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The Irresistible Woods: Cedarwood in Perfume
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May 17, 2020

A Little History

Forest filled with Cedar trees

The term “cedar” derives from the Latin word, cedrus, or the Greek word, kédros, which translates as “aromatic wood,” and actually root from the Arabic word kedron. In Arabic, the word has a more dominant meaning, translating to “divine power.” Collectively, the etymology of the Arabic and Greek terms, build the tree's scientific name, Cedrus Deodara, which combined translates as, the “sacred tree of the divine will.”

One of the oldest ingredients in perfumery, Cedarwood oil is obtained directly from components of the tree and is considered to be one of the first crude essential oils extracted. A tree with a long geographical history; its first documented uses date as far back to, two to three thousand years before the birth of Christ, in Egypt, where the oil was used in the process of mummification, as well as to ward off infections.

Moving into the west, during the Middle Ages, Europeans believed that placing a Cedar tree adjacent to their front doors would majestically keep the witches from entering their houses. Later on, in the 17th century, English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper, discovered that the wood could be a remedy for coughs and shortness of breath. This recognition was a pillar in medicine, and throughout history, in different cultures and countries, the oil produced from Cedarwood, has been popularly exploited medically in several ways.

Shifting back to the Middle East, Cedarwood was valued so highly, that what is now Lebanon, a critically high producer of the Cedar trees, was integrated into the Egyptian Empire, merely to ensure a regular supply of Cedar.

From Cedarwood to Essential Oil

Cedar trees in the forest

The Cedarwood tree, also known as the Cedrus, is an evergreen tree, that grows 30 to 40 meters in height, even reaching 60 meters on occasion. With thick ridged bark, a broad trunk, and multi-leveled branches, scattered with flower-like cedar cones, the wood itself exhales a spicy-resinous aroma.

Regarding the different regions of growth, there are many species of the Cedar Tree, such as Cedrus atlantica, also known as Atlas, Cedrus deodara, the Himalayan, Juniperus Mexicana as Texan, Pinus Sibirica as Siberian, and Juniperus virginiana as Virginian Cedarwood. Nonetheless, when acquiring the oil, the process of extraction, is the same for all.

Following the daily collection, the scraps of the Cedar tree are unloaded from the trucks, chopped, and blown into a still. The oil contained in the foliage is steam extracted and subsequently separated into a decanter after being cooled under indirect contact with a heat exchanger. Following this, the oil is filtered, stored in barrels, and distributed to wholesalers for use in products including pharmaceuticals, as well as cosmetics.

Uses And Benefits Of The Wood

An image of a traditional Japanese spa that uses cedar

An ingredient with benefits for which a hand of fingers, or even two, won’t be sufficient in counting with… The pure wood is commonly used in the building of sarcophagi’s, jewellery boxes, boats, and other carpentry and furniture. Yet, its remarkable durability means it is also widely used as a material for construction, such as of temples, where it was used specifically due to its properties as an insect repellent, and rot-resistor, both results of the high content of fragrant essential oil within.

Moreover, nowadays, the aroma of Cedar is widely used in holistic meditation, to help the promotion of spiritual awareness, purification, healing, and protection. It is also similarly used in aromatherapy, where it is believed to encourage confidence and to calm anxiety. This correlates and reasons to why the Japanese commonly use wood in the construction of their traditional bathrooms.

The Cedarwood lining of the bathrooms, in combination with steam, composes a bubble of soft, balsamic, woody aromatics, fully transferring you into a zen mode, a true zone for relaxation. The oil can also be used as an antiseptic, an antibacterial, and even as an aphrodisiac. The oil is also widely used as a mosquito repellent and an anti-dandruff agent.

Image of Cedar Cones

Finally, in dissecting the final components of this phenomenal tree, the Cedar needles also have a use, which in this case, are as animal fodder. Yet how could we forget about the beautiful fruit of the tree, the Cedar cones! Measuring 8-12cm in length, the male cones are cylindrical, whilst the female cones are rounded and covered in seed scales, which are then released when the cone reaches maturity and breaks off.

The nuts that are obtained are edible and have been praised for their high level of nutrition, more so to the fact that they have been the staple in the diets of many Native American tribes and indigenous people of Siberia. Cedar nuts are also considered an essential ingredient in multiple oriental and Mediterranean dishes. Despite there being over 20 species of Cedar trees producing the nuts, those deriving from specifically Siberian Cedar are recognized as the most nutritious, and even considered a raw superfood.

The Scent of Cedarwood

A close up of woman's nose

A unique, rather raw, dry scent, which embodies a distinctive woody aroma, one with nuances of spice and resin. Due to its quality as an excellent fixative, it is commonly used as the base note for many famous fragrances, from Feminite du Bois’ by Serge Lutens, to Black Cedarwood & Juniper’ by Jo Malone, ‘Super Cedar’ Byredo, and several other popular men’s and women’s fragrances.

Additionally, how can we not go on to mention the continuous list of Tom Ford fragrances that include the magical drops of Cedarwood: 'Arabian Wood', 'Black Violet', 'Japan Noir', 'Lavender Palm'; like we said, the list is endless.

Overall, Cedarwood mixes particularly well with woody notes, the ones that are more velvety in nature, such as vetiver, patchouli, or sandalwood. It also mixes equally well with citrus fruits, fruits, or flowers, which are commonly the top notes. In combination with these olfactory compositions, Cedar offers elegance and character, whilst the tenacity of the wood creates a real dynamism for the fragrance.

Our Recommended Mixes

Maison 21G Scent Bar

The indulgent mix of Cedarwood with red fruits is a bursting, exquisite fusion that you wouldn't be able to resist. Our recommendation for a unique, bold creation would be our CEDAR CAVIAR perfume, along with RASPBERRY REDEMPTION. Upon spraying, your nose meets the sweet powdery facet of tantalising nectar, along with the warm and spicy, dry woody undertone: a creation perfect for both men and women.  

We also recommend trying the popular blend of Cedar with florals for your custom perfume. Try CEDAR CAVIAR and our MIMOSA MANTRA perfume, a long-lasting aroma that shall diffuse a bright and fresh bubble around you.

If you are an admirer of fougere compositions, our SAGE SUPREME fragrance or LAVENDER LEGEND perfume, in combination with CEDAR CAVIAR, will create undeniably elegant and aromatic, long-lasting perfumes.  

Finally, with Cedarwood widely used in modern colognes to extend the long-lasting aspect, we recommend 3 different mixes with CEDAR CAVIAR. Each of these ingredients is fresh with different touches of refreshing citrus within, yet it is down to you to come to our boutique and try it out: could it be our BERGAMOT BLAST perfume? Or perhaps our RHUBARB RHAPSODY fragrance? Or finally, yet not least, our orange flower, our ORANGE BLOSSOM scent?


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