Aldehyde C14

Common name(s): Aldehyde C14, Gamma-undecalactone

Chemical name: 5-heptyloxolan-2-one

CAS #: 104-67-6/57084-17-0

Supplier: 

Note: Heart

Family: Fruity

Diffusion: 3-5 (medium)

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: Nonalactone, Oranage Blossom, Gardenia, Tuberose, beeswax absolute, benzyl salicylate, cassia bark eo, coriander seed eo, ethyl vanillin, lavender absolute Bulgaria, oakmoss absolute, sandalwood, vetiver eo, violet leaf absolute, ylang ylang, tonka bean absolute.

Interesting bits:  In spite of the name this material is not an aldehyde but a lactone as the chemical name confirms.

Not actually an aldehyde, it was given this name by the original creators to hide it’s true origins. (Olfactik)

Arctander has quite a bit to say about gamma-Undecalactone, including: “This material is widely used, although in minute amounts, in perfume compositions. In order of frequency in use, it ranks very high among the materials on the perfumer’s shelf. But it is not the kind of material ordinarily sold in drum-lots. However, after the success of a new perfume (type) in the 1950s, the title material had a further increase in popularity, when numerous perfumers used it at unusually high levels along with new non-Nitro musk chemicals, in order to duplicate part of the new note in the successful perfume. The author has yet to see a duplication which sells better than the original (in perfumes), but it must be admitted that Undecalactone drew benefit from this popularity. lt blends excellently with Nonalactone in Gardenia and Tuberose, and in many versions of Lilac bases. It extends the depth of an Orange blossom often too harsh with conventional materials, and it is a frequent component of Honeysuckle, etc. Concentrations far below 1% are effective, and it is at times possible to ruin a fragrance with 0.1 or 0.2% of the title material, just as well as it is possible to double the floral sweetness and depth of another fragrance with that amount of Undecalactone. The material was originally used in Violet perfumes, so popular at the time of discovery of this Lactone (about 1900). But its most important use today is in flavors, primarily in imitation Peach, but also in many fruity types, often as a fixative for the very volatile fruit esters.” (Pell Wall)

Their nose: Fruity, peach, creamy, fatty, lactonic, apricot, ketonic, coconut, nutty, vanilla (TGSC)

My nose: Aldehyde C14 has a sharp, somewhat soft opening, I know those two terms seem juxtaposed, but that’s how my brain interprets it. It twinkles a bit, smells somewhat oily and quickly moves into dry territory. After 15min it smells quite dry, polished, smooth with a hint of a paint-like effect. 30min after the opening this note is sheer, light, considerably dusty, thin and I can pick up the smell of the paper through the scent. 45min now and I’m still struck with how dry this note is, not so unpleasant to me as when I first met it a couple of years ago, I couldn’t stand it! It’s a pale note, stiff and scorched. 1hr later there is a tartiness, that remains piercing and dry although now a green quality seems to have shown up and a vacant sort of emptiness dots the olfactive landscape. It remains shrill as a note, thin and even unsettling, sharp and biting. The dryness is what satisfies me about this material after 2hrs. In the 3hrs of its evolution what remains is the green, dry, stripped bare expression, keeping it thin and sleek. I can see it adding this specific quality to a formula. 7hrs on and Aldehyde C14 remains thing, long and lanky. It’s polished, assertive and yes, still green somehow this keeps up in the background. 10hrs into the dry down and what I smell is twinkling light and airy. I can smell the paper, brisk and bright even after 10 hours. 24hrs later this is pretty much the same as before only bone dry, arid and unswept, piercing and brittle.

Some of the things I mused on while profiling this material: not to overthink what I was experiencing. Some relationships and connections my brain and nose would make seemed really odd to me at the time but I accepted them for what they were. I trusted what my brain told me, that what I smell is what I smell, and keep the profile simple.

Aldehyde C14 seemed to score the paper, making it a part of itself and the impression I picked up. And finally after hanging out with this note for 5 days the scent has polluted the other two scent strips I am testing. Insane! This is a heads up for me that olfactive pollution does happen and scent molecules from one material can affect those around it. That’s why some of my aroma chemicals are in double zip-lock bags.

If you have any particular questions that you’d like answered please let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear them!

See you on Friday!

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


Aroma Profile: Cis-3-Hexenol

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Musings on making scents with … cis-3-hexenol. While I was doing this evaluation I was really mad — pissed off to be quite honest — with LV and seeing as how I was unwilling to let that ruin my plans for the day, I went ahead with my evaluations anyway but what I did notice was how difficult it was to focus on the olfactive sense when upset! Who knew?! When I did allow myself to let go and abandon to my sense of smell, Cis-3-hexenol swept in all flouncy and green to lift my spirits (well, that and Pat Metheny playing softly in the background) along with the absolutely stunning autumn day that came to greet me! Yes, I’m blessed I finally ended up realizing, inspite of and because of the sometimes crumminess that life can be. Hurray!

