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  1. #1

    Default Basenote accord project


    I'm working on a base note horizontal accord at the moment and I've stumbled across a bit of a problem with a smoky leather tobacco accord.

    I used unrectified birch tar, tobacco absolute and oakmoss absolute. They seem to work quite well together but I'm not sure of the proportions.
    The birch tar and oakmoss has a slightly phenolic tinge that stands out. Could it be because the birch tar is unrectified? I can't find rectified birch tar.
    I've tried using vetiver eo and cedar/sandalwood eo mix to mask it, but it confuses the blend.
    Also I've thought about using cade oil to replace birch tar but sourcing it is another story.

    I've heard that certain notes accentuate leather tobacco accords, namely hay and beeswax absolutes. I was wondering if anyone has experience with these as I haven't got them because of the cost.

    What head and heart notes would perform well with this accord?
    I'm thinking aromatic spice; clary sage, black pepper, aniseed
    Eucalyptus, rosemary might compliment the phenolic tinge, especially the camphoraceous varieties.

    What would be an ideal floraliser for this blend?
    I'm quite tired of rose/jasmine and I think it would be too dominant.

    Please post any suggestions. I appreciate your feedback. Thanks

  2. #2

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    You are SO far beyond me I hesitate to respond... I can't add much, but I'm intrigued by what you're shooting for.

    You can get the rectified birch tar oil and Cade oil at this site:

    I haven't smelled unrectified birch tar oil so don't know if the phenolic component is less or more in the rectified, but rectified IS the way you want to go for fragrances.

    A floral fragrance note that is supposed to go well with the smokey Birch tar is Cananga flower, but I don't have personal experience with it, so can't verify that.

    Copaiba Balsam EO has a strong coumarin (hay) note in it, and is inexpensive as far as EO's go. I love this fragrance on its own, it's quite wonderful, but in a blend it's been a little difficult for me to meld in because of its balsam and hay quality. In a masculine accord it might work very well, though, for that slightly sweet, musty note.

    Let me know what you end up with.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Hi there flathorn!

    Thanks for your response. I was beginning to doubt whether this section of the boards were active. I've only been fooling around with natural perfumes for a little over a year so I think I still have lots to learn. I'm seriously considering using synthetics in the very near future once I get a good supplier here in Australia.

    Thanks for mentioning The Eye of Newt but unfortunately the shipping costs are ridiculous. Most American based companies that do stock the rarer oils usually have a minimum purchase amount and very high shipping fees for international orders. I actually found a company in Australia that stocks the rectified birch tar and cade oils but they only sell in commercial quantities, so that's my situation. I'm quite sure that there is a significant difference if the oil is rectified; Iím expecting it to be much finer and it would definitely be easier to pour out. Birch tar is like black gunk. I have a feeling that this accord will not do well unless I use the rectified oil. I also don't think I'd get much of a leather accord with these oils without using synthetics, only smokey-tobacco. I haven't encountered a natural essential oil that smells like leather.

    Cananga is similar to Ylang ylang as the oils are from different varieties of flowers but a similar genus. This oil is obtainable through mail order here in Australia. Ylang ylang is a gorgeous oil but I wouldnít use it because the steam distilled oil is an extremely dominant floral note and it might note be suited to my purpose since I'm looking for a background floral note to make the blend fuller, more perfumey. I read that beeswax absolute has that effect on tobacco blends but I would still have to introduce a substantial floral note to fill in the gaps. I might go with an Orris concrete.

    I have never smelt Copaiba balsam before but I find most of the balsamic/resin oils to be very difficult and I rarely use them because they smell unrefined, except benzoin and labdanum absolute. The majority of balsams, gums, resin oils only come into play in my oriental blends and even then only rarely. I am hesitant about Copaiba since you mentioned it being difficult to use.

    I have since paired this smokey-tobacco accord with a woody accord of buddha wood (eremophilla mitchelii; slightly reminiscent of agarwood), guaicwood, mysore sandalwood and virginian cedarwood. I also added vanilla absolute to round it out. I suspect that the proportion guaicwood needs tinkering because it smells slightly musty. I might replace it with Australian sandalwood which is similar to Indian except for the unique bitter topnotes, but it doesn't have the rosey undertones of guaicwood. I'm also hunting for Tonka bean absolute which smells nutty chocolatey hay-coumarin.

    The problem with this accord/blend is projection and sillage because most of the oils have basenote properties and natural oils donít have a great lift-off factor anyway. What I would really like to know is what I could do to open the blend up. I think maybe a spice accord might help.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    So nice to see someone else interested in crafting their own fragrances. It's a lot more difficult to do than one would think after you get past the simple-combination phase. I think as you do, that the natural fragrances are best, but ran into the same problems - they don't open up quite like a fragrance with aldehydes, etc.
    That's a problem shared by all natural perfumers to my knowledge. I think Lorenzo Villoresi has a fairly healthy compromise, based on the article about him on Basenotes.
    I didn't realize you're in Australia - that makes the sharing of resource information more difficult but not the formulations, thank goodness. It's too bad we're not aiming for the same type of fragrance - I think our sharing would be more focused, but you sound like you have a lot of general knowledge about the process, which is what I'm still struggling with.
    Have you tried the CO2's? I got Ginger CO2 from Eden Botanicals (another US firm, though I think they're excellent and economical - and one of the few EO retailers that offer SAMPLES of everything!) and it's very fresh and expansive. To my mind it's superior to ginger EO. I would like to try some more CO2's and see how they work in a blend.
    If Cananga is anything like Ylang-Ylang it would be a difficult floral to control (I have that problem with Ylang all the time). So have you smelled Cananga? Is it similar to Ylang?
    Somewhere, I believe I have a formula for an old time leather accord, based on natural products. I'll look for it - if I find it I'll let you know. I believe it is for the tobacco-leather as opposed to the floral-leather.
    Yes, the rectified Birch Tar is MUCH easier to deal with. What base are you using - alcohol or oil? I'm sure you know, as I found out by miserable experience, that the resins can only be used in an alcohol base.
    The cade oil is used very often in the leather accord, as it is in the Cuir de Russie by Chanel.
    Where did you get Orris concrete? I haven't found a supplier - that must have been outrageously expensive. That might make a nice soft, rounded filler for the leather, subtle and intimate. I've never smelled real orris- I'm trying to imagine what sort of notes might be lurking there to bring out. That might prove an interesting combination - not exactly floral, but definitely softening and powdered.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Yes I know. I started out wanting to copy a Creed fragrance with their very distinct house note but I found out very quickly that natural perfumes perform very differently. I believe most perfumes out there use more synthetic ingredients than we are accustomed to think because natural perfumes just donít smell that way; niche or not. I guess this is where professional training steps in.

