Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ask the Perfumer - Dec. 16, 2012 - the blog has moved

Hi Everyone:

I want to be able to email winners of my giveaways, so I switched to Wordpress and installed it on my website.  That way, I can directly email winners to let them know of their wins.  

See y'all over on my own blog site!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday Dec. 9, 2012

It's hot and steamy in Miami today!  This is our dry season, so it's odd to have to go out into the garden and water plants while the humidity makes sweat form on your skin, even if you're not moving or working.  Whew!  I share this hot moment with you in the frozen north, hoping you can vicariously warm up a bit, dreaming of next summer in your region.  Not too much blooming here, just the reliable jasmine grandi, aglaia odorata and various veggies, like tomatoes, peppers and peas.

The question I want to ask you this week is do you grow fragrant plants inside when it's cold outside?  I'm thinking of jasmines, aglaia, herbs like basil, rosemary and thyme.  Some lucky folks with green thumbs grow citrus indoors, even in Jersey, like my cousin.  Now, if you have any questions, I'm here to answer your queries until 10 tonight ET.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Citrus names can be confusing to a perfumer - here's some information about the fragrant fruits

A student wrote me privately last week, and I told her I was going to post her question and my answer in the student forum since it's good information for all.


I loved the red mandarin (citrus nobilis) in our kit so much that I decided to order some to add to my collection of essential oils. I got a small bottle from Eden Botanicals but it smelled different from the one in our kit - then I checked the label and realized it was Citrus reticulata not Citrus nobilis. I had not noticed this when I placed my order. I checked on the White Lotus Aromatics website and they also had Red mandarin with botanical name Citrus reticulata. However the white lotus description of the aroma was more in line which what I experienced when I did the OE for red mandarin. The red mandarin in the kit had this gorgeous smell like it was already a complete perfume and I could also smell some neroli and indole-like notes.

Well my question is - are citrus nobilis and citrus reticulata different varieties of red mandarin and where can I find the type we have in our kit #1?



Time to take a deep breath before we plunge into the often-confusing world of citrus taxonomy, but I'll give the short answer first :-)

The red mandarin your your kit is organic and from Italy, where they designated it C. nobilis.  When you observed that your oil from Eden smelled different (and was labeled C. reticulata) the main reason it smelled different was that it was from a different country, and may not be organic.  Your textbook covers terroir and the factual elements that make oils vary from year to year, supplier to supplier, country to country.  Forces of nature and man can cause the oils to differ.  That, plus, with the citruses, the confusing taxonomy.

From Wikipedia:

The taxonomy and systematics of the genus are complex and the precise number of natural species is unclear, as many of the named species are hybrids clonally propagated through seeds (by apomixis), and there is genetic evidence that even some wild, true-breeding species are of hybrid origin.

All this made me whimper a bit as I studied citrus as one of the world's largest citrus research centers at the University of California, Riverside (UCR).

I'll let you all wade through the following links if you wish. Hopefully, my information about terroir (in the textbook) will partially solve the question.  You will see that C. nobilis and C. reticulata are *sometimes* used interchangably.  Sometimes nobilis can mean tangerines and other peel-able citruses, like naval oranges.  In the past, it was also used for mandarins, and the hybridization between the two sp. is where I get lost, frankly.  I let my nose guide me.

Here's the funny part: at UCR I learned some of us are genetically programmed to be sensitive to a bitter glycoside in some citruses, particularly grapefruits and the mandarin/tangerines.  I'm one of them.  It's the reason a lot of  people can't tolerate the taste of grapefruit.  To me, cut grapefruits smell like a petroleum products, like car tires, you know, the overwhelming smell of rubber/plastic when you walk into a tire shop. Yuk.  However, I love the smell of grapefruit oils.  Now, here's the weird part:  all mandarins have a smell of dead mouse to me.  The first second or two, I get the lovely citrus scent, but then, wham, dead mouse.

That last bit doesn't have anything directly to do with the student's confusion about the mandarins smelling differently, I just wanted to throw that in to let you know that we're all very different biological organisms, with 99.9% of our genetic material in common, but that .1% can be very interesting.  BTW, the dead mouse smell disappears when I use mandarin in a blend, it's just the undiluted oil.

Now, don't get me going on vetiver.  On my skin, not on a scent strip, it smells so sickly sweet it makes me ill.  No matter what type, from any country.  Terroir doesn't count here, I just have  a body chemistry that interacts with vetiver in a very nauseating way (to me).

