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  1. #1
    gecko214's Avatar
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    Default Violet accord using naturals

    After searching far and wide for a formula, and failing, I am trying to make a simple violet accord on my own (using natural ingredients). What started as a simple experiment has become a minor obsession. I am using Orris co2 and violet leaf abs, which gives a basic violet feel. But something is missing. It is not "acid" enough and the top is not complete somehow. I have added star anise to get the 1,4-Dimethoxybenzene, which I gather is also a critical ingredient. Don't know if there is a better source for this? Tried also a tiny touch of celery which seems to help perk it up. Tried a tiny touch of sweet birch (Methyl Salicylate) but just getting too much wintergreen there. So probably a dead end (?) Also tried a little Ylang as an exultant (again I think this has some Methyl Salicylate,right?), and civet. Again, not really getting what I need from those. I think. Or maybe just wrong proportions (?) This is all made the more difficult by the ionones which desensitize and then I can't tell what I am doing for 15 minutes.

    Anybody know the secret to this accord? Suggestions?

  2. #2
    Basenotes Institution 30 Roses's Avatar
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    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    gecko214, your inbox is full; if you clear a few private messages I can send you the formulas I mentioned previously, which I amused myself by typing out. Maybe you will find something you can adapt or use from the formulas.

    Edit: sent!
    Last edited by 30 Roses; 29th October 2011 at 04:46 AM.


  3. #3
    gecko214's Avatar
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    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    Inbox cleaned thanks!!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    Tough challenge you've given yourself there gecko214! I must say I dearly wish I had access to some of the violet flower absolute that used to be made at the turn of the 19th / 20th century - I gather none has been made (at least not on a commercial scale) since about 1902.
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  5. #5
    gecko214's Avatar
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    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    Chris when I saw you had answered I said to myself, "ah Chris is going to settle it", but alas I see you too think it is hard (which means it must be pretty hard). I know you use aroma chemicals so have no need of this. I would explain why I use naturals but it would probably be boring. Suffice it to say it is not a fear of using (artificial) chemicals, but rather because, for the moment, I learn more about the elements of perfume, by their named notes, if you see what I mean. Plus some vague snobbish esthetic, I'll admit. Anyway. Do you know of any naturals that would have any other Ionones (beta alpha, etc)? I think that's what's missing. I know Boronia does but don't have that pricy gem.

    A short report on progress so far: 1) it's darned hard because the scent keeps disappearing. 2) still have not found the "acid" quality (I guess that's how to describe it) of the real thing, but I did ask my wife, who has an excellent nose, what note she smelled and she said violet (ish). Best two so far:

    Orris Co2 33% 10
    Champaka CO2 20% 1
    Violet leaf 10% 1
    Tuberose enfleurage eo 33% 1
    rose otto 1
    civet 1% 1
    star anise 10% 3
    trace black current

    and an attempt to create a 19th century "violet replacement" formula using:

    Orris 33% 6
    Tuberose 33% 6
    cassie 15% 5
    rose otto 10% 18
    tonka 10% 2 (the recipe calls for bitter almond, of which I have none)



    The first one is more powdery harsh, second one more round and generally floral (note no violet leaf). I know most here don't give formulas, but I am not keeping any nuclear secrets and I am not selling anything, so I don't see why not....

  6. #6

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    Ah, well thank you for the confidence and sorry to have disappointed!

    I think it's probably beta-ionone you are short of in these formulae and although it appears in quite a few essential oils, the difficulty is going to be getting that element without a lot of other stuff that you don't want. I've given it a bit of thought (hence the slow reply - this thinking stuff is exhausting you know . . .) and having been through what I have in the perfumery as well as looked a few things up, here is what I'd suggest you try:

    I would certainly try adding a tiny amount of spearmint as a brightener. I emphasise tiny!

    Other oils that contain beta-ionone include osmanthus, especially osmanthus absolute: this has a distinctly violet note in the scent and has one of the highest proportions of beta-ionone I can think of (roughly 5%), so quite a bit more than the Champaka you are already using. The champaka btw has a lovely dense concentrated floral aroma - I've not used it in a while and now I'm wondering why not . . .

