Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 26 ~ One Year, One Nose

Rubber soles

I am addicted to the smell of brand new rubber soled shoes. The rubber soles are what attract me most. I tried doing some research on this, but my ADD tackled my resolve and I got only as far as links to sites discussing pica (eating stuff you're not supposed to like dirt, rubber, toilet paper, baby powder, powder laundry soap, et cetera) or sites about huffing rubber cement glue. Not useful info to this study at all.

I also love the smell of gasoline, and I can say this even after having had a very nasty experience at around age 14 wherein I was siphoning gas from the lawn mower to put into a dirt bike and inadvertently swallowed a mouthful of the stuff in the process. The memory of the burps are what give me shudders to this day.

The absolute best rubber soled shoes are in Anthropologie stores. The strange ritual, which makes my kids roll their eyes and walk away in embarrassment, includes a trip to Sephora to sniff the goodies there, then a pop into Anthropologie and a beeline to the discount racks in back where those particularly delicious rubber soled shoes are on discount. I once walked the entire store with a pair held up to my face while the kids shopped and tried desperately to escape me.

I can't even adequately describe the scent I'm talking about here -- it's rubber! It smells like rubber. However, not all rubber is the same -- there are some rubber soled shoes that have very little of that new, out-of-the-package rubbery intense smell, while others simply reek of it. It's an industrial smell, like gear grease and solvents and sweat. I can't say that I catch a 'buzz' smelling it, as some around here have suggested. I don't go all wonky eyed and euphoric, but I do really, really enjoy the smell.

Bicycle tires smell pretty good too.

Day 25 ~ One Year, One Nose

Tangerine 10%

The intensity of tangerine sits around 4-5, not a screamer, but nice. Sweeter than lemon, less musty than orange, tangerine smells fresh, clean, bright and juicy. The key word here is 'fresh'. The oddest thing, I get a whiff of witch hazel during this study, however brief. There is almost zero tenacity. I get almost nothing on the scent strip after an hour, and at two hours it's completely gone. The scent is super juicy at the start, though, a bit like LifeSavers fruit candy and big glasses of cold orange juice.

Juicy, juicy, juicy. Or is it fresh, fresh, fresh?

Day 23 ~ One Year, One Nose

Ylang-Ylang Super Extra 10%

Ylang-ylang is NOT one of my favorite smells. In fact, I am reminded (and I've probably said this on my blog more than once) of the scent combination used to give baby diapers a more appealing aroma (that's pre-use -- no amount of fragrance can cover up the smell of a dirty baby diaper). So while I want to smell the poor man's jasmine, instead I smell Pampers.

Breaking it Down:

The odor intensity is around 5-6, the scent lush, floral, sickly sweet, slightly minty, cool, fresh with a little of the oily/buttery, cloying floral dooky tonality. As a matter of fact, it smells just peachy blended with peppermint because they bring out something in the other, a brightness and lightness. It's pretty nice. A few months back a friend and I were the high bidders on a mini-lab of synthetic perfumery ingredients from the 1930s, and in it was a small vial of jasminoid (complete with cork top), and the jasminoid has a lot of the same characteristics as this ylang-ylang, with more of a jasmine bent -- what I mean is, you certainly wouldn't mistake the jasminoid for ylang-ylang, but you could ferret out some of the icky sticky tonality of ylang-ylang within it. Just saying no matter how you slice it, ylang-ylang is and never will be a poor man's jasmine -- not even close. Jasminoid doesn't smell like real jasmine either, so . . . As the ylang-ylang dried on the scent strip, it became less sickly and more densely sweet and buttery, lasting nicely until about 12 hours later.

Day 22 ~ One Year, One Nose

Peppermint 10%

I love peppermint. I make room sprays out of it during the holidays, adding a bit of vanilla for the full holiday effect. I use it in the bath in the summer to cool down, and I make a popular soap with it, Poppymint, that I give away during the holidays, a little number chock full of cocoa butter and coconut milk and loads of peppermint and a handful of poppyseeds.

The scent intensity is pretty high, around 7-8, it is (and I know no other way to say this) minty, fresh, cool, sweet, wintry, clean. With a lot of dilution, around 1%, it works nicely in perfume compositions to create a cool and fresh effect without overpowering the composition in mintiness. The tenacity isn't bad. At six hours there is still a faint mintiness about the scent strip, but with a deeper sweet note, fuller and more solid than the flighty mint tone.

Day 21 ~ One Year, One Nose


Sri Lankan at 10% has an odor intensity of 5 (10 scale) and no matter what, I cannot escape the association with bug repelling yard garden candles. Or bear attracting bug repelling skin tonics for the great outdoors.

