Choya Loban and the creation of a black hole!

I love to work with unique natural materials and choya loban was an exciting addition to my collection.


This is a very interesting material indeed. It is actually Boswellia serrata/Indian Frankincense, that has undergone a process called destructive distillation – a traditional method using clay stills. I won’t attempt to describe it any further because to be honest I don’t really understand it. The result is that it smells very unique – roasty and smoky. For me I get a smoky, dusty, hospital bandage vibe and could see this little guy, created by Amanda Louise Spayd smelling of choya loban.


Little Medic by Amanda Louise Spayd

In perfume, it is used to bestow leather, incense and smoke notes. I was creating a very strong floral perfume and wanted a smoky base, so added a very small amount of the choya loban – (in all my other experiments I had been too heavy handed with the choya and so decided this time to use the recommended gentle approach). Despite how strong choya is, I wasn’t getting any hint of smokiness coming through on this occasion and was rather disappointed. I waited and waited but smokiness did not announce itself at all. It remained a very, very strong floral. So I added 1 more tiny pre-diluted drop of choya and …. the universe received a black hole. I kid you not – my very strong floral was sucked to some far off reach of the galaxy to never return. I had a bottle of fragrance with no smell. I thought time might fix it, but only a very weak, limping floral returned.

This is the interesting side of perfumery. Just when you think you’ve got things sussed, the ingredients teach you that sometimes they can be wild and unpredictable in their chemical interactions with each other.


Goodbye my expensive florals!