Common name(s): Cis-3-Hexenol a.k.a. leaf alcohol or (Z)-3-hexen-1-ol

Chemical name: cis-3-Hexen-1-ol

CAS #: 928-96-1

Supplier: Hermitage Oils (I originally purchased mine from Pell Wall) in the US via Perfume Supply House

Note: Top

Family: Green

Diffusion: 7

Dilution: 10

Blends well with: bay leaf oil, cedarwood oil virginia, clary sage, fir balsam abs., galbanum oil, ho leaf, leerall, lavender abs., linalool, lime oil, litsea cubeba, mimosa abs., oakmoss abs., black pepper., phenethyl acetate., etc. (TGSC

Interesting bits: Cis-3-hexenol is an alcohol and its esters are also important flavour and fragrance raw materials. It is a colorless oily liquid with an intense grassy-green odor of freshly cut green grass and leaves. It is produced in small amounts by most plants and it acts as an attractant to many predatory insects. Cis-3-Hexen-1-ol is a very important aroma compound that is used in fruit and vegetable flavors and in perfumes. (Wikipedia)

Also called Leaf Alcohol this chemical is immediately reminiscent to most people of the smell of a freshly mown lawn: distinctive, evocative and very green. It is widely released by plants when they are damaged and forms part of the scent of many freshly crushed leaves and is present in traces in many essential oils. Use this in tiny amounts to add a bright, green top-note to florals of many kinds: it is especially effective in carnation and lily of the valley scents. In larger amounts it is effective to give a modern freshness to Fougère or Chypre types among others.Can be used to good effect in combination with the acetate. (Hermitage Oils)

Their nose: fresh green cut grass foliage vegetable herbal oily; green, grassy, melon rind-like with a pungent freshness; fresh, green, raw fruity with a pungent depth (TGSC)

A versatile green, characteristic grass note, excellent addition to strawberry and raspberry and other fruity fragrances. (Perfume Supply House)

My nose: Cis-3-hexenol opens green, somewhat sharp with a hint of floral freshness, springtime, also I get the smell just after a rainy moment, pungent. There is a softness I have never noticed before as this is not my first time smelling it. 15min and now I get the cut grass effect, hay a bit, but already making a retreat (seriously???!). Yep, wet, cut grass. Wet hay. 30min later I couldn’t believe my nose picked up a spicy, curry scent! Fading with every minute but I still pick up the green grass thing. Should have been obvious but it still shocked me to note that I was also picking up on a sense of groundedness to cis-3-hexenol! 45min and I find the scent just about gone and all I get is spices and fresh cut, wet hay not grass — the music in the background has stopped so there’s no way that I am confused about this, that’s definitely what I get. After 1hr the green, spicy, grass trio is almost gone. What’s left smells like old, wet grass, mouldy almost if I keep sniffing long enough. 2hrs into the evolution and I get dry, dry, dry. If I could only harness that dryness into a deodorant I would be happy camper, the answer to my natural DIY skin care prayers! But I digress…still getting the curry scent and there’s nothing at all refined about cis-3-hexenol now, it’s totally bland to my nose at this point. Lacklustre. It continues to be dry after 3hrs only now I pick up a colour that seems to accompany it and it’s not green but brown. Brown like the crisp, dry, autumn leaves that crunch under your feet on a cool October morning. Curry still but mostly dry is the predominant sensation. 7hrs into the drydown and cis-3-hexenol seems to emit a touch of cut onions, forget grass! It’s pale and dry and old. But hey, it still leaves an impression on the strip. That, I was not expecting. Hint of green grass, too. 12hrs and that wonderful powdery, softness that was there right at the opening is back! It’s evolved into a floral, feminine, girly, gentle and kind scent now. How interesting is that? Perhaps it’s because during the evolution of the drydown I have evolved and feel a need to be kinder to myself. Now there’s a totally unexpected revelation!

I hope you enjoyed this evaluation and I wish you a week of warm surprises!

MC


making perfumes with labdanum absolute

labdanum-absolute


If you’re thinking about making perfumes with a warm, dark, woody animalic base note or you want to add a note of moss or leather to your composition then have a look at Labdanum absolute.

Common name: Labdanum absolute

Genus name: Cistus ladaniferus

Supplier: Hermitage

Note: Base

Family: Amber, Leather (originally I had this down as part of the Wood family because I was smelling with my “assumptions” and not in the present moment; assuming that since it was obtained from a bush that effect should be that of a more woody note, but the more I research and profile this the more it’s clear that it’s part of the Amber, Leather family so I had to change it).

