Signs, Portents and Scented Transitions

Imbolc Festival

Anyone who has read my posts will probably have realised that my love of scent is inextricably linked with the natural world, landscapes and seasons. I also find that we can glean valuable glimpses about how our early ancestors related to their world through the world of myths, legends and folklore. But also, because natural scents are unchanging, they are our only remaining tangible link with our predecessors. This is the time of year when we begin to emerge from winter; it is a time of seasonal transition, and so a time of observation. The ancient Celts and Gaels – like so many other cultures – would look for signs and portents.

In Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man, the last throes of winter and the first signs of spring were marked by the festival of Imbolc, which coincided with the emergence of snowdrops. This festival, and others such as the Welsh Gŵil Fair y Canhwyllau, celebrated the beginning of spring – held on the 1st February, falling exactly between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Apart from the snowdrop, Imbolc was also very much associated with Continue reading

Osmanthus – the Scent of an Oriental Autumn


In Scotland, we have just enjoyed an uncharacteristically glorious summer, full of beautiful scents. Autumn can be wonderful too, but then it is more the rich pallete of colours that we appreciate – our visual sense tends to dominate the season. Here, if we are asked to identify the scents of autumn, we might think of fallen leaves, damp earth, pumpkins and gourds, bonfires, wood smoke, maybe coniferous forests. However, there is one beautiful scented flower that, in China and Japan, is very much associated with autumn, and that is osmanthus.

Osmanthus fragrans is a woody, evergreen flowering shrub. In China it is known as kweiha, and the scent of the blossoms is loved and renowned; and indeed has been described as the quintessential scent of China.  It has been cultivated for hundreds of years, and is often found at Buddhist temples, where it is planted in groves. Osmanthus is very much considered to be Continue reading

Meadows and Hedgerows

imagesGoing back to my first blog, we explored ‘peak experiences’ in the natural world; the times when any boundaries between you, the observer, and the environment, or what you are observing, become blurred or disappear altogether, and a sense of wellbeing is experienced. Since then, we have looked at some of the scents of the natural world – the forests and woods, and the seashore. This time we will consider the beautiful fragrances of the hayfields, pastures and hedgerows. These scents are often described as ‘agrestic’, meaning that they are reminiscent of the countryside.

One of the most popular and pleasing fragrances is Continue reading

On the Beach – Part 2

ambergrisIn my last blog post, we explored the types of smells associated with the seashore. However, there is one other important aromatic found, very occasionally, on the beach – ambergris. The name translates as ‘grey amber’ which gives a clue to its appearance. Ambergris can be found washed up on the shores of New Zealand, Australia and the Indian Ocean, and it has long held an important place in perfumery, as a medicine, aphrodisiac and incense. Originally it was thought to be bird excrement, or congealed gum or bitumen, or even a Continue reading

Greetings from Scent Sciences President & CEO, Bill Wiles

As  Scent Sciences  continues to grow I thought I would share on the blog why we are all very excited about where we and the scent world are going.   If you are a long-time follower of Scent Sciences you will have watched us grow from a scent emitting device company to one with a unique disruptive technology platform incorporating an industry standard API, software suite, scent delivery devices and proprietary scent technologies.  So, why is this exciting?  We now have Continue reading

How do we Know that Scents are Safe? Part 2

Whether the flavors or fragrances are constructed of natural or synthetic ingredients we have established that both can contribute to the list of safe ingredients and to the list of un-safe ingredients.  The origin of the ingredient is a moot point – it is the structure of the ingredient that determines its toxicity / safety profile.  [To be clear, the source can be a differentiating factor IF there are multiple ingredients associated with one source or the other including but not limited to structural isomers of the principal ingredient(s). For instance nature frequently creates l (or d) isomers while synthetic versions are usually racemic mixtures (containing both isomers in equal quantities).]
In the group of ingredients that are routinely used by many to construct fragrances and sometimes flavors there are items for which their safe use has been observed for decades and even longer and yet there are still detractors who claim that Continue reading

Lichens, mummies, wigs and chypre – the Story of Oakmoss

In the last blog, we explored the scents of the forests and how they can contribute to wellbeing. However, there are other ‘plants’ present in the woods that yield unique fragrances – oakmoss and tree moss. These are not true plants, and are thus unusual sources of aromatic materials, and the whole story of oakmoss as a fragrance spans centuries.

Oakmoss and tree moss are lichens that grow on the bark of trees, particularly oaks and conifers. Lichen is a symbiotic organism, an association of an alga and a fungus growing together as one – dependent on one another for survival – although the fungal partner is dominant. Lichen produces a flattened structure called a thallus – this can be seen draping and trailing over the lower branches and twigs, and covering the bark of deciduous trees, particularly oaks. It has a moss-like appearance, hence the misnomer. In perfumery, Evernia prunastri is the most common species that yields oakmoss. Tree moss, however is obtained from Continue reading

Scent-enabling Photos

Last weekend, I got married!  I can’t believe it, and like everyone told me, it was a whirlwind of a day!  From getting up early to going to bed late and the parties leading up to the wedding and ending the weekend.  And now, in the post tiredness of the wedding, I can’t wait to see the pictures, to experience my wedding all over again!  But, what I am looking forward to the most after seeing the photos, is scent-enabling them! Continue reading

Scent-Enabled Movie: Poll Results Are Out!

Cover of "Ratatouille [Blu-ray]"

Cover of Ratatouille [Blu-ray]

Thank you to all of our readers that participated in voting for your top pick for scent-enabled movie!  We love your feedback.

This poll was a popular one with lots of votes for Pirates of the Caribbean.  Also, a wild card that was often voted in the “other” category was Pixar’s Ratatouille.  Although we did not consider Ratatouille when creating the poll, I love the idea of scent-enabling this film!  I would love to smell the Parisian kitchen and explore it with Remy!  The cheeses! The sauces!  The spices!

Continue reading

How would you perfume these photos?

Le Louvre, London National Gallery, Uffizi, SFMOMA, NY Guggenheim… Many times I’ve stopped in front of great pieces of art and started wondering what the painter was thinking about while painting it (in a positive sense….most of the times!), in which environment he/she painted it, what kind of feelings he/she was trying to convey with it.. and so which kind of scents he/she wanted us to think about.
Has it ever happen to you? So today’s post Continue reading