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Thread: Indole-ge me

  1. #1
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    Default Indole-ge me

    A very serious discussion turned up on the 'Burr gives Fracas 5 stars' thread on indoles and their smell, their comparisons to the smell of feces, etc. Since many of us are new to smelling florals with indolic properties, it can be a little confusing to interpret what we're smelling without explaining ourselves in words that might scare (or confuse) other Basenoters.

    I think there's a lot to learn about this subject (me included) and so I'm going to start off with a short lesson I learned from Luca Turin in Perfumes The Guide.

    I bumped into this passage, while perusing the book randomly last night - he mentions indoles in the review of Olene by Diptyque (which BTW I've never smelled - but the review is enticing me to try it).

    Quote from page 267: 'One of the many difficulties that nature has strewn in the path of perfumers is the vexed problem of indole. Indole is a small molecule made up of a hexagonal ring and a pentagonal ring fused together and containing nitrogen. It and its kissing cousin skatole are breakdown products of the digestion of food and are therefore found in feces. They are also found in large amounts in white flowers such as jasmine, ylang, etc possibly to attend to the eclectic tastes of pollinating insects. In the textbooks, their odor is described as, 'fecal, floral in dilution', which is nonsense: they smell like shit when in shit and like flowers when in flowers. By itself indole smells like ink and mothballs; skatole smells like bad teeth and that wonderful tripe sausage called andouilette. What, you ask, is the problem? If you measure the amount of indole in, say, jasmine oil and make up a synthetic mix with the same amount of the pure stuff, it will smell of mothballs whereas the natural one doesn't. Why? Nobody knows. But that is the main reason why white-flower reconstitutions seldom have the back-of-the-throat rasp of the real thing. Perfumers put in as much indole as they dare, but usually stop short of the full dose.'

    As I mentioned on the Fracas thread, I have had tuberose flower stems in my house and I have a gardenia bush in my front yard. The flowers at their fullest bloom, usually at night, are incredibly noxious yet...just beautiful. I think all of my encounters with white floral fragrances is closely linked to my desire to replicate that 'experience' with a true natural indolic white flower.

    Any other indole floral lovers out there!?
    Last edited by mikeperez23; 4th June 2009 at 06:16 AM.
    "All problems are illusions of the mind."

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    My grandparents had a huge, thick, round bush that bloomed these bulbous white flowers. It was beautiful to look at but I kid you not, it was full of indole. If you picked a flower with your hand, it would smell like you had no toilet paper and used your hand instead. It was that potent. They told me the name of the bush but I have long since forgotten.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    I don't know if I have ever noticed this. My parent's and my grandma's houses have a huge amount of flowers around. My mother got her green thumb from her mother. I have never noticed indole in white flowers though. I even stop to smell them all the time. Maybe I just didn't realize what I was smelling.

    What would you say is the difference between the indole fecal smell and the civet fecal smell. I believe that civet is much more powerful and doesn't have the floral component, but are they in some way related?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Civet is a musk produced in the musk oil gland in big cats and *has* the fecal smell. Indole is the actual chemical in poo that has the fecal oder.
    Last edited by Scentologist; 20th May 2008 at 05:26 AM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    Any other indole floral lovers out there!?
    Yes, yes, and YES!

    How on earth did I miss that passage? I was probably racing ahead to the reviews. I've tried that nasty andouilette sausage, the only thing in France that I found inedible. It truly reeks and tastes like shit (I think). I wouldn't equate a lovely jasmine or gardenia blossom with it. Thank God there's something incredibly magical enough about the flowers that they transcend the sum of their parts. I know what you mean about the living blossoms - they are intoxicating, addictive, narcotic. A good perfume is a wonderful thing, but it can never truly replicate the aroma of the living plant.

    About civet, I'm getting it in Jicky, which I love, but is this "real" civet? Isn't that illegal now? Or is it a synthetized civet? Why would one synthetize poo scent, when there must be plenty of lab-reated bases to ground a scent. I also don't get the fecal smell in florals, though I can see it somewhat in civet. I just think it's not that big of a deal, though. The smell is not that strong. It smells like perfume, not like shite.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    The easiest way to learn of Indoles is the smell Lutens' A La Nuit. Many jasmin fragrances have an indolic quality to them, but this one trumps them all.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Quote Originally Posted by sofresh View Post
    The easiest way to learn of Indoles is the smell Lutens' A La Nuit. Many jasmin fragrances have an indolic quality to them, but this one trumps them all.
    I happen to agree sofresh, however Turin mentions Olene by Diptyque as being the more indole prominent. I have not smelled it, but now I want to.
    "All problems are illusions of the mind."