    Iíve heard tons of good things about carbon dioxide extraction; solvent extract quality without the solvent residue and thermal degradation. I havenít used many oils that are extracted this way for me to make a precise conclusion about them though; only the ginger and thyme eo, which I donít like to use in accords because they are my least favourite unfortunately. They do smell more plant-like, especially the thyme but Iím not sure if thatís a good thing when it comes to perfumes (I know I'm skeptical about everything!). I think it is great for aromatherapeutic blends where the oils are used primarily for their botanical benefit. I know what you mean by the ginger being very fresh and not boiled.

    Yes, the cananga eo that Iíve smelt is slightly more resinous than ylang ylang eo, which has a sharper gassy banana smell. Botanically, cananga is very similar to ylang ylang but because these plants grow in different places, there is variation in the resulting oils. IMHO, ylang ylang (complete) eo does very well with patchouli as a blend. Where I grew up in Malaysia, Iíve smelt the flowers of some forest tree called Ďkenangaí by the natives; I suspect that they are the same thing. Generally, the floraliser that I use the most for a background floral note is a very small amount of a combination of equal amounts of rose attar and jasmine sambac absolute. It doesnít interfere with the dominant notes in the accord if you use it sparingly and it creates a nice fullness.

    I use both alcohol and jojoba oil as a base for different purposes. The oil base doesnít need to mature so itís quicker. I also use beeswax and jojoba for solid perfumes. Although the resins, gums etc dissolve mostly in alcohol like in a tincture, the equivalent absolutes can be used in oil bases because the distillate of the resins, exudates are not as viscous and prefer non-aqueous solvents.

    Do let me know if you find that formula because this leather accord is slowly fading into a chypre base due the wood oils; a little patchouli/vetiver and Iíll get there. I canít think of anything to make it more leathery; the birch tar actually adds more of a smoke-earth quality and from what Iíve read, cade would be similar. I can only get the unrectified cade here so Iím not going to try it.

    My friend got my orris concrete straight from Italy for me last year. It wasnít as expensive as you might think; actually, my rose and jasmine oils are more costly. Actually, orris concretes and absolutes are typically in the mid end of the floral oil prices depending where you buy from, but honestly that is already quite damaging to the wallet for a hobby. I only buy in micro quatities of under 5 grams locally but I do splurge when someone is going overseas; itís embarrassing but Iím famous for asking favours! I think most of the commercial essential oil retailers make a lot of money selling to consumers like you and I, so you should seek other sources if possible. Orris is subtle but not really powdery at all; more of a floral woody note. The funny thing is that it doesnít smell like the orris root powder that I got from the mail order health food store catalogue which is very carroty. Itís one of my favourite notes to use, along with sandalwood which I have recently become quite tired of.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    A quick note - I have a wedding to prepare for.

    I'm going to say a blasphemous thing...
    What do you think of using actual perfumes in your mixes?
    If you don't mind, check out this blog:

    It is an interesting commentary about the Demeter line of leathers. The author's comment that she was anxious to try the Leather with their Wild Violet is following your line of thinking. Violet, of course, is very similar to, and supported by, orris.

    I received a bottle of Lancome Aromatonic for a present, and find it annoying for some reason. But it's a green fragrance, so I kept it to use as a green note in my personal formulations, green being difficult to produce with EOs.

    Am looking for the leather recipe. More later.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    A wedding! How exciting!!! I wish you all the best.

    I don't think using actual perfumes is taboo at all. I'm convinced that even synthetics are totally fine. I just need to learn how to use it effectively because I'm not sure how it will perform together with all those essential oils.

    That range of fragrances (CB I Hate...) is not available in Australia to my knowledge but Demeter is so I might just make a purchase.

    I don't have any violet absolute because it is obscenely expensive but I'm expecting it to be much more floral than orris. Actually, speaking of green scents, you should try some violet leaf absolute if you can get it; it isn't as expensive as violet absolute and it has a mid-basenote deep green scent that is also lightly floral, like what you find in Green Irish Tweed.

    Don't you worry about that recipe at the moment ok. Have fun!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    I've actually had some reasonable success by using Gendarme as a "base" for my experiments. So far nothing has turned out smelling like a passable cologne BUT they weren't as awful as they were when I didnt use it

    most current attempt.

    4 drops grapefruit

    2 Muguet

    1 Violette

    2 Rosemary

    1 Cardamom

    3 Musk

    approx 2 ML Gendarme

    any suggestions? you guys seem way more knowledgeable than I am, Im just stabbing in the dark hoping for something to turn out.

    My Oils "wardrobe"

    Oak moss
    Sweet Orange
    Cedar Leaf
    Ylang Ylang

  9. #9

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Hi czesc,
    Itís not easy to blend something that smells like a commercial perfume without knowing what youíre doing; I am not sure myself. I think that with your attempt, working on the basis of various notes rather than accords wonít normally create a unified blend that smells harmonious. Iím sure that if you give it a little more thought, do some research and plan the accords well, you will be able to make a few simple good scents.

