Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, September 26, 2010 - 10 a.m. to 10 PM EST

I got a late start today after an early visit to my mother, but I'm back in the studio now, so if you have any perfumery questions, ask away.


  1. Dear Anya!

    How are you? I am grateful that you are continuing with Q&A even though you are busy with personal and professional stuff.

    Quick question from me:
    Do you always, sometimes or never consider "blends well" option? For example, in literature, there are tips what blends well with what (example: sage blends well with lavandin, rosemary, citrus oils). Do you follow that as a rule?

    Once again, thank you very much for your time!!

  2. Hello Ankica, nice to see you again.

    I was just discussing this the other day with a perfumer. I have never paid attention to those lists, so of course I have never written one.

    I also don't give out even minor blending suggestions, other than the strict accord-building I teach my students.

    It is all very subjective, and once trained, the perfumer artist has the ability to determine for themself what "goes with what".

  3. Thank you Anya! Somehow I though this will be your answer :)

    I have more questions, but I will leave it for some other Sunday :)

  4. Dear Anya,

    I was really curious about the goat hair tincture in Pan because it sounds so unusual. Can you basically tincture anything that is tincture-able? I've never made a tincture before, but I've done a little research and I'd like to learn more. Are there any rules to follow?


  5. HI Lauren:

    Most fragrant things are tincture-able, but there are always exceptions, and you have to do research before you begin to see if some may have poisonous or otherwise undesirable characteristics.

    For instance, don't tincture tomato leaves or daphne flowers - both are very poisonous. You can buy tomato leaf absolute that has the alkaloid removed, but there is no daphne EO or absolute, so you have to do without.

    Tincturing for scent is different than tincturing for herbal/health reasons. You use the high proof alcohol for scent tincturing because that most effectively extracts the scent molecules. HTH!

  6. Lauren, I forgot to add - before you tincture something, ask here on Sundays and I'll let you know if I know if it's safe or not.

  7. Thanks for the advice, Anya! I didn't know that tomato leaves were poisonous. I JUST came back from picking tomatoes in the garden and the smell is still on my hands.

    Also, do you think that 151 proof is high enough? It's all I have at the moment. I've heard of bacteria growing and causing a really nasty smell if you aren't careful.

    Thanks again,

  8. Lauren, 151 proof isn't suitable for perfumery. Since the plant materials may give up some water anyway, 190 proof is the minimum. You can google Shoppers Vineyard in New jersey for shipments of 190 proof Everclear. It's more economical to get three bottles at a time from them, due to shipping/haz mat costs.

  9. Hi Anya
    Just listened to the accessory notes podcast on your course site; a rich resource... am now wondering, what 'should' a good ambrette seed smell like from opening notes to its drydown?
    Thanks so much.
    Margi Mac

  10. Hi Margi:

    Ambrette seed has a distinctly nutty, warm, fatty, musky-floral scent, and it gets gentler on dryddown, and a touch of powderyness enters then. It's a warm skin scent, IMO. If you get new oil, know that it can take months for it to age properly. There is a touch of a rich brandy-like note to it, also. The fatty note can dissipate with aging.

    As always, I suggest you order as many samples as possible from as many sources as possible to get an idea of the spectrum of scent profiles in ambrette seed. The spectrum isn't wide, but good quality will jump out at you and you will know it.

    PS always top any amount you buy with a bit of alcohol to avoid it going rancid. It is high in fatty acids, and is prone to rancidity if not preserved with alcohol.

  11. Thanks Anya.
    My current ambrette behaves nicely in the drydown, but isn't jumping out at me in a good way in the opening.
    Time to go shopping!

  12. Hi Anya.
    You suggest alcohol to preserve the rancidity.
    To prevent bacterial growth or to retard the oxidation?
    Thank you dear.XO Elisabeth( Perfumes Bighouse)

  13. Hi Anya.
    You suggest alcohol to preserve the rancidity.
    To prevent bacterial growth or to retard the oxidation?
    Thank you dear.XO Elisabeth( Perfumes Bighouse)


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