Diffusion: 5

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: amber, bay laurel, calamus, cardamom, chamomile, copal-black, iris root, lavender, musk seed, nutmeg, oakmoss, opoponax, patchouli, rosemary, rose, saffron, sandalwood, spikenard, storax, tolu balsam, turmeric, frankincense, opoponox, bergamot, clary sage, cypress, juniper berry, lavender, olibanum, vetiver…

Chemical components: spring harvest has more terpenes, carbonyls. Fall has more alcohols. All have little pinene. (Gritman Essential Oils)  The main chemical components are: camphene, myrcene, sabinene, phellandrene, cymene, limonene, cineole, nerol, borneol, geraniol and fenchone (OnlyNaturalEssentialOil)

Interesting bits: It is used primarily as a perfume oil to ground and balance competing scents…There is also cistus (C. ladanifer) coming from the same plant, but it is processed differently than labdanum. Cistus is a rare or precious oil distilled from the flowers and leaves, while labdanum is made from the crude gum of the plant. (Gritman Esssential Oils)

“It is well known to our readers by now that chypre perfumes are dependent on a strict formula that juxtaposes bergamot and oakmoss, interlaying labdanum and other earthy elements such as vetiver or patchouli…It (labdanum) comes as a sticky dark brown resin exudate from two sources: from the shrubs Cistus ladaniferus (western Mediterranean) and Cistus creticus(eastern Mediterranean), both species of rockrose. Rockrose forms the Cistaceae (or rock-rose family), a rather small family of plants reknowned for their beautiful shrubs, covered by flowers at the time of blossom. It consists of about 170-200 species in eight genera and those are distributed primarily in the temperate areas of Europe and the Mediterranean basin, although they can be found in North and South America too in some instances. The flowers themselves have a faint odour and are not used in perfumery.

Labdanum is a natural oleoresin but it differs slightly from other oleoresins in that it contains more waxes and less volatile oil than most of the other natural oleoresins.

“The method of extracting it is unusual and highly entertaing at that. Herodotus and Pliny report that labdanum was collected by combing the beards of goats, which were impregnated with the substance. The goats graze from the branches and the sticky resin gets stuck on their beards. Upon their return, their owners comb the resin our of their beards and extract the resin. Also a rakelike instrument with long strips of leather attached to it, which they drag across the bushes to collect the resin, is used, called ladanesterion.  To this day labdanum is still gathered in Crete by driving goats into the thick forests overgrown with labdanum bushes. It is difficult work as it is best done in hot weather, under bright sunlight in the summer months. Sises is a Cretan village near Rethymnon, where such work is done to this day.

Today modern production is mainly concetrated in Spain and is done through easier means. However there is something to be said about the small, manual labour of cretan production that is of top quality. The modern method involves boiling the leaves and twigs of this plant in water and the gum being skimmed off the surface and mixed with other resinous matter, which sinks to the bottom of the boiling water, as the resinoid is unsoluble in water. The extraction of the crude or cleaned labdanum gets done with a hydrocarbon solvent, whereas petroleum ether is being used increasingly because it yields a light amber resinoid which contains the most wanted odour principles in high concentration: cinnamon base – (isoeugenol) and labdanum resinoid. An absolute is obtained by solvent extraction whereas an essential oil is produced by steam distillation.” (Perfume Shrine)

“Labdanum can be found all over the Mediterranean coast. This particular species of cistus is remarkable for the gum it produces in the summer which has been used in perfumery for over 3000 years. The gum Labdanum has an exceptionally strong balsamic and ambery odour which made it highly considered amongst the « incense » of Antiquity when it was known as Ladanum Resin.

Up until the 20’s the gum was collected directly from the plant and made into balls or bars. Originally it was collected by the shepherds from Crete or Cyprus from the fleece of goats covered in gum by wandering in the cistus fields. Later on the gum was collected by whipping the twigs with a large rake called a Ladanisterion, which was made of strips of leather from which the gum was scrapped with a knife.  From 1920, companies in Grasse began to produce the essential oil by distillation of the cistus from the Estérel region. At the same time in the Salamanca province of Spain harvesters began to collect the gum by boiling the twigs.” (Biolandes)

Their nose: “The fragrance of Labdanum is very complex. This waxy resin produces a balsamlike, woody, earthy, marshy, smoky, ambergrislike, leathery, flowery…” (Scents of Earth)

“It is balsamlike, with woody, earthy, smoky, and even marshy undertones. Some even desrcibe it as ambergris-like, or leathery and honeylike with hints of plum or oakmoss after a rain. Usually it is referred to as ambery, but it is mostly used to render leather or ambergris notes, the latter especially after its ban on using the real animal-derived material, as there were concerns about the ethical production of it from sperm whales from which it originates (Ambergris is therefore very rare and costly if ethically harvested and is mostly synthesized in the lab.)” (Perfume Shrine)