The whole while I'm sniffing the scent strip, I'm thinking, 'Bug spray. Bug spray. Bug spray."

It smells industrial, medicinal, dry, a titch green, and lemony. At full strength it smells more oily with a bit of mustiness thrown in. Diluted as it is, there is a fresher quality to it, a clean 'feel'. Smells a bit like furniture polish. I do believe, however, that diluted further, say around 1 or 2%, it could be useful in a perfume composition as a sacrificial material, to help with the longevity of citrus head notes in an eau de cologne or eau de toilette. Plus you'd have the added benefit of keeping the bugs away, and for a long time, too, as the tenacity of citronella 10% lasts well into the 24 hour time frame.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 20 ~ One Year, One Nose

Balsam Peru

Balsam of Peru was one of the very first 'perfumery' raw materials I ever purchased because when I first began this exquisite journey I was a soap maker, and the book I learned from listed Balsam of Peru as an ingredient used in soap to help with the longevity of scent, and something about stability, and it was a good substitute for vanilla. I can't even remember anymore because I used it once or twice in this manner before being bombarded with information about its potential for causing skin sensitivities, and the fact that it did not, in fact, make a good substitute for vanilla, no way, no how, nuh-uh. And because people in the medical field said the scent reminded them of work.

The sample used for this study is 10 years old, diluted to 10%, and was born in El Salvador. It has an intense, sweet and bitter tonality, a little like vanilla but not enough to be convincing. The intensity rates around 7 or 8 (10 scale). Balsam of Peru smells sweet and ambery, candyish, foodie, brittle and dry, woody, warm, verges on floral, smells of the dregs of dried brewed coffee burnt to the bottom of the coffee pot, moist pipe tobacco, honeycomb, and dry, dusty roses.

Because of my previous associations with Balsam of Peru and soaping, I had given it little thought as a useful material in perfume making until this study -- diluted, all the wonderful background noise comes to the fore -- the dusty roses, the burnt coffee, the brittleness -- straight from the bottle at 100% it's a slam in the face, thick and oozy, super bitter and oddly sweet. I enjoy its complexity in a diluted state.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hyacinth Revisitation

With a clearer head (see sinuses) and a renewed sense of passion for my chosen art form, I have revisited the hyacinth evulsion from the previous study and found more -- bubble gum, peanut butter (not just the shells!), creamy, smooth cognac. Anyway -- cool revelations.

Day 19 ~ One Year, One Nose

Jonquil Mock-Up

I'm giving away a formulation here. Just for fun to see if anyone is paying attention ~ ha! I make a small batch of this mock-up scent almost every winter and give away tiny bottles to people in the spring who want to know what 'that natural perfume thing' is about. I often tweak this formulation to change up the profile a bit -- because I like doing things like that. But it begins with jasmine grandiflorum 10% 5 mls, tuberose absolute 5% 5 mls, orange blossom absolute 10% 5 mls, vanilla absolute 1% 5 mls, then add 1 ml 10% sandalwood (any variety will do), 5 drops of whole lemon eo, 5 drops of whole lime eo, 5 drops of whole bergamot eo, then add 10 - 15 mls of alcohol -- if you have the following items, use them, if not, start to tweaking -- hyacinth absolute or evulsion (abs. at 1% 1 ml; evulsion 3 mls); tincture of figs (real figs, preferably the green Calimyrna) 2 mls. The materials you might substitute these two would be more tuberose/jasmine, and a ml. or two of 5% osmanthus. Then allow this formulation to marry and mature at least 6 weeks. It is a very close approximation to the scent of jonquil, heady, sweet, floral, warm, spring-like, sensual, pretty -- and the scent has nice longevity, up to 2-3 hours. You may also use this formulation to flavor scones, whipping cream, cream cheese, tea, cakes, cookies and sugar.

Day 18 ~ One Year, One Nose

N's Oudh 5%

STRONG! Screeching dirty socks and dusty evergreens, musty, animal fur, spikey green, valerian, edgy, sweet, seductive, cool as cucumber, green things digging in dirt pulling up the roots and drawing out handfuls of mushrooms and non-descript fungus, dark things, cool gardens, narcotic, warm, pukey and sweet.

Day 17 ~ One Year, One Nose

The Mardi Gras celebrations in the Tower have ceased being the topic of interest 'round here, so I can get back to posting.

Jasmine grandiflorum

I've been searching the stores for hanging baskets of jasmine but they haven't put them out yet, just the tall stands of jasmine that are meant to be trained to crawl up a post or wall. The weather here has turned to spring and I'm itching to get some bloomers on the garden porch. The neighbors jonquil have popped up and they remind me that soon -- very soon -- planting will begin, but first we must do the flowers.

