Thursday, February 23, 2012
Day 20 ~ One Year, One Nose
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.