and smells soft, sweet-woody, nutty, animalic-balsamic, but is weaker and less radiant than its East Indian counterpart, according to WLA.  Victoria of Bois de Jasmin, says “in some parts of India sandalwood flavors milkshakes and sweetmeats.” Sandalwood, sadly, is among the threatened species because of overharvesting in many countries.  The chewing tobacco market in India is a huge consumer of the essential oil.

Their nose: “a rich, soft, sweet, creamy, balsamic, precious woods odor which is uniform in olfactory properties throughout the long life of its dry out. The heart note is softer and creamier in aromatic texture than the Sandalwood from India and Sri Lanka.” ,WLA. “Sandalwood has a rich, balsamic, sweet fragrance with delicate wood notes. The oil has a woody, exotic smell, subtle and lingering and the color is pale yellow to pale gold.”, Fragrantica.

My nose’s immediate impression is very light, woody and soft, intimate and silent.

After 1 hour I find that with this absolute I have to be in a calm space in order to fully appreciate it, I can’t be stressed or have a gazillion things going on, can’t be in a rush,…after a while I smell more of the wood but in a coy, cajoling sort of way.

After 3 hours it reminds me of paper and I LOVE paper! Dry.

1 day later and now this one just continues to surprise me, holy smokes! It’s so smooth and soft, more of a woody landscape yes, and wonderful base note!


 

aromatic profile: Lilial

lilial

Source: Perfumer’s Apprentice. What’s on the bottle as a description: muguet, watery, green, powdery, cumin.  Part of the group of green fragrances and to my nose a top note.

To me the first time I smelled it, it had a lightly floral, white aspect, fresh and clean; some people say they smell a slight watermelon note and I can see how you can get that too.

1 hour later it’s even lighter than before, hidden almost.  There’s a slight sweet sigh going on and it’s dry too.

3 hours later and it’s almost not there to my nose, but I can still detect a light floral aspect.

1 day later and if I blow on it with my nose I can smell something faint.

aventures in tincturing: rock lichen

Tincture3

On Sunday LV and I went for a walk with Charlie; I was on the lookout for some resin growing off of the trees in the forest we walked through but alas found none.  What I did find however was another gift: rock lichen!  How it grows clinging to the rocks fascinates me so I took just a couple pieces and began tincturing.

rock-lichen

This beautiful creature is a happy dance between between a fungus and one or more alga and only certain types of fungus and algae interact in this way — it’s a classic example of nature’s symbiosis, living together.

In researching this impressive botanical I found out some stimulating things, mainly, since we’re talking perfumes, that it’s used as a fixative, to hold a perfume in place longer on the skin.  This comes as no surprise as some of nature’s mysteries are quite evident: lichen are called “extremophiles” because they thrive in polar and alpine regions where they are subjected to extreme dryness.

Lichen provide stability, hence their use as a stabiliser in perfume. In their natural environment they help reduce erosion and in the case of rock lichen, can even very slowly break down rocks. Some lichen even extract nitrogen from the air and make it available to plants, this process is called “nitrogen fixation”.  See why it’s not a mystery?

I have to admit that learning to prepare my own tinctures for use in perfumery has given me a whole new respect and consideration for nature.  I find myself approaching them with much more reverence and care; and although I didn’t do it with these couple pieces of lichen, from now on I will be asking permission from the botanical source before harvesting.

Resources: http://juneauempire.com/outdoors/2011-12-30/lichens-mysterious-and-important#.Ucr0IRYzkZP

adventures in tincturing: jasmine & elderflower

Today I tinctured Jasmine flower. I have high hopes, it smells very promising already.