    Although I have used EDTs and EDCs in a blend, I think it can be very hard to determine what is reacting with what. More often that not, I end up with a very confused jumble. The fragrances that I have used in blending so far are mostly quite linear i.e. Demeter, LíOccitane etc. Using Gendarme as a base would be tricky as the concentration would be hard to determine.

    Which of your oils are synthetic and which are natural? I can help you figure out what you can do with some of them if you let me know.

    You have to plan your blend out because stabbing in the dark doesnít work. I know the story about a perfumer creating a masterpiece because of something spilt but they are professionals and weíre not unfortunately. Plus, I think that with synthetics, it is easier to control the balance unlike essential oils which contain so many chemicals.

    Just some thought about the oils that you used:

    Grapefruit eo doesnít do very well in natural perfumes because it smells rancid upon exposure and might disrupt your blend. You should either use synthetic grapefruit or non-photo toxic (terpeneless) Bergamot eo with Petitgrain (which supplies some bitterness). Verbena eo, Neroli absolute and Orange blossom absolute are all good supporting notes for a citrus accord.

    Most spice oils are very strong and that can be hard to control. Try diluting the essential oil in denatured alcohol before using it in a blend; remember to record the ratios too. Cardamom is an herbal spice; it might be hard to use. The spice oils that are easiest to deal with (in small quantities) are cinnamon bark, clove bud, aniseed and black pepper but not too many at once of course.

    There are many varieties of rosemary (just like in lavender) so pick one that has less camphene because it will be less jarring in a blend. Opt for Rosemary chemotype cineole or verbenone over camphor/camphene.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    I'm pretty sure most of them are natural because theyre mostly essential oils with the exception of jasmine verbena violette and vanilla. Im pretty sure the ambergris is natural, it says natural on it (maybe we dont have that anti whaling import law in canada?).

    I really dont know where to get any info on perfumery... ive searched the net and there isnt too much. I dont even know what an accord is (other than a dependable honda) . Even sites like chapters and indigo dont have much to offer as far as litterature goes. Where should I look to learn ?

  11. #11

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    You should know straight away whether the oils are natural or sythetic and whether they 100% pure or reconstituted from the person who sold it to you. However, I doubt that natural ambergris is available nowadays in spite of its legality because it is found in such small quantites that it would not make a consistent product. From what I know, the quality of ambergris is highly variable and the components of the raw material actually used in perfumery is quite small. I have seen and smelt raw ambergris which was on display at a marine lab; it wasn't strong or musky but rather old, musty and dirty. Since it was raw, the weathered black outer would be discarded in favour of the core which is diluted in alcohol to form a tincture before it can be used.

    Although the internet might not have in depth information about the techniques of perfumery, there's a lot about essential oils, their use, botanical origin, extraction methods etc which is always good to know about. Since we don't have professional training, we will have to develop our own techniques in formulation etc.

    Your local university libraries are invaluable; try looking for the argriculture, biomedical, chemistry or science libraries in the nearest university. Try to read every book you can find on the subject because most of the information is in print. There are many texts available in French so it's a plus if you know the language.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    I go to school at the university of ottawa, where I live, unfortunatley nothing there... could you maybe give me the names of some books you found usefull so I could look them up in online bookstores or try to order them ?

    french books are okay as well I can understand it pretty well

  13. #13

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    When I first started out 1-2 years ago, I found a number of books in the various libraries of my local university that allowed public access and all the libraries around me. Almost all of them were pre-1970s and would be out of print today. Unfortunately, I canít remember the titles because it was some time back and there were quite a number of them. What I remember liking about those titles was that they listed formulation details according to the type of perfume; mostly floral scents and the ever famous eau de cologne, which was good to know although I couldnít replicate it exactly due to the synthetic components of the recipes that were unavailable to me. I have yet to find a good supplier for synthetic chemicals. In any case, what those books taught me was the basic architecture of a chypre, oriental etc perfume, backed by the actual chemicals/oils and their quantities. I gained the most information from those sorts of books and my advice to you is to look out for them.

    Honestly though, I canít think of any current books that might be of help to you because I have tired of checking with the bookstores. The last time I did, I remember being very frustrated because the vast majority of the books supplied a very minimal amount of information and were more focused on commercial perfumes themselves rather than the creation process, formulation, blending etc. If youíre looking for a very basic DIY book on perfumes, Iím sure you can find it in a bookstore near you, normally combined with aromatherapy and soap-making information. From my experience, most of these books donít run much deeper than that.

    I know that starting out as an amateur Ďperfumerí is quite daunting because youíre often left in the dark and you donít know how to correct a blend, if in the first place you even know that there is something wrong with it. I guess you have to be meticulous and use your nose to constantly compare with a mindset to improve whatever it is that you are working on. Often, I run into dilemmas before spending considerable sums of money on raw materials and oils because I never know if itís going to work out and if I will learn anything from it at all. Sometimes, the results I got were very disappointing because I had high hopes without putting enough thought into it. I learnt most by doing of course so donít give up.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    I'm sorry it's taken a while to get back to you Yutori - actually the wedding wasn't mine, but a nephew's. To let you know, I'm not always consistently on the internet, as my primary residence is off the power grid, so if I don't respond for a while, it's because I don't have access.
    I've been looking for that leather accord formula, and am concerned that I might have written it in a book I sent to the used book dealer. I hope not! I'll be very upset if that's the case.

