Is my nose crazy?

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LisaBoBisa

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Do FO's just smell fake to some people? I grew up in a perfume-free house, since a family member's airways constrict from strong perfume (i.e. most shampoos, detergents, hairsprays, etc), but he doesn't react to natural smells (food, garden, or essential oils). I've mainly made fragrance-free and EO-scented CP & HP soaps.

I'd love to sell at the farmer's market, and people really do seem to buy based on scent, then on appearance (and some eventually notice the soap formula). So after months of reading FO reviews, I used my first FO in soap a little less than a month ago.

I went to a local candle/soap fragrance showroom this fall, and had the oddest "emperor's new clothes" experience: another customer moved from bottle to bottle smelling different FO's (especially pumpkin/spice/fall scents), exclaiming how good they all smelled. I sniffed each scent in a long list I'd made before coming, and all but one scent smelled absolutely foul: overwhelming chemical smell, not much like the real thing. And some of the worst smells were the same ones the other customer enthusiastically raved about.

I figured I'd try an order of natural FO's if that made a difference vs synthetic, and (after reading reviews and re-working my shopping cart a million times) I just received 12 Nature's Flavors FO's (all natural, some organic). Smelled them one by one, amazed at how weird/synthetic/chemical they smell in the bottle. The mango is the only exception so far... it smells like lovely tropical flowers, not fruit, but does genuinely smell good. The coconut's kind of weird, but might be nice if I use just a little.

I'll test out these two best-smelling/least bad-smelling in CP/HP soap to see if they improve, but... is my nose crazy? Could this be like when people hate the taste of cilantro, because they "have a variation in a group of olfactory-receptor genes that allows them to strongly perceive the soapy-flavored aldehydes in cilantro leaves"?

Do some people's noses just find a lot of fragrance oils weird and chemical? FTR, I have a bottle of benzaldehyde (bitter almond oil), and it smells perfectly natural to me... And I love my fancy floral/fruity candles from Restoration Hardware, Costco, and Voluspa (probably synthetic).

I learned decades ago to avoid candles that smell like baked goods--they've always smelled fake and strange to me, but maybe they smell the same to everyone, and other folks grew up with the fake smells and enjoy them? Does anyone else have the same experience... or are all FO's just supposed to smell weird or awful in the bottle?
 
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DeeAnna

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You can't really evaluate an FO or an EO by whiffing the bottle. It's much too concentrated. Many fragrances are pretty obnoxious to me when smelled straight from the bottle, but they're fine when highly diluted in soap, lotion, etc.

A better way to test a fragrance is to put a single drop on an unscented strip of paper -- a coffee filter cut into strips works well -- let the fragrance sit for 5-10 minutes, and then smell. Then test it after 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, and so on.
 
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One very interesting thing I've discovered is that different people smell different things in fragrances. One peppermint FO I used had a chemical smell to me but my sister loved it and said it smelled just like peppermint candy. I used a Beach FO that I thought smelled just like suntan lotion (which I hate) and one of my girlfriends (and main tester) said she didn't smell that at all. Glad she liked it, I was ready to toss the whole batch!
'
 
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Agreed with all of the above. One person's rose is another's rotten egg.

Also, as someone who is somewhay chemically sensitive, a lot of FOs do smell "chemically" to me. Many give me really bad headaches - even if I like the actual smell.

I've had to give away more than a few FOs because one or both of those issues.
 
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Some FOs smell really gross to me, too. But others here have advised, and I have learned that they are right, that some smell different in soap than out of the bottle (OOB). There is variation among suppliers too, I have smelled some that really smell like cheap perfume - others that I love. Why not try some small batches with different FOs in different strengths in each bar to see how you feel after saponification and cure?
 
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I can understand you so well. Deliberately, I bought only a single FO in my soaping career so far (vanilla), and although it's nice on itself, it didn't change my mind about FOs.
With some distance from the fragrance craze, it is actually impressive how much “too much” we are burdening our noses. It should warn us from food that has gone bad. Instead it can't help itself but rather trigger false alarm that we have washed hands ten minutes ago with a weird cocktail of petrochemicals and plant-insect signal substances. Gosh, I hate the smell of some of the restroom soaps at some public places. Did someone deliberately, unironically call them “fragrance”???

