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  1. #1
    New Member St. Louis's Avatar
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    Jun 2012
    St. Louis, MO

    Default I made an ugly scrubber

    This isn't so much a question; it's mostly a report of a hilarious failure.

    I tend to be an experiential learner rather than an abstract one, if that makes sense. I've been reading a lot of background material, of course, but new hobbies don't make sense to me until I've tried them first hand. This is particularly true of such skills as cooking and perfumery, where your perceptions of the results are vitally important.

    Long story a little longer (as is my tendency) I read somewhere that one of my favorite vintage fragrances, Tabu, contains both civet and castoreum. I thought I'd just try these two together to get an idea of what they smelled like. As I am learning about making perfumes I am also trying to educate my nose about different combinations and notes.

    Anyway, the civet nearly made me faint. The castoreum was quite pleasant. At first, the combination (which I added to a base I had made earlier) was quite interesting, if a little strong. Then a couple of days later it had become unbearable. Somehow the combination had bloomed into a stench that took over my entire house as soon as I opened the bottle. I couldn't get it out of my nostrils for days. I scrubbed and scrubbed at my skin (naturally I had to try it on) but still made friends sick later in the day. I dumped the bottle down the kitchen sink, followed by bleach, big mistake. Kitchen smelled like a ... I don't know, sickening rotting earthy biting awful thing for days.

    Now all that said, it was an interesting lesson. Again, not really a question, just thought I'd share. There are few hobbies that have engaged my senses in quite such an elemental and immediate way. After all, a failed stew can just be dumped into the garbage, with no one the wiser. (Unless you burn down the kitchen.) A badly knitted sweater can be unraveled. Apparently a lousy perfume lives on for quite a long time.

  2. #2

    Default Re: I made an ugly scrubber

    Thanks for sharing that - I confess it gave me a laugh.

    For future reference I use castoreum (synthetic or natural) at 1% dilution and civet (I only use synthetic) at 0.1% dilution: at those dilutions you can safely add some to a blend and see an enhancement in most cases and you are less likely to let loose a monster.

    Also one thing I never do, even with the most abject of failures (and I still have those) is pour them down the sink. For one thing there may well be environmental rules against it, but for another you'd be amazed at how nice the bottle with all my failures in it smells after a year or so. In this case I might have hesitated to add the raging animal to the mix I must admit, but as a general rule it's sound.

    Wishing you happier blending next time!
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  3. #3
    New Member St. Louis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    St. Louis, MO

    Default Re: I made an ugly scrubber

    Oh my goodness, I never thought of the environmental issue. Thanks so much for alerting me to that. Our city has a hazardous waste program, which is where this substance should surely have gone. In fact a haz-mat suit would have helped (I fear the clothes I wore that day are ruined.)

    Glad I raised a chuckle. My friends were more skeptical.

    Thanks again for the caution.

  4. #4
    Basenotes Member
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    Oct 2011

    Default Re: I made an ugly scrubber

    You will likely make many more of these, they may not be as intense. I remember i made one starting out that literally made me vomit. I can't even remember how what was in it, but oh gosh was it ever sickening - probably one of the worst smells I have ever encountered. I would recommend reading more, perfumery is not cooking despite the obvious parallels, I could make a mean lasagna after about 10 trial and error sessions, but a perfume could take a decade.

    I think anyone could easily be 5 years into the hobby and not have made anything yet that they'd put in front of a public audience, however, patience is rewarded!

    press on my friend! - basenotes is a great area to pick up advice.

  5. #5

    Default Re: I made an ugly scrubber

    There are always failures, although not many as spectacular as that just described! Failures are there to be learned from, and improved upon. Onwards and upwards.

  6. #6


    It's not hard to make good smelling things. It is very hard to make great smelling things.
    Start simple with notes you know work together. Sandalwood and rose or a basic chypre ( bergamot, oakmoss, labdanum) is a good start. Fiddle until you find a balance you like. Then treat this like a skeleton and fill the middle with florals. First try and blend rose and jasmine, the add others.
    Or take an oil you like - for example lavender. Smell it carefully and see what it makes you think of: does it have a woody character? Could you blend into that with cedar? Rosewood? Sandalwood? What about a herbal character - maybe some thyme? Or a floral aspect - perhaps some neroli?? Etc.
    Start simple, make good smelling things and maybe, just maye great smelling things will follow...

  7. #7

    Default Re: I made an ugly scrubber

    This made me laugh too. Especially as recently I was trying very hard to make such a stink and found it is equally hard to make such a bad smell when trying on purpose.... I should have asked you to send it to me.... Yours sounds just the job that I needed for a stage play.

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