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  1. #1

    Default What does Frankincense smell like?

    Asking "What does Frankincense smell like?" might seem strange to ask from
    someone who has burned tons of frankincense. Formerly all I could say was
    "Frankincense smells like frankincense" which describes absolutely nothing to
    someone who has never experienced the aroma.

    After pondering on the aroma I now say "Frankincense has a smell of pine and
    lemon combined with a dry woody aroma." Would others on this forum agree with
    me? What do you think frankincense smells like?

    One reason I ask this question is this: I have an incense formula in which I
    want the frankincense to be the dominant scent. However, no matter how much
    frankincense I add to the formula the other scents will not allow frankincense to be the dominant fragrance (I cannot reduce or eliminate the other scents for certain reasons other than fragrance for which they are included in the formula).

    I have tried adding frankincense CO2 oil and this helps, but it still is not
    strong enough. Also the oil seems to evaporate after some time passes.

    I have thought of trying a franknincense absolute. Do you think that would work?

    Does such a thing as "Concentrated frankincense" or "Concentrated frankincense
    oil" exist?

    By asking what frankincense smells like I am looking for the strongest notes in
    frankincense with the hope that I could accentuate it with a stronger resin. For
    example : If frankincense smells like pine and lemon, then I could add pine and
    lemon. Both of these scents are much stronger than frankincense and could boost
    the frankincense notes in the formula.

    In conclusion:

    (1)What do you think frankincense smells like?

    (2)How can I magnify the scent of frankincense in my formula?

    Thanks

  2. #2

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    You’ll get some help in understanding what else frankincense smells like by looking at the single note thread on it.

    I’ve also given some thoughts on how you can go about creating a ‘burning frankincense’ scent in a perfume in this thread, which started out looking at whether it is present in Aventus.
    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: What does Frankincense smell like?

    for the pine side, i would suggest cypress oil. also, i have found during some experiments that ionone beta can bolster the odor of olibanum. you could definitely try the absolute, in my opinion it smells more like the tears than the essential oil i have does.

  4. #4

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    In my opinion, for frankincense counts the older the better ! I keep a ten years old frankincense resinoid, that smells like fresh lit church incense. Resinoids smell much better to me, more resinous like essential oils. The eoīs smell more fresh and have that piney lemon smell. I was so lucky to get some old frankincense resinoid from charabot. It is thick, sticky, very dark and smells like damp cellar, old church, earthy, piney, coniferous, old wood ( Oud ? ) and pepper. There is also something sweet in it, like dark chocolate and caramel. If you want to use aromachemicals, try oxyoctaline and ambrocenide or both in combination with frankincense resinoid.

    Conni

  5. #5

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Agreed, I’ve said something in the the single note thread to that effect: my tiny remaining quantity of 30 year old olibanum essential oil is precious and very, very different from the fresh stuff: far more like the burning tears.

    Interesting choices on the aromachemical front too - dihydromyrcenol also works as an enhancer, but has become so ubiquitous that perhaps it’s no-longer a good idea. To lengthen the dark wood/amber element I like norlimbanol: amazing stuff for longevity.
    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.

  6. #6

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    It was on this board that someone said frankincense and rosemary reinforce each other, and I've experimented with that a little. Also I have a fragrance oil called "copal" from Save on Scents which smells much more like frankincense than their frankincense F.O. I have never smelled real copal resin but maybe that's something to incorporate in your incense?

  7. #7

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    The use of rosemary makes perfect sense: they have a lot of elements in common and work well together in fine fragrance.

    Copal is one of those terms with a fuzzy meaning - it is sometimes used generically to mean ‘a hard tree resin’ in which case it could include olibanum, myrrh and others - however usually it means the resin, often incorrectly called a gum, of South American origin and used in traditional ceremonials in some early SA cultures. It is also sometimes called ‘young amber’.

