Code of Conduct
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 60 of 64

Thread: Ambergris

  1. #1

    Default Ambergris

    I've just bought some real ambergris tincture from profumo.it - I'm very excited and looking forward to experimenting with it. I will report my experiences here.
    Anybody else used the real thing?
    I have used a little before but only had a few drops so it was hard to properly evaluate its effect.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Ambergris

    You will have a lovely time with his stuff. I know it is beautiful. I know ambergris well.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Ambergris

    I have the same. If only I smelled much, but that's probably only me... I have used it to layer with fragrances and all. It does not make a difference to me.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Hmm, that's interesting. I've seen people complaining that they don't detect much scent from their ambergris. I haven't smelled real ambergris, but I have grisalva from PA which supposedly mimics ambergris better than ambroxan. And...I don't smell a thing, full strength or diluted to 10%. I have to really imagine it to smell a little talc, maybe some faint sweetness.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Ambergris

    I too have a hard time smelling the Grislava from PA. However, I beleive I could Identify Ambergris based on process of elimination and the evidences I have had of it in the past. You are lucky and due for a great time!!! I envy you!

    Isnt it strange that we so highly value such ingredients as Whale vomit or rotting wood fungus!? Gotta love perfumery eh!?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Ambergris

    I have a couple of tinctures of my own on the go but I don't think they're ready enough to add much of an effect to a blend yet.

    Profumo's ambergris is beautiful (honestly, it's probably what got me really excited about perfume) but to my nose doesn't last very long at allĖon paper or skinĖwhich doesn't really match up with what you often read about ambergris tincture in the perfumery booksóas something very longlasting. I would guess that an ambergris tincture needs a bit of heat during the maceration to give it that fixative value. Not sure though. Mumsy?

    Maybe other people perceive it as longer lasting than I do?

    I see Hermitage Oils are now selling Ambergris tincture too. Anyone tried it?

  7. #7

    Default

    I had about 1 ml previously or a little less. I'm not sure of the concentration though. My experience then was that a few drops in a small blend (maybe 15-20ml) had a profound effect on the perfume but crucially this didn't take place until quite a few months had passed. Eventually the perfume took on a smoothness of integration and a roundedness I had never achieved otherwise. This is very difficult to qualify or quantify though.
    When smelled on its own I found it was one of those substances that could be almost undetectable at first but when I tuned my perception in, it became quite strong.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Quote Originally Posted by hirch_duckfinder View Post
    I had about 1 ml previously or a little less. I'm not sure of the concentration though. My experience then was that a few drops in a small blend (maybe 15-20ml) had a profound effect on the perfume but crucially this didn't take place until quite a few months had passed. Eventually the perfume took on a smoothness of integration and a roundedness I had never achieved otherwise. This is very difficult to qualify or quantify though.
    When smelled on its own I found it was one of those substances that could be almost undetectable at first but when I tuned my perception in, it became quite strong.
    I think that's a great description of what ambergris is like - in fact I'd say much the same about using pure ambroxan - what you describe is what perfumers mean when they talk about one ingredient 'exalting' others: ambergris is one of the best exalting fixatives available.

    Remember that natural ambergris works mainly because of the ambroxan [AKA (-)-ambroxide] that it contains and note that that isn't the same as DL Ambrox (a mix of isomers). What you get with the natural product that you don't get with pure ambroxan is the other things that are in it - the ambrein that it is mainly composed of, traces from its long journey on the sea and beaches, traces of fecal / animal notes from its origin and so on. You also get some of the other ambrien breakdown products, some of which are also thought to have fixative and exalting effects.

    I routinely use a synthetic ambergris (there are several alternatives and blends on the market besides the hugely expensive pure ambroxan and I have several of them). However for special work I like to use the real thing, and for that I buy the best quality ambergris I can (from New Zealand - it's difficult to buy from many places because it's technically illegal to trade in it in the US and Australia for example) and make my own tincture from it.

    I make the tincture in essentially the same way as Poucher describes in Perfumes, Cosmetics and Soaps - mine is the 6/7th edition from 1959. In fact I have a litre of tincture on the stirrer at the moment, which has been there since mid-August. Tincture made from each piece will be different - even more so than with most natural materials - one reason I don't use it in my commercial offerings.
    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: Ambergris

    I have tried Profumo's tincture of ambergris, too, as part of a sampling group. I thought it was wonderful. I accidentally spilled some on my pants leg, and my dog became very excited by it. She couldn't stop sniffing my leg and wagging her tail. It must have smelled like lovely dead things on a beach (doggy heaven!) to her sensitive dog nose, but to me it was just ever so faintly briney and sweet and induced such a feeling of pleasure. I enjoy sampling Profumo's potions.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Chris, what is the difference in scent profile between pure ambroxan and mixed isomer ambroxan? Is the pure one just stronger, or do the other isomers smell different?

