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  1. #1

    Default Can you use too many naturals?

    I remember Chris once spoke to this maybe six months ago, but I wanted to ask this explicitly.

    Is there a rule of thumb how many naturals you can get away with?


    I do have my own opinion, but I don't trust it. The last perfume I marketed was fairly successful, and had about 150 ingredients, probably 125 naturals(defined as abs, EO, not nature identical chems). I could have just been lucky, because that seems too many now -- too much complexity. A "Mille de fleurs effect" of bland non-descriptness is the concern. I was fearless before, as I "didn't know what I didn't know", but now am second guessing.

    I probably create very similarly to PK, just from the impression he gave.

    114 ingredients so far, but that will go up by maybe 25 before it's over. About 70 are naturals so far. A lot of the naturals are at very low levels, 0.1 to 0.3%. then maybe 40 or so at "higher" levels. Less than 20 of those at "high" levels, at the core, the highest two being 17% and 30%. There are six major kinds of accords (generally speaking, wood, musk, floral, fruit, amber, spice) in the perfume, all of which have some detail.

    Should I be working to elimenate some of my naturals? My idea has originally been to have some at high levels, then a lot in trace amounts, as I said. But I don't want to condemn the perfume to a mille de fleurs effect before even starting.
    Last edited by DrSmellThis; 11th May 2014 at 07:41 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Creating a fragrance is a bit like juggling, the more balls you have in the air the greater the risk of you dropping them. I would have thought that 125 naturals in one fragrance was way too many; however, you say that it worked. Shows how many balls you can keep in the air.

  3. #3
    Paul Kiler
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    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    The danger of too many naturals is two fold, one is as you say, a bland non-description, and, or vs., one of mud.

    Mud can be made VERY quickly with too many naturals. I've smelled it many times... I call it 'mud', but it is this smell of too much, that ruins things. So if you can balance the naturals with a lof of them, then *you* can do it, but it's not so easy peezy mac and cheesy. (As my kids say... :-)

    The thing about a lot of naturals, is in fact a muddying up of the tones, whether or not you actually get to the mix smelling like "mud".

    Of course I do use naturals, sometimes a lot of them. But I also use the synths for clarity of tone and purity of note.

    There was a Winter Freshness Perfume Challenge between Nov and Jan, this past. The challenge/task was to create a perfume on that concept, with up to 15 Naturals, two of which needed to be tinctures. (no synths) I decided to take it on for a personal challenge, even though I don't normally work exclusively with naturals solamente. I won the perfume challenge, but it was harder that I thought it would be, I had to run at it four times with several subsequent modifications before being happy with it.

    After the Challenge, I took the concentrate and blended it with 60& more synths that matched and complimented the naturals in it. WOW! It really opened it up, and it had SOOO much more Grace. (As well also of clarity, volume, strength, and longevity of course.)

    I shared the blend with several supliers who were interested in it, because of the many naturals included, Robertet foremost, since I listed three Robertet ingredients in the formula. All agreed upon the better improvements found in the synth and naturals blend.

    Gotta go now... have a great Mother's day..
    PK
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    Gold Medal for "Best Aroma"; Los Angeles Artisan Fragrance Salon

  4. #4

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Yes, taking mom out to eat. A pleasant mums' day to all here. Got a pmail from mumsy too, so my day is complete.

    Thanks everyone for the feedback. The perfume I'm talking about took a year and a half of working on it every day, so PK you are correct it is not easy.

    For what it's worth, a lot of "damage control skills" are developed, and you try to minimize how much damage control you have to do. I ended up with a quite obnoxious, yet quiet note in the final product (It took me a month to tame it). It bothered me, but it's kind of like that "ugly scar on the woman", I suppose, that many overlook. People, apparently, can deal with maybe one clunker note, perhaps as many things in nature are like that -- a little funk mixed in, the weeds in your garden. Then it's as PK said, you work with strengths instead of weaknesses, think about what qualities it needs vis a vis available materials. Then you have little tricks to make the whole thing more pleasant.

    Would it have been easier without so many naturals? Ha ha, most probably.

    So I think Chris said he prefers to limit his creations to about 30 naturals (He will correct me if the number is off a little). Is that about what you all think?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Quote Originally Posted by DrSmellThis View Post
    Yes, taking mom out to eat. A pleasant mums' day to all here. Got a pmail from mumsy too, so my day is complete.

    Thanks everyone for the feedback. The perfume I'm talking about took a year and a half of working on it every day, so PK you are correct it is not easy.