    Beta-ionone also appears in grapes, wines and brandies so that made me check out my green brandy absolute and white cognac absolute: I think the latter might be best for your purpose, but I would definitely give one of them a try - I think one of these might give you the acid quality you are looking for. I was quite struck by how much they resembled a combination of alpha and beta-ionone in smell. Nicely transparent too, which is always difficult with naturals. Much under-rated oils that should be more widely known I think.

    Turmeric oil has beta-ionone but it may add too much of a musty scent. Not something I use much but it's cheap as chips, which is more than you can say for most things on this list.

    It's in tobacco too, but I'm not sure I'd recommend using tobacco absolute in this case - too much else going on - but you could always experiment if you have some to hand.

    I believe Spikenard absolute has quite a bit of beta-ionone in it but I don't have any to hand to smell-test. Boronia is far too expensive to keep in stock too and over-rated in my view - not much in it anyway.

    Finally, yes I guess I'd be inclined to cheat and use aroma-chemicals to put this together, but an artistic challenge is always good and I do understand entirely about the snobbish aesthetic! Plus this way you'll end up with something quite unique and interesting: Keep us informed!
    Last edited by Chris Bartlett; 30th October 2011 at 04:58 PM. Reason: corrected typo
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  7. #7
    gecko214's Avatar
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    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    Much appreciated Chris. Don't have spearmint, only peppermint, but I am sure I can get it locally. Osmanthus also don't have and a rare and pricy bugger it is. Hmm. Expensive hobby. I do have a concentrated spikenard tincture, so will definitely try that. also white cognac, even if it does smell like vomit in its concentrated form, I have and will try. I'll try a touch of tobacco for the heck of it too. Incidentally, Champaka (which is indeed a lovely thing) seems to work very well for me in supporting a carnation accord (another one I have been trying to make, even carnation absolute is not enough by itself).

  8. #8

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    I have had folks tell me my Cognac smells like vomit. I don't see the association though.
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  9. #9
    gecko214's Avatar
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    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    or was it your vomit that smelled like cognac...?

  10. #10

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    Quote Originally Posted by gecko214 View Post
    or was it your vomit that smelled like cognac...?
    I imagine that would require drinking quite a lot of Cognac . . . which might be an experiment worth conducting sometime. I must confess I came close to making that assessment once after attending 300th anniversary celebrations of the Hennessy Cognac house.
    ďA person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person
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    Chris Bartlett
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    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    Quote Originally Posted by gecko214 View Post
    Much appreciated Chris. Don't have spearmint, only peppermint, but I am sure I can get it locally. Osmanthus also don't have and a rare and pricy bugger it is. Hmm. Expensive hobby. I do have a concentrated spikenard tincture, so will definitely try that. also white cognac, even if it does smell like vomit in its concentrated form, I have and will try. I'll try a touch of tobacco for the heck of it too. Incidentally, Champaka (which is indeed a lovely thing) seems to work very well for me in supporting a carnation accord (another one I have been trying to make, even carnation absolute is not enough by itself).
    Champaka is lovely - I can recommend Osmanthus on the same basis: very expensive but a beautiful material.

    As to carnation, I'm not surprised the absolute does not do it, I always think clove oil smells more like carnations than the absolute and at a fraction of the price too. Keep in mind too that carnation absolute has quite a lot of Benzyl benzoate, Benzyl salicilate and eugenol - all IFRA restricted materials - another reason I don't use it much. Counter-intuitive as it sounds I think I'd actually try the accord without it: I think it might work just as well if not better.
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  12. #12

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    Hi there, what a nice challenge, so just some amateur thoughts after some cupboard dabbling. I tried to mix yours to see what you were smelling, but didn't have the star anise or the blackcurrant so I made the rest then added these, cardomon 10% 1, narcissus 10% 1 and litsea cubeba 10% 1. My oils won't be the same, but it comes out quite near to the the Lounds Pateman version of violets, perhaps not so sweet, so maybe a trace of beeswax tincture or vanilla too. I was trying to get the sweetie factor with the litsea, the dark side of the violet flower with the narcissus and a touch of sharp edge with the green spicy citrus of the cardomon.