  11. #11

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Quote Originally Posted by ariodant View Post
    Chris, what is the difference in scent profile between pure ambroxan and mixed isomer ambroxan? Is the pure one just stronger, or do the other isomers smell different?
    A very good question. I'm growing gradually more in favour of doing competitive evaluations of one product against another and I'd not previously pitched these two against on-another directly so your post prompted me to do so.

    The first thing you will notice if you compare the two materials in their pure form is that Ambrox is a colourless, clear liquid, highly mobile and easy to use at room temperature. Ambroxan is a white crystaline solid at room temperature.

    Both dissolve readily in ethanol and both have the characteristic ambergris scent that defies useful description (use the links above to read the standard industry text [under Organoleptics] on what the scent smells like but for me those are just nuances on the smell of ambergris).

    To do a comparison I've prepared 10% solutions of each in ethanol and dipped labelled smelling strips, to the same depth, in each. Immediately after dipping the Ambroxan seems marginally stronger, the Ambrox distinctly woodier - almost cedary. Without a direct comparison you'd struggle to tell them apart. After 20 minutes or so the difference is more marked, both still smell surprisingly faint though - you find yourself wondering why writers so often talk about how powerful these materials are.

    After two, three and four hours though, it starts to become clear what those writers mean: the scent is if anything clearer and it does not seem to diminish perceptibly between checks at all - after 6 and 12 hours there is still no change.

    24 hours after dipping both have become noticeably softer in odour, more mellow. You can still detect a slightly woody nuance to the Ambrox that is absent from the Ambroxan but it's very subtle now. The odour intensity has hardly changed at all.

    The woody-cedar note is still there in the Ambrox more strongly than the Ambroxan which smells slightly cleaner.

    Finally I just want to give you the price comparison between these products - Vigon stock both and publish their prices on the net - here are the prices:

    Ambroxan (they stock it as Ambrofix) $990 / Kg
    Ambrox DL $920 / Kg

    The comparison is slightly complicated by the fact that Ambrox DL is at a purity level of 86% while Givaudan don't quote a purity level for Ambrofix - I suspect from the price that it isn't all that high, but can't be sure as I've not bought their product.

    The Ambroxan I used in my test came from SAFC and is at least 99% pure, but also costs rather more - unfortunately SAFC don't stock a mixed isomer version so I can't do a price comparison there.
    Last edited by Chris Bartlett; 24th September 2012 at 11:35 AM. Reason: Updated to reflect the test after ~24 hours
    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: Ambergris

    I have a small sample of ambergris tincture from Profumo. I love the smell. The stuff I have is quite dilute but I can really smell it. To me, it smells like the coat of an old uncle from the 1950s. I don't know why. Maybe this old uncle of mine wore something back then that had a fair bit of true ambergris in it.

    I also have a lump of white ambergris (~3gm) from Matt Turner in New Zealand. It smells absolutely divine. Fresh, ozonic, clean, and even has that creamy smell of very young babies. I cut off one gram and ground it up to tincture in Ethanol, where it has been sitting for exactly four months. I do not stir it much. Regrettably, this tincture does not smell very much at all on a test strip, nothing at all like the little chunk that it came from. The beautiful fresh clean sea smell is there ever so slightly. I think it's slowly improving over the months, though. I should probably warm it, and stir it more.

    Very curious stuff, ambergris. Have not used it very much in mixes, yet.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Thanks Chris! Very informative! I guess I need to get some of both to experience myself...

  14. #14

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Quote Originally Posted by ariodant View Post
    Thanks Chris! Very informative! I guess I need to get some of both to experience myself...
    No problem. I've just updated the post to reflect the status up to 24 hours.
    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.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bartlett View Post
    The first thing you will notice if you compare the two materials in their pure form is that Ambrox is a colourless, clear liquid, highly mobile and easy to use at room temperature. Ambroxan is a white crystaline solid at room temperature.

    Both dissolve readily in ethanol and both have the characteristic ambergris scent that defies useful description (use the links above to read the standard industry text [under Organoleptics] on what the scent smells like but for me those are just nuances on the smell of ambergris).

    To do a comparison I've prepared 10% solutions of each in ethanol and dipped labelled smelling strips, to the same depth, in each. Immediately after dipping the Ambroxan seems marginally stronger, the Ambrox distinctly woodier - almost cedary. Without a direct comparison you'd struggle to tell them apart. After 20 minutes or so the difference is more marked, both still smell surprisingly faint though - you find yourself wondering why writers so often talk about how powerful these materials are.

    After two, three and four hours though, it starts to become clear what those writers mean: the scent is if anything clearer and it does not seem to diminish perceptibly between checks at all - after 6 and 12 hours there is still no change.

    24 hours after dipping both have become noticeably softer in odour, more mellow. You can still detect a slightly woody nuance to the Ambrox that is absent from the Ambroxan but it's very subtle now. The odour intensity has hardly changed at all.

    The woody-cedar note is still there in the Ambrox more strongly than the Ambroxan which smells slightly cleaner.

