I'm exploring this too... love to hear what other people know...
Thread: Good MUSK combos?
I'm aware that certain musks go well together. I'm also aware that we sometimes blend several musks together to make sure everyone smells "something."
What are some good go-to combos, and what's the theory behind them?
I'm exploring this too... love to hear what other people know...
I wonder if there is a theory. Of course usualy one uses a mixture of musks for rather a lot of people are anosmic to certain musks, by combining them they will at least smell some or even one of them (at least we hope).
I have some groups I use together, but I have to thing about the theory behind it.
For instance Tonalid and Celestolide are 'clean' musks for me, so both have an alike effect. By combining them you increase the posibility that a partially anosmic will smell at least one of them.
Furthermore I tend to combine them with other 'clean' materials, like cedarwood Virginia.
Then: instead of combining alikes you can contrast them. The combo I use most together is ethylene brassylate and Galaxolide. Galaxolide is rather clean (not as clean a Tonalid and Celestolide however) and ethylene brassylate is slightly animalic.
When the fragrance has wood and musk I tend to use ethylene brassylate and cedryl methyl ether. Cashmeran I use in general as a single musk in a mixture (too dominant). Omega Pentadecalactone I use when I want a subtle musk, in general also as only musk in the mix.
So no: no good theory yet, I just use what suits the mixture I am working with, but the combo's mentioned I used several times.
Iíd pretty-much agree with Jan on this: I nearly always use a combination but there isnít really science behind it, just experiment and practice.
However I can add some additional ideas: I nearly always use a small amount of ambrettolide, or sometimes velvione, alongside musks like ethylene brassylate, muscone, exaltolide and so on (that is Iím using a high-impact macrocyclic lactone alongside either another lactone or a macrocyclic ketone musk).
Cashmeran is to me a very spicy compound - almost more spicy than musky - but it is good for floral reinforcement as well so I do sometime use it in combination. I find it can leave a musty effect if not carefully used, but talking to other perfumers Iíve not found other people have this problem, so perhaps that just me.
For fruity accords I want an underlying musk to have a fruity aspect so Helvetolide, Applelide and Ambrettolide are the musks of choice, but I may still combine those with another, less fruity musks.
For amber accords Habanolide seems to work best, but again with support from others.
For sandalwood accords I think Traseolide is best as it has a distinctly creamy aspect that works well in that context.
I have several pre-designed bases, composed mainly of musks and other fixatives / base notes such as cedramber, vertofix, bornafix, veramoss and so forth that I routinely use as a starting point to build new fragrances. These often get modified later, but make it easier to get started. Most consist of between 12 and 30 ingredients.
Itís worth spending some time getting to know the different musks and learning how they each work because they all seem identical at first, but actually have lots of differing aspects and performance.
I'm interested in experimenting with musks to figure out the combo's and their affect. Is there a tried and true method that is both simple and inexpensive or is it the usual "try it in a mix and see" sort of thing? Perhaps asking in another way might be helpful: Is there a particular/specific simple accord that would facilitate musk swapping that will optimally demonstrate the value and effect of each and all of the musks in combination? I'm looking for any controlled exercise that helps in this regard.
I've been doing something weird, but kind of helpful…
I've been making some pretty cool mixes, in various "genres": woods, orientals, gourmands, etc. I bought a bunch of little "sample" containers (tiny), and when I get the basic mix to a good place, I'll "version them out" using a different musk in each version.
For instance, I was recently playing around with a kephalis/patchouli thing (with other ingredients, obv), and I finally got it to a place that I wanted to wear it -to test it out. So then I tried all my musks: putting like 10 drops of my "base" and then a few drops of the musk, then letting it sit for a few days, and then wearing them, and "taking notes" throughout the day.
I'm still confused, lol, but less so. I'm starting to really understand how each musk is different, and how they work and support different scents.
Sounds like I'll have to find some online accord formula incorporating musk and do what you are doing. I'm still in the process of learning my materials and making monographs, etc. I have yet to make anything I would wear comfortably outside the house.
Well, that is possibly true, nothing at all wrong with having lower standards. I tend to be an obsessive perfectionist and self critical by my own admission. I wear my creations around the house but more often than not there's always a confusing and muddled aspect that grates on me. I figure that if it grates on me it's probably also annoying to others. For now I'm keeping them in my fridge as blenders and modifiers for future creations.
Make a dilution of your chosen base material and make up plenty of it, divide into equal portions one for each of the musks you have available to test and add about 10% of those musks (diluted to the same degree) to each (so you now have, for example lavender oil plus each test musk at 10%)
Evaluate each carefully over a few days and notice how the different musks perform. Remember to keep smelling your test strips for at least a day after dipping to see what the musk does to the dry-down over time.