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  8. #8

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    I happen to agree sofresh, however Turin mentions Olene by Diptyque as being the more indole prominent. I have not smelled it, but now I want to.
    My curiosity has not been peaked too....will hunt this down and give word.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    I happen to agree sofresh, however Turin mentions Olene by Diptyque as being the more indole prominent. I have not smelled it, but now I want to.
    My curiosity has not been peaked too....will hunt this down and give word.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    What would you say is the difference between the indole fecal smell and the civet fecal smell. I believe that civet is much more powerful and doesn't have the floral component, but are they in some way related?
    As Turin mentioned, Civet gets its fecal smell from skatole (methyl indole). And again as Turin mentioned, Indole itself smells much more like mothballs than it smells fecal.

    Pure indole is available as a 10% solution from Perfumer's Apprentice:
    http://store.perfumersapprentice.com/arhz.html
    They also have a synethetic Civet base from Givaudan:
    http://store.perfumersapprentice.com/bebaco.html
    Last edited by dcampen; 20th May 2008 at 03:39 PM.
    All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Indoles are often confused with skatoles. Skatoles are another chemical produced in the digestive tract. I believe that they are responsible for the true bad smell in human waste.
    Surprisingly, skatole is often used in flavoring vanilla ice cream.
    That said, indoles have the smell of sweetness turning to rot. The smell of something a little too ripe. The smell of a human being in its natural state. The smell that Grenouille lacked in perfume.
    Before aquatics took over, most fragrances had some kind of rot going on in them, be it musks, civets, tree mosses, castoreums and indoles.
    It's a way of restoring nature back to our bodies. Sort of like the way after shampoo conditioners work - restoring some of the natural oils that make one's hair more attractive.
    Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 20th May 2008 at 03:52 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    man! we have so many LT's right here in BN... interesting stuff.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    The white floral indole is a fave of mine! I'm completely jealous that Mike has a gardenia bush of his very own. You know Mike, you've just created a stampede for Olene!!!

    Seriously, I think the indolic nature of Lutens' A La Nuit is what I am addicted to...I believe indoles are what gives an authentic floral frag it's raw and fresh edge ~ and that's why I'm joining the herd to find Diptyque's creation!

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruggles View Post
    That said, indoles have the smell of sweetness turning to rot. The smell of something a little too ripe.
    I smell this 'sweet turning to rot' in Black Orchid by Tom Ford and of course, Nuit Noire by Mona di Orio.
    "All problems are illusions of the mind."

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  15. #15

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    I smell this 'sweet turning to rot' in Black Orchid by Tom Ford and of course, Nuit Noire by Mona di Orio.
    You should try then Joy, specially the perfume Mike, it's pure rose and indolic jasmine at the n-th power.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    I smell this 'sweet turning to rot' in Black Orchid by Tom Ford and of course, Nuit Noire by Mona di Orio.
    I wish I could get that skank smell from Black Orchid, but on me it stays, as LT put it, cucumber and chocolate. I imagine that dumping a nice dose of civet in this one would help get rid of that watery, clean as a cucumber note.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    I did notice that on the dry down of some fragrances (Fleur de Male, Cristalle, Fracas, Carnal Flower) there is a "spent & wilting flower" smell that makes itself felt as the scent progresses, I suppose this is the role of indolic compounds in the oils. Its what makes the dry down fun for me in those fragrances and in no way resembles poop to my nose! Its that overripe rot smell for sure!

    As I said in another topic, I do think people overemphasize the natural "off" smells in florals and other notes in fragrances (for instance people talk about "BO smell" when they smell some spices, especially cumin.) - I always supposed this was because the complexity introduced by these "off" odors make the fragrance have a great complex structure and thereby steps back a couple of steps from becoming cloying or candylike?
    ===
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  18. #18

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    No mention of urine-like smells. How are they created synthetically?

