Perfumery Research and Eden Botanicals Haul


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!

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Please leave me comments if anything strikes your fancy or if you have any helpful suggestions. Remember, I'm no expert and am just sharing my truth. Hopefully you will find something useful to take with you!

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