Sunday, March 06, 2011

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, March 6, 2011 - until 10 PM EST

I'm here until 10 PM to answer questions you have about perfumery.  There may be a time lag until your questions appear, as I'm in and out all day.  Have a beautiful Sunday!

15 comments:

  1. What's the best way to extract balsams from bottles?

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  2. Hi Anya,

    I am looking for a way to include a true fruit (non-citrus) note in a blend. I have tried tincturing freeze dried fruit (strawberry, peach, banana, pineapple), and found that the tinctures just didn't hold their own alongside other aromatics. Are there any real fruit extracts out on the market? I know that there are some beautiful fruit hydrosols out there, and if this is the case, shouldn't there be fruit essential oils?

    thank you,

    Poppy

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  3. Hi Jessica:

    You've brought up something that is a big problem for everyone who purchases balsams that were heated and poured into narrow-neck bottles. I'd add any sticky, thick aromatic to that balsam inquiry.

    I have started to write to each supplier who continues to ship materials in this archaic fashion, a holdover from the aromatherapy roots of the general trade, IMO. I'm trying to convince them to switch to glass jars. Easier said than done! Oh, and the topper is when you receive the cement-like aromatic in a narrow-neck bottle and there's a dripolator in the neck! LOL.

    The only solution to getting the materials in a liquid state is to warm the bottle in a a bain marie, and then, when it is liquid, pour it into your own impeccably clean glass jar. Are you familiar with a bain marie? It merely means that you gently heat water in a container and put the bottle in it. The water should come no higher than the ingredients inside the bottle, and no water should enter the bottle.

    With some of the more reluctant resins, you have to get the water quite hot, and it may take some time. Keep a careful eye on the bain marie. I like to use a mini crockpot. Others use a hotplate with a little pan set on top.

    HTH

    Anya

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  4. Hi Poppy:

    Have you tried using an ultrasonic extractor? I use one and it's great at extracting fruit aromatics. They're a bit pricey, and loud, but they do the job.

    I have seen various fruit extracts, and tried some, but they're for the flavoring industry, and don't have the aromatic diffusiveness of scent you are looking for. The ultrasonic extracts may.

    The hydrosols are created just for the hydrosol purpose. We in the aromatherapy of perfumery trade are used to the concept of hydrosols being the after products of the EO extraction. Fruits don't have EOs per se, but they do have aromatic components. In the past few years, some folks are putting berries and all kinds of fruit in the distillation unit, knowing there's no EO to be had, but desiring the hydrosol on its own.

    HTH

    Anya

    PS I can't help but add that the fruity note that has been so popular in perfumes is no longer trendy. Of course, you may wish the fruit note for your own pleasure, so I urge you to keep trying.

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  5. Hi Anya,

    Thanks for your answer. I have never heard of an ultrasonic extractor. Where did you get yours and, if I may ask, for how much? Do you use it for anything besides fruit?

    best,

    Poppy

    ps - I can't help but love a fruity element in Spring and Summer blends!

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  6. Hi Poppy:

    They're sold as ultrasonic cleaners, and they're typically used for jewelry. I also use mine to clean gunky stainless steel tools I use in the perfumery, and sometimes dirty glassware, if it'll fit in the little top compartment. For those purposes, you use distilled water and heat.

    http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trksid=p5197.m570.l1311&_nkw=ultrasonic+cleaner&_sacat=See-All-Categories

    For extracting scent from plant material, you place the jar containing the alcohol and plant material in the top compartment, and fill the compartment up to the "fill" line with distilled water. DO NOT use heat with the alcohol!

    Mine has 30 minute cycles, and I repeat them as much as necessary for me to visually determine the plant material is spent. That's very subjective. I take the jar out, wipe water from the outside, so that it doesn't drip into the new jar that I drain the alcohol into. I toss the old plant material, and pack new material into the alcohol, and zap it again in the ultrasonic.

    There are no limits to plant materials you can use, IMO.

    HTH

    Anya

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  7. Hello Anya

    This is a very simple question: why did you become a perfumer?

