Archive for May, 2008

timing belts and removing grime

Posted in natural aromatics, sugar scrubs with tags , , on May 31, 2008 by scentedwench

This has absolutely nothing to do with perfume, but aromatics play into it, so I’ll forge along and just post anyway.

We’re trying to get the Buttless Wonder Car to pass smog, which in CA can be quite difficult to do unless you have a brand new vehicle, and it means having to adjust the timing belt in our case; apparently the timing was off by something like 10 points? So, I’m out there aiming a timing light at the belt and the little calibration doohickey, and BF is manually accelerating the idle with his hand, and his hands are filthy! Go figure, right.

We finally got the setting down between 5 and 6, where it belongs. We swapped out a sensor and readjusted one of the hoses on the air filter, too.

I made a sugar scrub for his thrashed hands. Rice bran oil, granulated sugar, a bit of steam-distilled sweet orange, a breath of patchouli, a drop of vanilla CO2 just for the hell of it. And it took the crap clean off. A quick follow-up with some gentle handmade soap, and his hands are cleaner than they’d be had he used soap alone, or one of those harsh orange cleaner w/ pumice products geared towards mechanics.

If you tinker with cars, or you live with someone who does, sugar scrubs are the way to go. Salt will burn like crazy on abrasions and cuts, even if you’re using a more powdery product like pickling salt.

[/public service announcement]


antiquated-book-smell, and other things

Posted in formulation, natural aromatics with tags , , , on May 30, 2008 by scentedwench

It’s been done, maybe to death; I’m not sure because I’ve not looked for others doing this for a couple years, but I’m thinking about recreating the smell of antiquated books. Down to the old leather binding.

I know to start with some antique terpeneless patchouli I managed to source a long time ago, and I have ideas on a vegetal leather, but I’m not sure if I should stop with the book itself, or if I need to create the library itself and possibly a library patron. Hm.

Yeah, make that the 50 bazillionth pot I have on the stove!

But it’s a fun something to let my mind wander to while I’m doing the other 49 bazillion things.

explorations of Pogostemon cablin

Posted in mandrake apothecary, natural aromatics with tags , on May 29, 2008 by scentedwench

I have a 16 oz bottle of dark patchouli from India that I’ve been hoarding for about six years. Aside from it making the opening of the bottle a bit tarry over time, it has aged into something really special. Golden, fruity, contemplative, green, herbaceous, dusty, sweet freshly-turned soil. All at once.

So I’m embarking on blends with it. I’ve so far tried the following in various combinations:
vetiver w/ rose
vanuatu sandalwood
morrocan rose
rose otto
cocoa absolute
ylang ylang
choya ral
ruh motia
peru balsam

Nary a top note in those experimental blends, either. I find that patchouli either loses itself and you get something greater than the sum of the parts, or if you add enough, it creates a monotone of sorts. Not a bad monotone either, but the character really comes through.

I’m not one who thinks of the 1960s, or how my mom smelled in the several years after I was born, when I sniff patchouli. When I contemplate my bottle, I see a universal blender, an economic one even in light of current shortages driving the cost up. And for those naysayers who say that it leaves its grubby footprints in everything it is added to, nope. I know some very studied patchouli-haters who fail to detect it in a number of my perfumes where it plays a supporting role and adds green tones to render the leaves and branches the flowers are blooming from.

I don’t agree, but it is interesting.

Posted in perfume with tags , , on May 26, 2008 by scentedwench

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When a review is not a review?

Posted in perfume, reviews with tags , , on May 21, 2008 by scentedwench

I’ve been trying to work my way through ‘Perfumes: The Guide’ by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. This is happening in fits and starts, because the obvious glee with which the two of them render their opinions is thick enough to slice up like polenta, fry, and serve alongside a wilted spinach salad with heirloom tomatoes and kalamata olives. Don’t forget the cheap battery-acid pinot grigio, by the glass.

‘Schadenfreud, party of two? Your table is ready…’

And it’s not even that I take issue with some reviews (of course I do, I’m an opinionated nose-governed bitch that way, and I know my aromatics), it’s just that this book is not a definitive guide by any stretch of the imagination. Just like none of the self-described ‘guides’ are.

I think this book is more for the hoarders and collectors among us. And it’s not even a coffee table book with eye candy pictures, so much as a weirdly organized encyclopedia. If I had to take issue with anything beyond that, it’d be that the format is too big to slip into my purse when I take the train, but too small to warrant throwing into my messenger bag when I’m on my bicycle.

Which relegates it to bathroom reading, more than anything else.

co-distills and attars rock

Posted in mandrake apothecary, natural aromatics, natural perfumery with tags , , , , , on May 21, 2008 by scentedwench

I’ve been playing with attars in a very limited fashion for some years now.  There are the obvious tonalities like mitti (baked earth distilled into sandalwood), gulhina (henna into same), motia (jasmine sambac into same), et al.

But you can get attars (I think these are technically co-distills) in vetiver as well.  My current favorite is Rosa bourbonia in vetiver.  The first attraction is the vetiver is like buttah.  Ruh khus from India has a really refined nature that is generally lacking in the distillations from Madagascar, Java, and Haiti.  Product from these places tends to have a burnt note going on, beneath the sweatsocks and thick grassy butter.  And that’s not a bad thing, because even a burnt bouquet is valuable in blending.

The vetiver has a warm golden earthy glow, which is taken up and amplified by a very quiet whiff of rose otto (and rose otto tends to be a really big brassy opera diva, by itself, so this is effect is priceless).

Current blending plans with this stuff:
patchouli (a distillation that behaves more like a heart note than a base)
a single crumb of jasmine grandiflorum concrete
maybe clary sage and frankincense?

eau de cologne, again

Posted in natural aromatics, natural perfumery with tags , on May 20, 2008 by scentedwench

Jiminy crickets.  This addition of water stuff really gives me fits.

I managed to add a few milliliters of filtered water to one blend, minimal clouding.  The trick is to either work with one of those magnetic stirrer jobbies, or to be really thorough and swift with your stirring rod as you add drop by drop.

The second blend… well.  It looks like lemonade.  Here’s what kills me: it clarifies beautifully when you put it in a warm water bath.  Warm it up, et voila, you have ze cleeer ztuff.  Let it cool, bam, back to lemonade.  I wish I could remember why water does this, but I can’t even remember how to write out a chemical equation for what happens when you add anhydrous to water, so…

File under ‘Whinge of the Day’.

Both of them smell purty, though.