Jasmine grandiflorum 30% dilution is almost like no dilution at all, though the dilution allows some of the more delicate and elusive tones of scent to escape. The scent of jasmine grandiflorum is intensely sweet and heady, oily, deeply floral, poopy and warm (perhaps I shouldn't have paired those two words together that way . . .)

I cannot help but think of spring while smelling jasmine grandiflorum, there is something old fashioned about it, something nostalgic and sad, like forgotten bottles of perfume left to evaporate away leaving only the faintest hint of jasmine behind. The headiness can be compared to that of hyacinth and tuberose. The scent is mouth-watering. I make a cake using jasmine grandiflorum in the batter and in the cream cheese frosting -- it is delicious when paired with fresh strawberries. Eating jasmine cake with strawberries -- can you think of anything more olfactogustatorially (ha!) decadent?

Jasmine grandiflorum has great tenacity, even diluted to 10% -- at 12 hours on a scent strip the 30% is still heady and sweetly floral; at 10% it is less so, but there is a delicious delicacy about it, like fine lace or spider's webs -- there but ever so fragile.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day 16 ~ One Year, One Nose

Hyacinth ~ a study

Some years ago a friend sent me a small sample of hyacinth absolute to study. It was diluted to 10% yet was still very, very strong, almost too strong, and thus began my love affair with hyacinth.

Since beginning the One Year, One Nose project, I've been revisiting a lot of 'old friends' -- frankincense, bergamot, lemon, santal, patchouli, hyraceum, and a host of home made and home grown tinctures. The fay green glass bottle that has been home to my hyacinth tincture sits quietly, unassuming, 'til the stopper is pulled and slowly, like a newborn blossom, the scent begins to unfurl. It is at first rustic, earthy-green and 'crunchy', literally, like smelling the skin of a stale roasted peanut, then comes the headiness, the blueness of hyacinth emerges, then it quickly ducks behind a peanut; shades itself with a dewy leaf and buries its toes into cool, loamy earth. On the skin, after the alcohol dries and the peanuts fall away, the scent is that of hyacinths blooming in a flower box in the window, the breeze blowing the scent in, then drawing it back out. Hyacinth tincture is a peek-a-boo scent.

Hyacinth absolute, even diluted to 10%, has a very high scent intensity, somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-9 (on a scale of 10). I would venture to say that a lower percentage would be easier to study, and use, than the one used for this study, about a 2-3% dilution. Hyacinth absolute dilution is like a dessert wine, the warmth of it settles in the back of your nose and throat. It smells of dark, ripe berries, waxy, thick-petaled flowers, amber, and oak. It is a slow scent, sensual, rapturous, seductive and tingly.

Friday, February 17, 2012

About AdSense

Not a perfume related post, but something that's been bothering me of late: AdSense. Last year I decided to put blog relative ads on my blog page to generate extra income. First it seemed okay as most of the ads were beauty related if not perfume related (those I've discovered are few and far between), but now I'm noticing the ads have absolutely nothing to do with anything that my blog is about. An ad for the Carousel Inn in Santa Cruz, California? Really? What did I blog about that generated an ad like that?

And as for income generation? I think I've found more change on the sidewalk in the past year than what I've managed to generate through AdSense in the same amount of time.

Day 15 ~ One Year, One Nose

Frankincense (boswellia carterii)

Frankincense is one of my favorite scents. It is possible that I hold in such high esteem as it was the first thing I smelled upon stepping into church, back when I was a child and far too young to understand what religion was. I remember the silence of church, the hollow sound of a cough in a pew across the aisle, the almost supernaturally loud rustling of the priest's robes and how his hand smelled of shaving cologne, but what I remember best is the scent of the church itself. A combination of perfumes, hairspray and cologne dominated by the ever present scent of frankincense.

Olibanum, a much fancier sounding name for frankincense, comes in many shades and tonalities of scent -- some are more warm and resinous, others sharp and pitchy with high lemon notes, some with almost floral qualities. My favorite way to use frankincense is to blend a number of different varieties from different sources; it seems a more rounded, layered and character ridden version of frankincense is created this way -- and then I drop this mixture by drops onto a burning charcoal until the room is filled with incense smoke.

