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  1. #1

    Default Vanilla thought experiment

    What would happen if I poured a bottle of real vanilla extract (alcohol, vanilla beans) into a bowl and left it out, uncovered for a period of time (say, a couple months in a vented cupboard with no extreme light/heat/temp):

    1) Is this process concentrating it?
    2) Is the result improved in a way that's useful for perfumery / aromatherapy?
    3) Has it lost any vanilla aroma?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Vanilla thought experiment

    There are people who can answer better than I can but just as a starter. Yes it is concentrating it by evaporating some of the alcohol. For perfumery no we calculate the material weight and diluent weight and so just evaporating out the alcohol is no matter. Yes it will lose vanilla aroma. There is this idea that vanilla is only vanilla which is a long lasting base note. But in wonderful natural vanilla bourbon there are plenty of top notes and you would not want to lose that. If you look at the ingredients of most modern vanilla extracts they only list 2 or 3 items. Most of the time the extract is artificial and has nothing to do with the plant. Even the natural pricey extracts are often only 1% of the final product. Mexican vanilla is often adulterated with smoky notes no matter what the bottle says. I have watched a documentary before about how dishonest the vanilla extract trade is ALMOST as bad as the orange juice industry!!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Vanilla thought experiment

    I wouldn’t waste your time. Instead get some Madagascar beans (the highest in vanillin content at 2%) and make a 20% tincture by multiplying the weight of the vanilla pods (seeds scraped out and bean pods chopped up small). Multiply the weight by 4 and add that much alcohol for a 20% tincture. Keep in the dark for 2 months and filter through 2 coffee filters or a level 4 filter.
    Andrew Hugg, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF (retired)

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Vanilla thought experiment

    You would lose a bit of the scent in the air when it dries, although it may be best if you used it simply as it is since it would end up in alcohol anyway.
    Note that vanilla extract as it is stains clothing.

    I would simply recommend using vanilla absolute if you want concentrated vanilla. PK has a vanilla absolute replacer he sells on Perfumers Supply House that is near identical, as it is quite cheaper than real vanilla extract.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Vanilla thought experiment

    If you wanted to start with a vanilla extract, despite all of what has been mentioned above, and you just wanted to remove the alcohol, using a Rotovap under vacuum would remove the alcohol licketysplit. You'd probably be done in under 15 minutes, I suppose depending upon how much liquid you placed into the flask... But then you have the issue of how do you get a sticky gooey substance OUT of a narrow neck flask used in a rotovap setup? I's better to leave some alcohol in, so that it still remains a fluid that can be retrieved easily.
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
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    In addition to Our own PK line, we make Custom Bespoke Perfumes, perfumes for Entrepreneurs needing scents for perfumes or products, Custom Wedding Perfumes, and even Special Event Perfumes.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Vanilla thought experiment

    I strongly suspect much vanilla extract sold now is fake.

    For example, this Wal-Mart item claims to be from 67.5 ounces of vanilla beans per 1 gallon of liquid, but costs only $5.99 per 4 ounces: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Vanilla-E...d3311c0d1c8da9

    At that concentration, that would be 2.1 ounces of vanilla beans.

    Extract of 2.1 ounces of vanilla beans for $5.99?

    The beans themselves at Wal-Mart cost $40/oz. So you get the extract of over $80 worth of beans for $5.99?

    I don't think so.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Vanilla thought experiment

    If you're specifically talking about vanilla extract, then the only place I buy it from is Costco (16oz / ~$35). I use it for just about everything, all the time, and I don't have to feel bad about using a tablespoon or more at a pop. Yes, I go through a lot of vanilla when I bake. Like...a lot, a lot. ;p Costco is unbeatable quality for the price; I have no reason to believe it's fake.

    Every once in a blue moon I'll splurge and get a tiny bottle of Penzey's double-strength vanilla. It's so, so good...but so, so many dollars.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Vanilla thought experiment

    I do have a reason to consider its legitimacy open to doubt. Compare how much vanilla beans must be used to meet the minimum standard in the US for strength with the current price of vanilla beans and the math just doesn't compute. There is a major worldwide crunch on vanilla.

    Vanilla extract must use 13.5 ounces of beans per gallon, which would be 4.375 ounces per 16 oz.

    If legitimate, then they went through 4.375 ounces of beans to sell the result retail for $35.

    The retail value of that much Grade B beans is about $90.

    Why would anyone take material that can be retailed for $90, process it, and then retail for $35?

    Of course maybe it's not Grade B, perhaps its fragments or sweepings or who knows what but the price does not look right for how expensive the natural product is now.

    It is SO easy to "extend" vanilla.

    If it works for your cooking, great, no issues there, it's just that it may not be reasonable to consider it a legit alternate to perfumery grade material if evaporated down, even if that process lost nothing.

    Isn't it a potential red flag that there's such a difference that you perceive between the Costco and the Penzey's, beyond the strength difference?

  9. #9

    Default Re: Vanilla thought experiment

    It's tougher to compare Costco prices since 1) you're pretty much always "buying bulk" and therefore getting some amount of discount baked into the price, and 2) the annual membership fee muddies the water since it gives them more wiggle room in pricing. The Penzey's product is better for sure, but to loop this back around with an analogy, Penzeys : Costco : all other retail vanilla extract is like Eden : Liberty : grocery store "EOs". ;p

  10. #10

    Default Re: Vanilla thought experiment

    Thanks everyone for the interesting replies - I just signed up here, and it's clear one could learn a lot here

    I'll be the first to admit, I'm a total perfumery newbie. So my question is probably not the best or the best way to ask (about organic chemistry). Thus, many of the replies have jumped right to answering other/different/better questions. No worries, of course, it's all quite informative.

    Some non-thought experiment sharing:
    I would never actually try to conduct this thought experiment. So far, I've tried some vanilla fragrances that all fell short of what I'm looking for - and some are super yucky (technically speaking...) I recently bought a bottle of "Vanilla Botanical Extract" from Plant Therapy, which is produced from a proprietary "hydro-alcohol distillation":
    https://blog.planttherapy.com/blog/2...nical-extract/

    High hopes, but ultimately pretty disappointed with it, and will likely return it for a refund, mostly because it's not a very satisfying vanilla aroma, even in LARGE amounts. And has zero throw and little persistence. I made a ~7% concentration with 1ml each into 15ml of 190 proof alcohol and fractionated coconut oil, and solubility is awful (though at least the oil did help open up the aroma much more nicely than the alcohol). I would maybe be interested in an oleoresin if it didn't have the same solubility problems. Vanilla absolute has appeared to have fallen out of favor. Thus, I'm left with considering a Co2 extraction (expensive) and synthetics.

    Miracle Botanicals sells 5ml of 6% vanilla Co2 for $49 USD [BTW, this price is very close to the PK synthetic, considering that the PK is already diluted in 50% alcohol], which does actually seem a minor miracle of value (similar to the Costco vanilla extract, mentioned above). If anyone wants entertain one more newbie question: Is Co2 vanilla extract the best choice for perfumery / aromatherapy? I do realize that much of the answer here is qualitative.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Vanilla thought experiment

    Sorry, I wasn't clear: the PK synthetic is NOT 50% alcohol, but is *perceptually* similar to a 50% dilution. From the creator (who I realize has contributed to this discussion, so absolutely no disrespect intended!):

    https://perfumersupplyhouse.com/prod...mes-exclusive/
    "I perceive it to be similar to a 50% alcoholic dilution of Vanilla Absolute."

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Vanilla thought experiment

    My Vanilla base starts FROM a real vanilla bean natural tincture, and is expanded/augmented/duplicated to in the end, be approximate to an Absolute at a 50% dilution. I tested every single vanilla absolute replacer on the market, and they all came up flat or far away from the need and target. (So I made my own to meet my own needs and high specs/requirements). Vanilla Oleoresin certainly does NOT meet the need, and takes the odor profile far away from the target, it is not recommended for an odor match to the Absolute or the CO2.
    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes
    http://www.PKPERFUMES.com
    In addition to Our own PK line, we make Custom Bespoke Perfumes, perfumes for Entrepreneurs needing scents for perfumes or products, Custom Wedding Perfumes, and even Special Event Perfumes.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Vanilla thought experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffb View Post
    I recently bought a bottle of "Vanilla Botanical Extract" from Plant Therapy, which is produced from a proprietary "hydro-alcohol distillation"

