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  1. #1
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    Default Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Hi, it seems, the more I learn, the more I NEED to learn, lol.

    A simple question: why don't these aroma molecules simply smell stronger to begin with? Why don't they all smell like EO's? Then we could dilute them. Is it because of toxicity if stronger?
    TIA

  2. #2

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Quote Originally Posted by numberz View Post
    Hi, it seems, the more I learn, the more I NEED to learn, lol.

    A simple question: why don't these aroma molecules simply smell stronger to begin with? Why don't they all smell like EO's? Then we could dilute them. Is it because of toxicity if stronger?
    TIA
    Not sure what you mean. There are some Aroma Chemicals which are amazingly strong and can be detected down to parts per billion. Furfuryl Mercaptan (which in dilution smells of Mocha) has an odour threshold of 0.005 parts per billion. I would say that even something as common as Benzyl Acetate is stronger than many Essential Oils. It really is not true to say that all Aroma Chemicals are weak, and all Essential Oils are strong.

    Why some things smell stronger than others is, to me, a mystery. I don't know why we should be so sensitive to some smells and not others; although many of the smells we are very sensitive to are associated with things that might harm us, such as the smell of rotting meat, or bad eggs.

    Toxicity has nothing to do with it.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Ruskin View Post
    Not sure what you mean. There are some Aroma Chemicals which are amazingly strong and can be detected down to parts per billion. Furfuryl Mercaptan (which in dilution smells of Mocha) has an odour threshold of 0.005 parts per billion. I would say that even something as common as Benzyl Acetate is stronger than many Essential Oils. It really is not true to say that all Aroma Chemicals are weak, and all Essential Oils are strong.

    Why some things smell stronger than others is, to me, a mystery. I don't know why we should be so sensitive to some smells and not others; although many of the smells we are very sensitive to are associated with things that might harm us, such as the smell of rotting meat, or bad eggs.

    Toxicity has nothing to do with it.
    Hi David, correct, you do not know what I mean. Perhaps I can explain better.

    I'm trying to keep this in lay terms...

    If one goes to a fragrance counter, they can sample hundreds of colognes and perfumes. Not one of these has provoked me to say "Hey, I can't smell this cologne very well" So I'm guessing that some of the ingredients are "big smell" ingredients while some of the ingredients in it are indeed some things that aren't a "big smell" so to speak.

    I do realize that Molecule 01 is one of the exceptions to the rules but you know what I mean, right? How does one get a "big smell" from molecules that aren't normally "big smell" molecules? Are most molecules just nuance type scents?

    What I was referring to earlier was whether or not the "big smells" would exist if certain molecules were stronger?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Thank you for trying to make it easier for me by keeping "this in lay terms", although I don't know how this helps. Lay as opposed to what? Professional terms? And professional what? Perfumer/ Well I was a professional perfumer for 30 years, so that isn't necessary. A professional buyer of perfumes? A professional aesthete? Anyhoo.

    Still not entirely sure what you are driving at. A finished fragrance, made up of aroma chemicals, Essential Oils and Absolutes contains thousands of chemicals. Some of those chemicals are very strong, stronger than any finished fragrance. Some are not so strong, some weaker than the finished fragrance. Are you asking why there is this disparity in odour strength? In my previous reply to you I wrote that I did not know why we were so much more sensitive to some molecules than others. We just are, is all. If you are asking how it is possible to blend several materials together to produce a smell that is greater than the sum of its parts, again I have to confess that I don't know. It is possible to do this, Perfumers do it all the time. Certain molecules, such as Hedione, have the peculiar property of being able to enhance the strength of the fragrance they are in. Hedione, on its own, doesn't smell very strong, but when it is used in a Fragrance, the whole fragrance will be stronger and more diffusive. Every item in a fragrance is there for a reason. We can mix A with B and produce something that is stronger than strength A + strength B. We can add substance C, and with that addition the whole fragrance becomes stronger and more diffusive. We can add substance D, which isn't very strong, but it has the property to make the whole fragrance last longer on skin. Perfumery is highly skilled, and each and every material used, if blended skilfully will enhance the overall effect of the finished fragrance.

    It is possible, by adding a not so strong material to make the finished fragrance stronger; I don't know why, it just is.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Excellent put David, and, i think the most frustrating part in most of my experiments, is that finally adding substance D, E or F flattens down the composition, kills the glitter, sparkles and openness, while it was meant just to add more diffusiveness or lasting power.