I evaluated frankincense carterii in a 10% dilution. One thing I always try to do when evaluating is to assign a color to the essence I'm smelling. This isn't as easy for me as it is for others as a few perfumers I know assign color immediately, and for me it's something that comes later when I'm really thinking about what color that smell was. They smell the color before their brain attempts to translate what they smell into words. And given that describing scent is a bit like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time, perhaps color descriptors are a more direct way to project what you 'get' when you attempt to share your scent observations. Anyway. On a scent strip the olibanum comes off musty, bitter, resinous, aldyhydic (ha), a bit like solvent, then as it burns off the strip I begin to pick up on fruity notes (peaches? apricots?), the scent becomes tart, sweet, more warm resinous and dry, a bit woody.

The tenacity of this particular olibanum, even at 10%, was decent. At 30 minutes there was a distinctively woody, tart, resinous tonality with lots of green notes; at 1 hour it changed completely, exhibiting tones of orange mustiness (like an orange turning to moldiness) with background notes of woody greenness; at 24 hours all that was left was a fruity coolness (like chilled pit fruit) and a distinct soapiness.

Oh, and it's color is aqua.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day 14 ~ One Year, One Nose

Anise Seed

I've been thinking of Murphys, California lately -- a lot. March is the beginning of the 'season' in Murphys with the kickoff a huge St. Patrick's Day parade followed by a day or two of motorcycles roaring through downtown side streets and rabble rousing, or as much rabble rousing as one can do in a sleepy old mining town turned tres chic with several vintners offering wine tasting, upscale restaurants offering corned beef and cabbage, and the specialty shops offering whatever will get you in the door. But a trip to Murphys wouldn't be complete without a trip to the Nelson's Candies. The place just reeks of chocolate and coconut and buttery caramel. And somewhere in all of that is the woozy, boozy smell of sarsparilla, and the dark exotic scent of black licorice.

Anise seed evaluated at 30% (first of all, let me say that I adore the scent of anise and even made a perfume with it as the main component -- Khodum) has a very strong licorice/fennel scent with green herbal tones. Anise is warm and mellow, reminiscent of sarsparilla soda and Sen-Sen breath 'mints'. It reminds me of being a little kid sneaking pieces of black licorice from my step-father's stash -- he and I were the only two in the household who liked the flavor of black licorice, both abhorring the lesser, boring red licorice. It reminds me of the fall, of raking leaves and Springerle with milk, footie pajamas, and the anticipation of visiting relatives who drank warm beer, laughed loud enough you could almost see the laughter on the air, tried desperately to get everyone to eat at least one little piece of Limburger on a rye cracker, and always gave the most warm and welcoming pre-holiday parties.

I imagine anise seed's color to be yellow with little swirls of black. Anise seed isn't a linear smell, it's layered and complex and beautiful. The initial scent 'blast' wears off within a few minutes, and it mellows to its warmer tones, less of the piquant and piercing green and more of the languid, mellow herb. The staying power of anise seed is spectacular for a natural, up to 24 hours, however, it loses much of its licoricy tendencies and sinks into a mustiness, like old shirts hung too long in the closet.

One Year, One Nose Days 11, 12, and 13

I figured this was the only way I was going to get caught up, posting one big post for the three days I've lagged on, and I'm a little bored with the time frame manipulations that makes available to fool people into thinking I actually have posted these on time. I'd rather say, "Hey! I've been having fun with my grandbaby, taking her to the zoo and walking in the neighborhood and visiting Irene's for sweet potato fries, that I just haven't found the time to sit down and post olfactory notes this week," than back date the posts I post today to make them appear to have been posted on 'their' day. Did you get that?

Okay. Having said all that, here we go:

Day 11 ~ I decided to add a few more perfumey type posts for the 365 Days of Olfaction project, so I dug up some back-of-the-cabinet projects that either didn't work out the way I had hoped, or were simply put away to age and subsequently forgotten. I do that sometimes. Okay, a lot.

4-2008: Gourmand/Leather study -- a dark horse (this is from the code notes on the bottle to the code/formulation book). This is a very dense leather accord with lots of smokey coffee notes and a touch of the oudhy/valerian/stinky feet thing going on. There is also an oily, buttery quality to this accord, and not much in the way of 'gourmand'. With a little work this leather accord could be quite nice. (From code book -- list of materials used in the accord in no particular order) tobacco absolute 10%, patchouli organic 10%, choya loban .5%, valerian root tincture, nargarmotha 5%, Sri Lankan vetyver 10%, Haitian vetyver 10%, coffee tincture, butter CO2 10%, ambrette absolute 10%, linden blossom absolute 10%, saffron tincture, fig tincture. End notes (from code/formulation book) 'too much coffee, hack the valerian, add a floral component (rose?)'. I apparently ended the project here as there are still very strong coffee notes and way too much valerian, but alas, this is an appealing accord as some of the other notes have mellowed and married and made its rough edges smooth. But still not gourmand.

