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Monday, 29 April 2013

Ambergris substitutes - clarification of terms.

I've written already about natural ambergris (also called Ambra) and mentioned there that most perfumery uses synthetic substitutes.

Here I'm setting out some of those substitutes (mainly synthetic, but including some naturals) and trying to sort out some of the confusion resulting from the fact that there are so many different products with very similar names.

The ambreine produced from labdanum, also sometimes confusingly called Cistus oil, is a steam distilled product from Cistus ladaniferus.  I have been told by a leading producer of both labdanum absolute and cistus essential oil that the difference between the two products is as follows: Cistus oils are produced by steam distillation of the entire top-growth (twigs, leaves, stems and flowers) of the Cistus ladaniferus plant - a cistus absolute is sometimes also produced from the top-growth.  Labdanum products, by contrast,  are produced from a gum-resin found on the roots of the plant, which are first washed and then mechanically agitated to separate the gum from the rest of the roots, an essential oil, absolute and resinoid of labdanum are all produced from this gum-resin.

Ambrarome (from Synarome) and Ambrain (from IFF) are similarly extracted by proprietary processes from the labdanum resin (referred to as gum-labdanum sometimes though I think incorrectly - see details in this post for definitions). These are highly animalic in smell and designed as plant-based alternatives to the traditional animal components of perfumery.

Ambrox is a term usually used to mean Ambrox DL or one of it's synonyms: quite different from the labdanum based materials because it's a brand name for a single synthetic molecule (though a mixture of isomers) which replicates one of the components of natural ambergris.  The term ambrox is sometimes used to mean any of a range of similar products, in particular Ambroxan / Ambrofix / Orcanox that are brand names for chiral isomers [specifically (-)-Ambroxide], which though similar, are not quite the same. In my work I mainly use Ambrofix, which is made by Givaudan from a natural starting material, though I do use some of the others too.

Just to confuse matters further there is also Ambrein which is the waxy substance that is the majority component of natural ambergris, the breakdown products of which give the precious scented molecules of ambroxide and others that have been replicated by the various brand-named products above.  When pure, ambrein is odourless.  Bo Jensen provides a good description of what's going on (scroll down to the text just below the whale pictures).  I also use several of the other substitutes mentioned by Bo Jensen in his article for particular purposes.

Further confusion often arises between Ambergris (Ambra) products and Amber - a term that in perfumery is sometimes used to refer to a product made from the fossil amber by destructive distillation of the waste and low-grade amber left over form the jewellery trade.  This is described by Arctander as having a "smoky, tarlike, resinous" odour "with a distinct resemblance to the smell of tanned leather".  He mentions that there is also a rectified version of this oil, which has been steam distilled as well, but he says that this is "very little used in perfumery".

More often however amber refers to a blend of ingredients intended to give an warm scent reminiscent of both ambergris and the appearance of fossil amber (which in its raw state has virtually no odour).  Such blends normally include labdanum, vanilla, benzoin and other ingredients; are are often used as fixatives.  Some of the products named in the first paragraph fall into this category, but many perfumery houses and others will have their own blend.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Home Fragrances by Pell Wall

Peaches & Cream
Room Spray and Reed Diffuser
Fine, fruity and luxuriously warm

The new home fragrance from Pell Wall, available in room spray and reed diffuser forms; this is a lovely fresh, fruity and exotic fragrance.  Dominated by peach there are elements of raspberry, mango and pineapple here too all backed up with creamy, warm and slightly spicy elements that will refresh and soothe.
In reed diffuser form it will provide a gentle, clear background scent for 2 months filling a large room with steady fragrance. As a room spray you can use it to cover malodours quickly and it will still be detectable hours later.

Room Spray*
Ruggedly unusual, perfect if you can’t have an open fire

A rich, sweet, smoky scent evoking the scented smoke of aromatic woods burning outdoors and drifting in through open windows on a summer’s evening.  The woody smoke note is dominant but there is a touch of incense and a fresh-air note in the background too that makes this fragrance surprisingly versatile.
If you have a smoker in the house or a smoking area just outside, this is ideal to cover the stale tobacco odour.

*also safe to spray on skin

Grapefruit & Cedarwood
Room Spray and Reed Diffuser
Fresh, sophisticated citrus and cedar

This is bright, refreshing scent with the sharpness of the grapefruit offset by the softness of cedar and a gentle ambered background.
Very sophisticated and luxurious it is ideal for hallways and main living areas of the house.

In reed diffuser form it’s an upmarket background scent that isn’t too forward. The room spray gives it a more immediate lift and can also be used to effectively cover off-odours whenever necessary.

Minted Mornings
Room Spray
Clean bright & minty with a fresh-air background
A classy room fragrance designed to freshen up in the morning, giving you a light minty-fresh lift at the start of the day.

When you return later in the day though, the mintiness might no-longer be desirable - fear not, it will have faded away leaving a soft, warm, mellow scent to welcome you home.

The top-notes include several varieties of mint, tea-tree and juniper to give you that bright start in the morning.

Hidden beneath these, waiting for later are frankincense, sandalwood and light musk.

Room Spray
Sharp lemon & lime with lasting incense
Specially designed to cut through heavy cooking smells this is the perfect freshener to keep on hand in the kitchen to freshen up after a fishy fry-up or clean the air after a curry.
It’s made extra-strong and very sharp to give you an immediate effect but with a nice sophisticated incense note that lingers long after.

Lavender Garden

Room Spray and Reed Diffuser

Clean, calm, cool and collected 

A very fresh, soothing and pervasive scent, pefectly suited to bedrooms and bathrooms.
The scent features two varieties of lavender, thyme, rose, bergamot and a hint of vanilla.