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  1. #1

    Default Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    Hello Group -
    I'm curious about the benefits of mixing natural Essential oils with synthetic scents in perfumery. Do the synthetics keep their chemical structure intact longer? Do they help to boost or stabilize essential oils? Are there some combinations of the two that are particularly mutually beneficial?

    In small-scale commercial perfumery, are there certain synthetics that are more commonly used than others?

    Thank you for any suggestions.
    J
    Painting: www.johnbiebel.com | Music: www.ichigatsu.com | Recent Writing: Serge Lutens

  2. #2

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    Hi John,
    You do know how to ask difficult questions don't you?

    First thing to say is synthetics vary a great deal - some are more stable than most essential oils, some much less so. For example some of the synthetic musks are so stable that they have given rise to environmental concerns about their longevity in the environment. On the other hand some of the aldehydes are the things most often responsible for a modern perfume 'going off' - that vinegary smell you sometimes get in a bad perfume is usually from the aldehydes in it that have oxidised. Perfumes that have a lot of bright, sparkling, fruity notes in them such as Channel No 5 and many fragrances aimed at the Brazilian market are particularly high in these aldehydes.

    They can certainly boost essential oils in lots of ways - extending the citrus scent is a classic role for synthetics in a blend for example - some are used to 'exalt' the florals: materials like Hedione have little perfume on their own but have a profound effect on other components, especially florals, in a blend. Still others like Iso E Super have a filling, rounding effect and velvet feel that is hard to replicate with anything natural but which works together with natural components to give something exceptional.

    The classic blend for a FougŤre style is oakmoss, lavender, coumarin and (usually) geranium: the original of the style FougŤre Royal was the first fragrance known to use a synthetic component (the coumarin) and would not be the same without it. Equally it wouldn't be the same without the oakmoss but now that oakmoss is so heavily restricted by IFRA it is becoming necessary to replace it with synthetic substitutes such as Veramoss.

    And that brings me to the biggest and most controversial use of synthetics, to replace naturals. Sometimes this is just down to price and even the small-scale DIY enthusiast may be tempted to go that route faced with the enormous prices of some absolutes or with oils such as sandalwood.

    Another reason for replacement is the environmental and moral problem that comes with using the naturals: Santalum album is an endangered species: many would argue it is irresponsible to use what remains to make oil for perfume - there are natural and synthetic alternatives and both have their merits and problems.

    Replacing animal materials is another major area for synthetics: all the traditional animal ingredients have synthetic alternatives and price, morality and public anxiety have all played a part in driving the industry down the synthetic route.

    I think I've put a list up on this forum before of synthetics I consider good ones to get to know first - that list is probably similar to the answer to your final question, though of course as formulae are generally closely guarded, getting to know who uses what isn't straightforward. I have nearly 500 ingredients in my collection now, just over half of which are synthetic: there are thousands more that I don't keep stock of and new materials are becoming available all the time. I'll track down the list and put it into this thread too.
    Last edited by Chris Bartlett; 3rd November 2011 at 10:09 PM. Reason: added italics
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    www.perfumedesigner.co.uk
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume

    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog if you wish to ask questions of me.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    This is the list I was thinking of - distinctly incomplete now that I look at it again as I've missed off the major aldehydes but still, it's a place to start:

    I thought it might be helpful to list some of the aroma chemicals that I find most useful, most often, in no particular order:
    Synthetic Ambergris - there are several and I use one in many, many accords I make
    Iso E Super - adds a unique diffusive quality to many accords. IFRA limits this to 20% but that's more than you are ever likely to want to use anyway - I find 2% is plenty in a finished product (that's 2% of the total product not 2% of the aromatics, just to be clear)
    Hedione - works well in lots of blends especially florals, it brightens the blend and enhances many florals especially the jasmines, but by no means only those. It can be used quite freely.
    Synthetic Civet and Castoreum - these are vital for adding animalic notes to perfumes where you are not using real animal ingredients. Use with caution and keep well diluted - 0.1% and 1%. Ambrarome is a less powerful animalic note with more leathery quality than civet that works really well to fix and diffuse florals especially chypre types.
    Musks: Ambrettolide, Exaltolide, Galaxolide, Ethylene brassylate etc. - all useful, all slightly different.
    Vanillin, Ethyl vanillin - these are vital for sweetening and softening blends - strong chemicals though so keep diluted to about 1%
    Lilial, Lyral and hydroxycitronellal - these are all imitations of Lily of the Valley, all different and all restricted by IFRA to low usage. Even so they enhance a lot of floral and other blends in small amounts and are lovely used in combination with each-other and many florals.
    Methyl ionone (& ionone alpha and beta) - useful to add some 'punch' to florals and add depth - quite heady and not that nice on their own but enhance a lot of blends.
    Geranyl acetate and Linalyl acetate are especially useful to add top notes when you don't want either citrus or lavender to be apparent in your blend. They will enhance all sorts of other things too.
    Calone is a wonderful clean, fresh sea-breeze note that is essential for creating those popular 'aqua' type colognes. Strong stuff so dilute to 1%
    Floralozone is similar but more versatile in small quantities in lots of blends to brighten them up - as the name implies much more ozonic
    Helional, verdilyn and cis-3-hexanyl acetate are all good green notes
    Javanol is a good replacement for or booster with sandalwood (more booster than full replacement really)
    Cedramber is a nice cedar-wood like scent with some depth
    Veramoss is a substitute for Oakmoss - not as good as the real thing but handy to boost it because the IFRA permitted quantities are so low.