    It's like painting: when does a painter decide to stop adding more paint? Was the painting better, if stopped earlier. I could fill a room with oil paintings that ended up brown. The equivalent of muddy, killed perfume mixtures.

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

  6. #6

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Quote Originally Posted by jsparla View Post
    Excellent put David, and, i think the most frustrating part in most of my experiments, is that finally adding substance D, E or F flattens down the composition, kills the glitter, sparkles and openness, while it was meant just to add more diffusiveness or lasting power.

    It's like painting: when does a painter decide to stop adding more paint? Was the painting better, if stopped earlier. I could fill a room with oil paintings that ended up brown. The equivalent of muddy, killed perfume mixtures.
    Nine times out of ten the flattening effect occurs (just like too many colours makes the painting go brown), but the tenth time is worth the frustration, because when the exhilarating effect happens, it's fantastic.

    Even your failures should be noted down. We enjoy it when things go right, but we can learn when things go wrong.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    David,
    I used the term "lay terms" in order to differentiate between speaking on a molecular level vs an average Joe type level. My intent here is to get answers to my question.

    I do understand that certain chemicals can react with others...that was not my question. My question was:

    "Why don't these aroma molecules simply smell stronger to begin with? Why don't they all smell like EO's? Then we could dilute them. Is it because of toxicity if stronger?

    Bottom line is I'm trying to understand why aroma molecules such as Galaxolide don't smell anywhere near as strong say, as a Musk cologne or perfumes that are sold in stores.. The answer is that you don't know why and I wasn't trying to catch you or anybody else on anything, I was just surprised when my aroma molecules arrived, as I have been working with EO's for the last 6 months...and obviously, they are stronger smelling.

    Believe me, I am deeply grateful to you and others here who help all of us who have questions. I'm 51 years old so I may not have 30 years to get things straight
    Thank You...

  8. #8

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    For the third time now I repeat that some aroma chemicals are way stronger than some Essential Oils, some are the same strength and some are weaker. Just as some Essential Oils are stronger than others. I don't think I wrote that certain chemicals react with each other; in fact, in Perfumery you try not to get many chemical reactions.

    Single chemicals are just that, single molecules. Essential Oils are made up of, often, hundreds of molecules. So Essential Oils will smell more complex than Aroma Chemicals, not necessarily stronger. I also went on to describe the phenomenon of making a mix that is stronger than the sum of its parts; you seemed to have ignored that.

    You may well have a problem smelling Galaxolide, many people do. Size of molecule, and vapour pressure have something to do with perceived strength, but not everything.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    An obvious reason why Galaxolide doesn't smell as strong as a perfume (for example, Tresor, which I think is around 21% Galaxolide) is that a perfume will contain more volatile notes and the fragrance will be diluted in alcohol (as opposed to DEP or IPM or whatever the Galaxolide is dissolved in), which will help the fragrance diffuse in the air. And it will have more aromatic materials in there, so if you can't detect the Galaxolide, you'll be able to detect other tones.

    And just a nitpicky thing from another American: You seem to be using the word 'cologne' to refer to a men's fragrance and 'perfume' for a women's fragrance. I think that's something we Americans do, but it gets confusing. A cologne refers to a light, refreshing blend of usually citrus or floral ingredients, as in eau de Cologne. A perfume is a fragrance (actually a parfum is a concentration, much like a cologne, but you can use the word perfume to generally refer to fragrances). I live in Sweden now, and I refer to all fragrances as perfumes, because it would be confusing otherwise. I can't imagine how strange it would be in France if someone referred to, I dunno, Cristalle Eau Verte as a perfrume but Tobacco Vanille as a cologne.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Ruskin View Post
    For the third time now I repeat that some aroma chemicals are way stronger than some Essential Oils, some are the same strength and some are weaker. Just as some Essential Oils are stronger than others. I don't think I wrote that certain chemicals react with each other; in fact, in Perfumery you try not to get many chemical reactions.

    Single chemicals are just that, single molecules. Essential Oils are made up of, often, hundreds of molecules. So Essential Oils will smell more complex than Aroma Chemicals, not necessarily stronger. I also went on to describe the phenomenon of making a mix that is stronger than the sum of its parts; you seemed to have ignored that.

    You may well have a problem smelling Galaxolide, many people do. Size of molecule, and vapour pressure have something to do with perceived strength, but not everything.
    David,
    I appreciate your effort but I never received the answer to my question. You may be repeating what you think is the answer but it's not the question I asked.
    You seem to be getting increasingly agitated and slightly rude over the fact that you believe that you answered my question.
    I think we should end this one here as it is becoming an unhappy experience.
    I appreciate you taking the time to respond.
    Thank You...

