What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I first encountered ponderosa pines many years ago when hiking in northern Arizona, in the hills around Prescott. Ponderosa pines are not only beautiful, majestic, awe-inspiring beings, but the mature trees have a special feature. If you put your nose up close to the trunk on a warm, sunny day they give off a fragrance that’s sort of like a mixture of vanilla and tarragon, but has its own special ponderosa pine quality.

Last year I was fortunate enough to find ponderosa pine essential oil for sale. It’s made from the needles, not the trunks of trees in South America, so supposedly “no trees are killed” to make it, although I do have to wonder if it’s a by-product of the lumber industry. The scent is absolutely wonderful, so I was immediately compelled to use it in a perfume, which I have christened Arizona. Ponderosa pine essential oil is fairly volatile, so it acts as a top to mid note in perfumery. I combined it with a base of juniper and resins, added a bouquet of desert plant scents including chaparral and sage, and sweetened it up a tiny bit with mimosa absolute, reminiscent of blooming acacia trees. The result is a wonderfully aromatic blend that is all natural, but strong and long-lasting. I think most people would characterize it as a quintessentially “masculine” scent.

This is going to be one of the initial selection of fragrances that I offer on my website, the beginning of a series that I call “Scents of Place”. After I did a quick and dirty, 5-minutes-in-Photoshop label design for Arizona, I saw that Andy Tauer’s label for L’Air du Desert Marocain is alarmingly similar, so I’ll probably have to modify the Arizona label.

It was a wonderful surprise to find that this all-natural scent’s sillage and longevity are comparable to those of many synthetic fragrances, and that the perfume essence works beautifully to scent soap. Many natural oils have a way of evaporating out of soap even before it’s used, so have to be supplemented with synthetics. The ponderosa pine oil, combined with the other oils that are in Arizona, seems very stable. At my house we’re currently using Arizona soap made months ago, and it not only scents the air while showering, it leaves a light scent on the skin afterwards.

[The ponderosa pine photo is from Wikimedia and shows an oddly shaped specimen]

1 comment:

  1. I have recently tried Arizona as a part of a sample group at Basenotes and I love Arizona! I am making a list of fragrances too order as I go through the pack, and Arizona is currently on the top of the list with the Olympic Rainforest running a second.

    Many thanks for creating such a happy scent!