    There are loads more . . .
    Last edited by Chris Bartlett; 4th November 2011 at 03:47 PM. Reason: minor corrections
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    www.perfumedesigner.co.uk
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume

    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog if you wish to ask questions of me.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    Very good post Chris, interesting that i often use those chemicals, but it isnīt always quite clear for me how they work an a blend and how to use them to alter the character of a perfume.

    Conni

  5. #5

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    This is great information, Chris - thanks very much for the list and for the general guidelines / practices.

    I think the ethics issue is quite important - I can't imagine using animal-based scenting products that involve harming or causing discomfort to an animal, but the point about synthetic musk is very interesting. I just read recently that most household cleaners and detergents are scented with synthetic musk due to its low cost.

    I wasn't aware of the souring that can happen with aldehydes - although your example of Chanel No. 5 makes sense - I remember coming across a rather old bottle (at least 30 years old) and the scent was markedly different than what a fresh bottle would smell like.

    I'm interested in the chemistry behind the synthetics, so it looks like I should also be doing some reading on comparisons of organic/man-made chemical compounds. Some of the stories behind chemical scent discoveries are pretty funny, like the gentleman who accidentally discovered artificial grape :-)

    I can see why recipes for scents would become so carefully guarded - particularly if one is combining essentials and synthetics. I know there are some out there who might look down upon the idea of synthetics, but particularly in the case of animal-based scents, it seems far more responsible to use them for specific cases like that.

    Cheers Chris
    Painting: www.johnbiebel.com | Music: www.ichigatsu.com | Recent Writing: Serge Lutens

  6. #6

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    The synthetic musk issue is very important because apparently it is coming through women into their breast milk and contaminating their babies. Stats are available on the web about the effects known.

    The aldehyde souring is interesting because I am a collector of many vintage perfumes right back to I think 1917 is my earliest one. I find it is the dark and the lower temperatures that have the best effect on longevity. Some of my earlier Chanels smell pretty good, if not better, than newer aldehydic reformulations (in my opinion).

    The synthetic and natural issue is a matter for your own personal choice and should remain unjudged by others. There is room in this world for everyone to be as they wish to be. There are many oils and abs you can use instead of animal scents. I have a diagram somewhere about many, with all their nuances in relation to the smells of musk or musk synthetics. I will have a look for it later for you.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    Hi Mumsy - Wow, I hadn't known about this issue with synthetic Musk.. I suppose this is a serious problem with anything man-made; how we cannot really know its long term effects until such time has passed that we can witness it's footprint.

    I really like vintage perfumes, though I haven't been able to collect any that are particularly valuable or rare... I'm still surprised, though, by how a bottle with only a few drops left in it can still retain the scent of a perfume decades after it was opened... just amazing. I do recall being at an antique shop in Connecticut, US, and I saw an interesting amber glass bottle of tincture of bitter almonds, circa 1880. Like a child, of course, I lifted out the cork and BAM, the whole room smelled of deep, rich almonds within about 2 seconds. But to your point, I agree there can be a change in the scent of some components, but I, too, like those scent components that have 'gone off'; they seem to take on an interesting character.

    I'd love to see that diagram you're talking about if you can find it, thank you.
    J
    Painting: www.johnbiebel.com | Music: www.ichigatsu.com | Recent Writing: Serge Lutens

  8. #8

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    Quote Originally Posted by mumsy View Post
    The aldehyde souring is interesting because I am a collector of many vintage perfumes right back to I think 1917 is my earliest one. I find it is the dark and the lower temperatures that have the best effect on longevity. Some of my earlier Chanels smell pretty good, if not better, than newer aldehydic reformulations (in my opinion).
    Dark and cool are certainly helpful for longevity of perfumes in general and aldehydic ones in particular - full or oxygen free bottles help too - at one time it was common to pressurise bottles with nitrogen in order to avoid the aldehydes oxidising. I keep my neat ones under refrigeration.