    Finally I just want to give you the price comparison between these products - Vigon stock both and publish their prices on the net - here are the prices:

    Ambroxan (they stock it as Ambrofix) $990 / Kg
    Ambrox DL $920 / Kg

    The comparison is slightly complicated by the fact that Ambrox DL is at a purity level of 86% while Givaudan don't quote a purity level for Ambrofix - I suspect from the price that it isn't all that high, but can't be sure as I've not bought their product.

    The Ambroxan I used in my test* came from SAFC and is at least 99% pure, but also costs rather more - unfortunately SAFC don't stock a mixed isomer version so I can't do a price comparison there.
    I'm updating this comparison, because I've recently obtained a sample of Ambrofix and I'm now doing a comparison between that and the same Ambroxan I used in the above comparison.

    * I also want to correct an error - the solution I was comparing was of original Ambroxan, from a company called KAO and not the -(-)Ambroxide from SAFC that I said it was. I discovered when I went back to check that the container from SAFC was still sealed and I had had a senior moment and forgotten my existing dilution was Ambroxan.

    I plan to do a further evaluation comparison with the -(-)Ambroxide but for now, here's how Ambrofix fared against Ambroxan:

    As solids, the Ambrofix has a stronger smell though the two are very similar.

    On dilution, sniffing the bottle shows no noticeable difference (again they are both 10% solutions).

    On a strip, immediately after dipping there is still no real difference. Within 2 minutes though I can detect a distinctly stronger, more diffusive effect from the Ambrofix. 30 minutes later the difference is more marked, with the Ambrofix showing a slightly stronger smell, with a distinctly fresh, almost ozonic quality that is less apparent in the Ambroxan. Both smell very clean and with little of the cedarwood effect I got from the Ambrox DL in the earlier test. The differences are still very subtle - I'm not sure, if you gave me an unlabelled strip with one of them on it and asked me which, whether I'd be able to tell you.

    After 2 hours both materials are strongly detectable on the strip, both fresh, clean and very pleasant with little to choose between them.

    12 hours after dipping and both smell identical - try as I might I can detect no difference - both still have an almost identical odour intensity as they had yesterday too.

    Now at 24 hours I can detect slight differences again: the Ambrofix has a slightly fresher scent and the Ambroxan is perhaps a fraction stronger now. I emphasise though that these are tiny differences.

    Final update: after a week, the two are still just as strong on the smelling strips as they were the day after they were dipped and I'm unable to detect any significant difference between them.

    Overal this was a surprising result: I expected these two materials to be exactly the same as each-other and the fact that they are not rather invalidates the price comparison with which I finished my earlier post.
    Last edited by Chris Bartlett; 5th November 2012 at 04:51 PM. Reason: Added 12 & 24 hour descriptions
    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.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Final update now done showing that both materials are still going strong.
    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.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Great posts, Chris. I also have to update to say that I found out my anosmia to grisalva was indeed nose fatigue. The mere action of handling the bottle to make a dilution saturated my nose. For weeks afterwards, I could smell a pleasant, sweet and marine odor for the first 10min upon walking into that room. I must have spilled a tiny bit somewhere. This molecule is the first case of instant nose fatigue I have ever experienced, a testament to its enormous strength. It also has the ethereal, diffusive quality that people claim real ambergris has. Now I'm curious about its effects on blends if I add 0.1%...

  18. #18

    Default Re: Ambergris

    I have made my own ambergris tinctures and now have them aging in the sunlight. They don't have much of an odor--isopropyl alcohol, mainly--but as they mature, I get the smell of dirty hair. The stuff is incredibly tenacious (I took a shower and it was still clinging to my skin) but I'm at a loss as to what to do with it. The suggestion that it takes time for its effect to register is a helpful one. I'll try making some blends with and without. It no doubt is a good fixative but I can't imagine using it in sufficient quantities for it to have a fixative effect.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Ambergris

    I too have oodles and I love it. The older it gets, the better it gets. Some of mine are nearly three years old now. You don't need huge quantities, just some. I have all different colours of it and they all have different nuances like different oudhs.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Speaking of Grisalva... I used to have some of that, and I was actually able to smell it at 100%, I think. But I may have had to put it on a strip and let it evaporate for a while to smell it. For a long time I couldn't smell ambroxan at all at 100%, but now I can if I hold the bottle a distance from my nose and just let it waft a little. And I tried diluting ambroxan and there was, obviously, a huge difference. When I diluted it in alcohol and then put it on my skin, I could definitely smell it much better. (I immediately thought of Light Blue by Dolce and Gabbana, even though I know that some type of ambroxy chemical is in zillions of mens fragrances.)

    Is anyone familiar with Fixateur 505? Is it the same thing as ambroxan or is it a blend/base?

