Discussion in 'The Art of Traditional Perfumery' started by alcolado glacial, Aug 11, 2018.
How long do Attars last? Is there an expiration date?
as long as it smells good ... it's good
when it is oxidized you know directly something is going wrong
A lot depends upon the makeup of the attar and how it is stored, as you probably know. Some oils oxidize rapidly into unappealing or even toxic byproducts (pressed citrus oils are an example if I recall), while others improve with age. I am uncomfortable using citrus based blends that are over a year old...
I am guessing there is some limit beyond which even the oils that age well begin to fade. I have found old sandalwood for example to be wonderful but really old sandalwood to be somewhat lacking, so I assume this applies to attars.
Heat, light, air exposure all accelerate aging of course.
Good to have you back Mr.P. you've been missed
Thanks Jalil & Mr.P for the replies.
So if an attar is made out of long lasting oils extracts like : sandalwood, oud , flowers, is stored properly it can last years.
What other ingredients are volatile or even toxic that i should be aware of?
Well I know that old, vintage fragrances can lose their top notes, giving a very "vinegar" type smell which lingers for a few minutes before the base notes kick in, and yeah that's usually citric type notes. These generally aren't used in attars so I would think the majority will hold their scent profile for years to come.
....at least I hope so (what with the number of attars that I own!)
Technically speaking a traditional Indian Attar is an hydro distillation of a fragrant botanical or mineral (Mitti Attar), component, into a base of sandalwood essential oil. If we are talking about traditional attars then, they don’t have an expiration date, but actually they improve with time due to the sandalwood base improving the smell profile with ageing, as long as they are stored properly. Unfortunately nowadays it’s almost impossible to find a traditional Indian attar, and if you are buying these so called attars, they are not based on sandalwood oil, but on synthetic carrier oils. Luckily these so called attars, being based on synthetic carrier oils they don’t expire due to the carrier oil not becoming rancid or getting oxidised, though they are not improving with age either. Eventually the aromatic molecules, dissolved in the carrier, will get slowly oxidised or be subject to physical changes due to the temperature of storage or the exposition to light and UV light in particular. If the botanical extract is sensitive to the oxidation, it will slowly decrease in strength or change smell profile, generally in a bad way, but not necessarily.
I have no knowledge on ingredients becoming toxic due to the oxidation, surely the terpenes from citrus oils have tendency to polymerisation in presence of oxygen. However these terpene polymers should not be harmful for the health. They will eventually have a different smell, most likely unpleasant, or no smell at all due to the molecules not being able to evaporate any more since they became a polymer.
@Feder have you tried anything from Zak @ Agarwood Assam? He sells great attars including a Shamama
@Sproaty, thanks for the tip, but before I trust anyone that is selling sandalwood based attars I would need GCMS analysis to prove it.
I personally spoke with "M. L. Ramnarain Perfumers" and with "Prabhat Sandal Pvt. Ltd." and they both confirmed that they are not producing sandalwood based attars, the only way to get it is to request for a custom order, minumum 5l, but they cannot ship outside of India due to the export restrictions. So if you are not based in India, you need to go there and supervise all the production process, if you don't want to get adulterated attars, and smuggle the attars out of the country.
I lost any hope of being able to find genuine sandalwood based attars and even the, so called, genuine are not to be trusted. I have few attars that I bought in UK in 2011 from a reputable brother perfumer, at that time I had no experience at all with attars. After years of researching I discovered that the attars I have are synthetic or adulterated attars. I still have them but I am no longer using them, my collection includes: Hina, Murr, Ruh Khus, Misk, Amber, some Oud. The only genuine attar I have is the Ruh Khus, but I recently discovered that was adulterated with "Vetiveryl acetate", My conclusion is that even the so called genuine attars are to be judged very carefully.