    I had another go at a brew using elemi and rosewood to see what Mr Brosius was playing with, but this is altogether darker. Interesting though. http://kjanicki-sotd.blogspot.com/20...me-violet.html

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    And the secret ingredient is: Mushroom? Well 1-octen-3-ol any way. Actually not sure yet. But Mumsy was kind enough to PM me a headspace analysis of violet given by another member and there is a surprisingly high amount of this in the mix. Overall though, there are two primary chemical categories in violet, the ionones (alpha, beta dihydro-beta) more than 35 parts, as we know, plus a large measure of 1,4 dimethoxybenzene (close to 25 parts out of 100) then three other bigger pieces are, at a little over 5 parts each:
    -various hexanyel acetates (principally cis-3 hexanyl acetate fruity green, banana like odor found in fig leaf, grass, liliy of the valley, strawberry) (and possibly mango leaf?).
    -benzyl benzoate, balsamic scent (?) contained in Tuberose, tolu and peru balsums as well as carnation.
    -and finally the 1-octen-3-ol, this is mushroom-ey.

    Then lots of other smaller components, the largest of which is methyl jasmonate at over 2 (confirming the need for some florals like jasmin, chappa, etc). touches of limelool, limenone, and some minty components confirm Chris' instincts on the spearmint.

    I am still playing but have some MUCH closer by pumping way up on the star anis, mixing florals (jasmin, champaka, rose otto, tuberose with a touch of mimosa to bind them), a top with Keffir lime and black current at very small doses.

    Peru balsam, cognac, cepes, spikenard, not working: still trying to get the right ratios on those. Looks like if any congac at all it will be minute (so far even at 2% it is too much), cepes will be hard to get right, as it quickly gets ugly, but looks like important, chanterelles might be better, but don't have any... do wish I had some osmanthus, but sadly do not.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    I'd have never guessed that... However it isn't surprising either when you think of where a violet grows. I've got cepes and osmathus. I have been wondering what to use mushroom in. I made three brews upon this thread which are in various violet shades, but violet is a curious smell because it is only right when very, very right. It is a very curious challenge, and one i suspect ranks alongside Muguet. I have something about that somewhere in my murky files of antiquities.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    I may well be wrong about this, because I can't dig out the relevant reference, but I think 1-octen-3-ol (mushroom alcohol) is one of the constituents of violet leaf absolute - in which case I doubt you need to add more to a violet accord - on the other hand it isn't something you want much of in a perfume anyway: it attracts insects.

    It is what mosquitoes use to detect the breath and sweat of mammals so that they know which way to fly to find food: one theory is that mushrooms use it to fool these insects into providing a spore distribution service though I'm not sure how good the evidence is for that last: it was in the dark recesses of memory and the details were no-longer in the file . . .
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  16. #16
    gecko214's Avatar
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    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    Oh my. Well, I don't want that. Being involved in malaria control is part of my day job, so this would be disloyal. On the other hand I guess I could balance it with nootkaton from grapefruit which is supposed to repell/kill mosquitoes. In any case, not having much success with cepes as a constituent, just makes the whole thing stinky in whatever dose. I'll look into the violet leaf issue, I have been using it in extremely small amounts, maybe I will try pumping that up too, although I find it to have a harshness, and at higher doses, fishiness, that overwhelms.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    I'm having a cupboard sniff for you. Do you have the narcissus? It is IFRA restricted to 2% but it smelled very like the darker parma violet side of violetty to me. Calendula has a soft floral smell which could be slid toward the violet tones. Melissa shares the sweetie lemony factor of litsea cubeba but sharper. Pink grapefruit rather than the ordinary, has a slight floral quality to it. There is artimesia for a creamier type of green nuance. The nose has gone on me now for a bit....

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    You clearly have a very nice cupboard, Mumsy; I'm not worried about IFRA (in fact the more restricted, the more it makes me want to use it), but narcissus is quite pricey no? I don't have any but have always been tempted. Had not thought of artimesia, do have some of that. My general problem so far, after 10 formulas, is even with great restraint on numbers of ingredients and amounts, things get muddy very quickly. Keeping the pure sweetness is hard. This may simply be impossible with naturals, but I'll keep trying...

