This week's olfactory musings are courtesy of Penny Williams of The International Perfume Academy (TIPA) - a fabulous organisation that offers development and training for professionals in the fragrance industry and indeed, anyone that feels passionate enough about perfume to want to know more. You can read more about Penny in our 'People in Perfume' blog post. No matter where people position themselves on the Scrooge O’ Meter, everyone has a favourite festive smell. Some may even find it difficult to choose just one (we definitely fall into this category). Maybe the smell of mulled wine kick starts your festive cheer or the smoky aroma of a crackling fire but have you ever wondered what is behind these olfactive treats? Being Nose Nerds, we were keen to delve deeper and discover more about our favourite smells around Christmas, so in the first of the series, here Penny talks about the unique scent of the Christmas tree...!
The Christmas tree is one of the most iconic symbols of the season. Putting up the Christmas tree fills any home with festive cheer; for those traditional enough to drag a real pine tree into their house, the smell of pine is an added pleasure.
The aroma that fills the room from a pine tree comes from the pine needles and also the pine wood. The wood releases a resin which is rich in alpha and beta pinene and responsible for the characteristic smell. The odour of pine needles also contains pinenes and additionally l-bornyl acetate, plus a myriad of other aroma-molecules. There are many varieties of pine trees, and they have odours specific to their species. Why do pine trees smell? As you might expect, it’s not for our pleasure. The odours they produce repel parasites, so protect the tree. Additionally the odourous ingredients which seep into the soil are not liked by other plants, so act like a force field, giving the pine tree space to grow!
Pine trees are of tremendous importance to the perfume business, too. Pine trees are a key source of wood pulp used in paper production and the process provides an important by-product, turpentine, which contains alpha and beta pinene. These pinenes are key starting materials for many other ingredients used in perfumes.
If you're interested in knowing more about courses with TIPA (or perhaps you know someone who would love to receive a course as a Christmas gift!), you can find out more, here.