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  1. #1

    Default Calamus / Sweet Flag Root

    Compiled from the Note Identification Project thread:

    Calamus (EO, ATL Canada, Acorus calamus from India)--3 drops on cotton, wafted
    This one is difficult to describe. It is buttery, nutty, soft and sweet. It is from the same family as iris root/orris, so it has the same sweet, buttery quality, but it is not powdery. After several hours, the scent has not changed significantly, but it does smell less sweet/buttery and more nutty.

    Calamus - one strange aroma, greasy, smells like the local soybean processing plant when they're cooking oil.

    Calamus - I think Calamus is a love it/hate it scent. It is very much along the lines of orris, at least in my experience of the scent from live plants. I think calamus is one of those fixative-type notes that helps bring things together without being very detectable

    Calamus – strange.odd not sure I would know how to use it.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Calamus / Sweet Flag Root

    Calamus EO is actually outright banned from sale in some countries. It's on of the International Fragrance Association's banned substances, as well, because there are some indications that it may have carcinogenic properties (beta-asarone). I did some research on this one a while back; can't find my notes, but I came away after much reading thinking that it was a tempest in a teacup, as the levels of the worrisome substance are quite low (though it is quite toxic if you take it internally, but a lot of things are, and not many people drink their essential oils ).

    Apparently, the North American species of the plant is free of beta-asarone, but most EOs are made from the Asian or European sweet flag.
    Last edited by bonni; 18th September 2010 at 08:22 PM.
    "Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other."
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Calamus / Sweet Flag Root

    Quote Originally Posted by bonni View Post
    It's on of the International Fragrance Association's banned substances, as well, because there are some indications that it may have carcinogenic properties (beta-asarone).
    Apparently, the North American species of the plant is free of beta-asarone, but most EOs are made from the Asian or European sweet flag.
    Never knew that geographical varieties of a species could be so different in their properties.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Calamus / Sweet Flag Root

    Quote Originally Posted by bonni View Post
    Calamus EO is actually outright banned from sale in some countries. It's on of the International Fragrance Association's banned substances, as well, because there are some indications that it may have carcinogenic properties (beta-asarone). I did some research on this one a while back; can't find my notes, but I came away after much reading thinking that it was a tempest in a teacup, as the levels of the worrisome substance are quite low (though it is quite toxic if you take it internally, but a lot of things are, and not many people drink their essential oils ).

    Apparently, the North American species of the plant is free of beta-asarone, but most EOs are made from the Asian or European sweet flag.
    This is an old thread but leaving a note in case people read this.

    The fact that it is banned is absurd. It is understandable that organizations like IFRA wish to help ensure the safety of consumers but often the regulations they offer are posed by people who have little understanding of the underlying scenario and instead create blanked bans that do little to benefit a community.

    Yes, the presence of β-asarone exists in some varieties of Calamus. And yes, in extreme concentrations along with other chemicals it has the potential to sometimes be converted into a toxic substance inside rats.

    The original ban resulted from "lab studies that involved supplementing the diets of lab animals over a prolonged period of time with massive doses of isolated chemicals (β-asarone) from the Indian Jammu strain of calamus." There are a few qualifiers in that statement that should give some insight into the actual levels of toxicity.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3667428/
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acorus_calamus
    https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scrip...cfm?fr=189.110

    To simplify: drinking essential oils is usually bad, some EO's are worse than others - this has nothing to do with the use of substances in fragrances, yet they are still blanketly banned by now-authoritative organizations like IFR" who are optional to follow.
    Last edited by mewmew; 31st July 2018 at 10:58 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Calamus / Sweet Flag Root

    Hello Everyone,

    Calamus is indeed difficult.

    Yes, IFRA says that Asarone (calamus can be up to 85% beta-asarone, based on a GC found in the COA shared on Liberty Natural's website for their Calamus Essential Oil) is a carcinogen. Asarone (in the form of alpha, beta, cis, & trans) must not exceed 0.01% of your finished blend, according to the 49th amendment of IFRA. Asarone probably gives calamus its distinct strong, peaty, fermented, powdery qualities ––*I have never smelled it in isolation.

    https://www.libertynatural.com/coa/292.htm

    A drop of calamus EO, guessing it is 100% asarone for the sake of math, might be 0.02 g in a 10 g blend. As is, that makes it 0.2% of the blend, which when diluted to 25% to create a perfume would be 0.05% of the blend –– which is still 5x over the limit according to IFRA. So a drop of Calamus EO @ 20%, in a 10 g concentrate that's then diluted 25% into a perfume... would be your max level allowed of Asarone. The only plus is that drop might still stand out, but probably not by much, unless supported by other rooty / powdery / fermented notes (careful, though, that there is no asarone in other materials used! 0.01% of asarone is allowed in finished perfume, not per botanical used).

    White Lotus Aromatics sells a calamus EO (that I have not tried, but want to –– they have a $100 minimum) says it is 7% beta asarone –– maybe this is the North American variety mentioned earlier in the thread. If anyone has tried this material, let us know what the difference is like olfactively:

    https://www.whitelotusaromatics.com/...oot-co2-select

    &

    http://fragrantharvest.com/CofA/CofA...0%20%20WLA.pdf

    Aside from now being basically unable to use calamus ... I like it. It is very strong and has a powerful effect in a blend. The ancient Egyptians loved it – "sweet rush" – in their perfuming & incense making. I want to get into their mindset. Its unique quality can lend a transformative accent (use sparingly) to many blends: stinky, powdery, & ethereal. It smells rotten, then it smells dry vanilla cake, then it's moldy, and then it's like orris.

    As I internalize the IFRA standards from their 49th amendment, the more I remember the prohibited / restricted materials ... the more I want to use them!

    Happy blending all ––




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