    Even then, to my knowlege it can refer to several species of tree including Copariflora officinalis, Copaifera guibourthiana and Bureseru microphylla. I’ve not come across essential oil made from any of these but it should work in a similar way to steam distilling olibanum and yield a similar, but different oil. I imagine the resin could also be tinctured, though as I understand it is a sub-fossil, that might involve solvents other than just alcohol, such as acetone.

    Long story short, it should work very well in this context. Looking at the Save on Scents website however, what they are offering is a fragrance oil - so it will be a synthetic imitation, which is fine except that you don’t know exactly what’s gone into it and how that might combine with your other ingredients.
    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.

  8. #8

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Thank you very much Chris and everyone else. Wow! What a plethora of information. This is very much appreciated. I will experiment with some of these suggestions.

  9. #9

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Mmmmmmmm frankincense - so so wonderful. You could make it smell warmer by adding a tiny amount of labdanum I suppose. A good frankincanse smells sweet, honey-like,woody, with some lemon top notes.

  10. #10

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    it is posibul to ass some frankincense in rady made perfume oil so that my perfume last long.
    like........i have have a perfume oil of blue d chanel its a good oil but not very last longer
    does frankincense make it beater?
    as i have been told that its a good fixative (espashly for citrus perfumes)

  11. #11

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    There are many different Frankincenses, and all have different properties. Try mixing several together. Definitely get some Olibanum Absolute. Also, have you tried mixing a little Myrrh or Opoponax into your formula? For a more smoky, "burning" effect, there are a couple of products which are effectively cracked Olibanum. One called "Vieilles Eglises" which smells just like old churches.

  12. #12

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    David, what is "cracked Olibanum"?

  13. #13

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Ruskin View Post
    For a more smoky, "burning" effect, there are a couple of products which are effectively cracked Olibanum. One called "Vieilles Eglises" which smells just like old churches.
    For this effect i also recommend this tincturing trick. Worked for me!

    Your'e welcome to visit my formulation blog, with a dozen of perfume formulations and accords to share!

  14. #14

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Renegade View Post
    David, what is "cracked Olibanum"?
    Several resinous materials (including, Styrax, Olibanum and Labdanum) may be treated in such a way as to produce a smokier, darker version. I don't know how it is done, but it smells as if the material has been subjected to an almost destructive distillation (in the same way that Cade Oil, Birch Tar and Coal Tar are produced). It is not done to such an extent, but a rich, dark and definitely smoky note is produced. Look out for "Styrax pyrogene", for example

  15. #15

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Oh, sounds fantastic.

  16. #16

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    David, What Suppliers might you suggest that I ask about this Cracked Olibanum "Vieilles Eglises" type?


    Updated Editing:

    Since Frankincense is a distilled EO, the shorter the distillation time, the more topnote heavy the oil. Conversely, the Longer the Distillation time, the heavier it gets.

    Frankincense Absolute lasts longer than the EO. The Resinoid lasts longer still, (in all probability). And crushed, dissolved, strained (Tinctured really) Frankincense tears lasts long as well.


    Last edited by pkiler; 9th April 2013 at 10:44 PM.
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    Gold Medal for "Best Aroma"; Los Angeles Artisan Fragrance Salon

  17. #17

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    I did some searching on this the other day and I found that Payan Bertrand offer a "pyrogenated" Olibanum essential oil, "obtained by special destructive distillation from olibanum gum". No description of the smell but it sounds like what we're talking about.

  18. #18

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Renegade, Excellent Research, Thanks!
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    Gold Medal for "Best Aroma"; Los Angeles Artisan Fragrance Salon

  19. #19

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Renegade View Post
    I did some searching on this the other day and I found that Payan Bertrand offer a "pyrogenated" Olibanum essential oil, "obtained by special destructive distillation from olibanum gum". No description of the smell but it sounds like what we're talking about.
    This sounds good, I wonder how it compares to choya loban and I wonder if it would be possible to try for a sample.