With the oud is the same story of the sandalwood, unless you are buying from a very reputable seller or you are directly supervising the distillation process, there are good chances that you will get an adulterated or synthetic product. Nowdays all the major players in the perfume industry, such as Givaudan, Firmenich, IFF, Takasago, etc. have developed blends to imitate the scent profile of the agarwood oil, for an experienced perfumer is not difficult to change these perfumes to mimic any variety of oud oil.
@Sproaty, do you have any experience with the attars from @Agarwood Assam? What can you tell us about Agarwood Assam's attars? Are they genuine sandalwood based attars? How did you identify the sandalwood notes?
HI Feder, I couldn't tell you that they're 100% genuine based on my own experience, but rather on the collective experience in these forums. Vendors who are promoted here are 'vetted' by the more experienced community here - I'm still relatively new to the attar/oil scene and am relying upon the collective consensus here. Zak's attars are also highly praised on his etsy page where he sells, and I think a level of trust is put into him, thus I don't have any doubts of their authenticity. It's the same principle as you mention from buying oud from reputable sellers - here, Agarwood Assam is reputable. Zak's family has a traditional of distilling oud and blending attars, I believe that he works with his uncle and his father was in the trade too, so it's been a family tradition.
I own a lot of his ouds and attars and they all smell great, covering a wide range of bases, from animalic to smooth rose/sandal. There's been nothing in there that I smell that would give a hint of synthetic - and I have tried some cheaper, synthetic attars. But of course I'm not infallible here and could be wrong but I don't have any doubts regarding Zak
Quite new and amazing piece of information. It will be observed now onward.
Thanks a lot.
@Sproaty, thanks for the answer, I am considering to try at least one these attar to see how it performs.
To me "synthetic" doesn't necessary means "bad", there are a lot of perfumes and attars that smells great even though they contain synthetic ingredients. Actually to some degree, most of the aroma-chemicals are considered safer than the naturals. Personally I prefer the natural ingredients due to the complexity of the scent they can express, but I am not totally against the use of aroma-chemicals in perfumery. The problem is that nowadays most sellers advertise their products as naturals while they are, in the best case scenario, adulterated with aroma-chemicals, I get very disappointed when I come across one of these products, as I considering this simply as fraud.
The Ruh Khus attar I own smells amazing, I have it since 2011 and I am still using it, even after I've realized that it's at least adulterated, in fact I was able to identify very clearly a note of "vetiveryl acetate" in it, which is not natural but is the result of the aceltylation of the vetiverol that is contained in the vetiver oil.
Have you tried any Attars from White Lotus Aromatics ?
I have a Hajr e Aswad blend at the bottom of a 1ml vial from 1995...It's got no signs of rancidity as yet despite all the air space. In fact it smells as appealing as it did back then and doesn't smell any bit synthetic either.
@Fahad, I've eared already about Lotus Aromatics, and it's on my wish list to try some of their products, but I didn't try any yet.
I'm reading your posts regarding Sandal oil again and again to reach some definite point. Would you please share any technique to measure the authenticity and purity of Sandal oil? Just Sandal oil, and Sandal in blends or utoor.
You have mentioned that purity resides with a lab report, while it seems a bit difficult to have some oil duly examined in a lab. The forum- based market, as I perceive, is chiefly based upon the word of mouth and self experiences. For example, if an oil/ itr is released by AA, RPP, IO, EO, I won't raise any question. But, unfortunately, if it is released by Ajmal, pinch of salt is always there. If any thumb rule or litmus test you suggest, it will be highly appreciated.
What's your opinion about Indian based brands e.g. Ayoub, Ali Brothers etc. If you have tried any itr or oil from/ by Agarwood Assam, please share your findings.
Thanks a lot.
anyone have any idea of the longevity of amouage attars?
If trained properly, our nose is as good as a GC/MS apparatus.
Sandalwood oil, is mainly composed of:
These compounds are responsible of the creamy smell of the sandalwood oil. There are also other components that contribute to the woody/balsamic notes of the oil, but they are in lower percentage and can be ignored for the purpose of assessing the quality of the oil.