    For what it's worth, a lot of "damage control skills" are developed, and you try to minimize how much damage control you have to do. I ended up with a quite obnoxious, yet quiet note in the final product (It took me a month to tame it). It bothered me, but it's kind of like that "ugly scar on the woman", I suppose, that many overlook. People, apparently, can deal with maybe one clunker note, perhaps as many things in nature are like that -- a little funk mixed in, the weeds in your garden. Then it's as PK said, you work with strengths instead of weaknesses, think about what qualities it needs vis a vis available materials. Then you have little tricks to make the whole thing more pleasant.

    Would it have been easier without so many naturals? Ha ha, most probably.

    So I think Chris said he prefers to limit his creations to about 30 naturals (He will correct me if the number is off a little). Is that about what you all think?
    I honestly can’t remember whether I gave a suggested number previously but if I had I think it would have been around the 30 mark in all likelihood. Thinking about the question today though I’m not sure it’s realistic to put a number on it because, to paraphrase Orwell, “some naturals are more equal than others”. So for example you have some, like Wintergreen and Bitter Almond that are, in effect, just one chemical. At the other extreme you have things like Patchouli, Rose and Oud that have several hundred chemicals contributing to their aroma.

    In between the extremes on the numbers front you have qualitative differences. So for example the strong similarities between the various citrus oils make it easy to blend many of them together with no danger of mud. Herbal oils are much more variable and accordingly more difficult to blend successfully.

    All in all I think using a small number of ‘feature’ natural, supported with a strong skeleton of synthetics and, where you need it, the addition of a number of trace-naturals (or complex bases) to add the necessary level of complexity is probably the way to go. By complex bases I am thinking of things like synthetic civet or castoreum more than the rose bases, but it can work with them too.

    As always in perfume composition there are no rules, only trends and guidance.

    Does that help?
    A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.”
    ― Dave Barry

    Chris Bartlett
    Perfumes from the edge . . .

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    If you are looking for a perfumery consultation I’m happy to quote: if you want free advice, that’s what these forums are for
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Of course it helps. You gave your honest take on the issue. Thanks.

    Some of the reason I get away with a lot of naturals is related to your point. For example, I used several kinds of sandalwood. I don't think that causes much of a problem. Or say, a mix of spices. Or two kinds of sage. Or as you say, multiple kinds of citrus. Or mixing animal notes. Or mixing balsams. Then there is clove, which maybe 80% one chemical.

    There are a number of ways to get away with more numbers of naturals, perhaps. Most flower absolutes seem to mix well together.
    Last edited by DrSmellThis; 12th May 2014 at 10:48 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    With all naturals, the worst muddle is definitely mud. Mille fleurs takes a lot of them and isn't always a lovely blend either. I think the challenge to make the notes soar is much harder but numbers are not something that determines that. It can also take very few ingredients for a good mud and i've made my fair share.

    One of the main things I find is to make sure ingredients are the purest possible. Any unnecessary additions or stresses to an ingredient will not help. The other thing to bear in mind is to let naturals settle a bit before adding more. The increased complexity of a natural compared to a single chemical is that there is more chance of reactions and bondings of elements within that can happen after blending to entirely change what you thought might happen. Sometimes this is good but more often it is not.

    There is also an order to the additions that determines whether that happens one way or another. Some ingredients seem best left till last but I cannot tell you the scientific reason why. Perhaps the more reactive ingredients need leaving out until all others have rebonded and used all the spare slots so the newer ingredient can stay free. I presume that happens too with aromachems.
    Currently wearing: Beautiful by Estée Lauder

  8. #8

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Quote Originally Posted by mumsy View Post
    There is also an order to the additions that determines whether that happens one way or another. Some ingredients seem best left till last but I cannot tell you the scientific reason why. Perhaps the more reactive ingredients need leaving out until all others have rebonded and used all the spare slots so the newer ingredient can stay free. I presume that happens too with aromachems.
    Hi mumsy. Thanks for adding to the thread. I wanted you to know that, as a naturals person, I came to the exact same conclusion you did years ago. Order of compounding is very important to me. But I don't say anything about it so as not to appear nuts (or "daft" or whatever the equivalent where you come from). Ha ha. I can't explain the reasons, or any of the chemistry, and I feel silly. But sit alone with some EO's and absolutes, etc., for enough years, and you start to develop strange beliefs! For me, every ingredient must be compounded in order. Some time we should talk about this, but I will resist the urge to hijack my own thread!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Quote Originally Posted by DrSmellThis View Post
    Order of compounding is very important to me. But I don't say anything about it so as not to appear nuts (or "daft" or whatever the equivalent where you come from).
    I will quickly agree with mixing in the same order for the most accurate re-creation. Or mixing as quickly
    as possible to negate the effects of order, if you only have a few ingredients.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    DrSmell, may I then take this opportunity to hijack this thread on your behalf?