Here are some utterly confusing citrus links!  scroll down a little on this page and you'll see: 

Tangerine - Citrus nobilis - Overview - Encyclopedia of Life
Citrus nobilis, the tangerine, mandarin or mandarin orange (including the ... Referred to in many classifications as C. reticulata, it is now grown in tropical and ...  This is an incredible, free online book, written by my role model, Julia Morton, economic botanist.  Look under Rutaceae for the citrus family.

Have fun exploring the fragrant, delicious, confusing world of citrus!  Always sample before purchasing, and alway refer to your existing stock to compare and your organoleptic evaluation notes, and you'll be more able to purchase the correct replacement oil.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Ask the Perfumer Sunday Dec. 2, 2012

As we move into the month of December, often the most rushed, hectic month of the year, filled with holiday preparations and everything associated with that, sometimes something presents itself as a chance to slow down, think of earlier times, and rare, fragrant things.  I have had such a slow down, due in part to my own chosing to relax, but also caused by a new item I'll soon have in my Vintage Vault: the rare, legendary Abishag perfume from Israel.  I'll perhaps relate the Old Testament story of Abishag at a later date, but the most succinct description of her is that she was a beautiful girl chosen to lay in bed next to the elderly King David because he was always cold.  Here is one depiction of the story:

by Pedro Amerigo

Well, if you're lying around this cold December day, and want some perfumery questions answered, I'll be the virtual Abishag to warm your brain with shared experience and help.

One photo of the vintage Abishag perfume that is on its way to me:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Anya's Garden Perfumes - Giveaway and 25% off

anya's garden perfumes room candy fir tree wax melt 

Anya's Garden Perfumes - Free Christmas Tree Scent Room Candy Wax Melt 

It's my way of thanking my customers and giving back with a unique, limited-edition fragrance product. The scent of a fir balsam holiday tree is so beautiful! I miss the scent in my home because I have cats and well, you know what a cat-astrophe that can be with a tree in the house.

As I blended and hand-poured the Room Candy limited edition Fir Tree wax melts I was happy with the thought that these would be my giveaway to 25 lucky customers. Leave a note with any order that you would like a Room Candy Fir Tree wax melt and it will be included in your order, for free! (a $12 value)

Each melt can be relit again and again and will provide many hours of holiday delight. You must have a tea-light burner for these, and observe typical precautions with any flame product. A safe holiday is a happy holiday! (So is a fir balsam-scented holiday!)

25% Holiday Discount

Cheers! is the greeting of the holidays, and it's also the discount code for 25% off Anya's Perfumes and Food & Drink Oils.Click here to begin shopping.

There is a 10% discount on stocking stuffers like Room Candy Wax Melts and Silk soaps using the code holiday. No other discounts apply.

Discounts good through Dec. 2nd. 

Natural Perfumers Guild - Autumn membership special

Repost from last newsletter - Now through Dec. 1st, Guild memberships fees are reduced by 10%. Copy the code 9FBC3 when joining the Guild here to obtain the discount. The Guild has a special lot of prizes that will be given away in December, and these prizes, which range from a $500 Steffen Arctander CD, to Anya's textbook, kits of rare and beautiful essences and more are treasures!
Plus, the Guild is reviving the Apprentice program in early 2013. This is the chance for a novice or beginner perfumer to be matched with a professional perfumer for a year of mentoring. Don't miss out on this incredible opportunity, join the Guild now and be part of the Apprentice program. Elise Pearlstine, PhD., of Bellyflowers Perfumes will administer the program.

Perfumers Relief Aid - Hurricane Sandy

I live in Miami, and followed the path of Hurricane Sandy, as many who live in areas prone to hurricanes do - they're rattled every time a major storm threatens. When I read about a perfumer's studio being destroyed by Sandy, I decided to try to bring a little holiday cheer into the lives of perfumers in NY and NJ who were affected by that storm. If you wish to donate to the Perfumers Relief Aid effort (PRA) you can read more by clicking here.

In the News

Angel St. John writes for Suite 101 and now has her own blog. She's a lover of all natural products, and she finds my perfumes left her 'spellbound'. She now loves natural perfume so much, she considering studying the art!

Facebook and Twitter

I post about perfumery and for eye candy and some fun, you'll find exquisite, touching and humorous photos and images on her Facebook pages on a regular basis. She's also on Twitter, where you can engage with her on all sorts of topics. To join in the enjoyment of her posts, just click on a link to follow me.
anya's garden on facebook anya's garden natural perfumery institute on facebook  anya twitter link

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

From the Past: Anya McCoy in Organic Gardening magazine Feb. 1997

In my first semester in college I wrote a paper on organic gardening.  I was studying horticulture and living in Berkeley, so it was a perfect topic.  At 21, I was managing the apartment complex where I lived (don't ask me how I snagged that job, just a bit assertive with the management, I guess) and wanted to research the basics of organic gardening to supplement what I had practiced since childhood.