    For Czesc: the two natural perfumery books I started with were, as Yutori said, frustratingly limited, but I learned a great deal nevertheless. They were:

    "Natural Perfumes: Simple Aromatherapy Recipes" by Mindy Green
    "Perfumes, Splashes and Colgnes: Discovering and Crafting Your Personal Fragrances" Nancy Booth

    This is where I got most of my information regarding crafting perfume. The first is good in that she has you make up the basic accords, as Yutori recommended. She also has you make up 15 classic 3-note combos, so you get an idea of the potential. I found the last exercise to be more helpful than I thought it would. It also shows you what your nose prefers. The most intriguing recipe was a chocolate scent created entirely with eo's (no chocolate fragrance), in which chamomile figures prominently. At first it is a wretched smelling mess, but after two weeks, voila... there it is - the chocolate note.
    The second book straddles the fence between natural and synthetic perfumery, but gives you all sorts of basic recipes in the basic families. She also delves into the commercial realm a little more, discussing retail fragrances in a basic way.

    Yutori, I'm unable to help much on a leather accord. I know it is based on the chypre accord, which is why your leather is tending in that direction. They always list bergamot in that accord - is it present in yours? While a top note, it is important also as a modifier and seems it would provide expansion, which you seek.
    I have not understood the complex chemistry involved in blending. Many times a recipe will say to blend in the order given. While that should not matter logically, it seems to anyway. The citrus are supposed to be top notes, among the most ephemeral, yet I produced a fragrance last month where the orange eo was dominant in the final drydown, and long-lasting. And that was in competition with strong contenders, such as Frankincense, Myrrh and Vetiver. The orange was one of the first ingredients I mixed into a base maceration of Devil's Club oil I made. It was not a wise way to proceed, but I had experimented with this fragrance before, came up with a 'recipe', and from that recipe just started adding the eo's together indiscriminately. Did the order enhance the longevity of the orange note? I'm not sure - I'm still trying to puzzle it out. I know some commercial formulations have orange in the drydown, but I always assumed they used artificial enhancement. It may be that when you blend several eo's together and let them meld a bit, a bond is formed that goes beyond the simple top, mid and base note concept, and allows a top note to still have an active presence in the base. That is why I feel the bergamot may be an important part of the leather formula. What are your thoughts on that?
    I know from making the basic 3-note combos mentioned in the book above, I didn't care for the ones involving carrot eo. I just didn't like its carroty, oily presence, but after about a month the carrot note melded with the other two, submerged, and became a musty pleasing counterpoint. But it took so long! I feel the same way about geranium eo, and it too takes almost as long to meld into a harmonious single note with its neighbors. Those two seem to take the longest to my nose. I don't care for either of them as a standout note in a fragrance, and was very sensitive to their presence until they yielded their individual identity.
    Please let me know how your accord proceeds, and your thoughts on melding notes.
    Also, have you checked out the online perfumery schools? Do you know much about them or heard how they might be?

  15. #15

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    No worries Kathy! Itís great to hear from you once again. I hope your nephewís wedding went well; you must be very proud of him.

    Well, the tobacco-leather blend is currently sitting in my closet; I havenít added anything since the wood oils, but I made a 20% dilution in denatured alcohol which is not ready to use yet. Itís not what I wanted but I hope it will be after I give it some time. If not, Iíll start from scratch once again, after I make my rounds of all the libraries.

    The blend doesnít contain Bergamot but I do know what you mean by Bergamot being a good blender note which rounds thing out, like how Rosewood (Brazil; Bois de Rose) does. I donít see how it would help my leather accord though. The only thing I can think of is that most of the older leather fragrances (also older menís fragrances for that matter) have strong citrus headnotes as it was popular during then. I do admit using Bergamot in many of my blends because it creates a refined citrus headnote.

    Maceration in oil is something that I almost never do because I never get desired results; I must be doing it wrong! Iíve only tried it on some spices but it never comes close to the eos. Iíve had worse results with maceration in alcohol. What do you do about the colour that drains out of the raw materials?
    What is Devilís Club oil btw? Sounds interesting!
    I donít know why the orange eo in your blend performed that way but using an oil base might be one of the explanations since it slows down the release of molecules into the air as most of the molecules in eos are non-aqueous.
    I have a rough theory about citrus eos; I think that cold pressed oils remain longer but have a dry rind smell when the headnotes evaporate, while steam distilled oils on the other hand have greater headnote qualities.

    I absolutely agree that blends change with time; the maturation period produces a number of surprises. However, they degrade after a few months and have much less impact, especially citrus and aromatic notes. I wonder if synthetic chemicals behave the same way; they canít be immune to age and oxidation. Also, your choice of bottle might make a difference; I mostly use 5ml amber glass vials but once I blended some in a 50ml bottle because I wanted to make a little more but I didnít have a 10ml bottle. It turned out slightly different even though I used the same eos, a few months later of course.

    At the moment the only online perfumery course that I know about is the one offered by Mandy Aftel which is based purely on natural oils. Plymouth University in the UK also used to offer something similar; not sure if they still do. I havenít really looked further than that and I have no idea how much it costs.

    I have always thought what it would be like to go to perfume school in France. I read that the ISIPCA offers two professional courses for internationals; one requires a Science degree in Chemistry, costing more than twenty thousand Euro! (but itís a Masters program with a work placement and business classes etc) I can just imagine working on a scent and owning a niche brand; how very splendid!

  16. #16

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    there's a guy in Thailand who runs online short courses.

    He also gives out on his site a quite nifty bit of free software, which is probably quite useful as you can add formulae and other data to it (it already has a fair bit of data in it by way of ingreds)

    Yutori check your email, :exclamation
    but as for florals for your accord, ...lavender??? and def I would go for the Clary Sage as well.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Yes I downloaded that program ages ago and it's really fun to play with but it does lack many natural oils, especially those of Australian native plants; I've thought about buying the deluxe edition with the additional inventory. The only reason I don't currently use synthetics is because I don't have access to it; I mean I could buy fragrance oils and use them but I have no idea what's in them and that's no fun to me. Yeah but I'd definitely approve of it. However, I suspect that the use of synthetics is quite different, plus toxicity issues factor in as well. I'm quite amazed after reading the article about Jean Claude Ellena and Hermes.