My nose: the top note opens up with a green note that is a bit more ‘refreshing’ than the cistus absolute; animalic, musky, discrete, with a hint of vanilla, thick and deliberate.  After 15min it’s warm, dark and dense with a hint of woodiness; it lingers, and isn’t as imposing as cistus. I get a vision of cathedrals, huge vaulted ceilings and incense wafting in the air. 30min into the top notes and it’s exuding a sleek, feline, feminine quality, where cistus has a more masculine vibe. It’s rich with a sense of timelessness, and the impression is more of the action of a flutter and puff of smoke. After 45min I find myself having to slow down, to be more present with this one, it’s so soft, now a whisper, it’s almost religious, like a constant note in a piece of music that you can consciously, continuously follow from begin to end. 1hr – (Dalma called so I decided to skip this evaluation and move on. Priorities.) 2hrs later and it dries down to a dry, library, churchy, understated impression; there’s a hint of radiance still there and it’s holding up quite well.  After 3hrs this is more sharp and has now acquired an edge to it that cistus doesn’t have, it’s also drier, more woody, more still; where cistus absolute is ’round’ labdanum absolute is ‘angular’. It’s now 7hrs later and labdanum absolute is like a warm summer breeze, solitary, aloof, yet very present, still noticeable. It settles into something more aged and mature quicker than cistus. 12hrs now it’s still holding onto the musky, animalic layer tightly, I can pick up amber here too and it develops into delicate tawny ribbons of comfort.  Some random associations that come to mind are: a trail, the desert, a lion.  This still has a wonderful grip. 24hrs later labdanum is light as a feather, warm, comforting, lasting and supportive, tranquil too. It still has a solid effect. And I still get incense and a church atmosphere making an impression.

12/24 comparison: in the side-by-side comparison the 12hr strip is very much the church scent that is a constant. I can pick up the vanilla a lot more and this strip conjures adventures in the desert much more rapidly. This layer seems to penetrate the Soul, touching every part of me, relaxing the spaces and corners within to remind me to be at peace. So very warm. The layer that is revealed in the 24hr strip is a whisper of these adventures, like an old man telling tales of his youth to children gathered at his feet in awe. I find this layer warm, loving and very protective.

I hope you enjoyed the profile on labdanum absolute as much as I have sniffing and researching it. It’s a totally inspiring material and one that I reach for often.

Have a wonderful Wednesday and I’ll be back Friday with a profile on the sister scent, Cistus absolute.

In-joy!

MC


aromatic profile: brazilian pepper berry

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Common name: Brazilian Pepper berry (a.k.a. Rose pepper, Brazilian pepper)

Genus name: Schinus terebinthifolius (a species of the Cashew family Anacardiaceae)

Supplier: Hermitage

Note: Heart

Family: (cool) Spicy

Diffusion: 5

Blends well with: black pepper, pink pepper, citruses, bergamot, Sumac (smoke tree)

Chemical components: Mostly mono­terpene hydro­carbons (to­gether about 10% of the mass of the dried berries): 21% Δ3‑carene, 20% α‑pinene, 13% α‑phell­andrene, 9% limonene, 8% p‑cymene and 6% β‑phell­andrene. Further­more, mono­terpene, sequi­terpene and tri­terpene deri­va­tives were re­ported: cis‑sabinole, carvo­tanacetone, β‑caryo­phyllene, α‑ and β‑cubebane, α‑amyrin, α‑amyrenone, mastica­dienoic acid and hydroxy­mastica­dienoic acid. The sweet taste (cf. licorice) of the dried berries is due to considerable amounts of sugar. (Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages)

The major constituents are a-pinene 16.3%, limonene 13.3%, delta 3-carene 10.8%. The content of phellandrene is 8% and this is responsible for the peppery element of this oil. (Hermitage)

Pink peppercorns don’t have any of the pungent piperine found in black, white, and green pepper heat, but they do have other aroma compounds in common. Pinene, limonene, phellandrene, and carene are found in both types of peppercorns. Terpene flavour Compound family – highly volatile and easily evaporate and oxidize when exposed to air, light, and heat. (Table Fare)

Interesting bits: grown widely as an ornamental plant, native of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.  Not to be confused with Pink pepper because it is not a true pepper, although related to the Schinus molle.  This shrub or small tree can thrive in all kinds of ecosystems. This is also a melliferous plant meaning it produces a substance that can be collected by insects and turned into honey.

Their nose: The smell is a cleaner version of pink pepper, soft, gentle, enticing, it draws you in and just when you think you understand the smell, it hits you with a gorgeous, warm, peppery punch. (Hermitage)

My nose: Of course this opens up wildly pungent, piercing, happily spicy, terpine-like, radiant and sunny! It follows through, 15 minutes later, to become warm, sort of Cedarwood in quality, pencil shavings is what I get here. 30 minutes on and it’s still pungent, piercingly clean, a bit understated now, exotic, masculine a bit herbaceous. After 45 minutes I still get pencil shavings, strongly terpenic, a flash of spice, fading but much more slowly, and I remember sharpening my pencil in front of the classroom. 1 hour later and I get particles, pieces, shavings, hushed and woody, yes, that facet comes through strongly for me, cooler now, lingering and definitely not imposing. 2 hours later and it’s much less terpenic, much more green in quality, now I can envision it with florals, much less aggressive, but also less radiant now too, I see the leaves of the rose not the blossom when I smell Brazilian pepper.  Then 3 hours later it’s a very no-nonsense, clean, clear-cut smell dwindling down to a very refreshing note.  7 hours into the dry down and it’s somewhat piercing, dry, the paper is coming through and it’s almost gone.  24 hours later and it’s still clean, clear, still fully “peppery” and quite long lasting.

