Scent wheel

Scents, Sense, and Fragrance, Week 2

To candle-fanciers and those who love them: welcome to ‘Scents, Sense, and Fragrance’, second of many. Last week I promised to describe my six “Comfort Zone” scents one by one, but I think a little digression (read: first cousin to procrastination) is in order. Fragrances used in cosmetics, perfumes, and household goods are products of a fragrance industry that employs a staggering list of scent combinations to create unique fragrances based on three “notes”: Base, Middle, and Top. Like artists’ color wheels, the industry has produced several of its own “wheels” (see pic) that operate in much the same way: scent categories lying next to each other are analogous and combine well together; those at opposite sides of the wheel are complementary and also combine well in lopsided proportions; fragrances that lie at angles to each other can result in scents you might wish to re-think before adding to your signature candles. Here’s another fun fragrance fact: the industry further divides its fragrance palette into roughly fifteen sub-categories, of which I use just the following and not all at once: Woody, Spicy, Herbal, Medicinal, Foody, Fruity, Floral, Earthy, and Animalic.

When I started mixing my first “memory” scents, I worked like a chef without a recipe book, or a mad artist with a mop and 36 fascinating colors to throw together. The results were as one would expect in either pursuit: sludge. A muddy scent smells very strongly of nothing in particular, and I have concocted my share of these. However, I don’t know of any other way to embark on a new creative skill. I love playing with materials and observing how they interact. As babies, my children and grandchildren followed this same experimental model.

So I close with a salute to scents, all of ‘em—and to experimentation through play. And more play. Next week I will plunge into “Earthy” scents, with a profile of my Comfort Zone “Sod and Soul”.

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