Language of Scent Exercise 1

Language of Scent Exercise 1

I started reading Listening to Scent: An Olfactory Journey with Aromatic Plants and Their Extracts by Jennifer Peace Rhind to help me develop my "language of scent," and "educate my olfactory palate," if you will. And that is exactly it, I smell, I notice, but I need the words to describe what I am smelling. I need to learn that what I perceive is X. And this comes from practical experience. So my first order of business is to start smelling my essential oils more methodically. Rhind says we need to be consistent and accurate. I can do that. I am actually very methodical. I like checklists, processes, systems, efficiency... What I got from the reading thus far is that first I learn odor types , then start to appreciate their nuances, and this all helps me label my odor perceptions.


Rhind offers a couple of ways to sample aromas - "conduct sensory exercises" she calls them (see pages 29 - 31 for specifics). Here is what I propose to do for my first olfactory exercise:


  1. I will pick one essential oil from each odor family.
  2. I will work with the oils individually (not simultaneously).
  3. For each oil, I will label its name on the blotter.
  4. At time 0:00 I will add 2-3 drops and add time to the blotter.
  5. I will record my initial impressions (top notes), and continue to sniff & record for five minutes (until 0:05)
  6. I will sniff & record my impressions at 0:15 (to understand middle notes)
  7. At 0:45, 0:90 and 2:00 (to understand "dry out") and base notes.
  8. For base notes, sniff & record two days later (48:00).
  9. I will then compare my notes to the way she describes these oils and see if I can make the connections.


Off to pick my oils for each odor family... Will keep you posted!

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