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My Chat with Susan - Natural Variation?

A few weeks ago I had a chat with Susan. She called about Litsea Cubeba. She was worried about a bottle of essential oil she had received from us and thought the scent was off. As we chatted about Litsea Cubeba, and all other natural products, the changes in a natural product became the focus of our conversation. Rain, temperatures, seasonal weather patterns, soil content are the primary reasons for changes in lot to lot of a natural product. Unfortunately, natural products can vary quite a bit – and they do!

We sent Susan a few older samples of Litsea Cubeba for her to review. One sample for Susan to review was from 2012. I know you are thinking that our library of past scents must be crazy old to have something from 2012. Well, I get to admit here and now that this sample is a young’un from our archives. Some samples have gone all the way back to 2000. Susan also got a sample from 2013 and two recent lots from 2017. All of these samples are different – yet, all of these samples are still Litsea Cubeba, a natural product with normal variations.

After Susan received the samples she reviewed each sample and made some notes. I learned she has soapmaking notes for her batches going back 20 years. It is wonderful that she has made soap for at least 20 years and absolutely amazing that she has notes detailing 20 years of her work. While Susan was working with the Litsea Cubeba she had the cap off of the recent bottle for 15+ minutes and started to notice the essential oil was changing. Off- gassing happens when essential oils have a bit of rest with a cap opened. The off smelling volatiles are whisked away by the air and the remaining volatile oils are what we associate with the “true” odor of an oil.

This off-gassing is exactly what I was discussing with a mint grower during a recent visit. A freshly distilled mint oil will contain what the industry calls “still notes” which needs to be driven off for the odor of peppermint to come through. Allowing the oil to have some time for this volatile to be driven off is time well spent. All oils need this waiting time. Wine needs time. Cheese needs time. All of our best works need time.

If you take anything away from today’s blog then take away that written notes are vital, essential oils vary, constituents are volatile and time makes everything better.


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