Monday, March 9, 2009

Q & A - Scent strength ratios

Sometimes I get email that makes me think...and it seems a shame to waste the time and effort in a reply only one person will see. Thanks to Kristi Coleman for giving me permission to share our conversation.

Last week Kristi wrote the following:

"I'm doing a bit of research into the strengths of scenting materials, and would like to ask you a question. While researching online, I found one place which mentions one ounce of floral wax being equivalent to one half ounce of absolute, but could find no mention of the strength of concretes or essential oils as compared to these two. Could you tell me what, in your experience, the strength of each (ie, how many bottles of perfume or bars of soap it would scent to the same degree) is in comparison?

1/2 oz absolute = 1 oz wax = ? oz concrete = ? oz essential oil"

My Answer:

Kristi, there is no easy answer... "It depends" floral wax, alone, isn't something I chose to use in my soaps... but I often added floral wax to 'boost' the aroma... and I would say that perhaps an ounce of floral wax could replace 5 or 10 mls of absolute.

I never worked with concretes, but they also vary. ie, some concretes yield half their weight in absolute... so they would be half wax and half abs. others only yield about 10% THEY would be 90% wax and 10% abs, you see?

and not all absolutes and oils are of equal fragrant to get a balance of rose 10% and vanilla 10% in our Vanilla Rose Lip Balm, we had to use 4 parts Vanilla 10% to every 1 part Rose 10%... 20% of it was rose, to get an even balance where you knew the vanilla was there.

There are some essential oils where if you add one drop out of several mls of a blend, you'll know the eo is there; there are others that will be totally overwhelmed unless you use almost half of that one oil in the blend.

So there is NO one answer to your question.I know that in most cases it will take two or three ounces of floral wax (at least) to balance out an ounce of pure absolute.

Another factor. I have had "mystery buyers" purchase supposedly the "same" absolute from several established online vendors. All, supposedly pure unadulterated rose absolute from Turkey or Bulgaria, Indian Jasmine Grandiflora, etc.

In some cases, what we purchased was similar to the product we offer. In others, what we purchased was of the same odor intensity as what we offer as a 10% dilution.

Was the vendor adulterating their product? Probably not. But they were buying from producers who did NOT remove all of the solvents from the absolute...or in some other way dilute it. ie, what the vendor brought was NOT as strong as it should have been. (It was also offered at retail for less than I pay the producers we buy from.)

The point I'm making is that perhaps one oz of floral wax might be the equivalent of 1/2 oz of some absolutes; but I would not expect it to. The ONLY way you are going to get the answers that you want are by experimenting, by the drop, with the actual botanicals you plan on using. ie, mix one drop of two oils or absolutes. say... rose absolute and a base note that works well with it.. Sandalwood, Patchouli, any of the woods. see how they balance?

Is one dominant? then add a second drop of the weaker oil. let that stand and see if it's balanced. Then a third. etc. TAKE NOTES! Eventually you will know that with YOUR oils/absolutes, waxes, etc. it will take X parts of this product to equal Y parts of that product, in intensity.

hope that helps some...there are no easy answers.

1 comment:

Lavender said...

Interesting to hear about all the variations - good info since I really like to use essential oils and absolutes, and always struggle on how much to use.