Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, October 30, 2011 - until 10 PM EST

We're discussing doppelganger lily of the valley accords in the Yahoo Natural Perfumery group.  I love that group!  When I started it in 2002, I never dreamed it would become the premier site to study natural perfumery on the Web, and a place where true friendship formed among the members.  It's organized as an educational group, with some rules about how you post, limited ads for approved vendors, and just tons and tons of information available.  We just passed over 45,000 messages in the archives, and we have an extensive Files section, downloadable vintage perfume books and much more.  So, if you can't get your question answered here, and you're just itching to find out more about massoia bark on a Wednesday, the Yahoo Natural Perfumery group is the place for you.


  1. Dear Anya,

    I live in India, and I recently got some rose absolute and some sandalwood oil (I dont know if its an extract or an essential oil...). I want to wear the rose absolute as a scent, could you please tell me what carrier to use, and in what proportion?
    My interest in perfume is only a month old, and I am very excited to discover your blog!


  2. Hi Anya!

    I had a question about alcohol and citrus oils. Most of the old perfumery books mention that it is very important to use grape alcohol instead grain alcohol for citrus oils as it will work better with them. In your experience, do you see that as being true or relevant now-a-days? I ask because the only alcohol I have testing lab (aka room) is a natural grain alcohol from Remet (I like it because it as no smell at all where as the grape alcohols I've tried have a smell of their own) and before I invest in organic grape alcohol, I wanted to know your thoughts about the subject first. Thanks in advance!

  3. Hi Jahn:

    Welcome to the wonders of beautiful natural aromatics. Most aromatics need to be diluted to "open up" their true scent, since they are so concentrated in the form you buy them. The concentration is sometimes overwhelming, and not indicative of what the aromatic will smell like once properly diluted. Most rose does well diluted down to 5 or 10% before applying on skin. You can use almond oil, grapeseed oil, etc., or, if you have access, 190 proof undenatured alcohol. You may be able to buy that at a pharmacy in India.

    Don't hesitate to use the link in today's Ask the Perfumer announcement to join the Yahoo Natural Perfumery group. You will find it very educational.

    Hope this helps,

  4. Dear Anya

    Thank you for your response! I think I would prefer an alcohol carrier, which might be more evaporative, and not leave an oily residue like the almond and grapeseed oils. I'll probably try out both options.

    I did join the yahoo group :-) Looking forward to this new journey!


  5. Hi Eliam:

    I haven't used grape alcohol that much to give an opinion on what you read in the old books. I'm wondering if it has something to do with the chemistry of grape alcohol, and the terpenes that are often present, sometimes in very high quantities, in citruses. Perhaps there is something in the grape that causes the perfume to stay clear, since terpenes can form some wild squiggly lines (for want of a better term) in the perfumes.

    Or, the scent of grape alcohol in combo with citrus may have been the "trend". Perhaps the synergy/alchemy of those two made a very pleasing blend to their noses? Sorry I can't help you more. Alcsol will send you a one ounce sample of grape alcohol (did you know that?) for you to experiment with. Maybe this will be the way you find out without having to lay out the big bucks?


  6. Dear Anya:

    Can you update me on your isolates class? I haven't seen any new announcement about it, and I would love to take it.


  7. Hi Cherie:

    I'll be blogging about this soon. We decided to write a book first. Our research over the past 1.5 years has shown that 90% of what is being sold as natural isolates, are, in fact, synthetics. Sure, they're made from natural sources, but so biosynthetized it places them firmly in the realm of synths. We weren't 100% sure until a few months ago, after consulting many fragrance scientists. There were troubling signs before I announced the course in Apr. 2010, and this is a big reason I never offered them for sale. I have spec sheets and lots of research going back to 2006 or so, but wasn't savvy enough to use any without hesitation except for the alpha ionone and benzaldehyde. I'm afraid there are many natural perfumers out there now using synths that they think are naturals.

    What bad news! I hope, though, with the help of my colleagues, to lift the veil on the dark secrets of supposedly natural isolates.



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