Category Archives: Educational

Aroma Chemical Study Vol.2

Ok so here is my second input into the Aroma Chemical Study. For those who didn’t see the first post – this isn’t something to take too seriously. My knowledge is extremely limited on this subject but it is a beginner’s input into the descriptive words that can be placed with some of the most common aroma chemicals, and their possible uses.

A little bit of education is all :) I hope it helps at least one person out there…

Geraniol starts extremely subtle with a smell almost similar to sushi – ever so slightly salty, aquatic, maybe even a little bitter. But it is extremely light, almost ozonic and not repulsive – more underwhelming.

It’s green, leafy and gradually increases in strength on paper over time. A green rose note blossoms out and yet again, smells slightly ethereal and ozonic – almost as though you are smelling the dew drops on a green rose rather than the rose itself. The green note is geranium, and has the same feel as the way it smells of rose – transparent.

I noticed this chemical in great volume in The Different Company’s Osmanthus – it practically is Geraniol after half an hour or so…
It’s used as a blender and also a floraliser – which enhances certain aspects ie. the green freshness of a rose.
It’s pretty harmless on its own and whilst not the most pleasant or complicated aroma chemical, it can be used up to 30%.

Dimenthyl Octenone
is a bright, almost bitter leafy citrus. It is extremely close to the smell of lemon tea only warmer. The tea leaves are bitter and when I initially smelt this chemical on its own – I mistook it for the scent of cannabis. It has that dank, dirty smell that some citrus’ have – like grapefruit smelling like urine…

Having mentioned grapefruit – this aroma chemical is often used in grapefruit effects and it has that bitter/acidity which most likely pops up in fragrances like Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune.

The citrus is piercing and dense, used to anchor lighter citrus notes as well as create new citrus effects (grapefruit /blood orange and the like).
Having constantly described it as “dense” – it is still a citrus, and holds the typical fresh/fruity character.

Helional is quite unusual when explored properly – but on first sniff is easy to mistake for a standard, slightly grassy/ozonic aroma.

In time, Helional gains some more substance, and gathers a slightly salty almost seaweed like accord, that ever so slightly reminds me of fragrances like Mr.Hulot’s Holiday by CB I Hate Perfume and the beautiful Dans Tes Bras by Frederic Malle. It has that salty/skin like smell, the tiniest bit soiled and sweated. It is subtle, and easily mistook for underwhelming.

It actually has a sweetness to it that others often identify as hay, I don’t really pick that up myself, but it may give a further insight into my soiled skin kind of association.
It is used in marine accords, adding an almost faux ambergris type note without the muskiness.

Coumarin derives from tonka, and has a really beautiful scent.

I first recognize it as a tropical, almost coconut-y scent, something that I detect in higher doses in numerous fragrances – Humiecki & Graef’s Bosque, and even Manoumalia – Les Nez for some reason were the first fragrances to pop into my head when smelling this chemical for the first time. But coumarin pops up in nearly every fragrance, providing a beautiful, creamy and almost oriental powdery/muskiness.

After a short while on paper, the tropical aspect settles and up comes a delicate almond/marzipan note where coumarin remains from there on. It is a long discovered isolate used in some of the great classics from the early days – Fougere Royale and Jicky were some of the first fragrances to incorporate synthetics and coumarin.

Similarly to Helional, it is also described as having a hay like aroma, and is known for its use in fougeres due to its perfect pairing with lavender – providing a warm, herbaceous velvety effect.

Personally when I first smelt this I pictured a purple dusting of powder – hence the picture :) I love this aroma chemical, it’s almost like it was designed to be universally loved.

Hopefully whoever reading this is still awake :)
I’m getting the more “plain” chemicals out the way to leave way for the avant-garde’s and synthetic musks (my love!).

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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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