  19. #19

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    It won't be impossible to get somewhere near, and the challenge is a good one. I've made three now and they seem to be variations on floral lemon sweeties, with the last one being a bit darker. I must leave them a bit to develop, but they are nearer the parma violet sweeties than the flowers. The actual violetty floral note in the centre is an elusive one. The only really violet perfume I have is the pateman one. I will get you a vial to sniff. I am going to get hold of a real violet and learn its smell properly in the spring. I think you must be joining a very long line of scientists who have been trying at this one. Is it not one of the more elusive creatures in perfumerie classique whether natural or not? You could also ask Anya on a Sunday on the natural perfumers site. She has a question time then for amateur perfumers.

    I'm test running a Jasmine Auri abs on one hand, and although that is a quite musky floral, it may be able to be lightened up to violet with some sharper notes. I may try later.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    Quote Originally Posted by gecko214 View Post
    You clearly have a very nice cupboard, Mumsy; I'm not worried about IFRA (in fact the more restricted, the more it makes me want to use it), but narcissus is quite pricey no? I don't have any but have always been tempted. Had not thought of artimesia, do have some of that. My general problem so far, after 10 formulas, is even with great restraint on numbers of ingredients and amounts, things get muddy very quickly. Keeping the pure sweetness is hard. This may simply be impossible with naturals, but I'll keep trying...
    I'd recommend getting some narcissus - the usual one is from Narcissus poeticus - the Pheasant's Eye Narcissus - that's the one I have. It's a lovely material that in my view is well worth its price. However for this purpose I'd be concerned about it's complexity: normally that would be an advantage but it's nearly as complex a material as rose and I fear that might add to your problem of muddying. I'd still recommend getting some to try though as you are sure to find other uses for it even if it does not help with this particular problem.

    There is also the Jonquil type, which I'm currently looking for a source of: that's the one that was traditionally made by maceration in Grasse (probably still is if you can afford it) - I believe that is also very complex but might possibly be better for your purpose.

    Melissa is another one that's heavily restricted by IFRA (as well as fairly pricey) but you might want to experiment with it just because it's restricted
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    I think you have me just about convinced on the narcissus. Fascinating. Sounds like an important reference material in any case. Maybe just a couple mls... It takes me months to get things where I live, so sometime in January I can report back...

  22. #22

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    I'll send you a drop or two. I have oodles more than I can use in a century. There is already a parcel somewhere in the system from October. You've jolly well got me hooked on the violet puzzle though. I had to order some real violet plants to put in the garden so I know for real. I have some clovelly violet perfume too, but it smells exactly like the parma violet sweets. I did find an ancient read about tincture of violets, and this says the result should be bright green, so I wonder if the vintage Lounds Pateman stuff is real after all?

  23. #23

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    It's been a good few years since I grew scented violets in my garden but as I remember the scent wasn't as far from the parma violet sweets as you might expect. I'm a huge fan of violet creams and crystallised violet petals and they both have a similar distinctive scent to them, though I suspect that is coming from the artificial flavouring rather than violet petals.

    I'm sure I've read the same about violet tincture and ditto the violet petal absolute (last made in 1902 or something of the sort) being bright green rather than violet coloured.
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  24. #24

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    I feel some enfleurage coming on in the spring.....

  25. #25

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    you know you need the viola odorata, right? i grow these too, they are just lovely. my last batch had some disease, their all died but not without a few of them producing seeds. i've put these in a pot, i hope they will come up! because i can only buy the plants when they have already stopped flowering (afterwards is the right time to put them in the garden) and i would have to wait another year.

    but don't get your enfleurage expectations up too high. the yield of these flowers is extremely low. it used to be very expensive stuff. turin did the calculation for their market price before ionones took over, but the dollar has gone down quite a bit more since. i suppose that a kilo would fetch roughly about half a million dollars! of course no-one will ever pay that much.

    thank goodness we have the ionones now. :)

  26. #26

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    Luckily I only want a single drop to smell. I bought five sorts:-

    Viola Odorata Mrs R Barton
    Viola Odorata Lydia Groves
    Viola Odorata Kim
    Viola 'the Czar' - strongly scented. An historic violet, old favourite.
    Viola 'Baronne Alice De Rothschild - Highly scented.

