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Friday, March 23, 2012

So I Tinctured Some Hyrax Poop (And a Very Weird Prize Draw)

By Marla, the Nerd Girl

About a month ago, I received (very excitedly) a package from Sophia in South Africa (African Aromatics). Among some amazing resins was a tiny bag of rock hyrax poop. Within seconds, I had broken open the bag and popped a few grams of scat into perfumer’s alcohol. A few days later, I had the most skankily aromatic tincture ever. Now why did I do that?

I have a scent library. I’m even writing an article about it, but it’s too big a project to craft into paragraphs right now, I promise it will meet the Internet soon. Anyway, when I couldn’t obtain certain materials for my library from my favorite suppliers like Eden Botanicals and White Lotus, I started tincturing on my own, in the basement, at night….

Tincturing is actually very easy. I use only dried material, or resins. I gather most of them myself in my travels, and others are sent by marvelous people like Sophia. When I was knee-high to a diatom (now I’m knee-high to a pudu) I kept plant samples, pressed and labeled, in notebooks. This is an extension of that obsession. So I take about 5gm of the material and put it in a 15ml glass bottle. I top it off with perfumer’s alcohol, label it, and shake it around every once in a while for a few weeks. Then I can decant/filter and re-bottle, re-label, and try it out on paper or skin. I’ve learned an amazing amount of olfactory information this way. And of course, the tinctures are great for DIY (yet another article).

So what’s the weirdest thing in your scent collection? Nothing has matched the hyrax poop for me, but I’m looking….

The weird prize draw is a vial of the hyrax poop tincture, and something else, as I feel inspired to include in your packet. Probably some strange plant (legal, I promise). Answer the question above and I’ll enter you in the draw. As always, Limette the Angora Bunny will choose the winner.

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52 Comments:

Blogger Datura5750 said...

Wow, neat offer, please enter me!

1:28 AM EDT  
Anonymous cheesegan said...

I have some usnea tincture and some chanterelle tincture that I made. Not sure if they are weird, but they smell nice.

2:05 AM EDT  
Blogger Katherine Baluta said...

I collect "dirt" scents; things that smell like different kinds of minerals, like chalk, and garden/flower pot sort of smells, beeswax, saddle soap, mushrooms...I've been trying to figure out how to capture the scent of a cold cellar (potatoes, jam, dirt, iron tools). I had to go look up the hyrax poop, I'm fascinated! -Katherine B.

2:54 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cheesegan,
Chanterelle tincture, yum!
-Marla

4:23 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Katherine,
I'm with you on the dirt/mineral notes. They are often neglected in perfumery and are simply wonderful. And I love mineral notes in dry white wines.
-Marla

4:24 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, does your hyrax poop tincture smell poopy? I always remember my mother's perfumes had that weird note that smelled (to my 3 year old nose)a bit that way and along with everything else that was in them, they smelled marvellous. I think perfume should be intriguing, challenging, mysterious and yes, pretty is okay too. But too much pretty and not much else is boring to me. I recently purchased Brent Leonesio's Untitled No. 8 to layer with my Chanel No. 5 which seems to have lost something over the years and it smells amazing!! Very retro. I haven't asked what's in it, don't want to know . . . but it ROCKS!!
Holly

7:30 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holly,
It's a kind of musky/poopy smell, but in the cow manure/horsey sense, which can actually be kind of nice. I'd say it gives an animalic/earthy note. I added it to a chypre' I'd made, just a very basic formula, and it did give it a retro edge! Goes well with real oak moss.
-Marla

7:41 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Datura,
Well, it's one of PST's more unusual offers! You're in.
-Marla

8:19 AM EDT  
Anonymous reglisse said...

There is nothing weird (ie not commercially available) in my scent library, but as the owner of several cats and dogs, and a former rat owner, who grew up on a farm with all sorts of farm animals, I've smelled a lot of poop. Never tinctured it, though. I'd be delighted to add rock hyrax poop to the list of "poop I've interacted with." Sounds like you are doing a fascinating project!

8:21 AM EDT  
Anonymous Lili_AL said...

Is hyrax poop known for use in perfumery? I've heard about Yellow Stone from Charabot, but it seems to be slightly different http://1000fragrances.blogspot.com/2009_06_01_archive.html... I guess hyraceum is the one from South African hyrax? I've smelt unknow origin hyracem, it reminded me ambergris with a lot of powdery/anisic aldehyde like notes...

9:18 AM EDT  
Blogger queen_cupcake said...