  20. #20

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Payan Bertrand is sending me samples of their pyrogenated Cracked Olibanum "Vieilles Eglises" Frankincense, Styrax, and a few others (some pyrogenated too...) that came to the mind of my USA Rep, when I told him I am looking for Leathery things for my line.

    I hadn't actually ever gotten him on the phone, but we must have known each other otherwise, since he already had my address, and knew me from my activity on LinkedIn forums as well.

    We also talked about the West Coast USA perfumers going crazy, Robertet, the Salon events, etc...
    A very nice Brit chap.

    Great Smoky Frankincense, I mean REALLY great Materials have been my quest for many years, maybe these will fit the bill.
    I got to smell some very nice frankincense at the Natural Products show in Los Angeles when Mike Storer and I went a month ago.

    I really want to give a Hand clap to David and Renegade for helping my find this...
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    Gold Medal for "Best Aroma"; Los Angeles Artisan Fragrance Salon

  21. #21

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    That's great Paul, I hope you'll share your impressions with us after you've tried them.

  22. #22

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    It will be a few weeks before I receive them, because they ship direct from Grasse to California...
    But, Yes, I'll share..
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    Gold Medal for "Best Aroma"; Los Angeles Artisan Fragrance Salon

  23. #23

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    I'm so glad that you were able to source these materials Paul; and I'm sorry that I had forgotten the supplier of them; PB, of course! Don't build up your hopes too high, but I'm sure you will enjoy them.

  24. #24

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    It's always seemed "sour" to me.

  25. #25

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    JungleNYC - Are you talking about the Payan Bertrand Pyrogenated Olibanum?
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    Gold Medal for "Best Aroma"; Los Angeles Artisan Fragrance Salon

  26. #26

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Quote Originally Posted by pkiler View Post
    JungleNYC - Are you talking about the Payan Bertrand Pyrogenated Olibanum?
    I have a couple Frankincense EOs. And, to me, the "single note" thread is fairly accurate, but with a "sour" overtone.

  27. #27

    Default Perfume oils

    I would like to know that what is the diffrence between the perfume oil we are having in open market and the perfume oil used by botek perfumes
    spoze
    i have bought a perfume oil of silver creed and dullute into the pure alchol
    its seems like orignal but its not diffusing and expanding like orignal
    i can undrestand that there is a huge diffrence between what house of perfumes use in there product but my qut is
    is it posibul to get the same perfume oil into the open market what used in orignal perfume ?

  28. #28

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Tallat, your question isn't pertinent to this Frankincense discussion.

    If you want to ask a question completely off the topic from another thread, just start a new thread, and post your question anew.
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    Gold Medal for "Best Aroma"; Los Angeles Artisan Fragrance Salon

  29. #29
    Basenotes Member
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    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Frankincense has this unique smell which is hard to describe. It’s like wood, musk, dark, smoky, and everything in between. It’s a bit difficult to determine. I am quite interested on the scent you’re doing.
    www.luvessentials.com

  30. #30

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    So, I have the Payan Bertrand Samples in today...

    And the Pyrogenated Olibanum, (pyrogenated Cracked Olibanum "Vieilles Eglises"), is not the same as the Choya Loban Frankincense that I have from White Lotus. The PB pyrogenated Olibanum "Vieilles Eglises" is very smoky of course, and is being smelled right now at full bore,... it is more oily than the Choya Loban Frank, and less smoky. If we say oily is wetter, the Choya Loban Frank is drier.

    And then there is the PB Fumescens product, which is described as a slow destructive distillation of Frankincense, which on the surface seems a lot like the Choya Loban Frank, but again they ARE different... The PB Fumescens is smoky again, similar but has a peppery note on the top. In contrast, the Choyal Loban Frank smells more leathery to me.

    There is also a Choya Loban made with Styrax too. And Since PB sent me a sample of their Pyrogenated Styrax, I'll also compare them too.

    Time out momentarily,... I am just surrounded with SMOKE... of course, it doesn't help that I put this stuff on my arms, neat...

    The PB Pyrogenated Styrax is yes smoky, but not near as much as the Choya Loban Stryax, which is almost purely smoke...
    The PB Pyrogenated Styrax is much more warm, ambery yummy even... I like it too...

    They sent three more, a Davana Processed, which is underwhelming. But maybe because of intensity of these pyrogenated elements, I should re-evaulate later...

    And also Ambernote, and Cistus Oil Concentrated Extra.
    These also are very nice, not very, but some smoky, and kind of more along the lines you would expect from their names, albeit still nicely different between them.

    All smellings done neat, which is very strong, and diluted versions will lead to more nuanced evaluations later...
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    Gold Medal for "Best Aroma"; Los Angeles Artisan Fragrance Salon

  31. #31

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Risky to put anything on your skin at 100.0%, much better to use smelling strips. On skin you cannot follow the development over several hours (if not days) whilst with strips you can. I would dilute to at least 50.0% and dip onto strips.

    Anyway, glad the samples arrived safely and that you like (some of) them. Hope they were what you wanted.

  32. #32

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Titillating descriptions Paul. I wonder what the tenacity of these frankincense materials is like?

  33. #33

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    I can still smell the Fumescens a day later on my arm.
    Can't smell the Pyrogenated Olibanum.

    And I wonder, because the Fumescens to me smells more like old churches, I think I like it better...
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    Gold Medal for "Best Aroma"; Los Angeles Artisan Fragrance Salon

  34. #34

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Yet another thread resurrected.. I'm working with a base accord around frankincense resinoid, and looking
    for ways to enhance the incense effect through the dry out.. For some reason, at 5%, those resins don't last
    that long on a strip - maybe ~10 hours..
    I'm trying some ideas on this thread (norlimbanol, ionone beta and also ambroxam), and these smell cute.. But I wonder if anyone has any other ideas, as these enhance the woodiness.. I still plan on trying kohinool, labdanum and cypress, though they probably won't prolong the dry out time, and don't really like oxyocytaline (the combination with frankincense smells like teenagers to me..).
    Thanks

  35. #35

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Patchouli and Myrrh, with a trace of Cade perhaps? If you want something lighter then perhaps a little Storax.
    Last edited by Pears; 18th March 2014 at 11:59 AM.

  36. #36

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Hoo.. patchouli! Thanks for reminding me
    I have patchouli heart - maybe it could work. Not sure what the difference between it and the
    molecular distillation scent-wise. I'll try to get some in the future.
    I didn't mention - but I added some guaiac to emphasize that smoke aspect. Works really nice..
    You think cade will do a better job? Never worked with it in small dilution.

    Also, I've looked at the GC they have at TGSC. It's not really clear what exactly in frankincense
    is a base note. The main components seem more like middle notes..

  37. #37

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    If Guaiac works for you, Nirex then there's no reason to swap it for something else. You might like to try a combination of Guaiac and Cade though. Cade is definitely the more smokey of the two. For testing purposes, I'd add a drop of Cade to a ml of ethanol and then add the dilution a drop at a time, until it's just faintly perceptible. You don't want to overdo it because it will get stronger during the dry down.

    I don't think of Frankincense as a base note really. The resin components in it can act as fixatives but not many of the volatiles would be considered base notes. If it's burned as incense then that's a different matter, as some of the compounds that form are base notes with low odor detection thresholds. At that temperature, the volatilized resin components will also likely add to the depth of aroma. Similar to how Pine rosin has little smell, until you melt or burn it.
    Last edited by Pears; 18th March 2014 at 07:50 PM.

  38. #38

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nizan View Post
    Yet another thread resurrected.. I'm working with a base accord around frankincense resinoid, and looking
    for ways to enhance the incense effect through the dry out.. For some reason, at 5%, those resins don't last
    that long on a strip - maybe ~10 hours..
    I'm trying some ideas on this thread (norlimbanol, ionone beta and also ambroxam), and these smell cute.. But I wonder if anyone has any other ideas, as these enhance the woodiness.. I still plan on trying kohinool, labdanum and cypress, though they probably won't prolong the dry out time, and don't really like oxyocytaline (the combination with frankincense smells like teenagers to me..).
    Thanks
    I think my top choice here would be Ambermax if you want to avoid getting too woody - it works very nicely with Ambrofix/Ambroxan too. Dihydro Ionone Beta might be better than Ionone beta too, or Methyl Ionone if you want the violet connotation as itís longer lasting.
    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.

  39. #39

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Isn't dihydro ionone pretty volatile? I'll try some ambermax, when it gets here
    Thanks!

  40. #40

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Has anyone ever made a Frankincense and Myrrh combo?

  41. #41

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    I tend to stay away from myrrh.. Couldn't figure out how to make it somewhat pleasant..
    I've gotten some amyl salicylate - I'm not sure, but it sometimes smells like it could enhance the frankincense.. Will have to check it later this week. Any thoughts?

  42. #42

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheDopeyOne View Post
    Has anyone ever made a Frankincense and Myrrh combo?
    The hard part is getting the smell of gold in there. Easy enough to mix the two and tell if it works the way you intended.

  43. #43

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    I'm smelling some ambermax now.. It has that green celery harshness that I also get from norlimbanol at the begining.. Is it a dilution issue? Ambercore is slightly more subdued, but it's also on the dry side..
    There were mentions of a Schiff's base with C12.. I remember there was some debate on whether lauric or MNA.. Couldn't find it, though..

  44. #44

    Default Re: What does Frankincense smell like?

    Lots of excellent suggestions and information in this thread. Just to add my 1 3/4 cents, I might mention that since FireSurfer mentioned his desire to create an incense based on Frankincense (as opposed to, say, a perfume or cologne), using a good variety of Frankincense might just do the trick. (as resin, or more accurately, I believe, as resinoid, varieties for same described in various other posts in this thread). Considering that such has been burned as an incense for centuries, and as well is incorporated into many contemporary incenses (stick and otherwise), it might be something to consider the use of the same Frankincense version that has been burned as incense since pre-historic times (excuse me for being maybe a bit facetious here, please all be aware that I am not being sarcastic, and I say this knowing that it is a fine line that creates the distinction between one and the other). Oil of Frankincense is so lemony (depending on variety, batch and origin, etc., of course), with strong terpene aspects, and at first glance for many, may seem more like turpentine...it did to me when I for the first time was exposed to the EO and at that distant earlier date, with an entirely untrained nose at that time, I did not understand how all oils and aromatics of natural origin in general have many different nuisances/notes. I was most surprised to find how the oil's olfactoral aspects were so unike the Frankincense (resinoid) that I burnt as incense, that is, the same stuff that is burned in the church. I was thinking, back then, that the EO was supposed to smell "like" the plant portion that was most used for its aroma, not understanding then that each EO represents only certain aspects of the plant product from which it is derived (ie.the aspects pulled out of the plant and in varying ratios which were determined by the method in which the extract was made).
    I know I have far exceeded my 1 3/4 cents worth at this point, and very obviously, I am not providing any education whatsoever to those here with extensive fragrance experience, but please excuse me for taking the liberty of adding yet another 1.75 cent's worth (give or take .25 cent or so), and mention that White Lotus Aromatics offers a nice "Heart Note EO" of Frankincense, where the high end (ie. the lemony aspect and other top notes) is absent. Rather similar to Frankincense Absolute by Liberty, but with the top end yet still more so removed (in comparison to regular Frank. EO,or the smoke of burning resinoid). Not sure if it is safe to say that this oil quite represents Frankincense, as the lemony aspect which has been removed is well known to be one characteristic of the Frankincense odor profile, ummm, whatever that might actually be.

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