    We'll have to wait and see... Some of my first tinctures are now a year and a half old and it doesn't feel that long ago that I made them. Luckily perfumers by nature have to be patient sorts... Did yours get to you yet?

  27. #27

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    yes they did! thank you very much, i appreciate it. :-*

    i haven't smelled them yet, i am currently recovering from the flu.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    Just a bit of fun...I was dredging my tomes and found this reference to an 1892 recipe (no fractions on my pute, so excuse the decimals):-

    Etrait violette II -
    Extracts No 2 from Pomm. Violette 500drachms,
    from Pomm. Cassie 250;
    bergamot oil 2.5,
    musk tincture No. 2, 1.5,
    ambergris tincture No. 2, 0.75,
    diluted with alcohol 0.75,
    bitter almond oil tincture No 2, 1,
    orris-root tincture No 2, 125
    Add a small quantity of green colouring substance.
    (sometimes using dried spinach leaves tinctured in 96* alcohol, but this bleaches fast so the etraits went a dirty-brown and stained the hankerchiefs)

    The Pomm. Violette in this case was extracted by masceration in melted fat in an enamelled iron or porcelain pan within a steam bath. The freshly gathered flowers were thrown in and left for 12- 24 hours with the fat kept fluid and stirred frequently until the flowers are exhausted. The fat was strained and again mascerated with fresh flowers. This was repeated 10-15 times until the pomade had reached the desired strength. The feeling was that the shortest time the flowers were in contact with the fat made the better quality pomade.

    No wonder their hankies smelled for weeks....

  29. #29
    gecko214's Avatar
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    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    Ok, still tweaking but one of the better ones so far:

    4.0 orris co2
    2.0 tuberose EO (Enfleurage)
    1.0 mimosa abs
    0.7 star anise EO
    0.4 champaka abs
    0.33 jasmin grand. abs
    0.05 black current abs
    0.1 violet leaf abs
    0.8 rose otto (bulgaria)
    4.0 frangipani extract (sorry self-made, no concentration % known...)
    0.1 vetiver EO
    4.0 keffir lime EO

    Of course since I don't have a real reference like the wonderful plants you all are raising, my nose may be drifting... would use osmanthus to replace the champaka if I had it. I can't emphasize enough how important the anise seems to be. Thanks again to Mumsy and 30 Roses for the useful PMs on this, and Chris for the posts.

  30. #30

    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    The star anise is interesting - 87% of star anise (of Chinese origin, which is most of it) is anethole, which is described as having a mimosa like scent when isolated so that might be relevant - I don't have any so can't say personally. Star anise is a very complex oil though with a great number of other components all at well under 0.5% so it might be any one (or more) of those that is the essential ingredient here.

    One of those trace components btw is shikimic acid, the crucial ingredient in synthesis of the drug Tamiflu - 90% of the production of Chinese star anise was used to extract shikimic acid for this purpose as a result of the bird flu scare of last year.
    Last edited by Chris Bartlett; 23rd November 2011 at 02:13 PM. Reason: added link
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  31. #31
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    Default Re: Violet accord using naturals

    Well I am using the star anise as a substitute for the 1,4-Dimethoxybenzene, which seems to be a key component, and is said by Bojensen ( http://www.bojensen.net/EssentialOil...s31.htm#Violet -- this website is a fantastic resource BTW) to have a "sweet herbal anisic odor". I imagine another anise oil would be good or even better than star anise, but that's all I have for anise. It is also said to be reminiscent of Ylang's top notes, so I will try that too when I get around to it. Probably needs a light touch...

    On shikimic acid, I was aware of the bird flu/Tamiflu connection due to my work in the health field. Plus I really like star anise as used in Chinese cooking; the smell is comforting to me.

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