  21. #21

    Default Re: Ambergris

    fixateur 505 is a composition. it replaces fixateur 404, a classic ambergris base.
    Last edited by gido; 29th November 2012 at 11:15 AM.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Quote Originally Posted by gido View Post
    fixateur 505 is a composition. it replaces fixateur 404, a classic ambergris base.
    Indeed it is, but it is also radically different from ambroxan / ambrofix / ambrox in smell - more similar to labdanum or ambrarome in my view - dense and animalic. What this demonstrates is the huge variability in the natural product, with the result that accurate imitations can be made that don't resemble one-another at all.
    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.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Chris, your blog is extremely helpful. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience. I took the liberty of posting it at several forums.

    My perfuming skills are well below apprentice level.

    My experience of Ambroxan is not dissimilar, for what it's worth. 10% dilution. Initially, nothing. Then pleasant. Cedar, mild, tenacious but not offensively so, as compared to Galaxolide. Ambrettolide with Ambroxan, nicer still. Depends, the base you want to create.

    Ambergris, is another experience entirely. 0.2 ml in 8 g of concrete exalts all components while harmonizing the edges. 1.42% dilution.

    I break all the rules as I create for personal use.
    I don't compose the scent based on top, middle, base, but more like: mezzo soprano, soprano, tenor , alto and baritone. And, the oil perfumes, get Plum oil as the carrier. Adds warmth and vanilla, gentle tenacity that jojoba utterly lacks.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Dear DragonN: What dilution did you have for the ambergris? Did you make the tincture yourself? I have a fair amount of ambergris but am really unsure as to how to use it. It doesn't smell like much--the tinctures are about 8 months old--but it sounds from what I read that it's an excellent exaltant and fixative. My tinctures tend to be quite concentrated--saturated solutions really--and are about 25% ambergris by weight.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Hello James,
    A tiny piece (0.5g) went into an Erlenmeyer and EtOH 95% on top. Crushed it a bit in the alcohol but within 6 hours it had broken apart and is quite a dark greenish brown mix. 1.42% it's very young. I need to wait much longer before I know what it will be. However, I couldn't resist adding it to my current Deep Forest Base #1...and that was successful to my nose.

    The piece I have is very Animal, almost fecal, but what it does to a blend. Olfactory symphony. I have others that I have yet to tincture. Quite different. Ambergris is the Moonlight Sonata to Ambroxan's attempt to play it with only one key.

    25% Ambergris by weight? That would be a mud!

    I am not a perfumer James, I dabble in it as it is a great deal of fun creating signature scents. As long as I don't knock people over= success. However, the same perfume, with a touch of Ambergris, is the one that got the instant comments. Positive. The interesting thing, men comment on it, women not.

  26. #26
    Super Member racuda's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    209

    Default Re: Ambergris

    I can't stand it any longer. I love the Moonlight Sonata. Where can I buy a little piece?

  27. #27

    Default Re: Ambergris

    My poor description made sense? Moonlight Sonata the only thing I can still play from memory. Love it. That's the only way I can describe Ambergris. The synthetics are pleasant, but lack soul.

    Opium YSL, in days of old, the parfum, may have contained ambergris, I'm not sure. But every Base blend I have attempted falls flat. Ambergris. Problem solved.
    http://www.ambergris.co.nz/buy.htm

    They are lovely to deal with and very helpful. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

  28. #28
    Super Member racuda's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    209

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Thank you. I sent them an inquiry.

    Yes, your music description makes perfect sense. I'm finding that perfumery is full of analogies.

  29. #29

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Hi Chris, and everyone,

    I'm not new to Basenotes but this is my first post. I'm learning a lot from everyone and am really grateful that that forum like this exists for those wishing to learn the craft.

    My question Chirs, I know the site you're talking about for ambergris from NZ, there smallest piece is 4gr. You said you're tincturing some in 1ltr. Is that 4gr or more? How much Ambergris are you using for that tincture? I ask because I'm really interested in tincturing, having some great results with my first trials and am very keen to try my hand at tincturing a piece myself even though I did purchase 12ml from Profumo.

    Could you expand?

    Thanks a bunch,
    Benessere

  30. #30

    Default Re: Ambergris

    I've had a lot of luck making my own tinctures and infusions. Of course if the alcohol is hot, the process will go faster (be careful around flames) but you'll also dissolve the various waxes the ambergris contains. Whether these waxes are a good thing, I don't know. By weighing the residue after the infusion process, I'm able to calculate the concentration of ambergris. (I weigh the dregs by weighing an empty test tube and comparing them.) I put in enough alcohol to make a 10% solution or so and then, if necessary, reduce it to the concentration I want. I keep them quite concentrated--almost saturated--about about 30% although someone on basenotes said this was a recipe for mud. My question, of course, is does it stay muddy when mixed in a perfume by which it becomes much diluted. One last thing. I've lost precious infusion by having the test tube "bump." So be careful not to let your solution actually boil. Best of luck.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Dear DragonN,
    How do you use the ambergris? Do you have a certain concentrate of tincture and then use it in a standard dilution? I'd love to hear more as I have a bunch of tincture (homemade) but don't know what to do with it.