    I haven't been to the Victorian State Library in ages but I do remember finding some books there myself. I'm not sure if they would actually bring a book down from the ACT upon request; there would be a fee involved for sure.

    I'm afraid that without the rectified birch tar eo, this blend wouldn't work quite as well.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    The basic leather recipe I mentioned seems to be on walkabout with my book - I don't know if it will ever return to me. The one below is the only other leather one I have at present, and you may already have it.

    18 drops light musk fragrance oil
    12 drops vanilla
    10 drops dark musk fragrance oil
    2 drops virginia cedarwood
    2 drops sweet orange
    1 drop lemon
    1 drop vetiver
    5 drops clove
    25 drops cade (10%)

    I haven't tried this formula - I don't know if it's traditional or a fanciful interpretation. It does not mention the order to blend. I would have more confidence in it's leather note if it had been called Musk Leather instead of Leather Musk. I would also feel comfortable in reducing the musk.
    I may have used the term maceration incorrectly - I soaked the bark of the Devil's Club root (Opopanax horridus in the ginseng family) in Jojoba oil for a month, leaching out the fragrance notes. When it was as strong as I desired, I strained it through a jelly bag to produce a scented oil. The bark color did leach into the oil, but I didn't consider that a negative - it produced an amber color on completion. It was into this base I added my eo's.
    The reason I used this plant is that it has a heady, earthy, woodsy aroma in the forest, one of my favorite fragrances since I was a girl. The maceration smells very similar to the fresh plant. But it does have it's downside - you are reduced to making only oil perfumes with it, and it's active agents continue to bubble in the oil even after straining (it was used by the indigenous peoples as their primary treatment for external and internal infections, and also for it's spiritual properties, which are considered powerful). I purchased a small home distiller on ebay, and am looking forward to trying to distill the eo to get rid of the bubbling tendency (not attractive in a fragrance). I don't know how copious or sparse it will be at this point. I can send some of the maceration along to you if you'd like, or some eo (hopefully) later. Just PM me with your address.
    I have been hoping to come up with several marketable local fragrances to sell in tourist shops under the banner of 'Alaskan fragrances'. I sampled a line several years ago in a gift shop, and was disappointed at how mediocre, synthetic and entirely unmemorable they were. But I thought the idea was good, so I've been working with blends for a little less than a year. I love fragrances, am fascinated by their ability to evoke, but my nose is unskilled and untrained, which is why I initially started investigating commercial fragrances, at which point I fell in love with them in general. When I get the fragrance right I will know it - I have a vision of it I'm just not sure how to get there.
    I agree - it would be deeply satisfying to have a small niche perfumery, creating devastatingly evocative fragrances, a calling worthy of a lifetime, but it seems so far beyond anything I'll ever be able to do, because the business end of it is so huge and industrial, and complex. What with its heavy dependence on the chemical industry, it is very similar to an herbalist producing herbal products for the health food market as opposed to the giant pharmaceutical industry.
    I really do think if one is serious about pursuing it as a profession, one has to bite the bullet, get the professional training, and then decide at that point which direction you want to go. So I don't feel I will go any further than marketing a local line (if that far).
    I've been mulling over using whale oil as a fixative. Where I live seal and whale hunting used to be practised on a regular basis, and after hunting season, you had to throw your clothes away. No amount of washing would remove that iron-willed oil. There are several old drums of whale blubber/oil sitting back in the woods, and I always avoided them because they smelled like a fish cannery or worse. That smell has dissipated in recent years - I've heard it mellows when left for years, according to Yupik tradition. I'm thinking of going back and popping the lid on one, to see what the final product is. These oils have absolutely unparalled staying powers, but I don't read that the whale OIL was used in perfumery (ambergris isn't oil, but it also takes long aging to dissipate it's initially rank odor). Have you heard anything to the contrary? If it takes 25 years for whale oil to lose it's overpowering fragrance, perhaps it was abandoned in preference to more amenable substances. But maybe after all these years, it has become usable. Anyway, I'm mulling it over.
    Lastly, the site I drool over most:

  19. #19

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    I just tried to make the leather accord with certain variations because of availability, i replaced cedarwood with rosewood and ommitted cade because I dont know what it is. Also, cloves became ambergris because I want a sweeter leather, and I tuned down the musk as you suggested. Could you please post some other accords? Just a few, so I can make a couple and see where this is going.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Cade oil is probably the most essential for a leather accord - it is the distillation of pine/juniper tar, and is strong and smoky. What you will get without it may be nice, but I can't imagine it will be a leather accord. Let me know what it ends up smelling like.
    These recipes actually aren't accords, and are supposed to be stand-alone fragrances, but I think you could use them in the same way as an accord, as a starting point, because there isn't a lot of complexity in them.