Years later, (again assertive!) I wrote to the editors of Organic Gardening magazine asking why they didn't have any Zone 10 (South Florida) seed testers.  Growing herbs, veggies and flowers in this climate was very different from the other zones I had lived and gardened in, inlcuding California, Oregon, Pennsylvania and New York.  Editor Mike McGrath asked me to be the first Zone 10 tester and I was happily overwhelmed with lots of seeds sent every Spring (wrong time of year!) to test.

So, when they interviewed me I was able to explain the switch in seasons we have here so that the general public could be educated about our winter growing season.

I like that they put a bit in there about my perfume line, Anya's Tropical Essences (true perfumes, not essential oils as written) and my silly marketing line 'won't go sour on your skin in the hot Florida sun' - but that was the exact reason I started my perfume line!  Not catchy, but true, lol. The link to the .pdf of the article is on the homepage of Anya's Garden In the photo I seem to be grimacing a bit, and that's because I was being hit in the face intermittently by 50mph winds - yet the curly bangs stayed in place!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ask the Perfumer Sunday Nov. 11, 2012

I'll be here all day, on and off, as it's a great day for planting veggies and flowers according to the moon sign and phase, and a Libra can't help but want to plant under a Libra moon!  The calendulas I planted last week are already up!

Now to the subject of perfumery, which is as close to my heart as gardening, I'm happy to answer your questions up until 10 PM tonight.

Oh, I almost forgot!  Great news - Due to popular demand, the apprenticeship program of the Guild will begin in early 2013. Join the Guild in Nov and enjoy a 10% discount on the membership fee, and be in the random drawing for prizes in December. Use the code 92347 at

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Until Nov. 10th - discount on tuition at the Natural Perfumery Institute

Until Nov. 10th - take 10% off Use coupon code E17502DE9B when enrolling. Anya McCoy's Natural Perfumer Institute students enjoy lifetime enrollment in a student discussion forum, lifetime access to updates to the course, experienced adjunct faculty to assist in answering questions. The course includes a 350-page comprehensive textbook that includes numerous charts, forms, color illustrations, an extensive glossary and links to suppliers of alcohol, supplies and raw materials worldwide.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Perfumers Relief Aid - for those in our community affected by superstorm Sandy

Perfumers Relief Aid - for those in our community affected by Superstorm Sandy:

If you could share this  it would be appreciated.  If you have alternate ideas on how to publicize this effort, I would welcome hearing from you. The information in this email is also at

Hello Everyone in the perfume and aromatherapy community:

Do you know a perfumer who lives in the area devastated by Superstorm Sandy?  If you are in contact with them, let them know about this.  We're collecting their names and addresses to try to bring them some joy in the upcoming holiday season.

I've been suffering from PTSD since Sandy hit the Northeast.  As a repeat hurricane 'victim' living in Miami, I identified and empathized with those whose lives are disrupted by that monster storm.  I felt helpless, other than donating to the Red Cross.  I had a brainstorm this morning after reading a New York perfumers account of her studio being destroyed by the storm.  There is something I can do, and something the perfume and aromatherapy community can do to raise their spirits and help replenish their aromatics.  Even if a perfumer hasn't had their studio flooded or destroyed, they have PTSD, and they need an emotional lift. As President of the Natural Perfumers Guild, I know many of the perfume community members, and they know me, and I can reach out to all perfumers and suppliers to donate.  So, here's what I plan:

1.  Send donations of well-labeled perfume materials, either 100% natural or aromachemicals.  For this project, we're not Republican or Democrat, natural perfumer or one who uses synthetics - we're all part of the perfumer community.  In fact, I have some isolates I can't use because of the Guild vote, and I'll pack them up for perfumers who do use them.  Can only donate samples of raw materials? When I turned 50 and wanted to restart my perfume company, I purchased 50 samples of essential oils and absolutes and they gave me months of joy evaluating them and getting my nose in gear, so even samples (1ml or so) will be welcome.  I'll make sure that all PRA packages are a good mix of samples and bottles of all types of aromatics, from the ordinary (eg. orange) to the sublime (eg. rose, etc.).

