Aroma Chemical Study Vol.1

So this is a new thing I’m going to be doing, I’m sorry if it bores some, but I’ve been doing a little bit of study into aroma-chemicals and natural ingredients recently. I’m going to start with my Aroma Chemical studies, and do a little bit of Naturals study in between.

The reason for this is to expand my knowledge – have a record for my thoughts, and also to briefly educate (in the most basic sense of the word) some readers who also aren’t too familiar with these synthetics. I rarely mention chemicals in reviews, but every now and again it’s hard not to. So here I will very gradually explain my personal viewpoint on different chemicals, which can be extremely fascinating experiences in themselves.

I’m going to start with some of the most basic and commonly used of the bunch, and will then explore some of my favourite, complicated, almost avant-garde chemicals that I’ve become slightly fascinated by.

So, here goes the first post :)

I’m starting with one that everyonneeee should have heard of by now: Iso E Super


I was hoping to link some visual images to each of these, but with Iso E Super, it’s a hard one. The scent of it conjures up so many thoughts, that I couldn’t cram in enough mini-images without this page being a complete mess. To be honest, I’m trusting Google that this is the correct structure of Iso E Super – if it’s not then I apologise for my terrible start to this!

Anyway. Iso E Super is instantly recognizable if you’ve smelt Molecule 01 by Escentric Molecules – a fragrance which uses this chemical, and this chemical only – to create a minimal yet effective (for some) fragrance. If you’ve smelt Encre Noir by Lalique, or even Terre D’Hermes, then you should recognize this scent.

Iso E Super is described as many as: smooth, woody, velvety. It is basically used as a harmonizer, which smoothes out other notes and basically rounds off any jagged edges. It is considered universally liked with its smooth, slightly woodsy odour.

Me? I don’t like Iso E Super. It smells very sweaty to me, and not in a nice raunchy cumin way, or a dirty musky way. Instead it almost reminds me of really cheap cologne – it is like the stain of cologne days old on dirty skin. But it isn’t as full and pungent as it sounds, it is subtle and at times it becomes completely un-detectable, before it shows up again, and disappears again…

Yes it is smooth, woody, a little bit green and earthy even, but it has this aftershave/shaving foam cleanliness to it which I really don’t find appealing. It is unusual, somehow attractive to the nose, but mediocre on its own. I’m sure it does work wonders in some compositions in moderation, but providing the bulk of a modern fragrance – the novelty is soon to wear off and the scent remains a dull, flat empty space of unattractive velvet-wood.

Calone is a recognizable aquatic chemical that I’m sure is used in many many designer (and some niche) fragrances – specifically aquatics of course.

It has the instantly recognizable odor of watermelon – a pale translucent scent of watery fruit, with a slightly green sweetness to it. A saltiness becomes recognizable a couple of minutes later on paper, and whilst it smells juicy – it also smells completely inedible.

I’m pretty sure this is used greatly in Humiecki & Graef’s Skarb, providing that almost surreal aquatic landscape atop the base notes, and also in my recently reviewed S-ex by S-Perfume. It’s use in S-ex is pretty ingenious, pairing it with a completely contrasting animalic leather and plastic accord and took Calone completely out of it’s usually territory. If only more houses would find creative uses for these aroma-chemicals – even the most dull could be used in great ways.

So yes, watermelon, slightly salty – green, fresh, juicy. But with a bizarre density to it that makes it smell like water, whilst not being particularly thin in weight.
I’m not a huge fan, but it is an unusual chemical on its own.

Linalool can be read on most labels that contain something possessing a scent, namely cleaning products?
It is probably the most commonly used aroma chemical.

Linalool is basically a citrus chemical blast. It is instantly reminiscent of bleaches, kitchen cleaners – just strong, unpleasant, industrial citrus.

It does however have this slight creaminess to it that provides a slight bit of smoothness. It is an almost neutral harmonizer that blends notes together with ease, providing some anchorage for light citrus notes at the same time.

On its own, Linalool is unpleasant, and it’s surprising it is so commonly used, but these chemicals on their own are normally used in great dilution. Linalool however can be used up to 12% of an entire composition, which is quite a scary thought if this is really this case in some designer releases for example.

It is surprising what surrounding notes can do to an aroma chemical with an already potent scent, but the thing is, a lot of these provide more of a “feel” than impart a recognizable scent. Many people can’t detect Iso E Super for example – it has more of a “feel” which is why people describe it as velvety, than an actual smell. It provides a texture to a fragrance, which is what a lot of these chemicals do. Sometimes it seems these can be used to cheat, other times enchance.

Having been exploring natural perfumes recently (Aftelier), it does reinforce the great beauty of naturals, but I do believe chemicals of course have their place as some of my favourites wouldn’t be favourites without them. I hope this post hasn’t been too boring, and it’ll be a little more exciting when the more interesting chemical concoctions come along – they are like mini niche scents in themselves!

Until next time :)…

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2 thoughts on “Aroma Chemical Study Vol.1

  1. Really interesting – aroma chemicals that are unsavory on their own can be often be cooked up in a melange to produce something extremely appealing. I think linalool is on the label of almost every scented product I’ve seen.

    Been exploring natural perfumery lately too. Aftelier creations are so beautiful, there’s gotta be others interesting things in that realm, right? She might just be really special though, haven’t found many other natural perfumes that really wows yet. Did find some things (Impromptu,To Bee) from Roxana Illuminated that had a very similar incense-y dry down to Aftelier’s Shiso, though instead of green green shiso I smelled ginger lily in To Bee.

    • That’s how it goes even with cooking though I guess :)
      There must be, I just haven’t found anything yet that has matched up to them. I guess it’s all down to the actual perfumer though as well and their choice of materials and pairings – Mandy Aftel’s work just clicks with me completely. I’m glad you feel the same :D
      That’s interesting – I didn’t think there could be anything out there like Shiso! Haha, that thing is a beassstttt!
      Sounds like you have a greater knowledge of a lot of this stuff than I do :P I can’t wait to hear your more in depth thoughts on the rest of the Aftelier line.

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