    16 drops vanilla
    8 drops sweet orange
    2 drops clary sage
    2 drops myrrh
    2 drops vetiver
    1 drop allspice
    1 drop bay rum (pimenta)

    CONIFER (masculine, woodsy-conifer, fresh herbal top)
    8 drops oakmoss(10%)
    6 drops cedarwood
    6 drops juniper
    6 drops petitgrain
    3 drops anise
    2 drops vetiver

    BURNT VANILLA (dark, smoky, balsamic vanilla)
    15 drops vanilla
    2 drops balsam peru
    2 drops patchouli
    2 drops vetiver
    1 drop virginia cedarwood
    1 drop frankincense
    1 drop labdanum
    1 drop dark musk fragrance oil

    FOREST (slightly sweet, woodsy-pine, masculine)
    4 drops balsam peru
    6 drops atlas cedarwood
    6 drops patchouli
    6 drops pine needle

    SMOKE (earthy, slight herbaceous topnote, woody base)
    8 drops sandalwood
    6 drops atlas cedarwood
    6 drops juniper
    4 drops frankincense
    4 drops myrrh
    2 drops black pepper
    2 drops pine needle

    VERBENA LAUREL (spicy, sharp-sweet citrus top, woody bottom)
    8 drops bay laurel
    8 drops bergamot
    5 drops virginia cedarwood
    5 drops clary sage
    4 drops rosewood
    2 drops verbena
    1 drop roman chamomile

    SPICE (spicy, warm, sensual)
    10 drops atlas cedarwood
    8 drops sandalwood
    6 drops lavender
    4 drops coriander
    2 drops frankincense

    14 drops lavender
    5 drops sandalwood
    4 drops atlas cedarwood
    4 drops ginger
    2 drops vetiver

  21. #21

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    thanks, this will really help me along I think. I think im going to have to grab a few more oils before I can make these. With regards to the cade oil do you think I could replace it with cedar tar ? I have alot of that, but its extremely strong - i dont know how it would go...

    Also, has anyone taken a look at the chemicals on the website? they have a list of "chemical" fragrance oils for sale. The prices dont seem too bad? should I try and experiment with a few of these?

  22. #22

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Hello Flathorn, Yutori, Czesc, S2Love:

    Has anyone come across 'leather'?

    Recently tried an 'incense'. Myrrh, frankincense, birch tar oil. Result: fair. Matter of adjusting the proportions.

    Still haven't been able to make a satisfactory fabric softener. Well, not actually a fabric softener but something to put in the dryer to scent the clothes. Dampening a washcloth with straight formula before I further cut it with alcohol to make EDP, cologne or add to unscented soap, shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent bases. Haven't tried it on anything but white loads. Any suggestions?

    Czesc: Yes, I have doctored commercial frags. That is how I found Basenotes; I was frustrated that the only cologne I had ever worn had been irrepairably altered by its new manufacturer. My most amusing experiment was adding lime EO to make a 'summer version' of that same cologne for which the citrus-y type had been long discontinued. I was too naive to understand that it threw off the balance. Live and learn.


  23. #23

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Here'a 'Russian Leather' from Gattefosse

    Pyrogenous essence of Cedar 50
    Wood complex 125
    Clary sage oil 50
    Bergamot oil 50
    cinnamic alcohol 100
    Geranyl acetate 70
    Benzyl acetate 50
    Isoeugenol 50
    Eugenol 50
    Terpineol 25
    Geraniol 75
    Citronellol 40
    Ethyl vanillin 45
    artificial amber 60
    resinodour labdanum 130
    musk ambrette 40
    conc. castoreum 10
    conc. civet 15

    You could always substitute naturals for the synths (eg clove for eugenol, etc) if that's what you prefer.
    I have various for Spanish Leather, too: the main characteristic of which seems to have been a lot of civet.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    do you know where I can get any good books by Gattefosse? whats the title of this one that you got the Russian Leather formula from?

  25. #25

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Hey guys, I'm a new member at basenotes and I'm pretty into fragrance blending. I use almost exclusively pure essential oils, and have a nice array of oils right now. Now, I'm not an expert, but I have a fair bit of experience, and I really look forward to chatting with other people that are into scent blending!

    Yutori: If you're looking for florals to bring out or round out your leather, I would suggest labdanum/cistus/rock rose (call it what you will). It's a very nice floral that can be very feminine and delicate, but when blended with stronger and more masculine notes like leather, it wraps around quite nicely. Also, there's a balsamic tang to cistus that works I think quite beautifully with leather notes. Also, I find orange flower to be the ultimate unisex floral. Add a little sweetness with vanilla, benzoin, or other florals, and it's a lovely feminine fragrance. Add just a bit to sandalwood or musks and it is soooo sexyman 2-3 drops of orange flower with 7-8 sandalwood is a great scent for men, especially with a drop of ginger and/or cinnamon! And I think this would work very well as a sexy spicy addition to your leather.

    Flathorn: You were talking about making a fragrance that had a lingering orange drydown. That sounds quite wonderful! While I've never done it before (must go home and try it now!), the theory works. Several oils, and I'm sure some synthetic compounds as well although I'm not very familiar with them, act as fixatives in blends. Most of them are considered basenotes on their own, but can be added at any point really to provide a fixative function. Valerian and vetiver are two examples of good fixatives, and patchouli is a fairly good one as well, especially for middle and top notes. I like using a drop of fixative or so for each layer, top heart and base.

    Hope this helps!


  26. #26

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    I find it funny how we share information so freely, when I use to think of perfumery, I always though of it as... like a secret alchemy where all formulas were kept under lock and key. welcome to globalization!

  27. #27

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Quote Originally Posted by slave2love
    Here'a 'Russian Leather' from Gattefosse
    Thanks so much S2L!

    Now, to decipher a few of those synthetics in the formula - I *think* I have enough literature to do so, or information on the Perfumer's World website and others.
    By all means, give the Spanish Leather if you have it - it will be a good database for those looking. I agree with Czesc - there's an inordinate amount of secrecy surrounding perfumery, though I understand why it has to be.

    I've heard of Gattefosse's book, but didn't think it was obtainable. Good stuff!

  28. #28

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Quote Originally Posted by SilkandSteel
    Hey guys, I'm a new member at basenotes and I'm pretty into fragrance blending. I use almost exclusively pure essential oils, and have a nice array of oils right now. Now, I'm not an expert, but I have a fair bit of experience, and I really look forward to chatting with other people that are into scent blending!