2.  Donations can be sent until Dec. 10th.  Guild Manager Elise Pearlstine and I will pack them up as holiday gifts and include a list of donors.  These packages of gift materials are intended to raise the spirits of the perfumers affected by the storm and let them know the rest of the community is thinking of them!  All packaging and shipping costs will be donated by the Guild.

3.  Aromatherapy supplies are also welcome.  If you have an aromatherapy blend or perfume that you created for stress relief, please include that in your donation.  My Temple perfume was created for that purpose, and I'll include some in every gift.  Some perfumers may also need mold and mildew-fighting oils like tea tree, lemon eucalyptus and other such so that they can create sprays for their walls and affected areas.  Please donate those if you have them.  When the perfumers who write to be on the gift list include information that they have a mold or mildew problem, I'll include those products in their shipment.  Small spray bottles will also be appreciated.

4.  Please spread the word about this Perfumers Relief Aid.  So many perfumers work in isolation, investing in their businesses, and sometimes never connecting with others in the art. Sandy could be devastating to them. Let's show the perfumers in the NE that the community cares, and help them by bringing them some fragrant joy during this time of recovery.


Shipments can be made to:

The Natural Perfumers Guild
attn:  Anya McCoy
126 NW 98th St.
Miami Shores, FL.  33150 USA

Any NE perfumers reading this, please send your address information and any other information, such as if you are a 100% natural perfumer, or if you use aromachems or if you have a mold or mildew problem to

Thursday, November 01, 2012

A Natural Perfumers Guild Project - Home for the Holidays Ambient Fragrance - Plus a Giveaway!

Added:  Good luck to everyone in the draw! (See below in the comments section)

Elena of Perfume Shrine blog reviewed my Room Candy, and she is hosting a draw over there - so leave a comment on her blog and you will double your chances of winning!


As the holiday season approaches, and homes and apartments are closed up against the cold weather, thoughts turn to making the indoors fragrant - naturally.  Home for the Holidays is the Natural Perfumers Guild's answer to indoor natural fragrance for this time of year. Call them room fragrance, ambient fragrance, the terms mean one thing - make your place smell nice!

Flora, the Guild muse, is bundled up with boots and a sweater to ward off the chilly weather.  When she goes inside, she can enjoy the Home for the Hoilday scents.
 Ambient fragrances include scented candles, potpourri, incense, room sprays, reed diffusers and in my case, wax melts aka wax tarts.

When the invitation went out to Guild members to join in the project, we found that less than a dozen made ambient fragrances.  We're hoping that this project not only showcases the beauty of the products made by the participants, but will also encourage others to begin making natural alternatives to the sometimes toxic room sprays, plugins and other commercial room fragrances that contain synthetic chemicals.

I decided to experiment making wax melts.  Having heard stories of how difficult it is to make candles with "throw" (diffusion) with natural oils, I thought perhaps removing the flame from direct contact with the oils might solve the problems - and it sure did!  When I sent beta testers sample wax melts in August, many wrote to tell me that the wax melts filled their homes, even large homes, with scent.  Several have high-ceiling homes, and they said the melts were successful.  What a revelation!
Set of Room Candy available in the giveaway

My Room Candy wax melts are 100% organic, from the golden beeswax to the essential oils and absolutes used to fragrance them.  They're hand poured into vintage candy and cookie molds, thus the name Room Candy.  Very attractive!  I couldn't resist making the first one - Outlaw Perfume - in homage to the blockbuster Guild project of 2010 that challenged governmental interference in perfume formulations.  I believe my Outlaw Perfume wax melts are the first-ever chypre-style room fragrance materials, featuring the legendary oakmoss as the key ingredient, topped with citrusy bergamot and lime.

Each melt offers at least six hours of scented natural beauty for your home, and can be creatively reused/recycled!

Lemon Vetiver is just that.  The lemon candy scent comes from lemon myrtle, and the vetiver is the rootsy, woodsy, comfort scent that anchors it.  Bay Rum and Honey is a perfect scent for the holidays, because the eugenol in the bay rum evokes the candies and cookies of the holiday season.

Through Nov. 5th - use the code roomcandy at checkout to receive 10% off your order at

In my next newsletter, I'll announce the availability of my limited edition holiday scent - Christmas Tree, made with yummy fir balsam absolute an other conifers.  They're made in Christmas tree-shaped molds in keeping with the theme.  Make sure you sign up for my newsletter to receive my updates and sales:

If you leave a comment on this blog about Room Candy, you'll be in the random draw to receive a set of Room Candy fragrance of your choice, and included will be a tea light burner.  Drawing open until Nov 4 midnight. 