  31. #31
    Super Member racuda's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    209

    Default Re: Ambergris

    If you were to make a 10% tincture with 4 grams of ambergris, then you would need 36 grams of ethanol, or 45.6 ml. This would make a total volume of approximately 50 ml. Does that sound right? How much of a 10% tincture would typically go into a blend?
    Randall

  32. #32

    Default Re: Ambergris

    James,

    I am really not the one to ask. I am playing with my raw materials. From the information available I have come to the conclusion 1-3% tincture is sufficient. A perfumer may choose a higher concentration for whatever reasons. Cost, is one of them. I have 4 tinctures running with different concentrations. I saw your other posts about a Sandalwood fragrance. Reads absolutely lovely. I would be honored to be a test subject. If you ever wanted one that is.

    Racuda- On the NZ site, with the finished tinctures, they share this:http://www.ambergristincture.com/info.php Your numbers look right to me.

    How much to use? Unknown. I add a bit, swirl sniff, wait a few days. It changes. Personal preference, perfume is an art form. I am a lousy artist, but if working with fine raw materials, it's harder to make a horrible mess.

  33. #33
    Super Member racuda's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    209

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Thanks for the link DragonN. I see where the NZ site recommends the amount of tinctured to use: "For every 15 grams of perfume base; the perfumer should add 11 grams of 3% ambergris tincture."

    However it is disheartening that they don't recommend that amateurs make their own tincture: "We would not recommend that you try to make your own tincture unless you have experience with . Even if you are experienced; it can be difficult to achieve a good result." Why do they say this? I thought it was a fairly straightforward process with the hardest part being patience.
    Randall

  34. #34

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Define a "good result" ?

    This is why;
    Grey Ambergris Tincture – 3% standard strength (recommended)

    Add to Cart 10 ml - $150.00 USD
    and
    Grey Ambergris Tincture – 1%

    Add to Cart 10 ml - $100.00 USD

    Do the math.

    Have a little faith Racuda. Throw it in your EtOH.....and wait. You don't need to pulverize it,just shake,wait,a day, two,shake ,it goes. You will have sediment. Later, you need to filter, or syringe what you require off the top. [ Don't shake prior to syringe]

    I don't use anywhere near that recommended amount. It's up to you. You decide what you find works best. A 1% solution at 5%...you know it's there. I'm not a perfumer, but I have no problem working with raw materials. Perfume is fun. I just ignore the IFRA and all is well.
    Last edited by DragonN; 18th December 2012 at 02:03 PM.

  35. #35
    Super Member racuda's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    209

    Default Re: Ambergris

    I see your point. According to my calculations, 10 ml of a 3% tincture would cost $6.22 if you bought 4 grams from them and put it in your own ethanol.
    Randall

  36. #36

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Another great place to get Ambergris is from Matt Turner in New Zealand. You can see some of what he has at Matt's Photobucket page.
    I bought 3gm for about $80 plus shipping--the stuff I describe above in this thread.

  37. #37

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Quote Originally Posted by benessere View Post
    Hi Chris, and everyone,

    I'm not new to Basenotes but this is my first post. I'm learning a lot from everyone and am really grateful that that forum like this exists for those wishing to learn the craft.

    My question Chirs, I know the site you're talking about for ambergris from NZ, there smallest piece is 4gr. You said you're tincturing some in 1ltr. Is that 4gr or more? How much Ambergris are you using for that tincture? I ask because I'm really interested in tincturing, having some great results with my first trials and am very keen to try my hand at tincturing a piece myself even though I did purchase 12ml from Profumo.

    Could you expand?

    Thanks a bunch,
    Benessere
    Sorry to take so long to respond to this.

    Firstly I've never used the supplier you are talking about - mine has no website. I'm not suggesting those guys are not honest or that their product is inferior: I simply have not tested it (though I don't rule out doing so in the future).

    Tincturing is straightforward and I've added some more detail to my blog entry today. To get a 1% solution you need to use 99g of ethanol for every 1g of ambergris, at 2% it's 98 to 2 and at 3% it's 97 to 3 - you get the idea.

    Don't forget that the specific gravity of ethanol is about 0.8 so about 80g is 100ml. Don't use diluted ethanol (i.e. not with more than 5% water) - some of the materials in ambergris have very low solubility and you will waste your material.

    For the same reason you need to keep the tincture warm: unlike tincturing a lot of plant materials it won't work if you leave it in cool conditions. Poucher recommends 25-30 degrees Centigrade with constant shaking for several days using a machine, followed by occasional shaking "for as long as maturing can be afforded".
    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.