You can then repeat the evaluation after mixing pairs of these simple blends to see what happens with any two musks together.
Chris, thank you for the advice, I appreciate it!
In commercial perfumery there is often used the term "White Musk". Is it a single material or a combination of musks or is it an accord with other materials and which materials are used for a "white musk" ?
Yep, in essence the term White Musk was coined to distinguish the new synthetic musks from the darker, dirtier natural musk that had gone before (real deer musk, muskrat and civet). So White in the sense of ‘not dirty’ and perhaps ‘not evil’ from the perspective of animal welfare. It’s a slightly dodgy use of the term (the whole white=good, black=evil thing is looks rather different when you consider the politics of race, but in the early days of the 20th century, when the term was coined, such considerations were not so prominent).
Nowadays we tend to use the term white musk to refer to the clean-smelling musks like tonalid, galaxolide and celestolide, as distinct from the more animalic ones like ethylene brassylate and muscone, but ‘white musk’ as a perfume is still likely to contain multiple synthetic musks and probably other things too.
The famous White Musk perfume from the The Body Shop was based on nitro-musks and would not now be IFRA compliant. Ironic considering it was marketed, like everything else from that organisation, as ‘natural’, ‘safe’ and ‘environmentally friendly’, since from a modern perspective it was none of these.
Last edited by Chris Bartlett; 24th November 2013 at 09:51 PM. Reason: corrected century!
Thanks for the detailed answer Chris and JungleNYC !
I would also like to thank Chris and Jan for their answers… VERY helpful
One can use musks compatible with other notes in the perfume; and one can also use musks with certain musky qualities one thinks should help. You gather enough information about possible interesting musks to make that possible.
Here's a formula I made up for a musk complex. I find it useful in most of my preparations and prefer its aroma to Musk Ravageur.
All compounds were blended at 20%.
exaltolide pentadecanolide 7
ethylene brassylate 9
musk ambrette 13
Indian red musk* 1
* This little bit of natural musk works wonders but is obviously optional.
Hi James, Interesting, I'll have to mix it up and smell it.
What tells you that this "Indian red musk" is natural? Frankly it sounds like a blend itself, simply by using the name as a reference...
Never heard of it before, either, BTW.
Oh, and I can't stand Musc ravageur...
Last edited by pkiler; 10th December 2013 at 10:28 PM.
What is the musk ambrette? Is it from ambrette seed, is it the nitro musk or is in a (nitro) musk ambrette replacer?
I'll point out that I quite like Musc Ravageur, but I find it more like an oriental than strictly a musk fragrance.
Last edited by edshepp; 11th December 2013 at 11:12 AM. Reason: addition and spelling correction
I would read the "Musk Ambrette" as indeed the Nitro Musk, So, I woud sub in with Ambrettex XNM instead. (Which is the new replacer)
Yes, the musk ambrette came from a trappers' site, used to attract deer etc.
Yes, I use musk ambrette that I bought at a trappers' site. I have a bad habit of using prohibited materials.
I know this may have been covered elsewhere but I could not find it in searching: I have been playing with some of the Louis Appell formulas for the "classics" (which by the way I highly recommend, I really learn a lot by putting these together). I often come up against a problem when getting to the musks though, where he calls for musk xylene, or musk ambrette, etc.. What would you recommend to replace these old-but-now-banned-or-not-produced musks in a formula? I am handicapped by not having the originals to compare. I have most modern musks, including the elusive laevo-muscone of Stuigi-moderator-wrath-inducing-group-buy fame, and even the hard to get juniper lactone and exaltone (thanks to Javiero), but have no idea how to go about replacing these old musks in a formula (I do not have, however, what Paul mentions, Ambrettex XNM, and do not know where to get it in quantities I could afford/need). Have any of you worked out replacements for the old nitro musks and even musk ketone using modern musks (which I hesitate to use, even though I do have some)? It would be good to have as a reference if you have, and are willing to share (maybe a sticky on musks?) Of course you may well not be willing to share if you have spent years working on it and use it in your business... in which case I completely understand!
Good question, gecko. I too have been wondering which musks are the best replacers for the old nitro musks. How about velvione, cosmone, nirvanolide and muscenone, for example? You can still get musk xylene/xylol from Perfumers World, so perhaps it would be worth getting some, if only to have a reference for future comparisons.
Last edited by Pears; 8th January 2014 at 11:22 AM.
I can't really recommend substitutes for the old musks since I use the old musks as they are. I love musk ketone, musk ambrette, and musk xylol for their various effects (say nothing of natural musk), but this is part of my obsession of creating in the style of the 1940s.
I hope this doesn't seem like a silly or irrelevant question, but what do we mean by "banned?" Does this mean if we use these materials that the police will come and confiscate everything? Or does it mean we'd have to use a warning (black box?) label? I've always figured that I'd make perfumes using the materials I want (within reason) and then adapt them as needed once I realize what effect I'm looking for.
James I generally feel the same way but in the case of these musks you mention I worry about bio accumulation and endocrine disruption, which are serious issues with these as I understand it.
post on my blog giving brief descriptions of a selection of musks that might help and I believe Paul is working on producing a better one that might appear there as a guest post in due course.
On the question of “banned” that’s usually shorthand for IFRA issuing a Prohibition Standard on the material but in the case of several of the nitro-musks there are also legislative prohibitions in many countries. There is no problem using these things for your own use but if you want to sell the resulting creation then it will be a problem. So far as I know it isn’t illegal to own any of these materials, though that isn’t impossible given the huge variation in legal administrations across the world.
Last edited by Chris Bartlett; 8th January 2014 at 05:03 PM. Reason: added link
having worked with many of the these for years, I can only stress the point gecko214 has made, and add that many of them are
highly carcinogenic, so you need to wear a face mask and gloves...
in addition to the health and environmental concerns a number of them are highly flammable and explosive, they are made
in very similar fashions to TNT and nitro glycerin....hence 'nitro musks'
the EU has some of the nitro musks listed as an explosive
musk ketone has not been banned by IFRA as long as it is the purified compound, that contains less than 1% of musk xylene.
Eew. Scary. I didn't realize they were carcinogenic. I've been working with them rather carelessly. What happened to all those people who used them in years past?
In the long run weíre all dead anyway: itís only a question of when and of what.
of course they had very high exposure levels to the dusk etc....as you might imagine....
i also forgot to mention, the older the stuff is the more explosive it will get....
speaking of the IFRA ban, that has always bothered me, not that i questioned the scientific study or facts
it was lack of discovery, if i am saying that right....
with respect to the environmental contamination...the levels of nitro musk found in ground water was
insane, like what happened, did everyone in the world throw out their bottles of jovan musk?
so they are banned in fragrance use, but they are still used by the hundreds of pounds for trapping, for the fur industry...
and where are lures/bait put to trap for fur, oh, right outside, near streams, frozen bodies of water....etc....
apparently the fur lobbyist have more power than the fragrance industry.
Last edited by Chris Bartlett; 8th January 2014 at 06:00 PM. Reason: minor corrections
Thanks Chris. I love your philosophy--all the roads of glory lead to the grave.
I do very seriously believe that it is good for public policymaking and personal decision making to remember that there isnít an alternative to lifeís one and only certainty. When you prevent or avoid one cause of death you automatically increase another one.
100% of humans die, whether we give up everything that gives us pleasure in an attempt to avoid all the things our governments tell us are bad for us or not.
Hmm.. some scriptures suggest it's only around 100% of all humans
I do have a few Musks:
Ambrettex XNM 15g/$6 30g/$10 75g/$25
Traesolide 100% 15g/$7 30g/$12 75g/28
PM me if you want some.
Gecko, I don't know how accurate the information below is, regarding nitro musk alternatives but hopefully someone can tell us:
"Velvione has a nitro-musk aspect that is not found either in other commonly used macrocyclic musks, nor in polycyclic musks. Velvione is excellent in all applications, including fine fragrance, where it adds a powdery volume and musky softness."
"Cosmone, is a single molecule the first C14-macrocyclic musk commercially available, which has a nitro-musk character of great warmth and diffusion which blends well with all kinds of accords."
"Nirvanolide, a chemical produced by Givaudan has a clean sweetly powdery and slightly animalic odour close to the restricted older Musk Ketone."
"Another chemical with an odour close to Musk Ketone is Muscenone, possessing a very elegant and diffusive musk odour."
I'd personally be happy to use nitro musks in perfumes but I also make soaps and I would prefer not to wash in nitro musks, or let them go down the drain.
Last edited by Pears; 9th January 2014 at 12:31 PM.
Of the above-mentioned I've tried Cosmone, Velvione and Muscenone, but the only nitro musk I have is Musk Ketone. They are all very useful, especially for dry powdery effects similar to Musk Ketone. However, from what I have observed, none of them are as long lasting as Musk Ketone, which seems to last forever on a strip. To be honest though, smelling many vintage perfumes, I sometimes find the persistence of Musk Ketone (I can only guess this is what I'm smelling) a little bit irritating.
Many thanks, Renegade. Does anyone know which, if any, of the materials mentioned is closest to musk xylene/xylol? I'm not sure exactly how different musk xylene is to musk ketone, the only comparisons that I've read are from the Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (1960):
"THE NITRO MUSKS
It will be noticed that the important nitromusks all possess a high degree of substitution. The five commercially available nitro musks are: musk xylene (XlI), musk ketone (XlII), musk ambrette (XlV), moskene (XV) and tibetine (XVI).
The above five compounds possess the following odour characteristics:
Musk xylene: Full, not intense, "chemically".
Musk ketone: Cleaner and sweeter than xylene.
Musk ambrette: Intense, rather metallic-blackberry, a little of the ester
Moskene: Somewhat similar in odour to ambrette but rather
weaker and lacking the penetrating intensity.
Tibetine: Has an odour rather similar to musk xylol with a little
of the musk ketone effect."
Last edited by Pears; 9th January 2014 at 01:05 PM.
Hi is this 20% (W/W)
then you used drops to make the blend
I have an old recipe which calls for a few grains of musk. Does anyone know roughly how much synthetic musk would be equivalent to a grain of natural musk? A grain is the weight of a grain of cereal apparantly, equivalent to 65 milligrams.
Thankyou, Paul. I think that the recipe is referring to grains in terms of weight rather than the granular musk grains, as a similar recipe in the book calls for a few grains of Civet or Ambergris. I have no idea how much synthetic musk to add in order to approximate the effect of a grain of musk. Does anyone have a rough idea?
Last edited by Pears; 31st March 2014 at 12:39 AM.
After obtaining a small set of vintage Apothecary
weights, here are measured equivalents in grams:
1/2 grain = .035g
2 grains = .13g
3 grains = .20g
4 grains = .26g
5 grains = .32g
Thankyou, Chris. Yes ofcourse, I wouldn't ask for an interpretation of what a few means. To me, it usually means anything between three and a dozen or so.
Your recommendation to use 50 mg of synthetic musk for every 65 mg of natural musk, seems to suggest that natural musk grains are almost entirely made up of volatile musk compounds. Is that right? I don't have any Muscone or Muscenone but I have some Musk ketone, Cosmone, Velvione, Exaltolide and Silvanone Supra. Would any of these have a similar strength to Muscone or Muscenone? If not, how much of these should I use? Thanks again.
Last edited by Pears; 31st March 2014 at 01:47 AM.
deer musk would only have < 2% muscone, by weight, the macrocylic musk component.
there are a number of other constituents that contribute to the odor profile
trace amounts of sterols, [androstenol] and muscopyridines
having said that, a few grains, in terms of weight, of deer musk would hardly do much to add to any odor profile in the product.
you can substitute the androstenol if you have a good quality Italian black truffle tincture, or there are some sources that sell
androstenol, as far as i know there is no production of any muscopyridines.
true l-l-musone is over 700.00 per gram so any d-l-muscone would suffice.
as far as dosing, i guess it would depend on what the formula was, and why it called for that small amount of deer musk.
but if one calculates the amount of odor constituents in 65 milligrams of deer musk grains, it would be a tiny tiny amount
that you would substitute using synthetics.
unless my math is wrong 2% of 65milligrams is 0.0000845 grams.....
Last edited by Pears; 31st March 2014 at 03:19 PM.
I wasnít assuming most of the weight of the deer musk would be volatiles, though I would have thought it rather higher, after processing, than 2%. What I was allowing for however is the fact that the deer musk has its Ďmuskinessí boosted by materials like the aforementioned muscopyridines that it is impractical to use and therefore youíd need more of the dl-muscone and muscenone (both present in the natural, which is why I chose them). Also I agree with Paulís assessment of the comparison. There is nothing wrong with iso-muscone itís just not the best match to the natural product (and quite different from dl-muscone even thought it sounds as though it should be the same).
From the selection you have to hand Exaltolide is the best match Iíd say, but as youíre going to use it in soap you could usefully use some Musk Ketone to enhance it further as the main disadvantage with the latter is the soapy note, which wonít trouble you in this context. Similarly you could use a touch of Velvione.
So perhaps 60% Exaltolide, 30% Musk Ketone plus 10% Velvione and Iím still of the view that 0.05g of that mixture is about right per grain of original musk.
Musk Ketone is now heavily suspect as it often contains Musk Xylene, which is banned (I think) by IFRA. Also, you put a nitromusk into soap, it will discolour.
Just as a point of interest Musk Xylene was the first material prohibited by IFRA on environmental grounds (as opposed to dermatological or other human health considerations). I learnt that at a recent conference on regulations (I get to go to all the fun events you know).