Tea light burner included in the giveaway.

Please visit the other blogs to read about the variety of naturally-scented products that Guild members offer for room fragrances.

Guild members participating in Home for the Holidays:

Holistic Body Therapy
Anya's Garden Perfumes
Belly Flowers Perfumes
JoAnne Bassett Perfumes
Mermade Magickal Arts
Happy Herbs Soaps

Bloggers participating in Home for the Holidays:

Feminine Things
Wiener Rosengard
Perfume Critic
Dr. Marlen
Perfume Shrine
The Passionate Perfumista

That Smell
Ca Fleure Bon

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ask the Perfumer - Oct. 28, 2012 - cancelled

Ask the Perfumer for today is cancelled on account of gardening :-) There's lots to be done to prepare for the lunar-based planting days ahead. In Miami, our crops grow best between October and April, so I have lots and lots of veggies and pretty flowers to plant.  See you next week!

Google translated this little Norwegian ditty as:  Tink leaves havens and tomatoes cucumbers and salads are solar comrades.  I have an email into a Norwegian friend to get an alternate.  The image is just so cute!  Yes, I do sing a little to my plants.  I have a riff on Figaro that is to the tuberose ;-)

Add caption
A little Anya's Garden Perfumes trivia: when I started Anya's Garden Perfumes in 2006, I originally used seed packets for my samples.  Here is the label I made for the sample/seed packets.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Why does tiger urine smell like basmati rice? Why does the drydown of ground coriander seed smell like bergamot?

Someone asked me a question on one of my Facebook page, and since I often get asked similar questions, I thought I'd post my answer here and refer folks back to this blog post in the future.

Hey you're probably the right person to ask! I ground some coriander by hand last night for a recipe. it went through several scenty stages, beginning with an almost minty/herbal scent and ending up smelling very much like bergamot. Are the two related?


Coriander is in the Umbelliferae family, and bergamot (mint) is in the Labiatae. Unless you mean bergamot citrus, which smells like the bergamot mint - confused? I'm going to make you a little more confused, but I bet you learn something that'll stick with you, even though it doesn't answer your question directly:

1. All aromatics are made up of levels of scents, much like the top/middle/base notes we're familiar with with perfumes.

2. I'll admit I don't know the name of the particular aromachemical that those two have in common, 'cause my brain can only fit so much in, and I'm too lazy to go look it up.

3. Here's the kicker: things don't have to be related to have a similar scent. What's the link between the smell of tiger urine and cooked basmati rice?

Mama, smells like the villagers are cooking basmati rice, or, did Papa 'go' near here recently?
 White Copal or Fried Flounder filet?

I was recently gifted with some fresh, beautiful white copal resin.  Cupped in my hands, I inhaled deeply of the beautiful chunk.  Ah, I got the lemony peppery scent of elemi, and then.......a scent memory from my childhood.  Every Friday my Catholic neighborhood was filled with the scent of fresh filets of flounder, lightly breaded and deep fried.  Ok, I thought, this is one of those tiger urine/basmati connections.  A perfumer came to visit me a week or so later, and I offered her the chunk, asking what her scent impressions were.  She got the lemony and peppery, and then I said the fried flounder was obvious to me.  Her eyes widened, and she say yes, I wouldn't have noticed it until you said that.  She grew up in the midwest, and perhaps wasn't formed by the cultural forces I was, in a Eastern coastal city full of Catholics (at least my neighborhood.)  It's a very clean, fresh fish scent, and the fried breadcrumbs are there too.  Strange but true.

There are many, many aromatics that have singular components within their complex chemistry that can smell identical to a fragrance of something different, even if it makes the jump from animal to vegetable world - and for some the smell of blood smells like iron, or metallic. It could be a life's work just to compare all of them, me, I'm just a perfumer who makes accords and mods ;-)

And yes, perfumes are mentioned in the article, which is fascinating, and should be read by all perfumers.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ask the Perfumer Sunday Oct 21, 2012

Ask the Perfumer - and an Ambergris hypothesis

Guild member Lisa Coburn posted a link on Facebook that took me to a video on how cephalopods--squid, cuttlefish and octopus, are masters of disguise.  As I watched it, I made a perfume connection, straight to the elusive, mysterious, rare and valued ambergris, a gorgeous material used in perfumery.

Photo of the famed 'Yeti' chunk of ambergris.