I haven't yet tried to make my own tinctures but your post today really has me thinking about it! I suppose the weirdest thing in my largely vintage collection is a dram-sized bottle of something labeled "women's perfume". It came in a mixed lot of really old vials and miscellaneous oils and essences that I won on ebay. I don't know who made the "women's perfume", or why, but it is definitely animalic and strange. I'm a little afraid to put any on my skin!

9:20 AM EDT  
Blogger cbstarker said...

Honestly, I don't have anything obscure or awkward in my scent library and I've only recently started playing around with basic formulas. I do have some gray ambergris tincture, which is probably my rarest tincture, but beyond that, rhu kus, or some benzoin, or something, it's all pretty common. I've seen hyrax in a couple places (Profumo.it; SMK fragrances) but I've yet to smell it. I'm always keen on any aspects of animalia and would really love to try your hyrax tincture, which might make also make my basic perfume constructions a lot more interesting.

9:21 AM EDT  
Anonymous Portia said...

Don't enter me but I'm agog. Sometimes, when I least expect it I go all vanilla. I do love reading about it though,
Portia xx

9:32 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Reglisse, you're in!
-M

10:12 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lili,
I think they're calling it Africa Stone. It's not similar to ambergris to my nose, though in a blend, it seems to do much the same thing- smooths everything and adds a touch of animalic depth.
-Marla

10:13 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

QC,
"Women's Perfume" sounds intriguing, indeed!
-Marla

10:14 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cbstarker,
I particularly love that this hyrax tincture is absolutely cruelty free. It's collected in the wild, and obviously, doesn't harm the hyraxes, they've left it...behind!
-M

10:16 AM EDT  
Blogger StyleSpy said...

Best. Blog post title. Ever.

Any weird fragrance items in my home are usually accidental acquisions. Like the roasted broccoli what made its way to the back of the fridge & got forgotten last week. Holy ducks - opening that container took some nerve; and believemewhenItellyou no perfumer in his right mind would ever use THAT accord.

10:19 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

StyleSpy,
You had courage to clean that fridge! I like to eat broccoli, but to cook it, I need to really get my nerve up....
-Marla

10:50 AM EDT  
Blogger Sujaan said...

I'm all over the DIY so I'd love to sniff this. I don't think I'd mention the name to my husband when I have him sniff my wrist though, some info is better left a secret. This sounds like a great note to give weight to a heady formula.

11:03 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sujaan,
You're right. It does give heft, and used sparingly, does not smell poopy in a blend. (Phew!)
-Marla

11:09 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have anything too odd, and have never tinctured anything myself, but I do have a few samples from AbdesSalaam Attar--castoreum and civet--that I wanted to smell on their own so I'd be able to better identify them in perfumes. Would love to keep exploring along these lines!

Janice

11:12 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, Janice, you're in!
-M

11:53 AM EDT  
Blogger Doc Elly said...

Wow! Talk about synchronicity. I just ordered a batch of hyraceum to tincture, along with some different varieties of myrrh resin from unusual species. You don't need to enter me in the drawing because I have the poop already.

I tincture all sorts of weird things.

12:53 PM EDT  
Anonymous Musette said...

I .....well, I'm speechless. And embarrassed. I don't have anything weird like that in my collection...the only thing I have that comes close is a jasmine EO that is REALLY indolic.

And Yatagan.

xo A

1:56 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Doc,
Somehow, after reading your blog, I kinda figured you'd already have the stuff! ;-)
I love myrrh, just got a great C02, must play around with it soon.
-Marla

2:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Musette,
Yatagan definitely counts. That stuff is freaky! I still don't know, after 3 years of smelling it, whether I like it or not. I think I may have accidentally left my bottle in Europe....
-Marla

2:01 PM EDT  
Blogger Lizzie said...

Nothing too weird in my scent library just yet, but I'm working on it! This year I'm hoping to make a tincture of raccoon earwax. :) My mother is a wildlife rehabilitator and discovered last year that baby raccoon earwax has the most wonderful, almost floral scent to it. And since they need their ears cleaned anyway, why not save it and see what can be done with it?

Speaking of which, if you have any tips on tincturing, I'd be very interested to hear more.

2:25 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lizzie,
Baby raccoon earwax? OK, you win the Obscure Tincture Award....
I'd recommend the Basenotes site, with the DIY in Forums, as a great place to learn more about tincturing. You'll meet a lot of interesting people there....
-Marla

3:30 PM EDT  
Anonymous Isayah said...

My weirdest tincture is made with Lapsang Souchong tea, it is very dark and smoky; I love it! I also have one made from varech that is quite special...that one I can't say that I
love but it is interesting.