Musings on composition: I get this working with Cedarwood, Sandalwood or Fir Absolute, even with my beloved Black Spruce Absolute.

aromatic profile: black pepper

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Common name: Black pepper

Genus name: Piper nigrum

Supplier: Perfumery Art School (part of our school kit)

Note: Heart to Top

Family: Spicy

Diffusion: 6

Blends well with: See my other post on Green Pepper tincture.

Chemical components: See my other post on Green Pepper tincture.

Interesting bits: In the winters, black pepper essential oil becomes a great substitute used as warmth-generating aromatherapy constituents. Black pepper essential oil is used as an aromatherapy massage oil, to increase the blood circulation. The essential oil can make a room feel warmer and cosier when used in an aromatherapy diffuser. (Fragrantica)

Their nose: See my other post on Green Pepper tincture.

My nose: pungent, spicy, wakes you up, but warm though. Lovely.  It’s like a burst of sunshine. That’s how black pepper begins its story for me. Then after 15 minutes it becomes comforting, very warm, very familiar, subtle and elegant, refined. It was so surprising for me to find black pepper to have a gentle, lived-in feeling. It was like rediscovering an old friend. 30 minutes later and it’s still very alive, familiar, citrus quality(?), it seems to add structure, a certain predictability, sharp. After 45 minutes I just love this note, now there is a sweetness to it. It’s glowing softly, it’s sheer! It’s light and translucent; it’s as if the presence of black pepper could gentrify the whole. 1 hour later and it remains just beneath the surface with a sensation of ice, this note is very integral, almost proud. 2 hours and it’s still pungent, it almost has the ability to make you forget it’s the humble black pepper. Clean, freshly pressed, centred. The prevalent impression is clean at this point. 3 hours later and it is still explosive, powerful, thin, dry, very dry actually and refreshing. After 7 hours it is still pungent and piercing but no longer really noticeable as black pepper. 24 hours into the dry down and it still possesses that uplifting characteristic, though fleeting — much more so than the Brazilian Pepper berry. Still recognisable as pepper because it is sharper.

Musings on composition: more than intellectual, I can feel this note together with other top notes to add radiance, the kind of radiance that Galbanum imparts to a blend or that we get from other synthetics like green leaf alcohol.

Hey! Get out there and smell something different today OR smell the ordinary differently.

aromatic profile: green pepper tincture

green-pepper


Common name: Green Pepper

Genus name: Piper nigrum (of the Piperaceae family) native of Malabar India

Supplier: bought a small bag from the grocery store and tinctured in 96° alcohol

Note: Heart to Top

Family: (cool) Spicy/Green

Diffusion: 3

Blends well with: gourmand accords, Oriental accords, spice accords, amber bases particularly with sandalwood, rosemary, citrus, lavender, ginger, clove, lemon, coriander, geranium, litsea cubeba

Chemical components: a-pinene 30.7%, b-pinene 16.2%, d-3-carene – 1-15%, b-myrcene 0.8%, limonene 19.3%, elemene 2.1%, B-elemene 0.1%, B-caryophyllene 4.8%. (naturalextracts.com)

piperine, piperetine and piperidine, amides-peperyline, piperoleins. (Fragrantica)

Interesting bits: Pepper grows as a woody, climbing and flowering vine that can reach up to five meters. Green Pepper essential oil is directly distilled from the unripe, undried green colored peppercorns (the fruit). Black peppercorns are formed when the unripe pepper is picked and then dried in the sun. (White Lotus Aromatics)

Black Pepper, christened as “King of Spices” and “Black gold” is the most important and the most widely used spice in the world, occupying a position that is supreme and unique. Black pepper essential oil is stimulating, warming, comforting and cheerful. The quality of pepper is contributed to by two components. Piperine that contributes the pungency and volatile oil that is responsible for the aroma and flavour. (Fragrantica)

The flowers may be unisexual, with monoecious or dioecious forms, or may be hermaphrodite…The pepper is crushed to a coarse powder and on steam distillation in which ammonia is evolved (in common with, for example, ginger, pimento and cubebs). (Fragrantica)

Their nose:  a fresh, light. spicy-aromatic(pepper-elemi-cubeb complex) bouquet with a dry, woody, terpenic undertone (White Lotus Aromatics)

hot and bracing note, short-lived and earthy spice…pleasant, fresh, spicy and peppery, warm, woody (Fragrantica)

My nose: my green pepper tincture opens with a light, barely-there element, then the pepper jumps out! Green, wow! Uplifting, spicy, almost watery and watered down, yes I definitely get that impression of dilution. 15 min later and it’s now very exotic spicy, like India, I get India with this tincture. Almost aniseed-like, aged, old, like it’s been sitting in the spice cabinet for years. After 30 minutes it’s fading very quickly, I don’t seem to get a thing when I sniff, just a vague impression of aniseed. 45 minutes into the dry down and now it’s just a glimpse, a hint of green and pepper is the last impression. It’s a cool spice note. Aniseed tea that mom used to give us for tummy aches. After 1 hour when it slides into the heart note it’s almost gone, I have to blow on it to wake it up but the pepper quality is still in tact. After 2 hours it smells faintly of a spice cupboard but it’s pretty much gone only a slight green note remains. 3 hours later and there’s a faint smell of spice lingering so is the aniseed thing. 7 hours into the dry down and all I get is a faint green impression mingled with paper – dry!  24 hours later and the impression of green pepper is so faint I think I’m imagining it. It’s gone.  But for a tincture it lasted much longer than expected.

Musings on composition: I would use this tincture as a base or backdrop for colognes because the impression is so weak, but that’s what I would want anyway. I discovered spicy can be both cool and warm and that this particular tincture could straddle both the green and the spicy family. Hmmm, all these facets of the single notes that no one can teach me really, I simply have to discover them for myself as I open up to learning more.

Wishing you a wonder-filled day!

aromatic profile: tuberose absolute

tuberose-absolute


Common name: Tuberose

Genus name: Polianthes tuberosa

Supplier: Proxisanté

Note: Heart

Family: Floral

Diffusion: 7

Blends well with: carnation, gardenia, jasmin, neroli, peru balsam, rose otto, violet, ylang ylang (Artisan Aromatics). Beeswax absolute, benzoin absolute, bergamot, amyris, bois de rose, caraway seed co2 and eo, carrot seed co2 and eo, clary sage eo and abs, clove bud eo and abs, coriander seed co2 and eo, frangipani abs, geranium eo and abs, ho wood eo, labdanum abs, mandarin eo, narcissus abs, neroli eo, oakmoss abs, orange flower abs, mandarin petitgrain eo, petitigrain eo, lemon petitgrain eo, rose abs, tonka bean abs, violet leaf abs, sandalwood eo and abs, ylang ylang abs and eo (White Lotus Aromatics)

Chemical components: Methyl benzoate, methyl anthranilate, benzyl alcohol, butyric acid, eugenol, nerol, farnesol, geraniol, 1,8-cineole, limonene, sabinene, a-pinene, b-pinene, indole, myrcene, camphor, methyl salicilate

Interesting bits: “The Pre-Columbian Indians of Mexico first domesticated the Tuberose, one of the most fragrant of all flowers. It was one of the first plants introduced to the Old World from Mexico.” – Eden Botanicals

“Tuberose (Polianthes tuberose) is a plant belonging to the lily family (Amaryllidaceae) native to Central America. Like most night blooming flowers, tuberose is pollinated by nocturnal moths, which explains the white shade of the flowers. Like jasmine, tuberose continues to produce its scent even after the flower is picked, thus, lending itself as a perfect candidate to the traditional painstaking enfleurage method.” – Bois de Jasmin

“In Ayurvedic tradition, tuberose is also known to stimulate serenity, creativity and psychic powers….tuberose is frequently combined with jasmine and orange blossom, lending further opulent depth to one and dark richness to the other.” -Bois de Jasmin

Their nose: “tuberose absolute opens up with a faint green note before warming into a sweet jasmine-like scent underscored by a rubbery accord. It vacillates between the coconut sweetness and the warm skin impression, as it dries down.” – Bois de Jasmin

“This sensuous deep orange-golden brown oil has a warm, very sweet, “plump” and most intoxicating floral aroma with peach leaf and soft spice-like background notes.” – Eden Botanicals

There’s a great article on Fragrantica with perfumer Pierre Bernard around the Tuberose note. It’s an insightful read with lots of good information.  I could cut and paste forever but the best thing would be for you to just mosey on over there and give it read.

My nose: as Tuberose opens up I get waxy, warm, soft, fruity, sweet and thick. 15min later it’s still warm, comforting, blossoms, the colour orange just jumped out, carnal, fleshy, natural, exotic and lush is what strikes me. 30min later and now its fully floral-POW! In your face floral, sweet, thick, lushiousness, plummy, deep, feminine, golden and oh, so beautiful! After 45min it gets fuller, almost as if it’s now waking up. It’s beguiling, tempting, engaging. This note saunters, sways, it’s in no rush; aphrodisiac, almost like you don’t recognise it’s a floral. As it slides into the heart notes 1 hour later I get such a strong impression of a woman! Fully present now, like a liqueur, yes, smooth, sensual, like a liqueur. Elegant and sublime. 2 hours and now it’s less warm, I sense it now ready to interact with other notes, seems like the true heart moment is opening up at this point; it nuzzles, comforts and reassures you.  3 hours and now it’s becoming sweeter, softer, more floral still, I can smell a slight decay of petals and it’s more quiet and even more composed if that is at all possible.  7 hours into the dry down and do I smell it together with pepper? Now I smell a powdery aspect that wasn’t there before; it’s greener too, also more fruity, drier, more down to earth. 24 hours and it’s settling down into the base notes and it’s still present on the strip though much softer, more alluring, the sweetness is a pure delight. This is a beautiful note all by itself! 4 days later and Tuberose is still identifiable on my scent strip!

Musings on composition: being a night blooming flower makes me consider other night blooming flowers to pair it with but also makes me want to take much care in supporting its gentle opening; notes that coax and coddle rather than poke and prod. Since I am drawn to compose by pairing or juxtaposing chemical compounds camphor strikes me as a possible note to pair with Tuberose, an aspect that would almost wake it up with verve the way I like to get up in the morning.

Keep exploring, being curious and wondering!

aromatic profile: osmanthus absolute

osmanthus-absolute


Common name: Osmanthus absolute

Genus name: Osmanthus fragrans

Supplier: Proxisanté

Note: Heart-Base

Family: Floral

Diffusion: 8+

Blends well with: champa abs., benzoin abs., styrax eo, agarwood eo, agalia odorata abs., cassie abs., mimosa abs., ambrette seed abs., ylang ylang abs and eo, davana eo saffron eo, jasmine sambac abs, jasmine auriculatum abs., broom abs., orange blossom abs., fir balsam abs., tuberose abs., frangipani abs., bakul abs. (White Lotus Aromatics)

Chemical components: “The essence of osmanthus naturally contains cis-jasmone (a white floral note), gamma-decalactone and various delta-lactones (peachy-milky notes) as well as several ionones derivates, which accounts for its violet-like sweetness” – Perfume Shrine

“Among the carotenoids of Osmanthus are all trans-beta-Carotene, all trans-alpha-Carotene and Neo-beta-carotene B.” – Fragrantica

Linolenic acid – 17.4%, Linoleic acid – 8.7%, Hexadecanoic acid – 8.6%, b-ionone – 7.6%, dihydro b-ionone – 6.4%, Geraniol – 1.2%, Linalool – 0.8% and a-ionone 0.6% – Essential Oil University

Interesting bits: native to Asia from the Himalayas through southern China to Taiwan and southern Japan and southeast Asia as far south as Cambodia and Thailand. (Wikipedia).

According to Leffingwell: “While the flowers of osmanthus range from silver-white (Osmanthus fragrans Lour. var. latifolius Mak.) to gold-orange (Osmanthus fragrans Lour. var. thunbergii Mak.) to reddish (Osmanthus fragrans Lour. var. aurantiacus Mak.), the extract (alcohol absolute) is usually prepared from the gold-orange flowers.”

“Member of the Oleaceae family like olive and Lilac.  Highly valued as an additive for tea and other beverages where the aromatic extract comes from the golden yellow flowers variety…the variant Osmanthus fragrans Lour. has more carotenoids in its chemical make-up which contributes both to the sunnier colouring as well as the enhanced aroma.” Perfume Shrine

This is an evergreen shrub or a small tree.  I don’t know why, but in my mind I pictured this as a big ol’ tree.

Their nose: “the initial top note is somewhat fruity and sweet comparable maybe to eating yellow Mirabelle plums late in the summer. However it is the heart note that makes this utterly spectacular as I detect an infusion of sweet juicy Apricots, fresh cream and a thick helping of Greek Honey.” – Hermitage

“a complex, incredibly rich, sweet, honeyed, floral, leathery, fruity bouquet with elegant precious woods, animalic, spicy undertone.” – White Lotus Aromatics

“It has a green note, but also a dark, earthy quality – almost like old leather – and a fruity, violet floral (methyl ionone & beta ionone) note, which I suspect many people will experience as fresh raspberry-like. It’s very complex and deep, but really not much like smelling the flowers.” – Chris Bartlett of Pell Wall Perfumes, on Basenotes

“fruity-leathery smells evoking plums, apricots and prunes” – Fragrantica

My nose: this is a power floral to me!  There’s nothing, faint, quaint or “nice” about Osmanthus. Those just aren’t words that come to mind when I smell this note. Osmanthus opens up waxy, orangey, BIG, BOLD, and warm, with a very heavy presence for me. After 15min the olfactive “size” is what sticks out most, it’s cloying, cluttering, demanding and there’s still a very strong element of waxiness but now that seems to be settling down, warm and sweet.  30min later and I smell it with Tobacco absolute.  Dense and thick like a thick floral, fruity fog, I feel prisoner, held in its gutsy, juicy pressing folds.  45min into the evaluation and this note just seems to get bolder and bolder! Still a bit waxy but not distractingly so, definitely floral, something assertive in this note that’s why I smell it with Tobacco, a very male presence, dominating, at its core.  1 hour later and it’s still waxy, but now the fruity aspect is more front and centre, sweet, thick, bountiful, gives the impression of abundance.  Very deep scent, sensual and direct.  2 hours later and this note is still loud. It can be “heard” above the other two notes I’m evaluating (Tuberose and Peach concrete).  A bit waxy still but now it’s like it’s freer, more narcotic, oriental, in a word voluptuous.  Its proportions are XL. 3hours into the dry down and its only now I smell the apricoty fruity nuancees. I get dappled sunlight in summer, laying in the grass after having eaten a fruit, jammy ripe, but it’s beginning to taper off to something more subdued.  7 hours later and this seems to be full blown now!  Like its sort of exploded.  Definitely a drier floral note, but still rich and ripe, the fruity aspect has really taken a back seat, still very heavy.  24 hours later and it’s softer, more aged in character but still bold, round, now it’s totally approachable, no longer dominating, it has settled into something much more elegant and refined.  3 days later and it is still present on the scent strip! Monstrous!

