Today I have for you a haul from Eden Botanicals! If you've been toying with the idea of exploring essential oils for aromatherapy/skin care/perfume/whatevs, this is an awesome time to do so as Eden is offering free shipping in the continental U.S. until Sept. 23rd, no order minimum! I am already plotting another order. Er, and by that I mean I've already placed one.

I have recently read Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume and Fragrant: the Secret Life of Scent, both by artisan perfumer Mandy Aftel, and I've been trying the collect the ingredients needed to create the perfume formulas provided in both books. I figured it's good to experiment with my own ideas, but truth be told, I have no idea if what I've made so far is any "good." Nothing has been scrubber-caliber awful, but stripped of all branding, aesthetic design, and creative copy, I'm left simply to trusting my rather amateur nose, and it has me feeling a little uncertain. So I figured I need to start simple, and that testing some compositions that a professional has created and formulated would be a worthy endeavor for learning how the materials work together.

 I really enjoyed both books, but be aware neither is a very technical "how-to" book, they are both rather poetic, with emotive language that focuses on the transformative and magical qualities of scent throughout history, with some formulas inspired by certain materials, and only small sections with clear cut guidelines/ charts/ lists, etc. Especially in the first book, there is a minimum amount of info on safety concerns and also highlights materials from questionable origins, i.e., mysore sandalwood, civet,  etc. that are worth some further research. Just keep in mind that her first book was published in 2001, and things have changed a lot since then. 

What I like about the books is that the formulas look like real perfumes, not one of those generic "100 recipes for Aromatherapy" type books that seem to re-hash the same tired recipes, using super basic essential oils in typical energy/sleep/romance type compositions. I like that Mandy uses more interesting materials that I am used to seeing in my favorite indie perfumes: fir absolute, neroli, blood orange, vetiver, tobacco absolute, jasmine sambac- conveniently, all items you can get from Eden (I'll be getting to that shortly!) So, despite their limitations, they are the best, most refreshing and inspiring artisan perfumery books I've seen around.

Another limitation to their scope, however, is that Ms. Aftel's stance and POV is pretty anti-synthetic, which is totally fine, I appreciate her devotion to natural materials. However, I do want to explore aroma chemicals too, so I can understand what they can and can't do, the way in which they are building blocks composing impressions of complex natural aromas. Finding info on their usage (and especially sample formulas) has been a little trickier-but one blog I like is Her Two Scents,  which goes into detail profiling various materials. I have checked out THIS perfume recipe site, which is a really awkward website to navigate, but if you can ignore the terrible layout, there are some legitimately interesting formulas available presented in a way I haven't seen anywhere else.

I also have an interlibrary loan request pending for Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin, by Steffen Arctander, which is a hefty 700 page tome cataloging pretty much every natural perfume ingredient imaginable. It's available to view online HERE but I really want to look through the physical book. It looks like a really useful resource.

For my quickly expanding collection, I'm working on a spreadsheet for my materials to help me keep straight any limitations on maximum usage (especially with the aromachems), solubility, other compatible notes, etc. This should help me see at a glance possible combinations for scents and any issues that may arise with blending them. Once I get it the way I want it I'll share it with you!

Alrighty, now moving on to my Eden haul:

One of the best things about Eden is that you can choose a free sample for every twenty dollars you spend- I got two with this order!

Fir, Balsam Absolute-( Abies balsamea ) 10% in FCO: Don't be fooled by the 10% dilution-this stuff is intense! It is sweet and balsamic, with hints of rich strawberry jam, which sounds strange but it's so lovely! When you see Fir absolute described as "jammy"- that description is spot on! It's deep and calming, like standing in the middle of a cool, shadowy forest. It could go in a Christmasy direction but it doesn't have to. The possibilities are endless. I sort of wish I'd bought the undiluted version so I could use it in alcohol based perfumes, but ease of use and my budget hindered me. Still, I am so excited to use it.

Lavender Maillette-(Lavandula angustifolia):This lavender is smooth, sweet, herbal, slightly grassy/woodsy. There is no sharp medicinal smell here-it's warm and gentle, the quintessential essential oil for relaxation. 

Lime, Expressed (Citrus aurantifolia): This is utterly delicious! It makes me think of cherry limeaid slushies (minus the cherry, of course) during a hot summer day- invigorating and refreshing. It is only a little tart, not sour or bitter. Mostly sweet, zesty, fresh. Not cleaning product-like at all. I seriously want to drink this. I feel like this will work as such an interesting top note- will I use it to brighten a woodsy, incensey blend, or cool off something more warm and tropical? Decisions!

