Raw Materials Christmas Scents: Part III, Fir

Christmas Scents: Part III, Fir

12/03/15 20:22:29 (14 comments)

by: Juliett Ptoyan

Fragrantica continues preparations for the New Year (suddenly there are only four weeks left!); in Christmas Scents, we have already talked about spruce and cinnamon, and today I'd like to introduce you to the fir, the only coniferous tree whose cones grow upwards. Well, yes, fir also meets Agent Cooper on the road to Twin Peaks.

 
Scene from "Twin Peaks" (dir. David Lynch)
 
Kyle MacLachlan mentions Douglas fir (a.k.a. Pseudotsuga menziesii) in the first scenes of his journey, and says that he has never seen so many trees. It is not surprising: this kind of fir make up a large part of the forests of the Pacific coast and originally comes from the northern parts of America (by the way, Twin Peaks was located there).
 
 
The myth that coniferous trees can live only in the harsh climate is not relative to all varieties of fir - there are many among the thermophilic varieties, like the Spanish and Siberian. But "heat-loving" does not mean "sensible to frost": for example, Abies sibirica is tolerant to temperatures as cold as -13 °F (-25 °C), though its growth in such conditions is slower than usual. 
 
 
It may be hard to differentiate among fir varieties, but we have some tips to determine if it is a fir (rather than spruce or pine). There are several characteristic features: first, the shape of the fir crown almost always is symmetrical; secondly, fir has thornless thick needles (slightly wider and longer than spruce's) that are dark green with two white stripes on the sides.
 
Third, fir's cones grow on the top of the tree, and upwards, as we have said before. Also this tree hasn't fir resin checks (thin channels inside the barrel on which the resin flows). As for Canadian (a.k.a. fir) balm - it's made of soft resin from Abies balsamea, the only one who has these ducts - and, according to naturopaths, this viscous substance can cure absolutely any diseases at any stage.
 
And what about essential oils? They are made from some other varieties of fir. In addition to the Canadian, for oil production silver fir (pine, needles, whole and crushed cones that give the greatest output)  is often used - the smell is thin, spicy, balsamic, with a delicate touch of citrus; and the Siberian - its flavor is cooler and less spicy. Be aware of fakes: sometimes producers can replace this oil with fractions of pine extract.
 
 

In perfumery, fir often occurs with other coniferous notes - gusty Chimaera Tiziana Terenzi has canadian balsam mixed with pine; Xeryus combines fir & cedar; and in Fou d'Absinthe, fir needles quietly pour into the slow flow of absinthe. Aftelier has a thick, balsamic Fir (I like the idea to produce it in solid form, because it's fun to rub, not to be applied with spray); Fir Balsam by Frank Boclet may not be quite as balmy, but it also deserves attention.

Dry, crackling Fraser Fir can be found from Demeter; Umbra by Ramon Monegal offers us a fir & oxygen cocktail: this is an airy, cloud-like texture of needles which are evenly distributed while closer to the base it's wrapped in mossy notes.

 
For the New Year's celebration we often use Canadian, Fraser and Nordmann firs - they look great and the needles don't slough; hand made junkies use it also for a festive table setting and to decorate candles; fir needles are also usually added to the steam bath.
 
 
What do you think of the smell of fir? Do you distinguish it from any other conifers, or do you perceive it as similar to other pine-like scents? Maybe you've tried
balsam fir or scents with the same note?
 
Wishing you a fragrant weekend!
 
 

Juliett Ptoyan is a perfume journalist who collaborates with several glossy magazines, organizes perfume workshops and regularly writes for her own blog, bouquetjuliett.ru.

 

 



Previous Raw Materials Next


Advertisement

svp
svp

Fille en Aiguilles by Lutens ...best part is not only do you get to walk in a resinous pine forest, you get to return home to a real fire and mulled wine. Sensory experience - amazing!

Dec
06
2015
SadieBluesLady
SadieBluesLady

This is a minor quibble, but as a native of the land where they grow, it has become an important distinction for me . . . Douglas Fir is NOT a true fir, it is not part of genus Abies. Rather it is a "false cypress" genus pseudotsuga . . . and I don't know if there are any other members. The combination of common name and scientific name represents two competing Scottish botanists David Douglas (Douglas-fir) and his rival Archibald Menzies (pseudotsuga menziesii) the man who first collected the plant on Vancouver Island (Canada) in the late 1700s.

We had Douglas firs as our Christmas trees all through my childhood so that particular scent is firmly bonded in my memory. As an adult, I have also had both Grand and Noble firs as Christmas trees, so even if I cannot put into words how the scents differ, my nose & memory know that they do.

Dec
04
2015
the big totoro
the big totoro

Thank you for the recommendation bouquet juliett. I will have to look for that and give it a try. So many beautiful perfumes out there I still need to try. But what fun!

Dec
04
2015
raw umber
raw umber

Thank you so much for introducing fir into this holiday series! And for including the Twin Peaks image. ; ) I love the scent of fir so intensely that it makes me nervous.