    High hopes, but ultimately pretty disappointed with it, and will likely return it for a refund, mostly because it's not a very satisfying vanilla aroma, even in LARGE amounts...
    I just got PT's Botanical Extract and it is almost totally useless IMO. They quoted me that it contained over 80% vanillin content (I knew that wasn't true when I ordered it). It doesn't come close to 2% vanillin content from what I can tell. It is weak, no silage, and watery. Again, useless. A double strength tincture would be more useful.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Vanilla thought experiment

    Thanks for the confirmation. It's definitely going back. I also saw that "80% vanillin content" statement, which doesn't make any sense after even a cursory glance at the economics.

    An hour ago I thought I'd give the PT Botanical Extract one last chance in the ultrasonic diffuser. Forgot I'd removed the restrictor on the bottle and oops dumped a bunch in (maybe 5ml). It's not a good vanilla experience.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Vanilla thought experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by pkiler View Post
    My Vanilla base starts FROM a real vanilla bean natural tincture, and is expanded/augmented/duplicated to in the end, be approximate to an Absolute at a 50% dilution. I tested every single vanilla absolute replacer on the market, and they all came up flat or far away from the need and target. (So I made my own to meet my own needs and high specs/requirements). Vanilla Oleoresin certainly does NOT meet the need, and takes the odor profile far away from the target, it is not recommended for an odor match to the Absolute or the CO2.
    Thank you, Paul - and apologies for any unintended mischaracterization on my part. Starting with a tincture and extending it makes a lot of sense to me. I imagine there might be perfumery upsides to this approach, like solubility, silage, etc.

  16. #16
    New Member Quay Limey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vanilla thought experiment

    This post is for Devil Dude up there. It seemed more relevant on this thread than the tobacco one where the tincture was briefly discussed.

    Here's a pic of the 50% tincture. I looked over my records and I added a further 1.7g of alcohol to cover most of the beans after the initial fill as they obviously soaked up a bit of the ethanol...

    Vanilla T50.jpg

    You can see it's pretty close to being submerged and it takes a few whacks to get it to sit below the surface. Great finished product - deep, woody, rich, real bean aroma and is a nice alternative/compliment to vanillin etc. 6 months is noticeably more complex than the 3 month version which in turn was superior to the 20% for 3 months tincture. Obviously, I guess.

    As an aside, your post count is spookily stuck on 666 at the time of writing and has been for a few days. 8 .

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Vanilla thought experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by Quay Limey View Post
    This post is for Devil Dude up there. It seemed more relevant on this thread than the tobacco one where the tincture was briefly discussed.

    Here's a pic of the 50% tincture. I looked over my records and I added a further 1.7g of alcohol to cover most of the beans after the initial fill as they obviously soaked up a bit of the ethanol...

    You can see it's pretty close to being submerged and it takes a few whacks to get it to sit below the surface. Great finished product - deep, woody, rich, real bean aroma and is a nice alternative/compliment to vanillin etc. 6 months is noticeably more complex than the 3 month version which in turn was superior to the 20% for 3 months tincture. Obviously, I guess.

    As an aside, your post count is spookily stuck on 666 at the time of writing and has been for a few days. 8 .
    Haha, that wasn't intentional (the 666), but I do walk by where they filmed the Exorcist in Georgetown, DC sometimes... maybe that's it. That looks pretty good! I would expect that to be rich like you say, based on the color, etc. I filter it in 2 coffee filters, then weigh the tincture. Then weigh the beans and try and determine how much alcohol got soaked up in the beans, so you can get a rough idea of the actual percentage of your tincture. Some alcohol will be absorbed by the material, and likewise some vanilla will be pulled into the alcohol of course. It looks like yours in almost black jelly, but I guess it is still not impossible to filter?
    Last edited by Devil's Son In Law; 18th November 2020 at 10:03 PM.
    Andrew Hugg, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF (retired)




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