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I’ve been trying to create a blend using jasmine for quite some time. In high school I would drink jasmine tea with friends as we listened to alternative music du jour and smoked menthol cigarettes. The smell of jasmine green tea is simultaneously uplifting and calming. Your lungs are full of scented flowers and you can’t help but think gorgeous thoughts. In tea the jasmine flavor is pronounced whereas in a fragrance it can be light or heavy, depending on the concentration and the blend.

Natural jasmine oil contains indole, an aromatic organic compound that is also found in gardenia, orange blossoms, and tuberose. Indole is also found in feces which sounds odd but makes sense when you understand that all organic materials share common compounds. What makes jasmine tricky to blend is indole, which is what makes the flower smell so amazing to begin with. Depending on the concentration of indole and other essential oils in a fragrance, jasmine can transform into gardenia or other white flowers. And if you’re not especially careful, the blend can start to smell a little putrid. Not fecal, just…not good.

In my experiments with jasmine I’ve managed a successful blend using vanilla and (surprisingly) tuberose. Most experimental blends usually result in jasmine lingering on the skin for an excessive period of time and with a strong animalic presence. Gotta love that indole.

Jasminum gradiflorum can be diluted to 15% of its original concentration and still hold its tenacity. I’m sure I could dilute the flower to a 5% concentration and still have a beautiful base note. I’ve read where jasmine can be used as either a heart or base note, but I would attribute the former with a non-indolic jasmine. My best bet with using jasmine is to dilute, baby, dilute. I thought about blending jasmine with tobacco but that’s been done a million times over by perfumers. I love oud so very very much but I need to branch out from creating orientals. To say nothing of oud being 8 times more expensive than jasmine (typically $175/oz). [Note to self: find an affordable oud for experimental blending.]

Listening to Hilter In My Heart by Antony and The Johnsons, I was struck by the line “From the corpses flowers grow.” Antony Hegarty is pure grace and I find her music divine. I think I’ll let the song be my muse and guide my experiments with jasmine.

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Bathtime was signaled by the arrival of his feet smelling like stale corn chips.

His fur was always so soft after a bath, the conditioner was reminiscent of cold cream.

I regret not taking better care of his teeth, but the smell of his breath never bothered me.

A best friend until the very end.

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I’ve written before about the quality of oils, but White Lotus Aromatics continues to blow my mind with its quality. I previously purchased opopanax from Mountain Rose Herbs and it’s worked well in many formulas. I was a little annoyed with the E.O. beginning to crystallize when it reached a certain level in the bottle, but I am working with a resin and its qualities are not unlike that of honey. The opopanax I purchased from MRH is clear and viscous with a sharp note. As I was running low I decided to order an ounce from WLA this time. The difference is quality couldn’t be any more visceral: the scent has no sharpness, and the color is consistent with opopanax also referred to as “red myrrh.” I made a blend this morning using the opopanax from WLA and I’m excited for my friend/guinea pig to try it out.

I ordered Vanilla absolute, black pepper, and oakwood from MRH. I’ve ordered the vanilla abs. in the past and the quality is good. Now after experiencing a better quality opopanax, I’m somewhat regretful that I didn’t order black pepper from WLA. I’ve looked high and low for other places that could possibly carry oakwood, but MRH has that market cornered. It’s not that I will receive poor quality E.O.s, it’s knowing that I could have done better.

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