Sunday, May 01, 2011

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, May 1, 2011 - until 10 PM EST

I got a late start today because I had to get the lilac blog posted.  May certainly is the time for lilac thoughts, and lily of the valley, too, eh?  Several bloggers are taking part in a blogging event for Natural Perfumers Guild member Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's new perfumes Muguet de Mai and Muguet Cologne (yes, two!) that are botanical accords of the lily of the valley flower, only available in synthetic form prior to this.  You can leap from blog to blog starting at Cafleurebon.


  1. Hi Anya,

    Thanks again for sharing your Sundays with us. Even when I don't ask a question, I still always gain a wealth of information from your thoughtful answers to the other questions posted!

    I was wondering if you have any ideas or suggestions for determining specific gravity of the thick or solid aromatics like fir absolute or benzoin. The thinner ones seem pretty easy to find, take 1 ml of the aromatic from a pipette and weigh it on a scale. I can't imagine getting a ml of benzoin in a pipette though, much less getting it all out accurately.

    Thanks so much, hope you are having a great weekend!


  2. Hi Anya,

    Fresh florals ... I find this category very tricky to get right! Often, when I begin with the intention of creating a fresh floral perfume, it quickly turns either overly sweet, overly green, or it ends up lacking body & lasting power. What are some, perhaps unusual/unexpected, absolutes and essential oils that you find necessary or useful or intriguing in creating fresh floral based spring perfumes?

    Also, I don't know if I am alone in this, but, I find orange blossom absolute a very difficult player. I often refrain from using it because I find that it adds a cloying element that is often unwelcome. Maybe I just don't like it, or haven't found a good quality one? Any thoughts?

    Thanks for any comments or advice!


  3. Hi Michael:

    If you look at CoAs of such substances, you'll see no SG is given. That's because a gram is a gram is a gram. Of solid stuff.

    SG is a measure of liquid materials compared to pure water (1.0), and you see varying ranges from say, 83.0 for very light, mobile aromatics to 1.06 for very thick aromatics.

    You can dilute your thick resins, say 50:50 in alcohol to make them mobile (or any proportion you wish) and then weigh at least 100mls of that to get a ballpark SG.

    HTH. And I hope you're having a great weekend too!


  4. Hi Poppy:

    You've asked me a lot of subjective questions, and I'll try to make general answers that will assist you.

    I think the light, airy, freesia-like topnotes of Boronia absolute makes it suitable for springtime fragrances. There are two chem constituents in it that sort of shout springtime ;-) Mimosa is another that comes to mind. If you have old Poucher volumes and Piesse's book, you can look there for floral doppelgangers you can create with other absolutes, such as lily of the valley, sweet pea and more.

    About orange blossom absolute being cloying - have you diluted it way down, perhaps to 10% to make a sheer backdrop of it? That may work. Tell me you love the scent otherwise, else why bother? I have never used some aromatics, and I probably never will, because I just don't like them. Customer perfume clients may want them in a perfume, and I'll use them then, but I doubt they'll ever make it into my line. Talking about cinnamon, clove, vetiver and a few others here. Don't fight it if you have an aversion to something, your scent memory rebel!

    About the fresh florals turning sweet, green, etc. May I ask about your background and training? Not an intrusive question, I hope. For instance, I teach my students to perform rigorous evaluations of each aromatic, and then they can enter their findings on an Excel sheet. Key words like sweet, dry, heavy, green, fresh, etc., etc. are there. Then, when they reach a problem like you're having, they can quicly search through their evaluations with the "find" key and all the aromatics they need will pop up for the choosing.

    Nothing beats a good, rigorous grounding in the evaluation side of perfumery. If you haven't done so, and you're blending on a whim, I encourage you to put time aside and write down your findings on each aromatic in your organ. You'll spend time, now, but be rewarded in the future by having the info at your fingertips.

    I think that's all I can do without becoming a formulator for you and going through each blend you've made, aromatic by aromatic ;-)

    You've asked very good questions, and I hope I have helped you focus.



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