Lavender – The Nose Knows!

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I am pleased to say that the certified organic lavender essential oil has been a great success. Some people have mentioned that it is somehow different from what they are familiar with. It may be that people have become accustomed to purchasing our Lavender 40/42%. The Lavender 40/42% is a standardized essential oil. The “40/42%” refers to the content of linalool and linalyl acetate, which are two aromatic components responsible for conferring scent we most closely associate with Lavender. A Lavender 40/42% is always carefully blended so the linalool and linalyl acetate levels are in the 40/42% range resulting in a final product that always smells more or less the same. For consistency it can’t be matched. For quality and aroma the certified organic Lavender is far in a way superior to the Lavender 40/42%. However, the percentages of linalool and linalyl acetate, and therefore the aroma, of the certified organic Lavender will vary from batch to batch. In some cases the variation may be quite noticeable. In fact the aroma of any and all essential oils, excepting standardized essential oils such as Lavender 40/42%, will vary from batch to batch.

I never assume that tomorrow’s batch of Lavender, or any other essential oil, is going to smell just like the last one. In fact, I take it for granted that there will be variations of aroma and colour and viscosity. This is normal. And it may be that a vendor’s latest batch is so different from the previous that we have to source elsewhere. It happens, but it is very rare. Generally the differences between one batch and the next, however noticeable, are well with the range of expectation. Unfortunately, people may be accustomed to standardized essential oils, or even synthetics, and therefore expect their essential oils to smell exactly the same every time they order. However, one of the costs of natural products is natural variability. The more particular a person’s tastes, the more important it is that they get a sample before purchasing in quantity.

Another thing that is important to remember is that our perceptions of scents is different at different times. Unless our nose is an extremely well trained disciplined instrument, normal chemical changes in our bodies, and even just shifting moods, can fool us. I have heard Laura, our in-house esthetician, mention many times, a woman’s cycle will absolutely change the way aromas are perceived. Don’t think I am singling out women. Has anyone ever seen two men having an apparently banal inoffensive conversation when one of them suddenly hauls off and slugs the other one for no immediately apparent reason? We have our hormonal peaks, valleys and unpredictable spikes too. Our body chemistry gets the better of us as often as a woman’s does her. I can remember going to a relative’s home for a family dinner. I had been told that the meal would be one of my very favorite yellow curry recipes and I was eagerly looking forward to it….Yellow curry, mangoes, avocados, bananas, yum! I stepped into the house and was assailed by a revolting stink. Turmeric and tarragon hung in the air like a foul funk. It was awful. My stomach was turning. I demanded to know what they were making. “yellow curry”. Why not use the tried and true recipe? “This is the same recipe we always make. It’s your favorite”. What did you do differently? “Nothing”. Did you get your ingredients someplace different? “No”. It smelled horrible, I couldn’t eat a bite and everyone in attendance confirmed that it smelled and tasted exactly the same way it always did. For whatever reason, I found it repellant. Since then I have eaten that meal several times and enjoyed it thoroughly each time. What was the problem that one time? Who knows?

All of our sensory perceptions are subjective, but scent is the most so.

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