    - - - Updated - - -

    edshepp,
    I'm coming from a world of "colognes and perfumes". That's what I and just about everyone I've ever know in my life call them. Sure, I'm learning and may not have the "lingo" down just yet but give me time. I am aware of the terminologies and will learn them.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    I stated that I did not understand your original question; your reply, I thought, was somewhat rude and abrasive. You did not make yourself any clearer, and I still do not understand what you are trying to say. Clearly my fault, and I apologise if I have offended you. Difficult indeed to express yourself in writing. Apologies also for your "unhappy experience".

  12. #12

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Maybe an example would help?

    Try smelling some orange oil. Then try some of the components of orange oil. Start with limonene and linalool, then try octanal and decanal. The latter at full concentration practically fume out of the bottle. They're amazingly strong.

    I've also found that I've had to learn to smell some things. it took me a full twenty four hours before I could smell Ambroxan. At first there was nothing. Nothing at all. But after a while - I wore a five percent solution for a day - I found I could smell it easily. Now it's unmistakeable - and powerful and diffusive.

    -

  13. #13

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Quote Originally Posted by numberz View Post
    Hi, it seems, the more I learn, the more I NEED to learn, lol.

    You Know, Just Yesterday, I had to slouch my shoulders, when I found another material that I'd never heard of, that seemed like I should have known about it... And I've been at this for 8 years now.

    So Don't worry because you feel like you're under a pile, because you ARE...! :-)

    But you just have to slog through it, and keep at it... for years...
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    Gold Medal for "Best Aroma"; Los Angeles Artisan Fragrance Salon

  14. #14

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Numberz, perhaps it is a matter of putting different meanings to words and communication thereby not happening. David really did answer your question according to what I'd think you meant by your words, but you may have meant differently.

    I'm guessing that by "strength" you are meaning the concentration and you are assuming that the aroma molecules are sold at low concentrations, and are wondering why they are not sold at higher concentrations.

    In some cases, out of necessity or convenience they are diluted, for example to 50%, but in most instances they are at 100% "strength" already. No one is holding them back. The intensity of fragrance that they have, when used alone, is what they have, for reasons David explained.

    It is not, at least in most cases, that they are being provided dilute.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Hi Bill,
    No, and this whole thread is getting a bit off.
    Try to think in terms of going to the store and smelling a fragrance...and comparing that experience at the fragrance counter to the experience of smelling aroma chemicals. If went to a fragrance counter and smelled (or didn't smell much) I'd think that something was weak.

    I asked a simple question. My question had nothing to do with the strength or power of the aroma chemicals science wise...I was just asking why the damn things didn't all smell like the fragrances at a store. Why a bottle of aroma chemicals doesn't smell like a bottle of men's cologne. And yes, cologne, because when I go to the damn store, the label says men's cologne, lol. I live in the USA.

    I asked why they didn't smell stronger...meaning strong like the colognes in stores. I highly doubt that you people can't understand such a simple question.

    I've since sort of found the answer to my question...

  16. #16

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Alright, alright, before this thread gets really nasty, if i'm interpreting your question right Numberz, i'd think i might get an answer for you...

    Please compare it with cooking. If you buy raw potatoes, raw meat and raw carrots, ten to one it doesn't smell -or taste- good. But by adding a bit of butter, some onion, salt, pepper and cooking experience, you can come up with a dish that's far more tastier than the raw ingredients. And even if you can smell some salt or butter or even carrots, it's nothing compared to the heavenly gravy in your cooked dish. It is like asking "this dish is so delicious, why doesn't the meat on itself smell any stronger?".

    Try to look this way to aroma chemicals. They are just tiny -raw- components. When mixed together they might strengthen or supersize each other. And that's the most difficult part of perfuming IMHO. As David stated earlier, and it's also my personal experience, only 1 out of 10, or even fewer, experiments with formulations leads to a composition that generate this 'wow' factor where oils and chems influence each other in such a way, that the perfume you've created has the effect you notice at the counter in a perfume store. Remember, the perfume's in a perfume store are all experiments that had success! They don't sell failures

    Well, did my best, as others did, and when i did not manage to get your question right, or the answer gave not the needed insight information, i apologize upfront...

    Happy perfuming!