I'm actually afraid to wear perfumes which feature fir so prominently, because it's such a meaningful scent to me that I consider it sacred, and do not want my associations to be skewed. For instance, I never want to walk through a forest and inhale deeply while thinking, "This air smells exactly like Fille en Aiguilles!!"

When I encounter nature, I want it to remind me of itself and only itself. Scents which are hyper-realistic representations of the natural world are therefore too special, too powerful for me to have practical application as perfumes.

Dec
04
2015
perfumecritic
perfumecritic

oh how I wish I could afford some of these!!! for now I'll have to make due with my beloved Polo, lol.

Dec
04
2015
charles_carmichael
charles_carmichael

No question here - Fille en Aiguilles by Lutens. The best Fir/Pine scent out there.

Dec
04
2015
bouquetjuliett
bouquetjuliett

Dear friends, there are many and many beautiful fragrances with fir (and even more with other conifers') and it's physically impossible to mention all of them:) Please tell us about your favourite ones! I do love the scent of pine needles, and would like to find a fragrance which can reflect it with all its shades - cold, balmy, a little spicy... But fir and chocolate sounds excellent, definitely need to try!

Dec
04
2015
lussoliv
lussoliv

It's good!
Cheerful, playful & dreamy fragrance!
It is not necessary that the waterlily and berries form the exact fragrance but the Tiziana Terenzi has canadian balsam mixed the ingredients and forms the sweet aroma compound!

Dec
04
2015
Econochrist
Econochrist

Juliett My Dear, You forgot about the most natural fir fragrance - Slumberhouse Norne. It's magic in the bottle, so so natural fir in foggy, dark forest with dried herbs and sweet incense.

Dec
04
2015
matty64
matty64

You know, if you think about it fir is a tricky ingredient to work with. How do you incorporate this natural resin without your final product smelling like a popular kitchen cleaning product? My all time favorite fragrance with fir in it has to be the vintage Xeryus by Givenchy. Loved it in 1986, love it now!

Dec
03
2015
Pinnacos
Pinnacos

For fir, get your hands on a bottle of In The Woods, by eSENSielle. The frag is a virile ode to conifers and progresses from Canadian Hemlock and Juniper to Siberian Pine to Fir Balsam. Beautiful juice. It's what I imagine Paul Bunyan would wear (or at least smell like.) I got mine from First in Fragrance out of Germany.

Why it's not listed on Fragrantica, I do not know.

Dec
03
2015
bouquetjuliett
bouquetjuliett

The big totoro, thank you:) Have you ever tried sequoia's smell? There are so many chocolate and vanilla undertones, you may like it too.

Dec
03
2015
the big totoro
the big totoro

Great article. I really have enjoyed this series. Fir is such a wonderful scent, I can definitely distinguish it from other conifers. It has a very rich almost sweet aroma compared with pine. My favorite perfume that has fir as a main note is Seattle Chocolate by Olympic Orchids. Fir and dark chocolate...enough said.

Dec
03
2015

Add Your Review

Become a member of this online perfume community and you will be able to add your own reviews.

Advertisement

Advertisement

New Perfumes

Silence The SeaStrangelove NYC
Silence The Sea

Mont-RoyalClaude Andre Heber Parfums
Mont-Royal

MétropoleClaude Andre Heber Parfums
Métropole

Ville-MarieClaude Andre Heber Parfums
Ville-Marie

Notre-DameClaude Andre Heber Parfums
Notre-Dame

A l`Ombre des ClochersClaude Andre Heber Parfums
A l`Ombre des Clochers

Sweet ScentLouis Cardin
Sweet Scent

Passion ScentLouis Cardin
Passion Scent

Shiny AmberAnna Zworykina Perfumes
Shiny Amber

Chocolate Perfume OilDame Perfumery
Chocolate Perfume Oil

Esprit Pure Summer Edition For MenEsprit
Esprit Pure Summer Edition For Men

Esprit Pure Summer Edition For WomenEsprit
Esprit Pure Summer Edition For Women

Dream FearlesslyMary Kay
Dream Fearlessly

Live FearlesslyMary Kay
Live Fearlessly

Love FearlesslyMary Kay
Love Fearlessly

My SinLanvin
My Sin

La Viola ParadiseLouis Cardin
La Viola Paradise

Crystal ScentLouis Cardin
Crystal Scent

Prelude S. BlancheEudora
Prelude S. Blanche

IodiceJAFRA
Iodice

Claudia RaiaJAFRA
Claudia Raia

ManAvon
Man

RoseSolinotes
Rose

Chrome PureAzzaro
Chrome Pure

Original OudLouis Cardin
Original Oud

La Viola HommeLouis Cardin
La Viola Homme

Credible OudLouis Cardin
Credible Oud

HanahirakuParfum Satori
Hanahiraku

Gucci Bamboo Limited Edition Gucci
Gucci Bamboo Limited Edition

MinaudièreJudith Leiber
Minaudière

Popular brands and perfumes: