Sunday, January 14, 2007

Scent Perceptions & Dilutions

I find it funny how people perceive scent, including my own ability to correctly perceive scent.

Let's take tuberose, for instance. I describe it as 'meaty' or resembling boiled hot dog water ~ but that's when it isn't diluted down enough. Just like rose otto, tuberose absolute takes on an entirely different character when diluted. Rose becomes effusive, fresh, clean, more truly rose-like when diluted to about 10%. Tuberose becomes more white floral, cloying, sweet, less meaty, when diluted to 10%.

One of my least favorite florals is ylang-ylang. I just can't stand the stuff. But I have used it in a couple of floral perfumed oils with great success because it ceases being just ylang, which to my nose smells like an unused Pampers, and becomes a part of something bigger and better -- and ylang-less.

Davana is another one I have a hard time with. I love davana, but I have difficulty using it because it likes to eat everything else around it until all that's left is big, fat davana! So I dilute, then add, and the result is fabulous. No more Pac Man davana munching on its aromatic cohorts ~ just a lovely layer of green, floral sweetness -- a slipper's kick of davana instead of a boot to the head.

White cognac has come up in conversations and it's another one I struggle with. I smell boiled eggs when I initially sniff white cognac, then, if I allow myself the time, I smell the cognac, all dark and wine~y and mysterious, and it's lovely! But getting past that eggy part just kills me! I hear green cognac is better. Thus far I've not been inspired to try green cognac because of the nature of the white. I should know better by now.

One of my newest discoveries is muhuhu oil. When I first sniffed muhuhu I actually smelled nothing. Then I blew my nose, sniffed again, and smelled ~ leather! Soft, tanned leather as opposed to heavy rawhide (choya loban = rawhide; muhuhu = a brand new pair of leather moccasins).

My son came by last evening and I dragged him into the perfume room to look at my new blending table. He seemed impressed. Since I can't have anyone standing near my blending table who isn't holding a scent strip to their nose, I began the ritual ~ scent strip in this bottle, now sniff. What do you get? We did this for about 20 minutes ~ what a trooper, no? Funny thing is, by the time I was done handing him dipped scent strips, he was actually getting into it. He loved trying to pull out descriptions of the scents, working them around in his mind until he had something he recognized. He smelled pasta in the white cognac dilute, lubricating oil in the muhuhu and 'turds' in the 30% jasmine grandiflorum absolute. Turds. What a horrid word.

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