Another very important thing to keep in mind is what @DeeAnna said: dilution is key. There are several approaches to sniff tests (wrist, paper strip test, cotton ball in plastic bag, single-FO test batch in bar or liquid soap…), and on top of that the “nose blindness” when you overburden your nose with judging too many scents in a short time.
 

Zany_in_CO

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I went to a local candle/soap fragrance showroom this fall, and had the oddest "emperor's new clothes" experience...
You sound just like me! I totally relate to that description! :nodding:
all but one scent smelled absolutely foul: overwhelming chemical smell, not much like the real thing.
From my experience, rather than a "crazy" nose, I believe you have a "discerning" nose. I would not buy from that company. To compare the difference to a company that sells top quality FOs, I highly recommend MMS (Majestic Mountain Sage) in Utah.

ETA: MMS Fragrance Calculator - Great tool to have in your virtual tool box! I use it for all my products even if I use a fragrance from another supplier. I just find an EO or FO close to it. ;) :thumbs:

Choose anything for the drop down menu of fragrances. Then you can scroll down to easily see what all they have available.
 
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TheGecko

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My future DIL wanted candles for Christmas. O!M!G! Being a soap maker, I hit the coffee aisle first and bought a small bag of beans. I easily sniffed a good 50 candles...from the inexpensive to the "you want how much?!?" I found three...two I actually liked.

FOs can be a bit of a crap-shoot at times. I've had some that smelled horrible in the bottle, but wonderful in soap. I've ha some that smelled wonderful in the bottle, but stink in soap. And I will never forget Autumn Harvest...OMG, the smell when you open the bottle is so warm and soft and then you go to unmold it and it smells like a chemical factory so you stick it on the highest shelf and forget about for a couple of months and then you go to toss it out and end up putting it in your shower instead.

I checked out Natures Flavors...I would never use them because $16.00 for 2oz is just too expensive. I whine as it is when I pay $4.00 for an ounce, but if I don't like it, I've only spent $4.00 and I can recycle the empty bottle. But...once you get past the sticker shock, their 8oz + prices are fairly good.
 
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Also, keep in mind if you are selling you do not have to like the FO, only your customers have to like it, so it becomes a lot of trial and error. When buying fo's remember to read the reviews. Some will sell well for some folks and not so well for others. Sea salt and Driftwood FO is a good example I can think of. Many here love and swear by it and say it holds well, well I did not have the same experience with the same fo from the same supplier and could not sell soap made with it. When selling some will sell well and some simply will not, you just have to learn your markets, but yes, folks like scent first.
 
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That makes sense, @AliOop -do you mainly use EO's then? Or what are your favorite FO's that don't bother you?
I do use some EOs (mostly citrus) and a fairly limited number of FOs that I can stand to have in my house. My very very favorite is @cmzaha's special Dragon's Blood blend, followed by a sandalwood vanilla from a company that is no longer in business. I don't know what I will do when those are both gone. But mostly I stick with unscented unless I am making things for others.
 

LisaBoBisa

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This is so insanely helpful--thank you all SO much.

I can understand you so well. Deliberately, I bought only a single FO in my soaping career so far (vanilla), and although it's nice on itself, it didn't change my mind about FOs.
With some distance from the fragrance craze, it is actually impressive how much “too much” we are burdening our noses. It should warn us from food that has gone bad. Instead it can't help itself but rather trigger false alarm that we have washed hands ten minutes ago with a weird cocktail of petrochemicals and plant-insect signal substances. Gosh, I hate the smell of some of the restroom soaps at some public places. Did someone deliberately, unironically call them “fragrance”???

Another very important thing to keep in mind is what @DeeAnna said: dilution is key. There are several approaches to sniff tests (wrist, paper strip test, cotton ball in plastic bag, single-FO test batch in bar or liquid soap…), and on top of that the “nose blindness” when you overburden your nose with judging too many scents in a short time.

YES! That makes so much sense--nose-blindness is such a good way of saying it.

Also, keep in mind if you are selling you do not have to like the FO, only your customers have to like it, so it becomes a lot of trial and error. When buying fo's remember to read the reviews. Some will sell well for some folks and not so well for others. Sea salt and Driftwood FO is a good example I can think of. Many here love and swear by it and say it holds well, well I did not have the same experience with the same fo from the same supplier and could not sell soap made with it. When selling some will sell well and some simply will not, you just have to learn your markets, but yes, folks like scent first.