    You are surely not suggesting though, that Channel No 5 was better before it had aldehydes in it?!
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    www.perfumedesigner.co.uk
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume

    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog if you wish to ask questions of me.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bartlett View Post
    Dark and cool are certainly helpful for longevity of perfumes in general and aldehydic ones in particular - full or oxygen free bottles help too - at one time it was common to pressurise bottles with nitrogen in order to avoid the aldehydes oxidising. I keep my neat ones under refrigeration.

    You are surely not suggesting though, that Channel No 5 was better before it had aldehydes in it?!
    Noooooooo Chris. I'm not that silly. Just that the reformulated version in my opinion is a lesser being and that the aldehydes although old, have not always gone off. i.e. it isn't guaranteed that they do.

    Quote Originally Posted by johngreenink View Post
    Hi Mumsy - Wow, I hadn't known about this issue with synthetic Musk.. I suppose this is a serious problem with anything man-made; how we cannot really know its long term effects until such time has passed that we can witness it's footprint.
    I think it is pretty serious. The other factor to take into account is what any of these things do to your body. Natural and synthetic, both have many things that end up in your liver as toxins. Your skin after all, is a large absorbent organ. Something all perfumers should be very aware of.

    I will find the chart with the alternatives tomorrow for you. I am not near my books today.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    Quote Originally Posted by mumsy View Post
    Noooooooo Chris. I'm not that silly. Just that the reformulated version in my opinion is a lesser being and that the aldehydes although old, have not always gone off. i.e. it isn't guaranteed that they do.
    Ah OK that makes sense - it certainly isn't guaranteed that they go off or indeed that they will oxidise to that characteristic vinegar smell if they do - there are a lot of aldehydes and they each degrade differently and by no means all of them are unstable. Ethyl vanillin for example is perfectly fine.

    I don't have any vintage C5 to smell but knowing what I do of it's history a big part of the reason the reformulated version is 'a lesser being' is that it has less (well no) beast in it: the original was notable for the use of a lot of real musk as well as the revolutionary use of aldehydes. A fact which may have been influenced by Channel's choice of perfumer: Ernest Beaux on whom there is a very good Wiki article (unlike the one on the perfume itself which isn't up to much). Imperial Russia was the source of most of the world's natural musk (as the Russian Federation still is outside of China).
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    www.perfumedesigner.co.uk
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume

    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog if you wish to ask questions of me.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    Oh and speaking of history, you don't say what your oldest perfume is but if its 1917 it isn't Chanel, if it's Chanel it has to be 1922 or later (unless you have one of the 100 original No 5's from 1920: if any of those survive they must be worth a considerable fortune by now).
    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

    www.perfumedesigner.co.uk
    Twitter: @PellWallPerfume

    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation Iím happy to quote: if you want free advice, thatís what these forums are for
    You can also join my blog if you wish to ask questions of me.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    Nope, not Chanel, but I have some very early treasures like it. I just love the packaging of the really ancient ones. This one is a tiny little gilded box with a circular sticker saying Perfumerie Fragonard Grasse, France and inside the sticker says E. Fuchs, Rose, Grasse, France in a little glass stoppered cut flagon. It is my dearest perfume treasure I think, although I love all my older ones. It stills smells like the rose has just been picked. It must have been made so well.

    Sorry John, we've slid a bit off topic. However what I will say in our favour is that obtaining older/niche/natural/any perfumes or getting a whiff of them is a good way to see what you would like to make. That will also decree where your loyalties lie to naturals, synthetics or both.

    Here is the musk substitutes thing I have drawn a sketch of in my notes, but you have to draw it yourself because I cannot find the link to where i got it from (I think it was the natural perfumers site, so all good credit due to them, any mistakes are mine):-
    Draw a picture of a hexagon, straight sides sideways and pointy bits top and bottom, and then draw six more hexagons around it, joined on like patchwork.
    Inside the centre hexagon, write Musk eau naturel, then starting from the right hand top hexagon and working clockwise write inside each one:- resinous, animalic, rooty, woody, floral fruity, and last in top left, spicy herbal.
    At each junction and point of every hexagon, working clockwise around the whole diagram, write these just on the outside of the hexagons, by each point and junction:-
    Seaweed (at the centre top junction), vanilla (first point), labdanum (second point), beeswax (next junction etc etc), Ambrette seed, angelica root, vetiver, costus, spikenard, patchouli, oud, sandalwood, blackcurrant, jasmin sambac, musk rose, carrot seed, black pepper, cumin (then you should be back to seaweed if I've explained myself properly here).

    Please bear in mind this is out of my own notes for and to myself, so I accept no responsibility for accuracy or enterpretation.

    I wrote also outside by the resinous hexagon, styrax, then by ambrette and angelica root a bracket saying (true macro cyclic musks)

    Then I've written underneath:-
    Costus root = sweet musk-like,
    Styrax = honey-spiced-leather-musk with airoplane glue
    Cassis (blackcurrant bud) = pine trees & cats (fruity green civet) and pushes notes such as:-
    Carrot seed = strong & can stand out too much
    Seaweed = sometimes flavourless
    Cumin = sweaty men and BO?