Ambergris is produced by the stomach/intestinal secretions of the sperm whale to protect its insides from the sharp beaks of the squid and cuttlefish, two main items in its diet.  The whale evacuates the chunk of ambergris when it becomes large enough to be an irritant on its own, albeit a softer, rounder irritant compared to the beak and cartilage of the squid or cuttlefish.  As a perfumer, I often have to gently remind excitable newbies ;-)  that the scent of the ambergris is secondary to its major contribution to a perfume, which is its ability to 'marry' and allow the other aromatics in the perfume to coalesce into a beautiful 'one'.  Well, 'one' isn't a common term used, unless you're thinking of a seamless perfume, one with no 'stepped' drydown.

After viewing the video, linked below, try to follow my line of thinking.  Just an hypothesis, and one that makes sense on an intuitive level.  The same 'blending in', 'camoflague', or 'marrying with the surroundings' attributes that we give to ambergris is already obvious when the squid or cuttlefish is alive.  Perhaps there is something inherent in the DNA of these creatures that gets transferred to the ambergris, sharing the same properties? 

Just a thought.

Any questions about ambergris?  Do you think I may have hit on something?  Oh, last week's winner of the eight-year-old ambergris tincture was Leann of Trinidad, Colorado, and it's on its way to her.  I suppose I'll have to have another ambergris giveaway today, given the theme of the blog.  Leave a question or comment and you'll be in the drawing for this mysterious, gorgeous substance!

 Here's the video - be prepared to be astonished

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Do you want to be a professional perfumer? Study with world renowned perfumer Anya McCoy at the Natural Perfumery Institute

The Natural Perfumery Institute logo - click to visit the website

Do you want to be a perfumer?  Do you want to be a perfumer who takes a basic course that covers dozens of topics in professional perfumery, in addition to learning professional techniques as taught by the French schools?  We all know the French schools are impossible to get in, because they only accept a few dozen students a year, plus they teach about artificial/synthetic perfume materials. The classic techniques of those schools are brought into the light by my course, except I teach only natural materials. The course launched in 2007, and is imitated, but never duplicated ;-)

The Natural Perfumery Institute's course was the first natural perfumery course to offer:

- Instructions on how to properly dilute materials for evaluation and making accords.  This method save money and allows the student to smell the aromatic "opened up". If you're blending with undiluted materials - stop! You're wasting money and time.

- The NPI was the first to offer online student discussion forums.  My students are able to network with each other, interact with the faculty, ask questions and receive updates from the NPI when they are issued.  You'll never feel isolated with my course, you're part of the NPI student body and you're always connected.

-  The textbook for the NPI course is professionally edited by a technical editor who is also a natural perfumer.  No other course offers this level of expertise.  We have many students enrolled who do not have English as their first language, and they find the textbook clear and precise.  Other workbooks and manuals don't have the dozens of educational topics covered in the 350-page color-illustrated NPI textbook.

-  I upgraded the functionality of record-keeping forms by creating some in Excel.xls format, making them easily searchable and able to hold an infinite amount of data.

-  All of the faculty members are professional perfumers.

-  The NPI is the only teaching facility that offers two options:  Home-Based textbook-only for $500, and Online-Interactive, with access to the teaching website with recorded lectures, videos, bonus modules and access to me whenever necessary to answer questions for $2600.  Home-based students may upgrade to Online-Interactive at any time.

Please visit the website and write me with any questions you may have.  I am very proud that I can share my decades of perfumery studies and business experience (I had the first natural perfume line in the USA, started in 1991) with you and help you on the path to becoming a natural perfumer.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ask the Perfumer Sunday Oct 14, 2012

Tincture a perfume material that's a purèe?!  Yes, that's the advice I saw someone give on Facebook.  Dear Readers, there are lots of people on the Internet putting themselves forth as an expert, and they're making it up as they go.  I teach my students, and I've been sharing with the general public for years, the proper way to make tinctures.  No, I won't advise you to tincture applesauce to get an apple-scented alcohol ;-)

I'll be here until 10 PM ET today to answer all your perfumery questions, as I have been for several years.  This is a purèe-free zone. snark off/

An "artsy" photo I made of a deerstongue tincture I made in 2005, with the window screen forming the pattern in the background.  Isn't that color beautiful?  Deerstongue is a vanilla/coumarinic-scented herb and I love it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

From The Vintage Vault: Dragonfly and botanicals in pewter enwrap crystal perfume bottle

I purchased this bottle from England.  The quality of the crystal is impeccable, and the pewter is fancifully beautiful, with dragonfly and botanical figures.  I believe the bottle would hold two ounces (60mls) of perfume.

The bottle is clear crystal, but my camera's lighting makes it look grey here.