Day 12 ~ And yet another dug up from the perfume tombs, a formulation named simply 'mousse de chine'. I honestly don't know why I didn't do something more with this as it is lovely! Redolent of the warm, earthiness of oakmoss which gives the formulation a substantial tone, something solid and tangible, that is lovingly wrapped in notes of cedar; vibrant, tannic, bitter notes of Virginia and red cedars and the creamy loveliness of Himalayan cedar (which when combined this way has an almost fresh ground black pepper-like tonality). There are some spice notes in here, a hint of the musty, dusty patch, and what really seems to smooth it all together is a gorgeous, deep, sweet, warm, almost jam-like lavender absolute. This was 'born' in October of 2010, and I'm seriously going to revisit, tweak and put its training shoes on to toddle into the world. It smells very classic to me and I'm amazed it came from my hands.

Day 13 ~ Pink Popcorn from the Zoo. The Zoo always smells like elephants to me, no matter where I stand, how near or how far I am from the pachyderms, I smell 'em 'out there', like hay and warmth and hyraceum outhouses. I just love it! Couple that with the mandatory chomping on pink popcorn, and you've got memories that last a lifetime. Smelling the Zoo is a fantastical olfactory adventure, everything is so dirty. Walk past the grizzly bear exhibition and you catch a whiff of something musty and strongly fecal-animalic, that smell that spells danger and fear and run for your life! However, bars and pink popcorn keep those baser instincts at bay. Each animal at the Zoo has its own distinctive scent -- the herbivores smell warm, hay-like, sweetly furry and almost comforting (except for those goats -- ugh!), while the carnivores smell - well, scary. Darkly, deeply musty -- meaty, sweaty, urinic. It's at this point one waves the pink popcorn under the nose to snuffen the sweetness of it, to savor its powdery pinkness, warm cereal essence, and the flat smell of staleness.

Friday, February 10, 2012

One Year, One Nose Day 10

Bal a Versailles

While perusing the aisles of a discount store popular due to its sales of designer clothes and sundries, I stumbled across an open package of Bal a Versailles EDT. Never one to pass up a classic, especially one born the same year as I, I cautiously sprayed a shot on my left wrist. And then ended up snorfling that wrist for the rest of the day.

Bal a Versailles is an oriental with the customary dose of spices, vanilla, and a touch of the skank (musk, civet, something furry and warm and playfully naughty). It reminds me of my mother getting dolled up and ratting her hair high on her head for a night on the town, the usual shot of super sweet, super strong perfume providing the final touches on what would end up a night of hysterical and nonsensical crying whilst sitting atop the 'pot', pantyhose tangled around ankles, bouffant askew on the head, globs of black mascara trailing down wet cheeks, and a severe case of amnesia the next morning. Mom was a hoot back in the day and one whiskey sour would set her off, boo-hooing over literally nothing at all.

The notes listed in this scent (from my source) are bergamot, lemon, mandarin, neroli, jasmine, lilac, lily of the valley, orris, rose de mai, ylang-ylang, benzoin, cedar, sweet clover, sandalwood, tolu and vanilla.

This makes a lovely scent for the boudoir. And it was Michael Jackson's signature scent, so I've heard.

One Year, One Nose is THREE DAYS LATE!

I'm in the process of putting the final touches on the posts for Days 10, 11 and today (12) -- I have been invaded by unexpected visitors this weekend so the project posting is on delay. The project itself is ongoing, 24-7, 365 days a year, month after month, year in and year out, decade after decade, century by-- oh, wait, I won't live that long . . . . but you get what I'm saying, right?

Tonight when the guests depart, I shall resume posting, but for now, au revoir.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Day 9 ~ One Year, One Nose

Everything's coming up . . . violets?

Again with 'Phyllis' flowers', as me mum likes to call 'em; the little low to the ground weedy things she's always tearing out of the lawn, trying to corral them back into the brick-lined garden spot -- that have turned out to be nothing less than viola odorata.

Funny, I'm slightly anosmic to the flowers themselves, but my 'boys' pick up the scent of violet when a short bouquet of them has been thrust up their noses. "Ooooh," they say, their bleary eyes rolling up in their heads, "those flowers smell nice." Me? I take a sniff and catch only the barest whiff of a delicate almost-flower thing, sweet and powdery smelling with a hint of the pastille (y'know that's just an associative connection -- I adore violet pastilles AND I can smell them. They don't taste half bad either).

Violet leaf (abs.) at a 10% dilution ~ smells intensely green, almost melon rind-like and heavy with the cucumber tones. There are a lot of fruity (melon?) notes in the leaf, though the bright, fresh green of it dominates. I feel that a 10% dilution for evaluation is perhaps a bit high. A 5%, 3% or even 1% might be a better ratio at which to study this lovely and intense green scent. Violet leaf is a take over scent -- put it in any high quantity in a composition and you've made it a violet leaf eau de parfum (or whatever concentrate you're working in). Violets, in any form it seems, do not shrink from anything. Not from crazed grandmothers with pinchy-grabby-twisting fingers, nor from your big old nose. Violet leaf is a BIG smell.

Violet flower tincture (Parma) ~ now we're talkin'! Sweet, powdery, intensely sweet, honey-like with shades of warm powdery amber, not heavily 'white floral' indolic like gardenia or jasmine, but pervasive nonetheless. Orris root tincture has a lot of these same characteristics, so I wouldn't be too far off the mark in comparing violet flower tincture with an orris root tincture; they're both softly sweet, slightly floral, powdery, candy-like and again, pervasive. Violet flower is a very distinctive scent -- basically once your nose locates and correctly identifies the smell of violets, it doesn't get easily erased from your olfactory database. But then you might confuse it with orris root . . .

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Day 8 ~ One Year, One Nose

I'm late! I'm late! And I still have Day 9 to post! So much to do, so much to smell!

Antique Mysore Sandalwood (the 'real' stuff)

I have very little of this sandalwood left, in fact, not even enough to formulate with anymore. I keep it in the library to make comparisons and just because it's such a lovely scent in general. And I'm happy that I do since it is the most beautiful sandalwood oil I've ever smelled. It is exquisitely creamy and woody with lots of lush buttery tones. It makes me yearn to have been a perfumer in the 10s and 20s when there was a lot of this Mysore sandalwood available (my sample is over 100 years old). I would have hoarded it even then (I say that now, but who knows?) This sample gives an impression more of 1920s France; art deco, the Paris World's Fair, flappers and shameless women who smoked cheroots than of India and chandan dhoop. The tenacity is spectacular, lasting well beyond the 12 hour mark and into months, however faintly.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Day 7 ~ One Year, One Nose

An Ounce of Civet (really, less than a gram)

Someone gifted me a small bottle of this stuff -- someone who obviously hates me (not really, she just knows that I am ever the curious cat) -- in an effort to tickle my olfactophile tendencies.

However, as a preface to this evaluation, I must say that I disagree with -- is it Steffan Arctander? I think it is -- who said civet didn't smell like shit. It does. Tremendously. Just sayin'.

On an odor intensity scale of my own design, I rate civet as a 7 (10 being a true screamer of a stink). Civet smells of vomit, rotting dirty feet, loads of crap, and brings to my mind memories of scooping huge piles of dog crap (we had a giant German shepherd) up in the backyard -- that came out of a dog who didn't have the best of diets as he was a sneaky midnight snacker of the neighbor's trashcan. We once came home from an all day excursion to find our silly dog in the back yard eating the innards of an aluminum can. He had managed to chew off the bottom seal of the can (the top was wide open) and had cut his bottom lip partially off. He was sent to the vet for a total lipectomy. After that he always looked as if he were grinning maniacly as his bottom teeth were always showing. And he wisely stopped digging in the neighbors trash. He also lived to a ripe old age.

So back to civet. It ranks a 7 and not a 10 because I'm a masochist and must love the smell of poop. The sensory feel I get from this scent is gritty and intense, rough, like sandpaper. In this form I cannot imagine how it could be used in a perfume. At all. The color of the civet tincture was crystal clear, but the color I see in my mind's eye is, of course, poop brown.

I definitely see the fixative potential of this material, but I -- gah! It's just too horrid to even think of using in something people -- strangers to me! -- will be spraying on their bodies. It's like something you'd think of people doing in BDSM clubs (not that I would know about any of that stuff -- no, really!)

I can say this much for civet tincture, it definitely mellows as it dries on the stick, lowering it's rankness down to halitosis instead of vomit, rotted feet, and shit.

The small vial of civet goes in the library, never to be smelled again, unless I'm trying to scare someone.

Oops! One Year, One Nose on Delay :S

Days 6 and 7 are coming later this afternoon!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Day 5 ~ One Year, One Nose

Frangipani and Fig cake with Pineapple glace.

Yes. Frangipani absolute and Calimryna fig extract poured liberally into a plain white cake batter, baked, then topped with a simple confectioner's sugar and pineapple juice glaze. Again, yes. And gone. It never fails to happen; I get barked at by the resident eaters that I'm making 'perfume food' again, then when done, it's gobbled up, seemingly while I sleep because I never see them eating it, until all that's left are the crumbs on the cake plate.