  38. #38

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bartlett View Post
    Don't use diluted ethanol (i.e. not with more than 5% water) - some of the materials in ambergris have very low solubility and you will waste your material.
    Hi Chris, I remember reading that Arctander describes using 90% ethanol for tincture of ambergris. Same for musk, even though he mentions undiluted ethanol for civet and castoreum. Have you ever tried 90% ethanol with ambergris? He does mention that with vanilla, pure alcohol will not extract all the constituents and so a mixture of ethanol and water is advised (but specifically for flavours) - perhaps it's a similar sort of thing with ambergris?

  39. #39

    Default Re: Ambergris

    The art of a lovely tincture is just lovely time. It took 20 years to mature in the sea, so hasty perfumers who make tinctures in five months will have an incomparable result to those who wait patiently. The material is a beautiful thing that took a long time to be what it is and to rush it is a perfume crime. Each piece is special as itself. Just wait, and you will have some terrific stuff in a few years. The older the nicer and heat doesn't make it any better, just speeds up the initial release in a warmer solvent because the waxy parts become more pliable to release their contents, but heat doesn't seem to be very significant in the longer term. I have compared these matters in many ways. The reason any tincture is expensive when done is because someone spent a lot of time making it, not because you are being ripped off for the material in any way. There are also many prices for different grades. Maybe the expensive one is very worth it. Ambergris is a delightful thing to be enjoyed slowly in many ways to gain the best. If water was useful, then that part of the smell it released would have long been dispersed by the sea. I will happily stand corrected on any of this though. All IMO.

  40. #40

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Quote Originally Posted by Renegade View Post
    Hi Chris, I remember reading that Arctander describes using 90% ethanol for tincture of ambergris. Same for musk, even though he mentions undiluted ethanol for civet and castoreum. Have you ever tried 90% ethanol with ambergris? He does mention that with vanilla, pure alcohol will not extract all the constituents and so a mixture of ethanol and water is advised (but specifically for flavours) - perhaps it's a similar sort of thing with ambergris?
    I've just checked my copy of Arctander and although he gives a long and very complicated method of extraction for vanilla involving decreasing strengths of ethanol with water as well as other solvents, there is no mention in the section on Ambergris (he uses the term Ambra) of doing anything of this kind. Poucher offers no such advice either so if you read such a thing the person who wrote it evidently was mis-informed.

    Also note that ambergris tincture, if made well in the first place, will continue to mature for years even after filtering. Some writers report very old ambergris tinctures inherited from previous generations developing a nutty or floral tone over decades.

    The exact processes are not well understood but we do know that the main constituent, ambrein breaks down into various other chemicals (including -(-)Ambroxide - the chemical that is used in Molecule 02 and is the main constituent of Ambrofix, Ambroxan, Ambrox DL and Cetalox - all brand names for synthetic ambergris) and as you can see from the link ambrein is itself a perfumery ingredient. [Not to be confused with Ambreine btw, which is extracted from Labdanum, and although also produced by Firmenich is a quite different ingredient].

    -(-)Ambroxide is one of the materials I was talking about that isn't easily soluble in ethanol: a 10% solution is fine but at about 20% you'll find it crystallising out on the sides of the container when it gets below about 15 degrees Centigrade. Even a very low strength solution will release tiny crystals if you take it below freezing and if there is any appreciable water present hardly any will dissolve at all. There is only a small amount of -(-)ambroxide in even the best quality real ambergris in the first place so you want to get the most out of it that you can - time, 96% ethanol and warmth (not heat) are the keys to doing so.

    Arctander does report that experiments have been conducted using various other solvents to extract ambergris - to produce an absolute as he defines the term - but that these proved either less or no more effective than direct ethanolic extraction.
    Last edited by Chris Bartlett; 7th January 2013 at 05:49 PM. Reason: minor correction
    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.

  41. #41

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Chris, the bit where he says that is not in the seperate monograph on Ambra, but in the first section of the book under "Tinctures" where he describes a number of classic perfumery tinctures.

    This link should take you there.

    He also mentions adding alkali as a "solubilizer" - what form would such "alkali" take?
    Last edited by Renegade; 7th January 2013 at 06:07 PM.

  42. #42

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Ah, good spot!

    Interesting - reading the whole monograph on Tinctures - which I confess I'd not done before, I see that he's talking about 90% in contrast to the 86% or 61% used for pharmaceutical tinctures. So I don't think he's suggesting water is necessary as he clearly is in the case of vanilla. The alkali matter is quite new to me: I've not previously seen any reference to this idea - Poucher does not mention it in his much longer and rather older treatise so perhaps it was an innovation of the 1960s. Certainly in the late 19th century lemon juice was being added, which is obviously acidic.

    Next time I'm making some perhaps I'll try adding a trace of bicarbonate of soda or something to see if it helps . . .

    Thanks for advancing my education: just goes to show I should read my Arctander more often and starting from the beginning!
    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.

  43. #43

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Thank you Chris. But here's the thing; he mentions "90% ethyl alcohol" for ambergris and for musk, but he mentions "pure ethyl alcohol" for ambrette seed, castoreum, civet, benzoin, labdanum, olibanum etc., and he even mentions "95% ethyl alcohol" for orris root. So, who knows...