    Several oils, and I'm sure some synthetic compounds as well although I'm not very familiar with them, act as fixatives in blends. Most of them are considered basenotes on their own, but can be added at any point really to provide a fixative function. Valerian and vetiver are two examples of good fixatives, and patchouli is a fairly good one as well, especially for middle and top notes. I like using a drop of fixative or so for each layer, top heart and base.
    You *do* have a fair amount of experience. It's so nice to have others give you the benefit of it.
    That's a good idea to add the fixative to *each layer*. When I make some Devil's Club eo, I'm going to mix the eo's in a more traditional order this time - bases first, then heart notes, and finally top notes. If it does make a difference, I consider it a valuable lesson. I didn't consider D.C. might have fixative properties, and influenced the first eo's I mixed with it.
    So glad to have you around!


  29. #29

    Default Re: Basenote accord project


    I hope it turns out well for you! Perfume blending is just so much fun.


  30. #30

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    czesc, flathorn, I got the Gattefosse book out of a library- it's quite old. The details are:
    "Formulary of Perfumery and Cosmetology" a transation by A.R.I.C. of the original french edition of Formulaire de Parfumerieet de Cosmetologie by R.M.Gattefosse
    This translation is published by Leonard Hill Ltd, London in 1957, but I guess the original french version is older still. He cites several other authors in ging his formulae, including Felix Cola, and W.A Poucher. I got Poucher's out too _volumes 1 and 2 are all perfumery and vol 3 is other cosmetics.

    Poucher's is fantastic, and I believe is still in print, but expensive !!! (saw it on amazon). These old perfumery books are rare as hen's teeth, but still worth searching for second hand on Amazon I think. ALso Amazon has a couple of modern ones which look really good:

    the first one looks great for price, and also you can 'search inside the book', for a limited number of pages. I would say get a screen capture program on your computer before you do as you can't save the images of pages any other way.

    BTW I have found Poucher's in more than one library so that's a start if you can't buy.

  31. #31

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    OK the Spanish Leathers are from another book, which gives tables of several formulae at once so you can compare them and see what they have in common.
    They all have a lot of Tinc Castoreum, (50-270 parts per 1000, seems to be major in all formulae, average 250 pp 1K))
    Tonquin Musk, Civet abs, Sandalwood, Bergamot, Neroli, Orange Flower, Rose Oil, Musks Ambrette & Ketone, Tonka Abs, Coumarin,
    and they all have rect Birch Tar oil but in tiny quantities 3-5 parts per 1000.

    the following ingreds vary across the formulae
    Patchouli, Jasmine,Cassia, Orris, Methyl Ionone special, Tolu, Styrax,Peru, Vanilla, vanillin, Ylang, Vetivert,Vet acetate, Clove, Mace lemon, Lavender, Petitgrain, Clary, Estragon, Verbena, various aldehydes, Opoponax, Guaiacwood, Amyl salicylate, Heliotropin, and only one has Oakmoss, 10 pp 1000.

  32. #32

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Silk - The Spanish Leather does seem to have more animalic notes. It's great to have both formulae - I can't wait until weekend to try them *both*! I'm a real pig about things I love to do, and go overboard. Thanks so much.
    A question - Do you know any fragrances that has the Spanish Leath. in it? I just tried Chanel's "Cuir de Russie" last week and was extremely disappointed (to say the least) when it turned to cow patties on my skin. The most tortuous part was when I opened the sample and the first 10 seconds on my skin, it had a wonderful sexy, smooth, leathery note I could fall in love with. I don't know which note turned on my skin - I assume castoreum or civet. But I've never had that strong a cow dung note before, and have worn perfumes with castoreum and civet, so I really don't know. The Spanish leather has *more* of the animalics, so I'm both curious and apprehensive.
    I'd love to be able to create that sexy leather of C. de R. without the dry heaves.
    I hope my library has copies of Gattefosse, but am not confident it does - it's not that big or old.
    The P.H. Pybus book on Amazon 'The Chemistry of Fragrances' comes with a positive Amazon review by Luca Turin! That's good enough for me.
    The Caulkin one, 'Perfumery: Practice and Principles' sounds wonderful, but the price does make me wince a little.
    I've been eyeing the Perfume Makers website since I found it yesterday. I'm seriously considering buying his book, but it's a lot of money, and the rhetoric has a bit of the hard sell, so I'm still just looking. He says you're assured of success, and I don't know that I trust that.... but I *am* curious about the free perfume. I may not be able to resist seeing what sort of stuff they came up with.


  33. #33

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Actually I should have said the Spanish Leather formulae were given as "Peau d'Espagne" in that book. It mentions that they are "now out of favour", being older types (not that that would put ME off LOL)
    if you do a google search on Peau d-Espagne you will find versions (colognes) *were made by Houbigant, Roger& Gallet and others, late 19th C and early 20th C. The idea seems to have come from this stuff, which was used to fragrance writing paper, gloves, etc.

    Peau d-Espagne, or Spanish Skin.
    Is merely highly-perfumed leather. Take of oil of rose, neroli, and santal, each 1/2 oz.; oil of lavender, verbena, bergamot, each 1/4 oz.; oil of cloves and cinnamon, each 2 drs. In this dissolve 2 oz. of gum benzoin; in this steep good pieces of waste leather for a day or two, and dry it over a line. Prepare a paste by rubbing in a mortar 1 dr. of civet with 1 dr. of grain musk, and enough gum tragacanth mucilage to give a proper consistence. The leather is cut up into pieces about 4 inches square; two of these are pasted together with the above paste, placed between 2 pieces of paper, weighted or pressed until dry. It may then be inclosed in silk or satin. It gives off its odor for years; is much used for perfuming paper.

  34. #34

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Oh my gosh! I go off for a week and everyone is posting all of a sudden. Great to have all of you around and I'd love to hear from you.