Anyone have an idea how old it is?

I admit I'm embarrassed but at the moment, I can't remember the industry term for a bottle such as this, purchased to be filled with perfume, unlike a perfume you purchase from me or a perfume house that of which is a commercial bottle.

Here's a nice reference to differenty types of bottles.  I'll take some time and try to refresh my memory.  Can anyone assist with the name of this type of bottle?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Problem Solved! An Easy, Effective Room Fragrance Product for Natural Perfumers

Do you make candles with essential oils and absolutes?  Do you wish they had more 'throw'?  (For those who don't know the term 'throw' - it's the amount of distance the candle scent is detected after the wick is lit.)

This blog is a bit about me and what I believe is a great discovery in room fragrance products made by natural perfumers - but it's really more about You. And how to make a wonderful, highly-scented room fragrance product that may delegate your scented candles to a secondary place in your product line.

I'll bet your #1 complaint is that there is little 'throw'.  I've heard this lament for decades, since the first aromatherapy candles appeared on the market.  Most aromatherapists instead turn to aromatherapy 'oil burners' to scent a room. My problem with using them is that despite how much water your put in the reservoir to 'float' the oils, they tended to scorch the oils if you didn't watch them carefully.  This happened many times.  I confess I did scorch one tiny, tiny wax melt, the sample size, but that's because I was testing it in a new burner where the tea candle was too close to the reservoir.  Other than that, the regular size wax melts perform beautifully.  Electric oil warmers don't work well with beeswax, they don't get hot enough, so the tea candle warmer is the way to go.

Aromatherapy oil burner - essential oils and water are placed in the glass dish and the tea candle below warms them, making the room fragrant.  This type of burner is also used for wax melts.

A piece of Lemon Vetiver Room Candy beeswax melt from Anya's Garden
I launched my line of room fragrance products, Room Candy, in July. What are they?  They're easy-to-make room fragrance wax "melts" aka "tarts" that I formed into decorative shapes by pouring the wax and fragrant essential oil mix into vintage candy and cookie molds. Very simple, very fragrant!

These are not just another pretty product, they are actually revolutionary in the world of natural perfumery.  Why?  Every natural perfumer I know has struggled with making naturally-scented candles.  The demand for scented candles is great, but the results of the fragrance "throw" using only natural aromatics are dismal.   Your customers will still want candles - there is something about the ambiance of candles that is so beautiful.  However, in the long run, they will turn to your wax melts with the simple tea light candle to provide continual, strong fragrance for their homes and offices.

The packaging I chose for Room Candy - seven pieces, equal to a 3oz candle by weight.  However, the scent dispersion and multiple uses of each piece greatly outperform a candle.

By sharing the details on wax melts, I want to make the transition to, or the addition of, this product easy for those who have already sunk lots of money and time into developing natural candle lines.  For those who have not contemplated making candles, but like the idea of making room fragrances, this blog is also for you.

I use organic beeswax pellets, not soy wax.  I shy away from soy wax because I have not been convinced there is any real non-GMO soy wax.  98% of the soybeans grown in the USA are GMO products, and I won't use them.  Soy wax is softer than beeswax, and will melt in an electric oil burner, but for beeswax melts, I recommend a tea candle burner

Starting out, I used the recommended one ounce of essential oil per pound of beeswax, which is the norm for candles.  It's too much for wax melts.  Wax melts are so efficient at dispersing scent, aka, they have great 'throw', that the melts were too strong!  I sent about thirty wax melts out to beta testers, and got responses that convinced me that one melt could scent several rooms, even those with high ceilings.  Several testers reported that they blew out the tea candle after 20 minutes or so, the scent was so strong.

Candle makers - have you ever had that feedback?  I don't think so.

I hand pour the melted beeswax and essential oil blend into vintage candy and cookie molds, but simple little muffin trays would do well.  You'll get a simple disc wax melt using muffin trays, and I'd recommend making them less than 1/2".

Another benefit of wax melts that you don't get with candles?  If the customer wishes, they can remove the 'spent' wax melt and put it in a pouch or cloth and use it as a drawer or closet sachet, since they always retain some scent.  The ultimate in recycling! Oh, and some use them to polish wood furniture, since beeswax has been used for that purpose for centuries.  Quite a nice multiple-use product, and it's bound to appeal to your customers.

Oil/wax burner that is probably the easiest to remove the spent melt from.

I've found that removing the spent melt from the burner can vary in difficulty.  If you have a highly-polished, shallow surface, like the white burner shown below, it's relatively easy.  After the wax has cooled (after multiple uses, since they're so longlived!), place the burner in the freezer for 20 minutes or so, and then take it out, and gently push the tip of a paring knife or other sharp object against one edge, and it should pop right out.

With the "curly" burner shown above, the deep well may pose a bit of a problem.  Try the freezer and 'pop' method, and if that doesn't work, light the tea candle briefly, until you see the bottom of the melt liquify, and slide it out.

That's it.  I hope to encourage natural perfumers to take up this wonderful way to expand your product line and bring the beautiful natural aromatics to your customers.  It's always nice to wean people away from synthetic scents, and with the market for plug-ins, synthetic melts and other consumer products, it's nice to offer a natural alternative to your customers.  Especially one that works!

I'd love to hear feedback from candle makers.  Are you going to try to make wax melts?  Do you feel they'd enhance your product line?

Customers - are you intrigued and enticed by having a truly room-filling easy-to-use room fragrance product from a natural perfumer?

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Delicious Living Magazine quotes Anya McCoy on Natural vs. Synthetic Fragrance Definitions

Are synthetic fragrances harmful? 

    October 2012

 Sep. 28, 2012 Jessica Rubino | Delicious Living

Are synthetic fragrances bad for my health? What's the difference between a natural and synthetic fragrance? How do I know if a fragrance is truly natural? Your top questions answered, plus shopping tips. 

When made from plant-based ingredients such as herbs, flowers, spices, and essential oils, fragrances don’t just make you smell good—they can make you feel good, too. Unfortunately, most conventional sweet- smelling ingredients today are synthetic.

After the invention of synthetic fragrances in the 1800s, perfumers quickly replaced natural, plant-based ingredients with artificial ones. Now, fragrances can contain any number of 3,100 natural or synthetic ingredients, many of which are derived from petrochemicals. “Synthetics are less expensive to manufacture, and a lot of people are just used to that kind of fragrance,” says Anya McCoy, head of the Natural Perfumers Guild, an international trade organization. “They don’t know what real essential oils smell like.”

The fragrance industry’s most concerning synthetics include diethyl phthalate, galaxolide, limonene, and linalool, says Paul Pestano, a research analyst at the Environmental Working Group (EWG). You’ll also find these ingredients in other beauty products.

The problem with fragrances

Fragrances are among the top five known allergens in North America and Europe. More than 100 fragrance ingredients can cause itchy, scaly, painful skin, and potentially worsen asthma, and synthetics aren’t the only ingredients known to trigger allergic reactions. Even high concentrations of certain natural ingredients including tea tree, lavender, and citrus peel oils may cause such symptoms, another reason the EWG recommends looking for products listing all fragrance components.

Plus, 1 in 50 people suffers immune system damage from synthetic fragrance, reports the EU’s Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-food Products. And the high volume of phthalates—industrial chemicals used to make synthetic musks and linked to endocrine system damage—may damage ecosystems, according to Greenpeace research. Phthalates also may make their way back into food and water sources.

The rise of nontoxic scents

Thanks to greater awareness about the potential risks of synthetic ingredients, perfumers are finding success with natural formulations. Essential oils, often used in natural fragrances, have a range of mind-body benefits, from energizing to calming. But in the absence of labeling requirements, companies still struggle to define “natural.”

“A lot of people call themselves natural perfumers but they use a little bit of synthetics,” says McCoy. That’s why the Natural Perfumers Guild helps hundreds of perfumers formulate and clearly label products. Other companies opt for the NPA Natural seal or organic certifications from USDA or NSF.

The beauty of natural perfumes

When you buy natural fragrances—or beauty products containing them—you also support farmers and harvesters of plant-based ingredients. As demand for natural fragrances increases, U.S. farmers are increasingly planting raw materials traditionally grown only overseas. Some perfumers, including McCoy, even bring all production in-house to capture fragrances’ true essences. “Natural perfumes have a richness and beauty to them that is quite different from synthetic perfumes. I believe that they tie us subconsciously to our ancestral past.”

4 tips for buying natural fragrances

1. When possible, choose products that list all constituent fragrance ingredients. 
2. If a company doesn’t reveal every ingredient, look for wording that indicates a product is free from sulfates, phthalates, parabens, petrochemicals, propylene glycol, and “synthetic” or “artificial” fragrance.
3. USDA Organic, NSF/ANSI 305 “contains organic,” and NPA Natural certifications prohibit synthetic scents. 
4. Choose brands that are members of the Natural Perfumers Guild. Find a complete list at

Readers of this blog:  what is your opinion on this subject?