Really good point--I'll recruit friends to sniff the testers for me. I have such strong latex allergies that I already do this with body butter recipes (I react to mango butter, shea butter, and probably kokum)... relying completely on other people's skin and noses! A lot of the reviewers did say these FO's sold well, so hopefully I won't be one of the exceptions you mentioned 😅

My future DIL wanted candles for Christmas. O!M!G! Being a soap maker, I hit the coffee aisle first and bought a small bag of beans. I easily sniffed a good 50 candles...from the inexpensive to the "you want how much?!?" I found three...two I actually liked.

FOs can be a bit of a crap-shoot at times. I've had some that smelled horrible in the bottle, but wonderful in soap. I've ha some that smelled wonderful in the bottle, but stink in soap. And I will never forget Autumn Harvest...OMG, the smell when you open the bottle is so warm and soft and then you go to unmold it and it smells like a chemical factory so you stick it on the highest shelf and forget about for a couple of months and then you go to toss it out and end up putting it in your shower instead.

I checked out Natures Flavors...I would never use them because $16.00 for 2oz is just too expensive. I whine as it is when I pay $4.00 for an ounce, but if I don't like it, I've only spent $4.00 and I can recycle the empty bottle. But...once you get past the sticker shock, their 8oz + prices are fairly good.

I'm prepared to repeatedly love and hate the same scent, then!
YEAHHHHH... they don't have affordable trial sizes, so I just went for the 8oz sizes, and I'm really kicking myself now. It's $16 for 2oz, and $20 for 8, so hard to justify 2oz. I think I'll at least end up with 4 I like out of this, and maybe more that other people like, but I'm learning a stupid expensive beginner's lesson (I read all the reviews before ordering, and some customers did talk about asking Nature's Flavors to reformulate a scent, so they do actually do that)

You sound just like me! I totally relate to that description! :nodding:

From my experience, rather than a "crazy" nose, I believe you have a "discerning" nose. I would not buy from that company. To compare the difference to a company that sells top quality FOs, I highly recommend MMS (Majestic Mountain Sage) in Utah.

ETA: MMS Fragrance Calculator - Great tool to have in your virtual tool box! I use it for all my products even if I use a fragrance from another supplier. I just find an EO or FO close to it. ;) :thumbs:

Choose anything for the drop down menu of fragrances. Then you can scroll down to easily see what all they have available.

A Discerning Nose™ Thanks for the collective rebrand and the recommendation! It does sound like a FO version of the cilantro situation (folks who "have a variation in a group of olfactory-receptor genes that allows them to strongly perceive the soapy-flavored aldehydes in cilantro leaves")
 
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Gosh, I hate the smell of some of the restroom soaps at some public places. Did someone deliberately, unironically call them “fragrance”???
Me too. And some of the hand sanitizers in stores available for the shopping public are just awful. I don’t use them.
 

TheGecko

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YEAHHHHH... they don't have affordable trial sizes, so I just went for the 8oz sizes, and I'm really kicking myself now.

Great if it works out for you, sucks if it doesn't. I still have half a 8oz bottle of RE's Pearberry from three years ago....it accelerates horribly and though I learned to work with it, it's not a scent that sells well. Elements' Autumn Harvest...bought a 1oz bottle and fell in love with the scent and immediately ordered a 8oz bottle; turns out it discolors to a really dark brown. It's only because of @Todd Ziegler's VCS that I can now dust off the bottle and use it.

I have a bunch of 1oz and 2 oz bottles I need to get rid off. They sounded great when I ordered them, but then I got them and UGH! So glad I didn't purchase larger sizes. Katie at Royalty Soaps buys large quantities of FOs...like 25lbs...and she did a video on a couple of skunks she ended up buying that much off that she was just going to have to dump.
 
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Me too. And some of the hand sanitizers in stores available for the shopping public are just awful. I don’t use them.
Yes, and the worst are the ones in some airport bathrooms that actually spray the stuff into the air every so often. The spray gets on my hair and clothes, and that's all I can smell until I can get somewhere to shower and change. BLECH 🤢🤮
 
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