I read Christian’s comments on in the ORS-News post about “incense note” perfumes and laughed. I recently ordered about 15 different samples from Lucky Scent (great selection) of perfumes and such listed as “incense note”. I realized that the word or note “incense” means two very different things between the worlds of incense and perfume. In perfume it seems to refer to frankincense more than anything else while, really, the term incense is so much broader.
Many of the notes that make a piece of burning or heated quality sandalwood or aloeswood so special and unique are very hard to capture in a perfume. The element of heat adds an entire extra dimension to the scent. More even the heat of wearing it on one’s skin. The same is true if you heat a drop of sandalwood or aloeswood oil. Another set of notes come out to play. This might be very difficult (if not impossible) to replicate in a perfume. Possibly using synthetic molecules but not sure at all about using the naturals. Even smelling the best aloeswood/oud oils is nothing like heating up a piece of good Kyara. The same goes for sandalwood, it is rare to find good quality sandalwood for less then $100/oz, never mind the cost of high grade oils.Even if you perfume were 50% sandalwood in no way would it smell the same as, say, Daihatsu’s Sliced Sandalwood on an incense heater.
It occurred to me when looking at this that burning incense seems to compress the time between scent notes that most perfumes are built around, in other words, the length of time between the top, middle and base notes is delivered all at once. Also incense seems to favor the base notes more. The tops and middles tend to mix together with the bases, there is quite a lot going on at one time when an incense stick is burning, while an incense heater can tend to stretch out and slow up the delivery.
Many of the standard citrus top notes would get lost or simply not work well in the incense medium, the same being true for many of the floral’s. They can get lost very fast (having just watched a seemingly large amount of Rose EO somehow vanish in an incense mix I made). Of course the smoke aspect of incense plays a huge roll also, even in the smoke-less styles available now, there is still some and that effects how you are going to accept the scent.
None of this is to knock one or the other, I like both! It’s just a few thoughts that have been passing through of late. Thanks for the input Christian! – Ross