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sábado, 21 de novembro de 2015

Christmas Scents: Part I, Spruce

by: Juliett Ptoyan

Welcome to a new series of articles dedicated to discussion about trees, plants and spices that create a festive mood and explain fragrances related to the Christmas holiday.
Spruce is perhaps the most famous of all Christmas trees; it usually takes its place this time of year in living rooms or gardens and is a type of conifer that many of have seen on classic holiday postcards. In fact, who hasn't scraped a finger while trying to dress up spruce's bristled leaves? 
Spruce is also really easy to find at holiday fairs - even easier than fir, which originated in the North. The main characteristics of the spruce are crowded, comparably short, but pointed needles, almost flat twigs, and variable height - from the tiny, Canadian conic sort (approximately 1 meter) to the Sitka spruce which can grow up to 90 meters in height. It's not too difficult to confuse a spruce with a fir, but their appearance is the answer: firs' cones stay pedimental, and spruces' hang loose. Firs' needles are also not as sharp.
The scent of spruce is rich, balsamic and heavenly and can be compared with the aroma of fir, but the spruce is more intense and resinous, and the aroma is not as volatile (in fact, both of them are equal in fugacity).
To make an essential oil from spruce, producers often choose a Norwegian variety, widespread all over Europe, because other varieties can't guarantee the high quality of seepage: for example, the Ayan spruce offers only a small amount of oil, and the Jezo offers very little bornyl acetate, the colorless liquid that produces the piny scent. Producers use a steam distillation method to extract fragrant compounds and the result is only 15-20 ml for each kilo of needles and branches. 
Besides its magnificent scent, spruce oil is highly estimated for its ability to quickly help with the common cold, to boost immunity and clear the mucous. 
Spruce as a perfume note is employed rather infrequently, but there are some striking scents from modern natural perfumers that deserve attention: Ayala Moriel offers two perfumes - Rainforest and Orcas; Joanne Bassett offers Petit Trianon; and Teone Reinthal offers Black Spruce.
Other brands include Christopher Brosius's Christmas Tree for Demeter, and The Fir Tree for his own CB I Hate PerfumeSerge Lutens united fir and spruce in Fille en Aiguilles; and there's a frosty touch of spruce in The Vagabond Prince'Enchanted Forest, too. 
There are also numerous scented candles from companies such as P.F. Candle Co.,VoluspaUCandles', and a number of artisan chandlers on Etsy. 
But spruce is not just for perfume in Russia: in the Ural region, you can try jam from cones! It's just delicious and really unusual, and somewhat nutty (have you tried it? You need to!). In the middle of summer, local farmers collect green cones, which are easy to crack in their raw conditions, and boil them with sugar and water. The result is a heavenly-scented confiture with unusual texture: the cones become so soft that you can easily bite through them. 
Finally, you can use the conifer broom in hot baths! But I suppose you better try pine first - spruce is a bit prickly, and you should really love the aroma to appreciate it....
How do you feel about the scent of spruce? Do you wear any fragrances where it is a dominant note, and if you do, which ones and when - all year long or just in winter?
Wishing you a fragrant weekend!

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