My recent perfume experimentations have involved musk. To be honest I am not a big fan of fragrances that feature it as a main note in their composition but I have recently opened my mind to its personality and am trying to learn how I can take advantage of its characteristics. The smell of fresh laundry is often attributed to the use of ozonic aromachemicals. On closer inspection you begin to see the role synthetic musk plays in creating a fresh laundry scent. We associate the smell of musk with fresh laundry because it was used in most of our laundry powders up until the mid 1990s. In 1988 an estimated 7000 tons of synthetic musk was produced. These molecules began showing up in our waterways, marine life and even mother’s breast milk. Controls were put in place to reduce the amount of contact we have with these molecules and there are concerns for the effect they have on humans. Scientist Albert Bauer who was experimenting with TNT explosives first discovered synthetic musk in 1888. After an experiment he noticed a pleasurable smell in the air. Fast forward a century and these synthetic versions that lack the fecal aspect of their natural counterpart can be broken into 4 groups. Nitro Musks such as musk xylene, polycyclic musks such as galaxolide, macrocyclic musks such as ambrettolide and the less commonly used alicyclic musk family. Nitro musks are no longer employed due to their instability and potential toxicity, something that upset many perfume enthusiasts who saw their favourite perfumes undergo major reconstructions after the ban. Polycyclic musks are commonly used in modern perfumery. Macrocyclic musks are used less because their production is costly. It is estimated over half the population are anosmics (unable to smell) to macrocyclic musks. It is therefore common practice for perfumers to blend a variety of musks in a formula to guarantee at least one of them can be picked up by the client’s nose. I often see ‘white musk’ used as a descriptor in fragrance notes and I was interested to see what makes musk white. Some musks such as ambrettolide have an amber note. Fixolide is slightly fruity. Other musks are decidedly floral. I was using Emporio Armani White For Him as a reference point when I was blending musks and I have decided a mix of galaxolide, ambrettolide, musk ketone, ethylene brassylate and a small amount of cashmeran is a good musk base to blend with iso e super and cedramber creating a starting point for a transparent woody men’s perfume.