Peppermint Essential Oil, USA (Mentha piperita): As a baker, I've used peppermint extract once or twice. This stuff blows extract out of the water! It is mint to the absolute max, minus the alcohol bite of extract. But strangely, as intense as it is, it is surprisingly smooth, warm, and mellow. It's VERY potent, but not as sharp as I expected. I made a batch of chocolate mint ice cream last week, and instead of using mint leaves, I used literally *5* drops of this potion in the whole quart of ice cream-and that was enough to imbue the ice cream with a clean, fresh mint flavor. In scent, I anticipate a little going a very long way, so use this sparingly.

Rose Absolute, Morocco, 10% in FCO (Rosa damascena): I am amazed by these dilutions! Again, no watered down rose here, this is lush, fresh-picked, sweet rose-not heavy or powdery. Just a tiny hint of spiciness. 

Frankincense, Somalia ( Boswellia carterii): This makes me think of church! Rich, balsamic, resinous scent with a slight camphorous bite to it on cold sniff. There is a hint of pepper and citrus too. Meditative, reflective, a link to the past.

Patchouli, Light, (Pogostemon cablin): I'm not a HUGE fan of patchouli, especially when it is at the forefront of a scent rather than weaved into the background. But I figured I should have a sample on hand just in case. For a "light" version, this still packs a punch! It is bracing, slightly medicinal but also sweet and earthy, vaguely smokey?  This is a clear oil and while I don't have the "dark" aged version, I suspect this one would be the fresher, sharper, cleaner of the two. Still, dilute, dilute, dilute!

Osmanthus Absolute (Osmanthus fragrans): This is another scent I've seen listed in blends before, but never smelled on its own or gravitated to because supposedly it smelled a lot like peaches (which I have a tenuous relationship with). But for my free sample, I thought it would be worth a try. Glad I did! This is one of Eden's tiny samples-six precious drops of really expensive materials so the average consumer can try them. And luckily these six thick, syrupy drops will go a long way, as I think I can dilute this heavily and still make an impact on a blend. This is an intense floral, with a cooked peach or apricot nuance, something rich, heady, almost leathery. Reviewers on Eden's site say they smell tea as well, and I can appreciate that too. It is gorgeous as is, and I can't wait to dilute it so it can really shine.

I am on vacation this week, first days off since April when my dad had a stroke (which don't really count, obviously), and it's more of a staycation so I've been able to work on my spreadsheet and things I don't normally have time for. It's been good so far!

Today I'm going to do a quick and dirty round-up of indie scents that I reach for time and again during the summer. Some are old favorites I've loved for years, others are new that I'm just now falling in love with. Here we go!

Coquina (Solstice Scents): Sandalwood, Orange Blossom, Clementine EO, Beach sand, Plumeria Absolute, Coconut, Ginger EO, and a Splash of Seaspray.

Warm, tropical coconut with a hefty dose of fresh orange blossom anchored with a woodsy drydown. Pretty much one of my all time favorite summery, beachy scents. Vacation in a bottle.

White Feather (Solstice Scents): Estate Vanilla, Jasmine Absolute, Gardenia Enfleurage, Saffron Co2, Sandalwood, Spices, Amber, Oud, Patchouli, Ylang Ylang

 I have a mini spray of this that I bought last summer- I don't think I could ever spring for a full size bottle but I will most likely repurchase a mini. This is such a gorgeous scent, and a miraculous one at that-it's a jasmine heavy scent that I actually love. It's a little indolic upon first spraying it, but it settles quickly into a stunning white floral with creamy, spicy-sweet and incense notes. I wore it several times this week to work-one of the perks of a new, huge building is that I don't feel as self conscious trying my more intense scents-and I got compliments on it every day!

Tenebrous Mist (Solstice Scents): Musk, White Amber, Sea Spray, Sandalwood, Bay Rum, Tea, Smoke

 A badass ocean scent-this one is salty, musky, sweet, woodsy-complex and darker than your typical aquatic.

Moon Dog (Haus of Gloi):   Solar storms erupt: cracked coconut, dry sandalwood essense, heated with nutmeg and clove

For those looking for a non-sweet coconut: this is dry and tinged with spiciness. It has a tenacious warmth to it.

Beguiled (Haus of Gloi):Lemon cake made with the tang of fresh buttermilk and raspberry coulis-an otherwise innocent cake corrupted by cardamom and deceptive pink peppercorns

THE lemon cake scent. It's sweet lemon cake, a hint of jamminess. Utterly addictive. Ya'll know I made a real Beguiled Cake several years ago. It's yummy.

