Has Our Enjoyment and Perception of Natural Aromas Been Seriously Impaired?

Has Our Enjoyment and Perception of Natural Aromas Been Seriously Impaired?

I posted a report on a chronology of how aromas went from all 100% natural to less than 20% natural in about 100 years. It’s intended to be a factual account of how it progressed. This segment is part of a series of blogs expressing my opinions, thoughts and observations about this subject; some of which may be obvious while others are not…

Recently a friend bought some body wash and then tried to give it away. She selected it because the label indicated a “rose” aroma which she likes because of her love of the fresh flowers. I laughed when she said it made her smell “like grandma”.

After allowing her the treat of sampling some of my true rose oil (at a cost of about $1.00 per drop), she said, “now that’s the aroma I expected”. I sadly informed her that a pure rose aroma is never likely to be in any mass marketed products as the synthetic version costs pennies per bottle, while even a trace amount of pure rose in that same bottle would cost more than the rest of the product including the packaging.

Since the first recorded isolation and synthetic reproductions of natural plant components began in 1874 with vanillin, followed by musk in 1888, phenylethyl alcohol (from rose) followed in the 1930’s and citrals in the 1960’s. These basic aromas common to us for thousands of years have gradually been transformed into cheap reproductions which bear very little resemblance to the natural substances. They have also been unfairly judged as in rose and lavender now have the “old lady” moniker, vanilla and jasmine have that cloying sickly sweet plastic smell found in cheap potpourri and plug-ins, while citrus is now associated with industrial soaps.

** The previous descriptions I have heard repeatedly from people, students and customers in my many years of teaching about natural aromas. Sadly I think they are accurate.

I am encouraged however, as my experience over the past 20 years or so, is to observe that people can transform their world back to the joy of these natural aromas, awakening their primal sense and birthright to experience nature’s gifts. I suggest everyone try it. Just when you thought you liked the artificial, the pure source will change your mind and there will be no going back to thoughts of geriatrics and floor cleaners.

For those who don’t like the natural version either, your olfactory senses may be too coated in synthetics to feel the effects right away. Switch out the faux for natural in your environment and be patient; your primal senses will reward you.

Sandy Powell

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