My summer time Perfume Courses has, in addition to giving me a new respect for the proper construction of a perfume, been introducing me to new-to-me aromatics. Another one of these new-to-me absolutes is Orange Flower Absolute.

Even after all these years, Neroli still sits at the top of my personal favourite list. I have used it in many different products and blends, sometimes as a single note, sometimes in combination with Bitter Orange and Petitigrain, also obtained from the Citrus x aurantium tree and most often in combination with a variety of different essential oils. To my nose it blends well with most other essential oils. So it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to receiving my Orange Flower Absolute, while I wondered what it would smell like.

Bitter Orange Peel Oil : Cold pressing of the outer peel of the fruit.
Top Note of medium to low intensity and a sweet, warm, sensual, fresh, citrus, fruity and tangy aroma.
Chemistry: Aldehydes (2%); Ketones (2%); Lactones Coumarin (0.5%); Monoterpenes (85%) ; Alcohol (5%)
Cautions: Generally considered non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing. Orange does have photo-toxic properties and topical application to the skin should be avoided in skin that is exposed to the sun or UV rays for 12 hours after use.
Petitgrain: distilled from the leaves and twigs.
Top note of medium intensity with a citrus and floral aroma, with a slight bitter undertone.
Chemistry: Esters (55%); lactone (0.5%); Monoterpenes (10%) ; Alcohol (30%)
Cautions: Non-toxic, non-irritant, non-sensitizing and non-phototoxic when tested at low doses.
Neroli: Steam distilled from the freshly picked flowers.
Base note of medium intensity, although in the Perfume World Neroli is considered to be a Middle note,
Chemistry: Alcohols (40%), Monoterpenes (35%), Esters (14%)
Cautions: Generally safe to use.
Orange Flower Absolute: Obtained through solvent extraction.
Base note of strong intensity. In the perfume world it is also considered to be a Middle Note, with a rich warm, sweet-floral aroma. It is a good fixative in perfumes
Chemistry: Alcohols (50-60%); Esters (25-35%)
Cautions: Best used diluted as its aroma is very strong and a little goes a long way.

While I have certainly enjoyed using Orange Flower Absolute in blends, I find that, to my nose, it very much adds a ‘perfumey’ quality to the blend. Great when you are trying to make a perfume, but not something that I would want in all the blends that I make. To me it has a ‘heavier’, ‘deeper’ aroma than Neroli and it may not be an aroma that I would want to smell on its own every day.  On the other hand if I can learn to blend it skillfully it could add some depth to those perfumes I’m trying to create.

I have been playing around with an accord of  Bitter Orange, Petitgrain, Neroli and Orange Flower Absolute and I find that I have to move forward very cautiously.  It doesn’t seem to need much Orange Flower Absolute to overwhelm the others but I am sure that if I can find the right balance it could enhance and deepen by synergy.  Not something I would use therapeutically, although when something makes you feel good that can be therapeutic too!

I find it very interesting to notice just how critical I am of my perfume blends aromas. When my blending focus is therapeutic it has always been easy to come up with the final blend that works well and usually smells good too. But when my blending focus is solely on the aroma and how it unfolds, nothing seems to be quite good enough!

After experiencing working through the exercisers in creating a perfume, I have a different appreciation of the Perfumer’s Art, and more of an appreciation of just why it can take a perfumer many years to perfect just one perfume. And even then, as everyone has their own unique aroma preferences, not everyone is going to like the final product!