6:42 PM EDT  
Blogger Elissa said...

Hey Sis, just saw an article on Yahoo the other day on Panda Poop tea....coincidence, I think not.
Score me some poop perfume from Katherine Baluta... I love dirt scents. Seriously...they are awesome. I have a dirt and dried rose from Black Phoenix Alchemy and I love it, but I don't like how the dirt fades but the rose stays. That dirt scent is so me.
Have fun with your poop. I am currently worm hunting; the rain helps. Now I just have to research how to feed them. How awesome is are worms for class pets?!

7:38 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isayah,
Ah, lapsang souchong, my favorite tea! I'd love that in a note in a perfume.
-Marla

7:46 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elissa,
How about worm-casting tincture??
-M

7:47 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ummm, er, ok, I'll try it.. thanks? :-) rachelh

9:05 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, Rachel, you're in! It's not as weird as you think....
-M

6:52 AM EDT  
Blogger dremybluz said...

i bought a bottle of civet oil to experiment with, but found that no matter how much it was diluted, it always smelled like old cat urine. needless to say, i finally got rid of my small bottle.

10:29 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dremybluz,
Like you, I have had mixed experiences with civet. And since I can't find any that's definitely cruelty-free, I don't have any in my library. I remember smelling real tiger musk at the Munich Zoo, however, and WOWSA!,that stuff is something else. I notice it's never been used in a perfume, not even in Tigress! ;-)
-Marla

1:09 PM EDT  
Blogger Barbara said...

Add me

1:46 PM EDT  
Blogger cornlily said...

My daughter says my Dzing smells poopy. My totally imaginary bottle of vintage Tabac Blond is weird, some might say.
Please enter.

3:22 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cornlily,
Most say Dzing! smells papery. That's interesting.
-Marla

3:56 PM EDT  
Blogger Chris said...

I have some hemp that I tinctured and it is quite interesting. I have Castorium as well as some other interesting stuff......choya.....

5:59 PM EDT  
Blogger ~elise said...

The only thing weird in my collection is a smaple vial of Secretions Magnifique...that's as weird as it gets here...and SM is pretty weird...

7:02 PM EDT  
Blogger woodgirl said...

I have some pine tree resin (scraped off my car) tincturing. As a child, I was always sniffing everything. Much to my parents' chagrin. Please enter me in the draw, thanks.

8:48 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

woodgirl,
I've collected resins from everyplace I've lived, and I use them in tinctures and incense.
Good for you!
-Marla

12:36 PM EDT  
Anonymous Olfacta said...

A health-food store near me actually carries tonka beans, so I'm tincturing them. Other experiments include cumin seed (for that essential B.O. note in some of my "time and place" scent)!s, and actual dried oakmoss from an oils store in Memphis. But I haven't tinctured droppings (yet)! I would love to smell this!

9:07 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Olfacta,
Your experiments sounds great! I have tinctured tonka beans as well, such a heavenly smell, and helped me understand Guerlainade.
Keep having fun!
-Marla

10:22 AM EDT  
Blogger Tourbillion said...

Please enter me in the draw. Though, how I am going to explain this scent if I win I don't know...

10:21 PM EDT  
Blogger Lisa BTB said...

What surprised me about my hyrax tincture is that it didn't smell so much like poop as I expected it too. Oddly it brings to mind the restrooms at rest stops on the highway after they have been cleaned. Besides hyrax I have tinctures of various resins, pineapple sage, chamomile, orange mint, cardamom, black peppercorns, vanilla beans, pomegranate and horse chestnuts/night eyes.

10:42 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tourbillion,
You can say you're doing it for Science....
-M

5:41 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa,
There is a minty/camphoraceous undercurrent to my hyrax tincture, too. And I just started growing orange mint, delicious. I didn't know you could tincture horse chestnut. I used to live on a street lined with them, but now, it's impossible. Sad me.
-M

5:42 AM EDT  
Anonymous Felicia said...

Please enter me in the draw!

I have some kopi lewak coffee tincture, unusual I guess. It smells nice, but also has definite hormonal effects, on me at least. Aphrodisiac...

5:47 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

I work with pines, and I have pure limonene, alpha and beta (plus and minus) pinene, and carene. Also have a little guaiacol (really interesting smoky smell) and some methyl jasmonate. Maybe more "flammables cabinet" than weird, but there it is.

And Leonesio's #8 is definitely poopy, but usable. Please enter me!

10:10 AM EDT  

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