    Francesca

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  8. Felicia Shenker3/06/2011 3:55 PM

    Hi Anya,

    My question is about base notes for a chypre. The notes that define a chypre (oakmoss, labdanum, patchouli) are all accessory notes. When constructing a chypre, would one tend to keep the base quite small in volume compared to the heart and top? Or would one want to add other, milder notes? What would be a good way to chose these other notes?

    Thanks for your help.

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  9. Hi Francesca:

    The urge to sniff, analyze and blend came to me very early in life. My mother says I was two years old and demanding to play with her perfumes. She and her friends would give me the last bits of perfume in the pretty bottles to play with.

    An unforgettable moment occurred when I poured one delicious perfume into the remains of another perfume. The result was HORRIBLE! I still remember the shock, and I couldn't have been more than three or four!

    I began collect and playing with essential oils in the 60s, absolutes in the 70s. I found Kaufman's book, and Gentry's, and began to teach myself the experiments they contained. Still, didn't think I could be a "perfumer" because who knew who they were? Where were they? It certainly wasn't like it is today.

    In the early 90s, I created some simple blends and sold them on South Beach and Aventura under the name Anya's Tropical Essences. Then I started to create custom perfumes. Then I got private label deals to be a technical perfumer -formulator- for some bath and body products at South Beach hotels.

    I still didn't have the nerve to call myself a perfumer, I was just someone who made perfumes outside of the mainstream.

    By 2000, I was calling myself a perfumer, and gifted myself with 50 rare and varied absolutes and EOs from Inner Sanctuary. Dianna was one of the few in the AT trade at the time who sourced rare absolutes.

    In 2006 I launched Anya's Garden Perfumes.

    Back to why I became a perfumer: because I was always obsessed with scents of every kind, including those of food (I'm a gourmet cook) and life wouldn't let me be anything else ;-)

    Anya

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  10. Hi Felicia

    Did you know that nowadays many perfumers use those notes as a guide, and they improvise? Especially where oakmoss is concerned, due to the IFRA restrictions. Oh, and then there's the troublesome peroxide-forming lavender in the middle, and horrors! the cold-pressed bergamot in the top. I know I digressed a little, but I just had to have some fun with this.

    When learning the basics of perfumery, it is often drummed into the student that there is a set percentage for top/middle/base. I start my beginner students off that way, because it's a good rule of thumb, but, truly, the most gorgeous perfumes can be constructed without those ratios. Some of mine have 55% middle notes, for instance, and maybe only 35 base and 10 top.

    I was once speaking about this to a British perfumer, and he piped up, rather excitedly, when I told him how my middle note-heavy perfumes had great longevity, since many middle notes can carry on diffusing for 10 hours - "what a wonderful idea, since we have "shedloads" of middle notes to work with", and a whole new vista is opened if you look at balance in the intensity, and not stick to a set ratio.

    HTH

    Anya

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  11. Hi Anya,

    I do know that the best perfumes come from improvisation. I've made lots of intuitive and experimental perfumes.

    I would like to add the 'rules of thumb' to my arsenal, though. Seems like the knowledge can't hurt.

    Not to worry, I'm not at all the kind of person that becomes so absorbed in the 'rules' that I can't get away from them!

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  12. ps. That was my way of asking whether you would share the 'rule of thumb' with me. If it's a trade secret, that's okay !

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  13. Hi Felicia:

    It's late, and I'm tired, so I wish I could be more on point about the rule of thumb you're looking for. I thought that the answer I gave was giving you the freedom to play around with ratios. If you wish, please come back next week and we'll revisit it.

    Anya

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  14. Hi Anya,
    I am atrue biginner starting experimenting with natural perfume making. I know almost nothing about it but would need to know what to do with Benzoin, solvent extracted absolute to mix it either in jojoba oil or alcool? Same question about Jasmine grandiflorum concrete, Vanilla absolute,Tonka bean absolute, Oak moss absolute. I tried to melt the Benzoin but it just solidified as soon as it was away from the heat. And it does not dissolve in alcool.
    I would like to make perfumed oils rather than alcool based perfumes.
    I succeded in dissolving Linden Blossoms absolute in alcool(vodka)but is it possible to mix it with oil?

    Thank you!
    Solo

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  15. Solo, can you cut and paste this and bring it to today's ATP? I keep current with the Q&A and you posted this to last week.

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