Musings on composition: there’s a lot to say about Osmanthus, as you can see. It’s a BIG scent, that’s for sure and so my instincts draw me to counter balance that by little things, supporting actors that totally make this note either shine on its own or convince it to contribute its greatness to the “good of the whole” thereby raising the entire perfume to a whole other level. Of course you’ll have to research and experience what those supporting actors could be for you. As I mentioned above I totally smell an invisible synergy with Tobacco – I’ll have to prove that in some trials eventually. In reading I found that the plant matures in the spring, about six months after flowering. When I check this seeming nothingness with my notes I see that to me it becomes full blown after 6 hours. Hmmm, just another way to look at composition ideas.

Happy Monday!  Remember to love and laugh too.

quotable: on becoming an artist

quote1


M was over a few weeks ago.  She was curious about my perfume making and asked to smell some.  What’s really interesting here is that for as long as I’ve known her she was anosmic — which hasn’t stopped her from having and wearing, faithfully, the same perfume for years.

As I shared with her my growing collection of trial formulas and my first (and so far only) full-fledged perfume compositions, I told her which was my favourite . Then I showed her my favourite perfume — Opus Interlude Man. I only own a sample given to me by the very generous owner of GIO, a niche perfume shop in Livigno, but it’s enough to keep me dreaming for now.

I told her I want to make something like this. “But why do you want to copy someone else’s perfume?” she asked in surprise. “I don’t want to copy it, M, I want to create something that moves Soul the way this perfume moves me — that’s my goal as a perfume artist, that’s what I’m aiming for in skill.  I want to make scents that allow individuals to transcend space and time, perfumes that allow the wearer to perceive more fully their present moment, that amplify the now into the endless possibilities that are already sewn into the fabric of their lives.

In order to do that I know I will have to dig deeply into myself to develop the kind of courage it takes to move beyond my own limitations – real or imagined.

Today’s quote is from page 3 of Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland.

dilution woes

dilution-woes


I had the devil’s own time diluting Tonka Bean Absolute, Cistus Absolute, Labdanum Absolute, Helichrysum Absolute and Mango Ginger CO2.

The picture above shows you the fight we’re still having after a hot water bath. Arghhhh!!!!

Cistus and Labdanum absolutes I had to put in a bain marie without the labels and almost screwed up which was which when they finally became pourable and I was ready to dilute.  Speed is of the essence as that pourability only last about 2 minutes before it starts going all hard again.

With some of them, after heating the original absolute and measuring it out on the scale, once in the alcohol I still had to remove some stubborn lumps.  I shook it for what seemed like forever and after that still didn’t work I ended up heating the alcohol solution in hot water with the cap slightly loose, swooshing it slowly every once in a while and that did the trick (please be careful when heating alcohol though it can be dangerous — I did not use an open flame, just hot water).

All except for Tonka Bean Absolute, it remains resolute and unbending, but I will be the last (wo)man standing.

**** Update: July 24, 2014 ****

Finally got the this beast diluted! In the end I decided to dilute the whole 5ml into a 50ml bottle.  Had to put the bottle of absolute in a pot of water in a pan of water over a low flame on a small burner (later a post from, Eline, one of my blog readers, confirmed that she does the same thing!). After about 30 minutes it became fully liquid and then I added 39gr of alcohol.  It’s now more like a 13% dilution.  What’s really odd now is that the diluted absolute has a faint fecal-like smell, it’s less vanilla-y than when I first smelled it straight from the bottle, now it’s more animalic, even a faint impression of urine.  Really weird.

 

perfumery techniques in evolution

Perfumery Techniques in Evolution 2nd Edition by Arcadi Boix Camps is one of the books I invested in recently — and I’m really glad I did.  This book is destined to become a reference for me in my library.

I was between this and a year’s subscription to Perfumer & Flavorist Magazine and while neither is cheap the book is definitely worth its weight in gold from a perfumer’s perspective.  It gives a really good intro to some very little know chemical aromatics like:

“Myrcenile, ocymenile and citrile acetates, with fresh scents, somewhat grassy, almost like the citric part of bergamot, are of great interest.  Thuione has a warm scent, herbaceous, which falls under the subgroup of the camphors.”

Boix Camps also presents a different way of grouping the notes for example, Agresticals, Radiants, Greens, Roots, etc. which introduces new perspectives for a perfumer.  Each aromatic placed in the various groups is briefly introduced.

For a perfumer I find his writing style very different at times philosophical and poetic and other times very no-nonsense to the point of approaching arrogance.  But it is nonetheless interesting and opens up a wider vista from which perfumers can both approach and deepen the art.

It’s words like these that keep me reading:

“True creation will be that which awakens all to a greater sensibility and a higher spirituality, not that which renders them insensitive by reason of its arrogance, or without understanding by reason of its complexity.”

Amen, brother!