    See what you think of that... I hope it helps with ideas for musky perfumes.

    Here are some nice and interesting reads about natural perfumery:-

    http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/NaturalPerfumery/
    and Profumo here
    http://www.profumo.it/perfume/natura..._perfumery.htm

    I'm sure others can provide you with some good synthetic useage links.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    Mumsy, sorry for my late reply - thanks very much for the info, it's very very helpful! I'm particularly interested in the seaweed - I've been reading quite a lot of interesting stuff about seaweed both as a flavor and as a fragrance. It seems to be quite chameleon-like in the way the nose/palette perceives it. I'd be curious to know how it smells based on sample, since it varies so much based on what water its pulled from. This is wonderfully useful, I'm going to make my own chart based on your description.

    I've got some new essential oils coming in the post, should arrive early next week. I'm excited - I'm learning very much and it's great to bring this knowledge to my lab (erm, well, kitchen, to be exact...).
    I'll report in on successes.
    J
    Painting: www.johnbiebel.com | Music: www.ichigatsu.com | Recent Writing: Serge Lutens

  14. #14

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    Hi John, as soon as expense allows. Get yourself a little scale. For cheap, a jewellery scale will do, then later a micro balance like an ibalance that weighs in 0.005g increments. Even if you play in drops, it's nice to weigh them in order to replicate a good whiff. Love your work by the way. Very Klimty/Goya/typo-esque. It would be fun to mix some smells to go with those as they would lend themselves very well to the labels.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    Mumsy, I meant to thank you for your compliments on my paintings :-) I appreciate the feedback, it's always good to hear. As you can see I have my fingers in many creative pies! Thanks again.
    Painting: www.johnbiebel.com | Music: www.ichigatsu.com | Recent Writing: Serge Lutens

  16. #16

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    I was wondering where does one find the synthetics Chris mentioned? Is there any website that sells those? I have a 30 piece collection of essential oils and want to experiment with those synthetics as well..combine and see.
    Also, I wanted to know whether a simple Ashley or other brand musk oil one finds in perfumeries can be used as an ingredient to
    an essential oils composition. I really need some musk and being an amateur that's the only one I can find. This and Body Shop's which is more like a stand alone composition.
    I hope this is not a too naive question.
    Thank you.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    why don't you try the sticky thread about suppliers?

  18. #18

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    Quote Originally Posted by gido View Post
    why don't you try the sticky thread about suppliers?
    Thank you, I'll do that. Any pieces of advice about my second question are appreciated.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    Quote Originally Posted by princeOK View Post
    Thank you, I'll do that. Any pieces of advice about my second question are appreciated.
    i suppose you could, but i would advice against it. it think it's better to spend your money on some synthetic musks instead. then you will know what you are using. and you will have more control, you can get after the exact odor you want (and nothing else) instead of some generic blend. and if you happen to make something great using a perfume oil, what if they change the formula? i can think of more reasons, but i guess this will do.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    Oh, I have the worst problem. I can't smell synthetic musks (or ambrette seed absolute for that matter) except, I recently discovered, Cashmeran. It doesn't smell exactly like natural musk to me but there are a lot of elements the two seem to have in common. Is there a good way to fill it out so it smells more natural? I'm delighted to have found it, but I know it's very sweet and strong and I don't want to abuse it.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    The musk subs from the perfumers apprentice smell very good. The animalics blend is very similar to the real thing IMO. A small amount is very inexpensive and goes a long way. You could buy a small selection and blend different combos. Profumo has a whole thread somewhere about musk anosmia.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    I've been struggling trying to make a sandalwood fragrance. I have experimented with kephalis, cedar wood, birch tar (in trace amounts), patchouli, castoreum and various kinds of sandalwood, but I can't get anything to exalt the sandalwood and make it more pronounced. It remains very subtle and in the background if apparent at all. Am I trying to do something impossible? Chris mentions in one of his posts that Javanol is used with sandalwood. Perhaps I should try that next. Any help would be much appreciated.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    yes, javanol, both chris and david gave some good pointers in recent posts, look them up.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    YUi jkjh

    - - - Updated - - -

    I mix 3 perfume like arabic ...sanadl rose +oud sayntathic+shamamatul amber ...it become good note as i want but.....in start lift for 2 minute bur after 2 mint no body feel of fragrance ..pl can any body tel me how to increase lasting & lifting...

  25. #25

    Default Re: Advantages of mixing Essential Oils and Synthetics

    How much have you mixed of each? What proportions?

    An opening of citrus's or something more camphorous like pine, fir or like peppermint for lift. Lasting should be ok with the oudh and amber. Mid heart should be fine with rose.

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