Yesterday Elderflower. LV went out and picked me about thirty flowers and I cut off the heads and steeped them in ethanol.  It really is humbling to have your hands covered in pollen, something so alive and pregnant with potential life. For the moment all I can say is, meh, not as impressive as the flower in its natural state. I’ve got some more that I will add to the alcohol when I strain off this one tomorrow. Below are my first efforts at fresh flower tincturing:

“The benefits to using tinctures as the alcohol base for botanical perfumes are numerous.  Notice I stated “as the alcohol base.” I recommend using tinctures as the perfumers alcohol for blending a perfume.  …. we are not creating a tincture to replace an essential oil or absolute (although one can tincture vanilla beans very successfully and use them as a replacement for vanilla absolute) we are more creating a subtle back note for the perfume by using the tinctured alcohol to blend.”  – Charna Ethier of Providence Perfume

This is a very interesting idea. Just a few months ago I started formulating for the first time and I’m using drops just in the test phase and haven’t yet made any full versions of my testers. So, this approach really interests me from a purely artisanal standpoint, the uniqueness of each one would be amazing!

As an aside: my package came and and with it the natural isolates and essential oils that I’ll need for the chemistry course, yeah!  I was at the door before the delivery guy could even ring the door bell and literally tore into the box when I got it into the studio. And the smell that met me when I opened the box was divine, heady and optimistic! I can’t wait to deepen my understanding of these wonderful gifts of the Earth.

Have a wonder-filled weekend!

adventures in tincturing – tonka bean

Tincture1

I love tincturing my own aromatics! There’s a special kind of delight that comes from taking something from its raw ingredient to something you can actually wear on your body that just sends me. Today I want to talk about my experience tincturing Dipteryx Odorata a.ka. Tonka Bean.

So, here’s how I did it and some thoughts and impressions during process:

Tonka beans: they are these little shrivelled up black beans and when I cut them up there was this glorious vanilla smell that rose up to tickle my nose.  I cut up about 50gr of beans with a knife, the beans I got from De Hekserij in Holland and then I added 200ml of 96% ethanol.  I used a mason jar and put it away in a cupboard and shook it every day – of course sniffing as I went.

I love that part; shaking and sniffing (…sniffing, sniffing, sniffing – headache!), everyday the smell is different! All of my tinctures I find to be so satisfying, I’m not even really sure why but they seem to leap forward and speak to me.

Decanting it I am totally struck by how much it has in common with Vanilla!  I haven’t gotten the essential oil yet so can’t compare but this smell is so soft. I value tinctures in my perfumes because sometimes I want a watered down effect of an essential oil, something just slightly different and tinctures give me this flexibility, this nuance.  And there’s a certain gratification in knowing I made it.

When I first started tincturing I was so anxious, what if I screwed up and had to throw everything away?! But what’s important to note is that tincturing is not an exact science, that’s what’s fun about it, just trust and follow your nose.

I have yet to use fresh ingredients. It was my intent this spring to use the fragrant petals of our rose bush but my mother-in-law, sweet woman, lay claim to it for her her soap making.  That’s okay, she needs to keep busy and I’ve got enough on my plate…next year.

image credit: freshpickedbeauty.com

aromatic profile: ylang ylang complete

ylang ylang complete essential oil


a.k.a. Cananga Odorata.  The one I have is a complete and is 100% organic, and I got it from John Steele via Perfumer’s Apprentice in USA and of course I’ve already diluted it to 10%.

First impression (between 10:20 – 11:07): drawing from my list of the language of odours – that I posted here which you can download – to my nose it’s soft, warm, generous and definitely sweet.  But there’s also something very sophisticated, elegant and languid about this note, like being on holidays somewhere warm, thick and heavy.

1 hour: it’s grown much softer, more pliable and elastic not as sweet and a bit like…paper?

3 hours: the smell is almost undetectable to my still untrained nose, but what I do detect smells almost powdery, very gentle, softer still, I can almost smell citrus in there??? It is literally magical after 3 hours!

1 Day: it’s still present on the smelling strip but very, very faint, it smells now like a light breeze with hints of lemon in the air

2 Days: the note is wonderfully powdery and sweet, no longer sticking in the throat but floating

White Lotus Aromatics describes it this way: “The absolute is a light green or light golden liquid with a fresh, sweet, delicate balsamic-floral bouquet with an elegant vanilla-floral-balsamic undertone which remains uniform deep into the dryout.”

What are your impressions of ylang ylang?

 

 
 

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