Predominantly a sweet, mapley smelling cake with light notes of frangipani and a hint of spice, like cardamom, something green and sneaky that peeks in and out. The scent is luscious. The fig is remarkably present, smelling just a bit like a gentleman in tweeds on the dregs of his ultra-manly musky parfum.

Perfumed food is ultimate olfactogustatory experience. (You do realize that isn't a word, right?)

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Day 4 ~ One Year, One Nose


Who doesn't love lemon? While washing dishes this morning, I kept catching whiffs of it's tart sweetness and couldn't figure out where it was coming from. The window was open a crack so I thought perhaps the neighbors were cutting lemons or making juice. Then I realized the granddaughter was being suspiciously quiet while sitting in the corner of the kitchen with her back to me. I tiptoed up to her and peeked over her head and there in her lap was a gnawed on lemon that she was making sweet, slobbering love to. One thing I can say about this granddaughter, she does love her groceries, even if they make her pucker and shudder and drool like a rabid squirrel. We keep a big basket of fresh lemons and oranges on the floor next to the refrigerator as we're always digging into it for one thing or another -- salad ingredients, lemons for salsa, oranges for eating or juicing, playing catch. We do love our citrus 'round here.

The scent of lemon -- well, most of us know how lemons smell. They're quite common in many parts of the world so access to their lovely fresh, fruity, citrus and floral bouquet is easily met. But what does lemon scent do to you? Perhaps similar to how I felt, standing in front of a sink full of dirty dishes and catching the tickling finger of lemon on the air; uplifted. Enlivened. Maybe even a little excited? Excited about the scent of a lemon? Sure. In the dead of winter, lemons, to me, represent the coming spring and summer; of green tea and lemon wedges in tall glasses filled to the top with slushy ice, sipped slowly while sitting on the front porch watching the neighborhood being. It reminds me more recently of days of lemon distillation, the scent of fresh squeezed lemon filling the air, a replete feel-happy aroma, the 'E' of nature. Or maybe it feels that way because I'm cuckoo over distillation in general.

Lemon smells zippy. Zingy. Fresh. Fruity-sweet and citrusy-tart. Aldehydic. Ok, so what does that mean, aldehydic? Citrusy smells are aldehydic -- soapy and waxy and slightly floral. I know, this is getting confusing. Not all aldehydes smell like the aldehyde I'm describing here -- some smell nasty, like turned butter and black bananas. But when I say (or write) 'aldehydic', what I'm referring to is a sparkle I'm detecting in a scent rather than a specific aldehyde. Think champagne bubbles.

Some perfumers I know use lemon sparingly as to not fall into the Lemon Trap (much like the Bergamot Trap, and the Vanilla Trap ~ The fact that some perfumery ingredients are used to re-steer a south-facing perfume makes them 'Traps'. It's like cheating on an exam when they're used this way.) Look at any classic perfume and you will undoubtedly find the copious use of bergamot and vanilla; look at any classic cologne or eau de toilette, and all three may be in there. Lemon in cologne is understandable. By cologne's very definition, it is lemony and flush with citrus of every color and stripe. Jean Nate is a fine smelling eau de toilette *slash* bath splash cologne rife with lemon, that I once had the misfortune of getting in my hair. It took two days of shampooing to get the scent completely out. Aside from that, again, it is a fine smelling splash. With lemon.

Oh, yes, and then there is always the association of lemon (in some parts of the world) with toilet bowl cleaner. Again, lemon gets a bad rap.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Day 3 ~ One Year, One Nose


By now you, the reader, are probably wondering what boring, not-so-well-thought-out olfactory observation I will post today -- or not (wondering, I mean). This preface is to explain that I promise to work harder at posting good olfactory observations and potentially imparting useful information. That is the goal. (Geesh, it's only Day 3 and I'm already saying this). And I have a notebook with page after page of olfactory snapshots upon which to build a whole picture. But. Ah, yes, the ubiquitous 'but' ~ But I have been terribly distracted these past few days. The curse of threes (y'know what it is, it's the three bad things that happen one right after the other) has decided to make a visit to my family in a very big way. On the other hand, we're due the blessing of threes any time now, Universe.

There are so many lessons learned from the last week. Too many to go into, and certainly not appropriate to share here.

Summarized: Love one another -- a lot. Follow the rules of safety. Listen to people who've been there and done that because they can save you a world of heartache. And lastly, forgive.