  44. #44

    Default Re: Ambergris

    The early method I had involved lime and sugar. I think sugar is neither acid nor alkaline but it may have been cruder then and leaned that way. Most interesting about the alkali. I didn't know that either. I shall have another look if I can find my copy of the recipe and check what else has been unnoticed.

  45. #45

    Default Re: Ambergris

    I studied organic chemistry in university. This stuff about 90, 95, 96% and "pure" ethanol is all irrelevant. One of the greatest lessons that my supervisor taught me over and over again while working on my thesis was that the Methods sections of scientific papers are invariably wrong. In fact, it was his theory that authors *purposely* put wrong information in the Methods section to throw off rival researchers. This forum is an excellent place to share experiences and learn what works. Using Mumsy's logic, it would seem that any water-soluble components would have long since have been lost to the oceans, so the notion of needing water in the ethanol seems unlikely. I would go with Chris and use the purest perfumer's alcohol that you can get, which is about 95 or 96% ethanol -- the rest being water. If you think of the oceans where ambergris is traditionally found, these can be warm seas, about 27C or more, and of course there's a lot of agitation. Hence warmth and mixing seem like good ideas to make a tincture. And time. Especially time.

  46. #46

    Default Re: Ambergris

    @renegade
    He also mentions adding alkali as a "solubilizer" - what form would such "alkali" take?
    Pot shot guess, at NaOH or KOH, easy to get. Just tested my Ambergris Tincture, pH 5.86. Vanilla tincture came in lower. But that is now undergoing ultrasonic extraction. Solvent is 95%. True, that using water and lower EtOH content will pull more from the plant material, trade off though, it's black as night.

    Thank you to share that link. Hadn't thought to throw anything into ultrasound...should be interesting to see what happens. May try it with the Ambergris as well. Won't hurt, and might help.

    One of the greatest lessons that my supervisor taught me over and over again while working on my thesis was that the Methods sections of scientific papers are invariably wrong. In fact, it was his theory that authors *purposely* put wrong information in the Methods section to throw off rival researchers.
    That is frightful. Fortunately that appears to be limited to few institutions, glory seekers and junk science. When you are dealing with dosimetry and pharmaceuticals. That is not tolerable, acceptable nor ethical. It's down right dangerous. Radiologists and everyone downstream is relying on the data to calculate safety parameters for both patient and technician. You screw up. You lose your head.

  47. #47

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Ultrasound juggles anything into bits very well however it also alters the smell IMO. There is a huge difference between a tincture made slowly and a tincture of the same made fast. Believe me I have been trying ambergris all ways to see for ages now. There really isn't any substitute for real time for a good tincture and of course only the very best ethanol with no chemicals. Of course all the other ways work, but a good result is what you seek presumably.

  48. #48

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Thank you mumsy. I haven't done it to the Ambergris yet. It is sitting in the window and shaken each day. The vanilla tincture though, that is getting a good sonic bathing at the moment and the scent is really excellent. That one has been sitting only 3 months. Golden brown color with a lovely scent, but the sonic bath is making an interesting difference to it. A couple more hours and see what it's like then.

    Did you at any time adjust the pH of your Ambergris tinctures? I haven't done anything other than let it sit. But...am curious if anyone has and what or how it changed?

  49. #49

    Default Re: Ambergris

    I wouldn't say don't, but just do it with a bit as a comparison. Ultrasound is a superb method for releasing molecules and makes for some lovely tinctures, but I think the smells are different to longer term tinctures. It's all fascinating.

    I haven't altered any of my tinctures for PH. I go on the smell alone but I might now. It hadn't occurred to me to do so. It will be most interesting to tincture a lump in acid, neutral and alkali to smell if there were any differences within the same piece. I will tell you in a few years....

  50. #50
    Super Member racuda's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    209

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Mumsy, so you tincture ambergris as a lump instead of grinding it up as some do?
    Randall

  51. #51

    Default Re: Ambergris

    I wouldn't say don't
    Good. Because I just did. Ultrasound @ 62C for 3hrs. Next, alter pH and see what happens. I have several tinctures running. Some I will play with and others, I will leave to sit. Years....attempt to practice patience.


    Mumsy and Chris, what is the final word, if there is one, on water content in EdT or EdP? There seems to be some debate. Or is it simply, pour and see?

    Nvmd: Found it http://www.stephen-herman.com/Blackwell.pdf
    Last edited by DragonN; 8th January 2013 at 02:21 PM.

  52. #52

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Quote Originally Posted by racuda View Post
    Mumsy, so you tincture ambergris as a lump instead of grinding it up as some do?
    I have done in the past, but it is better to grind it up IMO.

    Quote Originally Posted by DragonN View Post

    Mumsy and Chris, what is the final word, if there is one, on water content in EdT or EdP? There seems to be some debate. Or is it simply, pour and see?
    I don't use water myself, but pure ethanol will absorb some from the atmosphere anyway. It can never be 100%. On a huge commercial scale, then it would be economic to use some.