Neroli XXIII (Alkemia): neroli (orange blossom), wild bergamot, mandarin, french lavender, lemon myrtle, rosemary, petitgrain, marigold, Sambac jasmine, parchment paper, amber santal, angelica root, palmarosa, tonka, and rosewood.

This is one of Alkemia's really magical scents that smells super expensive and fancy- lots of orange blossom with a little clean soapiness- this makes me think of swimming all day at the pool as a child, then taking a warm shower in the locker room with whatever soap and shampoo my mom brought, and how I always felt a million times cleaner and fresher than on an average day. Raising the ordinary to extraordinary.

 Sun Dried Laundry in Summer Rain (Alkemia):Stonewashed linen and clean, sun-dried cotton billowing gently on an old fashioned clothesline spattered by the first gently ozonic drops of a summer rain

 Fresh laundry smell, but better. Hints of rain-soaked stone, and an almost airy fruitiness. Soft, inobtrusive, good work or hot weather scent.

Desiderata (Alkemia):The exquisitely simple beauty of an evening stroll on a warm June evening. Fresh honeysuckle blooming under a rising full moon, ivy vines, dew dampened grass, riverbed clay, old barnwood, and earthy vetivert root. 

 Warm july evenings, catching fireflies in the backyard. Watching the sunset. Green earthiness, heady honeysuckle- just gorgeous.

County Fair (Alkemia):The nostalgic scent of an old-fashioned American carnival midway - pink cotton candy, hot kettle corn, freshly fried dough, candied apples, and saltwater taffy.

 It's not summer without a trip to the carnival- this is popcorn and sugary dough, festive and warm. A good choice for "pink sugar" type scent lovers, but looking for something deeper and more complex.

Mishigami (Darling Clandestine): Inspired by that greatest of lakes, Lake Michigan, my very favorite lake in the world, and all its moods and shores. Much more than an "aquatic" fragrance, this has indescribable, sandy depth

One of my favorite aquatics- somehow it actually IS more of a fresh lake than a salty ocean. How does it do that? And it really does have a slightly gritty sandiness to it as well.

Cloudswing (Darling Clandestine):A tumble in the hay! Lemongrass and vanilla and resiny wood and marigolds and new-mown clover and sun. A summer favorite---especially since the lemongrass gives it the added bonus of discouraging mosquitos.

I don't normally like lemongrass- it either reminds me of savory Thai food or cleaning products, but this is a creamy, earthy, sunny-sweet lemongrass. It is a decidedly happy scent-makes me think of long summer days playing on my cousin's farm, hiding in the hayloft, then wandering the fields, searching for adventure.

Athena (Sugar and Spite): Dark vanilla, patchouli, pepper, ivy, sea spray

Another favorite aquatic, this is a darkly sweet seaspray scent with a base of patchouli, but it doesn't smell like patch really, it's not super obvious and not at all heavy. I get compliments on this every time I wear it, it just grabs people's attention. The vanilla/aquatic combo is unusual and should defiinitely happen more often.

New Radio (Sixteen92): Vanilla milkshake accord, maraschino cherry, pink lemonade, grass clippings, waffle cone
This has a festive carnival feel to it, and smells more like an orange creamsicle to me than cherries, which is fine with me. I layer it with Haus of Gloi's Satyr (dark vanilla and orange) and they really smell quite complementary. A generally fun summer scent.

Tahitian Monoi Cake (Cocoa Pink):Vanilla cake batter injected with candied citrus, moist white cake smothered in whipped buttercream icing touched with nuances of Polynesian Monoi oil.

This is a weird one- a flower should not smell so edible! This is creamy, waxy gardenia and rich, dense yellow cake. Strange but so, so delicious.

Surf (Arcana):Orange blossoms with beach coconut, skin musk, and warm sand.

If you like orange blossom, you kind of have to try this one. It has a similar vibe to SS's Coquina, but this is a little cooler and fresher, not as deep or heady. It's a fresh-from-the-ocean tropical scent. Adore it.

Halo (Deconstructing Eden):Moonlight, sea water, lilacs, wisteria, honeysuckle and moonflower

If this scent had a color, it would be a cool lavender- a relaxing scent that makes me think of twilight on a boat, falling asleep to the bobbing of waves. Gentle white flowers and watery notes- pretty, and it smells expensive, to boot!

I'm sure I've missed some but if you're on the prowl for some awesome indie scents for warm weather, these will be a good place to start!

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