  35. #35

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    flathorn, slave2love; Santa Maria Novella has a scent called Peau d'Espagne which is a deeply resinous leather with aloewood(?). It's worth searching out because it's very good. Along with Nostalgia, SMN has some of the most unique leather fragrances out there. They're available here in Australia so I don't think you should have trouble finding it in the US.

  36. #36

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    this thread gets the most traffic so I might as well ask here, does anyone know where I can get tuberose EO ?

  37. #37

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    On the sidebark, click on Bulk ingredients -> absolutes and there will be two tuberoses, one from india and one from egypt. The egyptian is slightly cheaper, but both are quite expensive. Of course, it gets cheaper as you buy more, but the egyptian tuberose for example is $13 for 2.3 mls, and the indian is about $16 for the same amount. However, I doubt you'll find them for less than liberty sells...for the same quality oils, they're quite cheap! One thing to keep in mind: they sell in bulk. You don't have to buy a lot of each oil, but if you buy less than $50 total, there's a surcharge of like $15. It's not hard to buy more than $50 from them though, they have just about every EO or absolute or CO2 distilled you could want! They also have carriers oils, bottles, and distillate waters (also known as hydrosols) also sells it. They're a much more customer friendly site, but pretty darn expensive! They also have less selection. They only sell one tuberose absolute, from morroco, at $60 per ml! I honestly do not think there's much of a difference in quality at all, Of the oils I have tried from both places, I find them on average to be of equal quality. I personally find liberty's orange flower absolute to be superior. But then again I have not tried naturesgift's tuberose, and I'm currently out of liberty's.


  38. #38

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    absolutes are much stronger than EO's right? how would I dilute it back down to EO strength so I could use it in my blends (im only using EO's and I want to keep track of how much im using for the formulas)

  39. #39

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    To be honest you're thinking about it in the wrong way.

    Absolutes will capture the fragrance better than an EO. Certain organic solvents are used that best preserve the fragrant molecules. EO's, the other hand, are soley from steam distillation. More molecules are lost this way. That's why you get hydrosols, which is the water left from that steam distillation, that smell nice and have their own properties.

    Most valuable and expensive substances will be extracted using solvents, giving absolutes. They're worth it! Sometimes, other things like vanilla that are less expensive will be as well to produce stronger scents for perfumers. But most of the times, it's expensive florals, like rose, tuberose, jasmine, lotus, orange flower, and osmanthus. In fact, you'd be hardpressed to find many of these in EO form. The most notable exceptions wold be rose and orange flower, or as in it's EO form it's more often called neroli. These are available for the theraputic value of the natural and whole product, without solvents. Those looking for the theraputic use of such oils, especially if they're to be taken internally!, should get EO's, whereas the perfumer should definitely choose the absolute.

    Alright, now about strength. Each oil naturally has it's own differences in strength. For example, ginger or cinnamon EO will be soooo much stronger than even the strongest jasmine absolute...use sparringly! There is a difference in strength btwn rose absolute and rose EO, but it's not even double the strength. It depends on the specific plant, the batch, the distiller, and the supplier, but I'd say an absolute is on average 20-30% stronger than its EO counterpart. There's no need to dilute, really. Just remember how many drops, and remember that it was the absolute you used. For most high end florals, I highly doubt you'll ever use EO's anyway, and I recommend that if you have a choice that you don't.

    Good luck, and happy mixing!

  40. #40

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Wow, that seems insanely expensive. Im trying to work a rose blend into another blend which is loosely based on that first leather note you gave. "Musky leather" i think it was called. How much of this Rose absolute should I be using?

  41. #41

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    also... does anyone have any good forumlas for a "tea note" ?

  42. #42

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Can you help me start my own ĒnoseĒ adventure? I have just bought some eo and I am trying to create my first perfumes. I put some drops of some of them into dark bottles, waited for a week and checked what they smelled like (on blotters). Some seem promising, some horrible.
    What should I do next? Can I now add some more drops to the same bottles to try to make the first versions sound better? Will the time that passed between the moment of original mixing and the moment of adding new drops change the smell of the final recipe? If so, should I perhaps start every new attempt in a brand new bottle?! (That would cost much, for I am certainly not a perfume genius and the attempts will be numerous).
    How long should I wait until the mixture is ready? When can I mix it with alcohol?

    Another question - I would like to create some feminine, flowery fragrance - but rose, jasmin, neroli and iris are at the moment too expensive materials for me. Are there any inexpensive nice flower eo? I do have ylang ylang and I do have geranium (the latter I do not particularly like as a flower fragrance - what should I link it with?).

    Thanks for your patience for the perfumer baby!

  43. #43

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    For the leather note you might want to incorporate a little castoreum tincture with birch tar, its the classic leather base. Tincture or tincture kits can be purchased from Alternatively, there seem to be a fair few Americans (not sure about Scandinavians and Russians) on the posts here - is beaver hunting popular? *

    Re canaga oil: it is the same plant as Ylang Ylang as far as I am aware. The principle difference is that Essensial Oil of Ylang Ylang is a fractionated product (types 1-3 being the least to most volatile oils *- all 3 are mixtures of the same chemical components, but in differing proportions. The 3 different oils are not entirely different chemicals, the process is not that accurate - unlike commercial petrochemical fractionation) Canaga is not fractionated but a straight steam extraction whole shabbang.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year :-*

  44. #44

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Just noticed I'd inadvertently skipped loads of posts that make mine unnecessary, still an opportunity to wish all you fellow voluptuaries season's greetings. :

  45. #45

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Hello all, anyone ever tried costus root for leathery note?

  46. #46

    Default Re: Basenote accord project

    Another 'non floral' floral that can really round out a blend..make it sing... Cassia Absolute... I've used it to soften and 'round' a lot of 'masculine' blends in the past.

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