Saturday, May 08, 2010

"Ask the Perfumer" - a Feature of Anya's Garden Perfumes - May 9, 2010

Hi Everyone:

Hope you're all having a nice Mother's Day - and if you have an questions about perfumery, just post your question and I'll answer them.


  1. Hi Anya!
    What brand & model of scale to you prefer?


  2. Spring greetings, Anya! My question is: How would you describe the fragrance of Magnolia grandiflora blossoms? I would love to hear your flowery words! -Susan in Gville

  3. Hi Amanda

    I like My Weigh and I have a 601 from them. I also have some little "quickie" scales that I use for small jobs. What I do recommend - and I should get a big thank you from this company, since I recommend them all the time is Old Will Knott as a source. FANTASTIC customer service, good prices, fast shipping, etc. You can call them for tech support after you buy from them, and if you've never worked a scale before, that's a big help.

  4. Well, Susan, you're going to be let down for two reasons!

    1. Magnolia grandis don't grow down here in Miami! I have heard of a few specimens in the county, but I don't know where they are.

    2. I'm not good with the flowery words. I admire those who are. I can use the basics, like fresh, indolic, spicy, like Juicy Fruit gum (my Magnolia alba, the white champaca!) fruity, etc., but poetic escapes me.

  5. Hello Anya,
    I tried tincturing some lemongrass leaves in sugar cane alcohol, but I noticed that after a few days they had a very "off" smell. I wondered if this commonly happened with lemongrass leaves, or if you knew the reason why this might happen. I am also tincturing some lime leaves and broad-leaf thyme from my garden, but I haven't smelt them yet. I am not sure if the same thing will happen with those.
    Thanks for your help.
    Amanda Jones (Barbados).

  6. Two Amandas writing in one day!

    Hi Amanda, nice to see you here.

    About the lemongrass. I've never tinctured lemongrass, but I'll share my observations with other botanicals and maybe I'll help you along.

    When I first started tincturing jasmine, for example, I was disappointed. The first two or three tinctures smelled like paper. Heck, maybe even more than two or three. Then, as I replaced the flowers over and over, the true, beautiful jasmine scent appeared. I guess the alcohol just pulls out certain chemical components, and the 'papery' ones came over first, and then with time, the floral.

    Some plants, like Michelia alba, have flowers that jump right in and change teh color of the alcohol (gorgeous crimson red) immediately, and give up their scent immediately. My Michelia champaca doesn't work so fast.

    Keep in mind, that in the old days in France, they made 36 changes to enfleurage fat to obtain the scent and saturation level they wanted.

    Just keep change the leaves every few days and be patient. I'm SO glad I was with the jasmines! ;-)

  7. Thanks so much Anya. I just went and changed the leaves. Everything has a very nice dark green colour, so I'll be patient and see how it goes.

  8. Does diluting floral absolutes in 190 proof alcohol help preserve them longer? If so, what % of dilution is best?


    Michael in Colorado

  9. Hope its sill mother's day there or Sunday rather!! I'm making a solid with vanilla and various other oils-blending the Vanilla abs that I have with jojoba makes it easier to work with in my mind since the quantities are small. What is your recommended vanilla to Jojoba ratio so as to keep the punch? best regards,


  10. Hi Michael:

    I usually don't dilute more than I keep on my perfume organ for quick mods. I create 3-10% dilutions and have them in 15ml dropper bottles.

    To help preserve the undiluted absolutes, you may wish to add a tiny bit of alcohol.

    Some absolutes, and even CO2s and EOs, like ambrette seed, can go 'off' if a little alcohol isn't added to them. I wouldn't add more than 2% and make sure you label the bottle accordingly.

    EOs like lavender are others high in linalool are prone to peroxidation (sp?) and need 5% Vitamin E added as an antioxidant.

  11. Hi Francesca:

    I'd recommend about 20% - and then you have to judge how much the jojoba "dampens" the vanilla scent. You might wish to add other low-scent oils to help fix and extend the vanilla. Even though the vanilla is a base note in itself, somethings like amyris, copaiba balsam and araucaria can help extend the vanilla without overpowering it.

  12. Happy Sunday!
    I am making a natural solid perfume with Mimosa absolute as the main note. I want to bring out more of a hint of banana. Is there a natural oil out there that may help me? Cananga? ( I have never smelled it but I read it is akin ylang ylang and is in mimosa accords.
    Thank you!

  13. Ahhh. A mix up of days on my part. Somehow saw " happy mothers day" on the yahoo groups and thought questions were for today. Guess I need some glasses ... Next week perhaps.

  14. Sorry for the Chinese porn spam that just appeared. I have tried to keep this blog unmoderated, but I have to go back to moderated comments, which means I'll put everyone's comments through, I just have to make sure they're legitimate comments first, not spam.


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