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Quote Originally Posted by Magnifiscent View Post
    You should try then Joy, specially the perfume Mike, it's pure rose and indolic jasmine at the n-th power.
    Joy parfum has been on my To Test list for quite a while. I will most likely have to order some from The Perfumed Court, since when I encounter it in stores rarely do I see an open tester for the parfum, it's mostly the EdT.

    Thanks for the confirmation that I should try it Magnifiscent!
    "All problems are illusions of the mind."

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  20. #20

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigsly View Post
    No mention of urine-like smells. How are they created synthetically?
    phenols.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigsly View Post
    No mention of urine-like smells. How are they created synthetically?
    Black current bud has been called the cat urine note.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    Joy parfum has been on my To Test list for quite a while. I will most likely have to order some from The Perfumed Court, since when I encounter it in stores rarely do I see an open tester for the parfum, it's mostly the EdT.

    Thanks for the confirmation that I should try it Magnifiscent!
    Thats what I had to do - and it is a perfume you owe it to yourself to try. It really gives perspective on other florals as well due to its richness and complexity,
    ===
    [I] recall thinking that the computer would never advance much further than this. Call me nave, but I seemed to have underestimated the universal desire to sit in a hard plastic chair and stare at a screen until your eyes cross. ~ David Sedaris

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruggles View Post
    Black current bud has been called the cat urine note.
    Beeswax absolute also has a kind of pee-like smell. Cf. Turin's review of Serge Lutens Miel de Bois, which features this honey-like note. BTW, I love Miel de Bois; Turin can howl all he wants. One person remarked to me that MdB smelled "like urinal cakes."

    Have you ever heard the term "honey-wagon" for a truck that empties septic tanks? There may be a connection here. Honey does have a slight odor of decomposition, though not quite like skatole or indole. It is, after all, a specialized form of bee sputum (read: "spit"); but then, milk is a specialized form of sweat. All the things we didn't (and didn't want to) know!

    Bye the bye, the term "skatole" is derived from a Greek word which means, to put it bluntly, "shit." Saint Paul writes in one of his epistles that he counts the world "as so much shit" compared to the knowledge of salvation. Yes, that's the literal translation; many English versions translate the word as "rubbish;" one translation, a little more honest, comes closer with "manure."
    Last edited by JaimeB; 20th May 2008 at 07:33 PM.
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  24. #24

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Beeswax absolute also has a kind of pee-like smell. Cf. Turin's review of Serge Lutens Miel de Bois, which features this honey-like note. BTW, I love Miel de Bois; Turin can howl all he wants. One person remarked to me that MdB smelled "like urinal cakes."

    Have you ever heard the term "honey-wagon" for a truck that empties septic tanks? There may be a connection here. Honey does have a slight odor of decomposition, though not quite like skatole or indole.
    This is likely from phenylacetic acid and its esters.
    http://www.bojensen.net/EssentialOil...03.htm#Beeswax
    All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Quote Originally Posted by dcampen View Post
    This is likely from phenylacetic acid and its esters.
    http://www.bojensen.net/EssentialOil...03.htm#Beeswax
    Wow, thanks for this wonderful essential oils/chemistry link.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Yes, I've heard the same thing about the black currant bud. I didn't get a strong indole scent from Fracas. I need to revisit this I guess

  27. #27

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Quote Originally Posted by 55karl View Post
    Yes, I've heard the same thing about the black currant bud. I didn't get a strong indole scent from Fracas. I need to revisit this I guess
    Black currant smells like taking a leak after drinking five raspberry mochas. definitely has an almost coffee-like bitterness.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Quote Originally Posted by sofresh View Post
    The easiest way to learn of Indoles is the smell Lutens' A La Nuit. Many jasmin fragrances have an indolic quality to them, but this one trumps them all.
    Norma Kamali Jazmn is (to me) stronger, by far.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    I stepped out of my house tonight to go out, and the scent of the gardenia bush in my front yard hit me across the face - the bush is about 12 feet away from the front door, but the smell...well it's oily, pervasive, almost lemony in it's sharpness. Extremely indolic. Quite an incredible smell.

    ((sniffing))
    "All problems are illusions of the mind."

    -- Eckhart Tolle

  30. #30

    Default Re: Indole-ge me

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    I smell this 'sweet turning to rot' in Black Orchid by Tom Ford and of course, Nuit Noire by Mona di Orio.
    I got the same experience form Black Orchid.

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