The quality of the oil is given mostly by the concentration of these two compounds. The sandalwood of the region of Mysore is considered superior to the others due to the high percentage of cis-alpha-Santalol and cis-beta-Santalol that combined can reach up to 90% by weight of the oil.
These two components cannot be obtained synthetically or at least their synthetic versions are more expensive than the natural counterpart, so it's not economically feasible using the synthetic versions.
You can determine if an attar is based on real sandalwood or not with the following:
Know and understand your ingredients:
Get some real sandalwood oil of the highest quality you can afford and study it well, until you come to know it in any detail
Use the smelling strips to study the oil
The sandalwood will last for many days, up to a week or more on the smelling strip, you need to smell multiple times, until the smell has completely disappeared from the strip
If you can, get more oil from another supply chain so you will get another quality. You will then compare the oils and find out the differences between them
Know your perfume:
Use the same technique described in "Know and understand your oil" to study your attar
Note: The french style perfumes are composed of 3 category of ingredients bases, heart notes and top notes. The top notes will completely evaporate in the first 30 minutes, the heart notes will disappear after a couple of hours, the base notes will stay as long at the perfume lasts, which depending on the note, could be up to several days. The following technique is used in alcohol based perfumery, but it suits to attars too, with the difference that the evaporation times of the top, middle and base notes is more slow.
Decompose your perfume:
Dip a smelling strip into your attar
Smell it and understand it
Keep smelling it until the top notes has disappeared
Take another strip and dip into your attar
Take the smelling strip 1 and keep smelling it, until you will not not feel any smell
Now go back to the smelling strip 2 and smell it, you will be able to smell only the top notes of the attar
Now you must wait until the middle notes will disappear from the strip 1
Take another strip and dip into the attar
Now go back to the strip 1 and smell it until you will feel no more smell
Now take the strip 3 and smell it, you will be able to smell the top and middle notes combined. An experienced nose will be able to identify only the middle notes
Now go back to the strip 1, you should be able to smell the base notes only, if the smell of cis-alpha-Santalol and cis-beta-Santalol is not overwhelmed by the smell of another base note, you should be able to identify these compounds very clearly and the intensity of them should tell you about the quality of the sandalwood oil in the attar.
The technique of decomposing the perfume, uses some characteristic of our olfactory receptors which consists in saturating the receptors with the molecules of the perfume to trigger a selective anosmia, this will allow you to be able to exclude some of the notes from a perfume so you simplify the smell and make more identifiable the remaining notes.
These are techniques that any perfumer must learn, in their study path, in order to identify the notes in the perfumes so to reverse engineer the perfumes while they learn.
Nowadays the technology of GC/MS has reduced the importance of this skill and the perfumes can be analysed and the ingredients identified with 95% of accuracy.
The essence is: know the ingredients and you will know the perfumes.
Brands like Ajmal or Amouage have to answer to different models of business. They do mass sales of perfumes, at these scales is not feasible to use high quality natural ingredients since they are of difficult sourcing and the quality cannot be consistent overtime. Nowadays even the historical brands like Guerlain are selling synthetic rubbish, the IFRA recommendations and the EU laws are contributing to destroy the perfumer art and the only safe harbour to go for high quality perfumes is to the hand crafter artists of the perfumery and eventually to nice perfumes or the alternative is to get vintage version of the famous perfumes before 80's.
I have one mukhallat from Abdul Samad al Quraishi, which I used only few times, it was an emotional purchase I made in Doha duty free that now I regret it. I totally hate it, you know the indolic jasmine/white flowers that makes you sick? That is and I am pretty sure there is very little natural in it.
I am trying to contact Ayoub from more than a week without success, if anybody knows how to speak to one of their representative please let me know, I would like to buy some attar from them for the purpose of research.
I didn't try them yet, but I hope I will in the next few months, I am investing most of my budget on some perfumery project and I don't have a budget for it now.
bro check out ensar oud. They are the best in the world and are 100% natural - no synthetic. everyone knows about them
Thank you for this most interesting read!
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