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

  17. #17

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Quote Originally Posted by numberz View Post
    Hi Bill,
    No, and this whole thread is getting a bit off.
    Try to think in terms of going to the store and smelling a fragrance...and comparing that experience at the fragrance counter to the experience of smelling aroma chemicals. If went to a fragrance counter and smelled (or didn't smell much) I'd think that something was weak.

    I asked a simple question. My question had nothing to do with the strength or power of the aroma chemicals science wise...I was just asking why the damn things didn't all smell like the fragrances at a store. Why a bottle of aroma chemicals doesn't smell like a bottle of men's cologne. And yes, cologne, because when I go to the damn store, the label says men's cologne, lol. I live in the USA.

    I asked why they didn't smell stronger...meaning strong like the colognes in stores. I highly doubt that you people can't understand such a simple question.

    I've since sort of found the answer to my question...
    As pure speculation, and maybe the same answer as you already found:

    From the standpoint of what works in nature for any animal, it makes sense that some odors are more important to detect in small concentration than others. If an animal perceived all odors at the same concentration as being equally intense to each other, then it might be hard to find food, smell predators, etc. It seems to make sense that it's better for some things to be perceived strongly even at low concentration, and others to rise to awareness only at high concentration.

    But that doesn't mean that odors that in isolation don't rise much to awareness can't contribute importantly to overall perception. Often they do.

    If only "strong" aroma molecules were available, then a lot of things that can be accomplished when having the "not-strong" molecules available could not be accomplished. So that is why they are sold. They are useful even if perceived as weak when in isolation.

    EDIT: I meant to include also that some of the "not-strong" aroma molecules may be interacting with only a single receptor type, or only a few types, or types which the brain hasn't learned to consciously identify. From that viewpoint it makes sense that they can be, as they are, important parts of a combined fragrance, but by themselves they are nothing like the perceived strength of finished products such as colognes.
    Last edited by Bill Roberts; 2nd March 2013 at 05:27 PM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Quote Originally Posted by numberz View Post
    I've since sort of found the answer to my question...
    So now I'm curious: what is the answer?
    Customized consultancy on olfactory branding, design & research
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    www.somethingsmelly.com


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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    The answer is...BECAUSE, lol.

    All the replies I've gotten are good replies but I'm not so sure that they are the answer to my question...just ringing around the rosy. But that's okay because I learned that the answer is simply, BECAUSE

    I learned WHAT IS but not WHY it is.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    i am no perfumer at all...

    take white, or yellow....if you confront them with black they will shine brighter, the same with chemicals, when you mix them they kind of get compared one to another and one shines more against the other.....so thats why you sometimes add some weaker chemical and the overall effect is stronger...

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Ivanita, thanks but the question is why don't they smell stronger to BEGIN with? Why don't they smell like fragrances in a store,,,,never mind, we've kicked this horse to death
    I do appreciate your help though..
    Last edited by numberz; 3rd March 2013 at 03:43 AM.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Quote Originally Posted by numberz View Post
    The answer is...BECAUSE, lol.

    All the replies I've gotten are good replies but I'm not so sure that they are the answer to my question...just ringing around the rosy. But that's okay because I learned that the answer is simply, BECAUSE

    I learned WHAT IS but not WHY it is.
    Why? Because they don't stimulate as many receptor/glomeruli combinations. Or the ones that they do stimulate aren't considered to be very important by your brain. It probably wasn't necessary - in evolutionary terms - for our brains to be able to smell the dihydro jasminate in jasmine, but knowing where the predators were, or had been, was.

    -
    Last edited by Skelly; 3rd March 2013 at 03:25 PM.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    I'm struggling with smelling this musk:

    Ethylene Brassylate - 400
    Galaxolide 50% - 380
    Velvione - 100
    Thibetolide (Exaltolide) - 100
    Ambrettolide - 20

    It smells fine, but it's just not strong. It basically smells like Jeroen's musk blend except much weaker. What can I think about to smell it stronger?

  24. #24

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Hi Ambolt,

    i "cheated" in my Musk Mix with to "excipients", vanilla and ambrocenide.

    The vanilla serves as a base and attachment molecule in such a way that people anosmic to (a part of) the musk spectrum will pick up the musky scent through the vanilla. Like a "musky vanilla".
    The ambrocenide lifts the complete mixture, with some high notes, not to be missed by many.

    Perhaps this combo does the trick

    Best!

    Jeroen.

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

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    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Ah I see.. Genius. You don't happen to have any spare vanillin and ambrocenide lying around do you?

  26. #26

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    I did not use vanillin, although it might work too.

