I can't smell anything from the bottle, what's wrong?

I can't smell anything from the bottle, what's wrong?

  Products   |     2 years ago

There are several common reasons why you might not be able to smell anything when you sniff at the bottle of a new material.

First everyone is anosmic to some materials: it's quite unpredictable and we are all different, but this most commonly occurs with large molecules such as musks, sandalwood odourants and the like.  If this is the case you may find that you can teach your nose to detect the material through repeated, but not continuous, exposure over a period of months - this often works but not always - there are some materials that you may never be able to smell.  This perfumer had to do this with Hedone but is now able to smell it without difficulty.  Even if you can't learn to smell it alone you may well still be able to detect the effect of the material in a blend: most perfumers find they can do this even with materials they can't detect on a smelling strip at all.

That brings me to the second common problem: use a smelling strip and or a cup of hot water to evaluate a material: sniffing from the bottle is fraught with error: there may be some high-impact materials on the outside of the bottle from another material you previously handled or even from when it was packed that will overwhelm the delicate scent of a material like hedione, reseda body or hydroxycitronellol, it may be a very long lasting base-note material that evaporates so slowly that it reveals little or nothing of itself when sniffing even a perfectly clean bottle.

To use a smelling strip, dip the thin end of the strip to about half a centimeter, sit quietly in a neutral environment and sniff carefully at it the scent over an interval of several minutes.  Even if you can't detect anything at first you may well find you can after a period: materials like Fleuranil are hard to detect at first but develop into a distinct and characteristic scent over time.  With longer lasting materials it can be instructive to come back to the strip after an hour, two hours, six hours, next day or even next week: with naturals and blends the scent can change radically over such periods so it's worth taking the time to properly understand a new material in this way.

To use a cup of hot water put a tiny drop of the material you want to evaluate onto the surface of a cup of water at about the temperature of a cup of tea that's ready to drink (but of course don't drink the water!).  This simulates the effect of the material being in contact with warm skin when it's used in a fragrance and also helps to bring out the character of more delicate materials.  Allow the scent to fill the room, or sniff carefully at the water surface if it's hard to detect.  This can be a very revealing and helpful test.

Another issue can be the opposite of anosmia : hyperosmia in this case what is happening is that your nose is almost instantly overwhelmed by a powerful sent that you are particularly sensitive to.  To find out whether this is what's happening you need to get the material into high dilution (1% or even less) in a suitable solvent and then proceed to evaluate on a strip as above.  For this perfumer Raspberry Ketone had this effect and it wasn't until a 1% solution had been on strip for a week that the characteristic odour of raspberry jam , that most people get at once, finally emerged.

It is always possible that we've had a dispensing error and filled a bottle with the wrong material: it's very rare but it does happen.  What you can be quite sure we won't have done however is to fill it with water or something else odourless: if you're not smelling anything it's likely to be one of the above causes.

  2 years ago