    I find very interesting the comments by yourself and Mumsy regarding the requirement to blend in a specific order. This is something I have been slowly learning myself to be of more importance than I had in the past understood it to be.

    So, my question, if you would be so kind, is, where within the order of blending, would Sandalwood EO be incorporated? Beginning of creation of blend, end, otherwise? Any information in this regard that either or both of you (and anyone else) could provide would be much appreciated.
    Last edited by islearom; 14th May 2014 at 05:53 PM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    There is no 123 order about it as far as I can tell. A chemist can tell you differently I'm sure. If you are making a blend of your sandalwood, then it would entirely depend on what you were intending to put with it. Trials and different orders in little pots will tell you best.

    I noticed that if you mixed one set of notes together then the others at a later stage, sometimes, and only sometimes, the result is slightly different than if you did it the other way around or all at once. It is something that I've noticed time and time again but it doesn't always happen. The only notes i've noticed do it more often are orange and some of the citrus notes. It is easy to put them in at the beginning, but often they seem more pronounced to my nose if they are added at the end. I couldn't tell you about aromachems.

    By end I mean after a week or three when all the ingredients have finished their intermingling and have settled into each other as one.

    I am no scientist so I cannot say why or how. I have just noticed it in some blends. The ingredients interact with each other depending on what ingredients are used.

    I will try and illustrate what I mean.

    If ingredient A reacts both with ingredient B and C and they are all put in together then the blend is (A+B)+ (A+C)

    If A is put with B first, and B occupies all the reactive spaces, then we get (A+B)+ C

    If A is put with C first, and C occupies all the reactive spaces, then we get (A+C)+ B

    We need a chemist here because I'm sure he/she will tell me I'm talking copralite.
    Currently wearing: Beautiful by Estée Lauder

  12. #12

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Thanks Mumsy, I do get the general drift. It does make sense that various compounds will be created when an initial set of various botanical extracts are mixed, and the result of such mix will effect that which is added thereafter. Looks like I need to do some experiments of my own to see how Sandalwood added earlier compares to blends with it added later.

    The chemistry of the botanically derived materials is so complicated that it would seem like quite a task for even the chemist to figure it all out.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    I'd agree with what mumsy said. I definitely think in those exact terms too. Mumsy was nice enough to simplify it well. You have to imagine things interacting, marrying or bonding as you mix them, with whatever is already in the mix. and then maybe the image of concentric spheres is helpful too, to get a sense of "inside" and "outside" a mix. Things added first go inside, and things added last go outside. so that implies basenotes first and top notes last, but there are plenty of exceptions, and that doesn't imply that a given material is only one thing or the other (top, mid or bottom).

    Whether you put in sandalwood first or last, to me, depends on your goal, the amount in your formula, whatever else is in accord with the sandalwood, and other factors, in my opinion. But I am hesitant to say anything, because someone will call me out on it, and I will struggle to justify my opinions. It's just based on experience.

    Even the nature and amount of solvent can affect desired order, for me. Also what you want something to bond with the most.

    I feel like order is more important with naturals, due to the sheer amount of chemicals and unanticipated reactions involved.

    The assumption is that things interact when mixed in various ways. But I cannot tell you the chemistry of it. Some of it might have to do with the nature of fluids, that area of knowledge, and not just chemistry.
    Last edited by DrSmellThis; 16th May 2014 at 10:23 PM. Reason: typo

  14. #14

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Thanks DrSmellThis...I can see that my question was too broad for an easy answer. As it is normally the accepted "rule" that the procedure for blending requires creation of the base first (then the addition of the middle, then top), I was kind of wondering how adding a base note, in my case, Sandalwood, at the end would work. It seems that I need to have much more experience with blending and formulation in general to see how this would work for my circumstances.

    Thanks to both of you Mumsy and DrSmell for taking the time to reply to my inquiry. Much appreciated.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Surely the order of mixing becomes irrelevant after the finished fragrance has been allowed to mature for however long you folks mature it. Also, when you talk of ingredients "reacting" with each other, do you mean chemically reacting, or what? As far as I am aware the little chemical reaction that occurs, occurs over time and is not instantaneous. But then I have not been inculcated into the mystical world of all Natural Perfumery, and it may be different there.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    I think thats what I meant by leaving it a number of weeks first.

    I don't know either. It's just something I noticed when messing around. I suppose after a longer time any reactions may all meld eventually. I haven't made enough for long enough to know, nor used any chemicals. I suppose chemical reactions can undo themselves too.

    Does that mean this theory is copralite?
    Currently wearing: Beautiful by Estée Lauder

  17. #17

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    So, I made the mistake of googling "copralite"...