    I've used Vanilla fragrance oil (don't tell the other group members, they will disapprove and disgust fragrance oils hh ) but it's the best vanilla scented composition i've found with a lifespan of over 14 days on a blotter! Does what it has to do. I expect Vanilla Fragrance oil is widely available, mine comes from www.hexapus.nl.

    My one and only source for Ambrocenide 20% was Perfumers Apprentice, they do not have it anymore, and i'm not able to find a new source. I've less than 3 ml on 2% strength, so very parsimonious with it... hope you can understand.

    Best regards, happy perfuming,

    Jeroen.

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

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    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Haha I understand. I wonder if anyone here can source it. Oooh I have a good vanilla fragrance oil too. I used it in my latest amber perfume and it lasted 12+ hours on my SKIN! It even endured a shower after that! (I used it in the honey amber formula I posted)

  28. #28

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Do other amber chemicals have the same effect as the Ambrocenide? Would ambroxan or Karanal work as well for exalting, for instance?

  29. #29

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    I do not know Karanal.


    If i had to replace Ambrocenide from my current palette, disregarding the odor profile, looking for the lifting/exalting effect, i would try (a combination of):


    - aldehydes in tiny amounts
    - okoumal
    - cosmone
    - olibanum oil (top) (not the resin (base))
    - maybe ultrazur


    All in 1% dilution or less, if used in my original Musk Accord to substitute ambrocenide.

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

  30. #30

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    The only chemical with a similar performance is Norlimbanol. Ambroxan is not as strong, although its effect is powerful. Not everyone can smell Karanal, and it doesn't smell the same as Ambrocenide.

  31. #31

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ambolt View Post
    Ah I see.. Genius. You don't happen to have any spare vanillin and ambrocenide lying around do you?
    Vanillin can be found on e-bay. It's about 3.50 for 100g. It's not 'the finest wild vanillin, extracted from rare vanilla plants in the thick jungles of Madagascar' but it's perfectly fine for practising with. Dissolve in ethanol at 5%. Any stronger and the crystals will crash out of solution.

    -

    Edit: I was talking rubbish about the 5% solution. I have a 10% sol in my fridge (+4c)

    -

    -
    Last edited by Skelly; 7th March 2013 at 08:56 PM.

  32. #32

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Vanillin doesn't even need to be in solution, don't waste your time and bottle and alcohol to dilute it into your concentrate, simply put the crystals in and swirl the liquid, and be patient, by the next morning it is likely to be into the solution of your concentrate, Like many other crystalline elements, but not all.

    Ambrocenide is hard to replace, David has mentioned one, another is Ambrinol, but is even harder to get than Ambrocenide, and is very expensive. About 10X the price of Ambrocenide, which really points out the cost to performance ratio benefits of Ambrocenide.
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    Gold Medal for "Best Aroma"; Los Angeles Artisan Fragrance Salon

  33. #33

    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Ambolt, that musk formula you gave is the White Musk Key Accord from the Perfumers Apprentice. Perfumers from Givaudan invented the formula. Musk along with the synthetic ambergris molecules are very large in size and extremely tenacious. They cause anosmia very easily. I left some Ambroxan Crystals open (in a bottle in my room) and some how the molecules attached to my umbrella and they stayed there for about 3 months. I was pretty amazed. It's a very sexy smelling molecule. Anyway take a drop of the musk accord and put it on a piece of paper in side of a room that could be closed. Close the door and when you come back about 5 minutes later the entire room should smell like musk. I can't begin to explain how tenacious they are. Maybe this has something to do with Le Male's longevity and projection haha let me stop.

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    Default Re: Why aren't chemicals stronger smelling to begin with?

    Quote Originally Posted by Skelly View Post
    Why? Because they don't stimulate as many receptor/glomeruli combinations. Or the ones that they do stimulate aren't considered to be very important by your brain. It probably wasn't necessary - in evolutionary terms - for our brains to be able to smell the dihydro jasminate in jasmine, but knowing where the predators were, or had been, was.

    -
    this is very nice answer...thats what i tried to say comparing to single colour note...when you have more colourse contrast helps....
    and this was very good question too..becasue when i first time ever smelled any single note there is i was expecting it will smell like 10 times stronger then in perfume but its not....ok they are diluted...on many single notes i kind of struggled to even smell it like tonka bean...even labdanum!!
    was very surprised..that i can pick those notes in a prefume almost the same as smelling them as a single note...where i would expect it smells much stronger as single note

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