  53. #53

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Quote Originally Posted by DragonN View Post
    Mumsy and Chris, what is the final word, if there is one, on water content in EdT or EdP? There seems to be some debate. Or is it simply, pour and see?

    Nvmd: Found it http://www.stephen-herman.com/Blackwell.pdf
    I agree with mumsy, I don't use water in my fragrances at all. EdT has traditionally contained some added water and that can be up to 12% as Harman indicates, but it isn't doing anything much except to soften the cooling effect of the ethanol on the skin and make the whole thing cheaper. Some people argue it acts as a fixative but personal experience and testing by Louise Appell say otherwise.

    With Aftershave I do use some water as well as some menthol.
    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.

  54. #54

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Thank you Chris and Mumsy.

    I'll run with your experience and expertise on that. No water. Is it a sin in perfumery to use a tincture as your carrier? i.e. I made a vanilla tincture, which smells gorgeous, as I don't have Vanilla absolute, which is bleeding expensive. So I use that instead, but I am also waiting for the vanillin and ethyl vanillin to arrive to experiment with and see how it goes.

  55. #55

    Default Re: Ambergris

    No sin at all. Conventional wisdom is that you use about 7 times more if you are using vanilla tincture than you would if using the absolute and many people (including Arctander) believe you get a more complete 'better' scent of vanilla that way.
    Last edited by Chris Bartlett; 30th January 2013 at 11:20 AM. 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.

  56. #56

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Quote Originally Posted by DragonN View Post
    Is it a sin in perfumery to use a tincture as your carrier?
    No, it then becomes the most beautiful of perfumery that there ever was. Who could not prefer a hand made tincture? That is the Haute Couture of perfumery is it not?

  57. #57

    Default Re: Ambergris

    great read and I just wanted to share my experience with ambergris for the first time today (newbie)... I find the smell so faint that I can hardly detect but when I do I get a sense of kinda like a breezy fresh clean salty air almost like a feeling rather then a smell (if that makes sense) I m really excited to experiment

  58. #58
    Basenotes Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    43

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Ah, ambergris! A subject near and dear to my heart. Thanks to all for sharing their expertise, opinions, experience and links - especially to bshell, for the link to Matt Turner's ambergris lumps for sale! Looks like these pieces are actually within the realm of financial attainability for me. Huzzah! Thanks also to Renegade for the link to Arctander's book in PDF format. A hard copy is currently available - and on my wish list - at Amazon.com for $350. Maybe next month.

    Can anyone tell me more about automatic stirring or mixing machines, including ultrasound ones, how and when one would employ them, and for what reason? Chris, I found your "Starting Equipment" post on your PWP blog with the link to your favorite magnetic stirrer. But apparently one is not supposed to leave these machines on for longer than a few days, tops. Wouldn't it be just as efficient, when tincturing ambergris at least, to just give it a good shake once a day for as long as desired?

    Going by the recommendations of folks here and on other pages regarding ambergris and its extraction on BN.net, this is my clever plan so far. I'll invest in small lumps of high-quality white-to-grey ambergris until warm weather sets in again here in Pennsylvania, usually mid-May. Then I'll start my tincture - grinding up a carefully weighed-out amount of ambergris with a bit of fuller's earth, and macerating it in an amber glass bottle (left over from my catnip tincture, perhaps) outdoors under a bucket or some such, to keep it both dark and warm.

    Incidentally, I have a jeweler's scale that measures in ounces, grams, carats and pennyweight! Think this is good enough? I'll be sure to post the percentage of my finished tincture in TCW (total carat weight)!

    And...bollocks. Pardon my language, but I've just had a look at my lone bottle of Everclear and discovered it's the 151 proof. I must have gotten it in Ohio or some other "no 190 proof" state. Now I'll have to make a special trip to Arizona just to get the 190 proof. Oh, the horror! The things we do for our hobby...le sigh.

  59. #59
    Super Member hoschhti's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Elsenfeld, Franconia
    Posts
    349

    Default Re: Ambergris

    I have also Ambergris from Profumo.it. To me it smells like milk with honey, and after a few seconds it's gone!

  60. #60

    Default Re: Ambergris

    Quote Originally Posted by Renegade View Post


    I see Hermitage Oils are now selling Ambergris tincture too. Anyone tried it?
    Yes, and it's beautiful and complex ... reminds me of the sea. :-)

Similar Threads

  1. Ambergris
    By bbobkc in forum Note Pad: Single Note Exploration
    Replies: 95
    Last Post: 11th May 2013, 10:25 AM
  2. Is anyone here into pure ambergris? Indian Ocean Ambergris
    By change1 in forum Male Fragrance Discussion
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 22nd February 2012, 02:12 PM
  3. Ambergris
    By audrey in forum Female Fragrance Discussion
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 27th April 2006, 08:21 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •