Guaiacwood 50%

Guaiacwood essential oil, unlike most oils distilled from woods, is mainly used in floral compositions where it adds depth, warmth and floral reinforcement as well as a useful fixative effect.

Arctander writes extensively about this material and starts by explaining some possible confusions about it: “Erroneously called guaiacwood concrete, this oil is steam distilled, occasionally steam-and-water distilled from the wood of Bulnesia Sarmienti, a wild-growing tree from the jungles of Paraguay and Argentina. It should not be confused with the Guaiac of the drug store where a resinous substance, produced from another tree, Guaiacum Officinale (the “lignum vitae” of the Bahama islands) is occasionally used. “Guaiac resin” is an entirely different product and only very rarely used in perfumery.  A tincture is prepared from the resin.  This tincture has a pleasant balsamic-vanilla-like odour with a somewhat smoky undertone. It was this tincture which was used by Sherlock Holmes when he identified bloodstains on a murderscene.” 

Returning to the true Guaiacwood oil presented here he goes on to say: “Guaiacwood Oil is now distilled locally, although some quantities of wood (known as “Palo Sante”) are exported for distillation in Europe or the U.S. A. The wood is hard and its comminution before distillation presents quite a problem. It is a much-used wood for ornamental work (hand carved bowls, ashtrays, etc.).

Guaiacwood Oil is a soft or semi-solid mass, yellowish to greenish yellow or pale amber in color. When melted, it may stay supercooled and liquid for a long time. Once again, we meet a product which quite frequently presents odor types not reported in literature: apart from its delicately sweet, rosy-woody odor which is often referred to as “tearose-like”, the oil may have a “smoked ham” odor which is definitely unwanted, but not uncommon. It is conceivable that this odor, which was never reported prior to World War II, occurs in oils which have been “forced” during the distillation through the addition of mineral acid (sulfuric, etc.) to the chopped, wet wood in the still. This increases the yield of oil, but it also creates a hazard of spot-burning of the woodchips. Similar to amyris, the age of the wood prior to distillation also has some influence upon the odor of the oil.

The oil is a low-cost fixative and modifier, an excellent blender in woody-floral perfumes, in soap compounds as well as high-class perfumes. It blends well with linalool, nerol, geraniol, terpineol, oakmoss, ionones, orris products, spice oils, etc. occasionally adulterated with copaiba balsam. Guaiac wood oil is, in turn, sometimes found as an adulterant in rose de mai absolute, amyris oil, sandalwood oil, costus oil, oakmoss concrete, etc.

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