Noses know to tread v-e-r-y carefully with this most bracing, potent note – which can all-too-easily conjure up mothballs, or cough medicine, or Vick’s chest rub.  As an ingredient, camphor can be extracted from the camphor tree (an evergreen which flourishes in Asia), but it’s also present in rosemary and eucalyptus:  they have that same ‘lung-opening’, nostril-opening effect.  Camphor – which comes in the form of a white, crystal-like powder – is actually quite popular in Arabic perfumery:  it’s present in a quarter of the legendary formulations from a renowned perfumer known as ‘al-Kindi’, as well as being is in widespread therapeutic use: for embalming, as a medicine (see aforementioned chest rub etc.), and in pomanders to protect against infection.  In India, meanwhile, camphor lends its pungency to cooking.  In an expert perfumer’s hands, though, that potency works to emphasise and amplify other ingredients, like patchouli, or to cut through what can be the overwhelming sweetness of tuberose and other white flowers.

Smell camphor in:

Frederic Malle Carnal Flower


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