Not all of my readers will remember the days when patchouli was almost ubiquitous among young people. It was impossible to go to a rock concert without being overwhelmed by thick, dense wafts of the stuff. Long after, I now know that patchouli is a… Read More »Patchouli


I’d never thought much about magnolia, until the giant tree next door bloomed in the early spring. While the flowers’ aroma was subtle, I noticed how the beautiful floral aspects were underlined with a kind of earthy decay, as though fall were already here.  Excited,… Read More »Magnolia

Finally Zeroing In

I’m finally zeroing in on my ambergris perfume. I worked my way through my aroma chemicals and naturals to see what reminded me of ambergris, the sea, the beach, and anything related to the ocean. I rounded up such goodies as nonyl alcohol, seaweed absolute,… Read More »Finally Zeroing In

The Smell of the Sea

I’ve always wanted to smell like the beach, not a crowded beach with its overtones of suntan lotion and salt water on skin, but a solitary beach with a scent like steamed mussels and freshly cracked oysters. On top of this irresistible sea-fresh quality I… Read More »The Smell of the Sea

Roses Again

Perfumers forever state that a well-made perfume has a synthetic frame, ultimately fleshed out with essentials, absolutes, and enfleurages, each derived from natural ingredients. I have nothing against aroma chemicals since most of the time they are the same compounds that occur in the flowers… Read More »Roses Again

Starting Out

Castoreum is an animal product used in perfumery. It is a byproduct of beaver trapping such that ethical concerns are somewhat ambiguous–the beaver isn’t killed for the castoreum. Castoreum comes as either the dried gland (often smoked over a gentle fire) or as a paste.… Read More »Starting Out