Hair & Beauty Magazine

Cedarwood & Other Conifery Things

By Ambrosia
Cedarwood & other Conifery thingsI have recently recieved a number of new and rather interesting samples of various kinds of cedarwood plus some other conifers and scent related oils, so I thought I'd do an article on the oil and review all of them together! They all have the same dry, earthy wood base scent to them that is characteristic of cedar...and then each of these oils has added layers that make them different and interesting.
Cedarwood itself  is one of the oldest oils to be used in perfumery and healing. It's distinct woody scent has been the base of many a perfume, and is to be found in the scent library of virtually every perfumer, natural or otherwise.
Cedar or "cedrus" is a member of the genus of coniferous trees in the plant family Pinacea.
Scent wise, it is the deepest basenote of the conifers. It has a very  characteristic dry woody scent that is common to all cedar oils, which is quite different to the high eukalypt and fresh notes in in it's relatives pine, fir and spruce.
It has strong antiseptic properties, and has been used in "smudging" ceremonies for centuries for this reason. Indigenous American people still use it in rooms where people have been sick to cleanse the air.
Cedarwood & other Conifery thingsIn perfumery, Cedar is a base note. It is used to hold and support other, more colourful mid notes, and tends to take a background role in the overall scent. Which doesn't make it any less important! It has a drier, more masculine and elegant feel to it than many other base notes such as patchouli or sandalwood, which makes it an excellent choice for mens colognes. It is a true woody scent, with pencil shaving graphite like notes that give it a cool, earthy touch. I used it "Pan" to capture exactly that sense of forest, of earthiness and nature...Depending on the kind of cedar, you will also get some balsamic, fruity notes to it that are most prominent in red cedar.If you are looking for a real "woody" scent, cedar is your man.
First of all, I've got a collection of oils from  
the Essential Oil Company
Cedarwood & other Conifery things
Cedarwood & other Conifery thingsIncense Cedar
This stuff is pretty awesome! If you like cedar, , you will LOVE this! It's like cedar crossed with frankincense! Seriously! It has a deliciously warm incense note to it coupled with a fresh green note that makes it really lovely!
Cedarwood & other Conifery thingsWestern Juniper
This essential oil has the same woody, pencil graphite quality to it that atlas cedar does to me, coupled with a light touch of the fruity herbal eukalypt quality you get from the actual juniper berry essential oil. It has a mid to top note quality to it.
Cedarwood & other Conifery thingsDouglas Fir
This is an interesting one. I have a variety of fir essential oils, and love and use them a lot. Douglas fir is rather different. It is a warmer scent, with woodier qualities, that to my nose, make it closer to red cedar in scent than actual fir essential oil. I'm wondering if this is made from the wood rather than the needles? It's a strange scent, that catches just a tad at the back of my throat and also goes straight to my head. It says it's distilled by the Guerilla Distiller, Robert Seidel himself....which brings up fascinating images of a wild scent fanatic, carting his precious destilling aparatus through the Canadian Wilderniss in search of raw materials, camping out under the stars watching the drops drip into the copper flask....probably not quite as romatic, but it certainly adds to the scent for me, grin!


Cedarwood & other Conifery thingsPalo Santo
Now this little oil is something that I'm sure many of the people out there with shamanic leanings will be delighted to hear of! Palo Santo is known as an incense wood. The name itself means "Sacred Wood" and it is used by shamans in South America for blessings and healing ceremonies of all kinds...it's smoke is deep and mesmerizing and truly magical, so I was very excited to hear that someone was making an essential oil version!
The oil is a bit of a different animal to the incense wood. It is as you would expect, far lighter and more volatile, and also a lot more intense!
My first whiff made my head spin...and I had to go out of the room for a while to let my senses clear!
Going back to it and sniffing more gingerly from the lid, held at a respectful distance, oh buy, that's potent stuff! It has so many layers to it that it's hard to describe as a scent...it is definitely an incense scent, but not easily qualified...it has juniper berry qualities to it, but with deeper franincense touches to it....I have no idea what I would do with it in a perfume...I think I'll have to dilute it WAAAAY down and then play with it for a bit...I get the feeling it would proably dance well with rose in the mid notes...and it definitely has some heavy aromatherapy potential.....
Cedarwood & other Conifery thingsThe next ones are from a company called  Northwest Aromatics that have just recently entered the essential oil arean. They are making use of the waste wood and shavings produced from harvesting the trees of the Pacific North West and their advertising is very cool to look at and read. (They've also pinched the seriously cool bottle layout page that was originally thought up by "I hate Perfume", but hey, who hasn't wanted to? I certainly did!)
The samples came in a very decorative box, accompnied by a colourful heavyweight ringbound brochure outlining their company and their futre projects. Someone has put a lot of money into their advertising and it's quite impressive! (And boy, do I wish I had the cash to employ their PR team for my perfumery!)
Inside are three 10ml bottles of oil.
Cedarwood & other Conifery things
 Nootka tree oil
Nootka trees it seems, are used for many of the sacred indigenous carvings.  The brochure speaks of a "sandalwood effect, with smokey, patchouli vetiver and earthy tones"
Me, I get pencil shavings in the "medium pressure" distilled version. Quiet, elegant wood with graphite overtones. In fact elegant wood is a good way of summing it up!
The low pressure version is very different. Here it becomes almost herbal. I get a destinct sense of thyme in the wood here! The scent os far deeper and more alive somehow...herbal wood?
Cedarwood & other Conifery things  Giant Arborvitae oil
I've always loved redwood trees...to me they are one of the most fatherly of trees, warm and comforting...you just want to snuggle up to them and stay there forever, safe and at home...
The company again has a lovely sounding desription for it:
"Almond. Add spicy, cumin, pepper and nutmeg notes. Now add a limey scent. And now, woody and wormwood notes."
My own take on it is a bit different. I suppose it's a bit like wine tasting. If you start out with the premis that all of the oils smell like cedar in that they have the same basic dry, earthy woodiness to them, then yes, you can indeed detect vannilla like and cummin like tones to this oil. It's certainly one of the prettiest cedar oils I've come accross so far, and in that, reflects the gentle strength of the trees themselves.




It's really fascinating seeing more and more new essential oils come into the market, as the interest in natural scents and aromatherapy grows! 
It's been a delight sniffing so many new variations on an oil I've been playing with for over 20 years...and I hope you've enjoyed reading about them too!
I'd be very interested to hear of others takes on these oils too if you've sampled them yourself!


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