    There are some arguments pro and con the effect of addition order. Maybe we can dig into this later, but first you need to prove that there actually is an effect. I suggest you do a classical triangle test, it´s fun. Make two variations of the same perfume, but with different addition order. Pick one of which you are pretty sure now that you have observed the difference.

    Now let someone help you. You need to evaluate three smelling strips, two of them have a drop of the first brew, the other one has a drop of the second brew. Only your assistent is to know which of the three is different from the other two, the order in which they are handed to you should be at random. Ideally, you are blindfolded, so that the color, or other things dont help you picking out the different one. Your assistent doesn´t speak, he just hands you the strip you ask for.
    Pick the one which you think is different from the other two. Your assitant should know if you are right or wrong. If you are right, there is only a 1/3 chance that you were guessing. Repeat this on a later occasion. If you get it right again, there is only a 1/9 chance that you were guessing. 1/27; 1/81;...
    Dont cheat, and you may even convince David that there is an actual difference. After that, we can discuss possible explanations

  18. #18

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Oh you scientists!!!

    mumsy, I don't think the theory is fossilised sh*t, honest I don't.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Testing it is then….. onwards ye natural scientists…..

    Much. much better if this theory is not true really because it adds too many variables.

    Many thanks for being lured over thomash.
    Currently wearing: Beautiful by Estée Lauder

  20. #20

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    I would hope that Natural Perfumery (so-called) would proceed by way of the laws of physics as they are understood in the regular, mundane world that scientists regularly work with, and has nothing to do with processes that fall within some sort of "mystical" realm...it gets complicated enough just sticking with the laws of nature as we understand them.

    I don't know that I'll have the opportunity to run an experiment as Thomash describes, though it sounds as if such an experiment would clear up some matters in regards to the sequence in blending question.

    As an easier way out, for the time being, I just threw in a bunch of Sandalwood EO to a blend I started on yesterday, and will see if it matures into a potential future Eau de Copralite, or maybe a Eau de Mud. I suppose the possibilities are infinite (but the Mud more likely).

    It was not a matured blend that I added to, so the sequence in this case is most likely irrelevant anyway. And to keep an open mind, I'll consider the possibility that the gods on the astral plane will intervene and have created in that little bottle something much better.

    I think I best do another batch of the same, but without the Lavender EO and Abs that I included on a whim, and which everyone probably knows where that took things (and largely the reason for my inquiry in the first place).

  21. #21

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    I'm going to gather herbs in the garden wearing nothing but crystal beads….. maybe chanting a bit…. lol

    (I will test this theory properly at some stage when I'm brewing such things.)
    Currently wearing: Beautiful by Estée Lauder

  22. #22

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Those bulky iron cauldrons do take so long to heat up to required temperature.

  23. #23
    Basenotes Plus

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    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Maybe the angels could be prevailed upon to assist at that point?

  24. #24

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    It could be that you're mocking someone's beliefs right now.. Islearom - the gods live on Devachan. They're just expressing themselves in the astral, as we all are.
    I think that if there are some reactions (there have to be, as the scent does change, and that could be the only possible physical explanation), the initially the blending order could make a difference. However, given enough time, chemical bonds or whatever there is there (like Schiff bases) will break and form, and eventually reach an equilibrium.. At that point both experiments should smell the same. It could be, however, that this amount of time might be close to infinity.. There was a discussion in one of the threads about that sort of balance when mixing aldehydes with MA.

  25. #25
    Paul Kiler
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    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    I had a laugh yesterday with this New Age Bulls**t generator

    http://tinyurl.com/lgme3zu


    Last edited by pkiler; 15th May 2014 at 07:56 PM.
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    Gold Medal for "Best Aroma"; Los Angeles Artisan Fragrance Salon

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Quote Originally Posted by pkiler View Post
    I had a laugh yesterday with theis New Age Bulls**t generator

    http://tinyurl.com/lgme3zu



    That's fun - my daughter's going to have a link soon

  27. #27

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Love your link Paul, it's even been bookmarked

    Nizan, forgive my ignorance, but what is MA?

  28. #28
    Paul Kiler
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    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Quote Originally Posted by thomash View Post
    what is MA?
    You're welcome ! :-)

    MA = Methyl Anthranilate

    PK
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    Gold Medal for "Best Aroma"; Los Angeles Artisan Fragrance Salon

  29. #29

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Superb link Paul. Very funny.
    Currently wearing: Beautiful by Estée Lauder

  30. #30

    Default Re: Can you use too many naturals?

    Quote Originally Posted by pkiler View Post
    I had a laugh yesterday with this New Age Bulls**t generator

    http://tinyurl.com/lgme3zu


    Utterly wonderful; thank you Paul.

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