On to the post:

Ruby Red Grapefruit ~

I had the pleasure of experiencing a freshly picked ruby red grapefruit and comparing it to a bottle of red grapefruit essential oil (mine). The same yet different. Fresh grapefruit peel is cool, zingy, slightly sweet with a strong neroli floral force. More of a juice, peel, twig, blossom kind of scent than strictly a peel scent. I was surprised by it -- lovely petitgrain notes, and I had not realized how much of a floral note that the fresh grapefruit peel possessed. I have access to many more of these grapefruit, so I am thinking a distillation session is in order very soon. And a bit of antioxidant in the oil to help retain that gorgeous floral tone. That is, if it translates the way I think it will. There is a slight pitchy, citric acid tonality to the fresh peel as well, something bitter and slightly nasty, like soured milk. Obviously this scent doesn't work well on its own, but taken in with the floral notes, it turns the whole picture to that of a fleshy, sensual woman. A woman who doesn't give a rat's patooty what you think of her. A bold, audacious woman.

Here is an interesting bit of information regarding one of the chemical components of grapefruit ~ Sex & Grapefruit.

Grapefruit distilled oil is not as exciting as fresh peel. There is a dullness to the oil, a muted quality. And absolutely none of those lovely neroli floral tones are present. It could be because the oil is older and not as fresh, as I do recall the oil when first made was gorgeous with floral notes and rich with high limonene tones and aldehydic highlights. It was sparkly. Even preserved, it doesn't hold a candle to its younger, fresher self. It does, however, still retain a lovely juicy quality. A little zip that makes your mouth water.

Capturing scent from raw materials through distillation must have driven those old apothecarians completely insane. Oftentimes it simply doesn't translate. I am reminded of Grenouille and the cat.

Photo is a pomelo, not a ruby red.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Day 2 ~ One Year, One Nose

Macarons & Cupcakes

Peaches and Cream Macarons simply smell of sweet peach jam. Oh, and cream. And vanilla. So perhaps not so simply scented. The outer 'shell' of the macaron is sugared vanilla, the scent just hovering above the crust. Once broken open, the scents of peaches and cream explodes ~ there is tart peach jam with rich apricot notes, deep notes of cream and more sugar, a dash of dark vanilla, ooh, and butter, salty creamy butter. A nibbler sitting across the table from me at the bakery remarked, "It feels like fat little buttery peach angels are dancing on my tongue!"

Chocolate Twin Pomegranate Wine & Cheesecake Cupcake smells of red wine, the darkest, sweetest red wine, with rich, dark bitter chocolate and cream, and a dash of sweet, tart cherry. The wine prevents this scent from reaching the dark decadent gourmand rush of just chocolate and cherries, instead twisting back and settling in about halfway to dark gourmand -- the red wine scent is prevalent, bolstered by the juice of pomegranate, both tart and slightly bitter smelling. Think Raisinettes with their deliciously sweet chocolate coating and tart, juicy raisin within -- like that, yes. There is a yeasty element to this cupcake -- smells of barrooms after the patrons have gone and all that's left is the cleaning up. It is at once rustic and elegant, but I would never want to wear a scent like this. It heads in too many directions at one time and is confusing.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Day 1 ~ One Year, One Nose


I felt it appropriate to outline this 'scent' first since I smell it every morning on the way to work (riding a bicycle 1 mile), and because cold isn't only a scent, it is also a sensation. It is tingly. It burns. It fills your head with its sharp-edged metallic odor and covers your body in gooseflesh, reddening those areas which are not protected by clothing.

Cold smells the way it does because of how the ions in the scent molecules in the air behave at low temperatures, something about negative and positive charges and warm people skin resulting in that weird metallic smell we often associate with cold. I won't even pretend to understand it. In my neck of the woods, cold smells like warm corn tortillas, perhaps a result of those oppositely charged ions clinging to the warm air close to my body as I race past the taqueria. This smell, along with the metallic scent, persist so long as the temperature is around freezing, but once I ride into the sunlight and feel the warm rays, the smell of cold dissipates, however briefly, and I smell other things -- cooking smells, car exhaust, wet fallen leaves, dust. The scent of warm is obviously more diverse than the scent of cold.

Breathing in the scent of cold has its drawbacks -- runny nose, frozen nose, numb nose.

The scent of cold can be edgy and dull at the same time. It is unconventional as a subject of scent and I find myself going back to how cold feels, so it is better to smell cold in its element ~ the freezer. Ice vapors that roll out of a refrigerator freezer when opened to a warm room are piercingly metallic, as is the scent of the solidly frozen dry ice in the ice tray. Once cold hits that magical number that turns it warmer, it loses the metallic sharpness and picks up the scent of whatever is nearest.

Cold smells of vigilance and struggle and purity with a price.


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