Everything to know about the warm & sweet smell of vanilla
Indigenous to South and Central America and the Caribbean, vanilla is a popular spice in terms of taste and smell. Be it ice cream or a desert, body lotion, or perfume, vanilla is widely used as an ingredient. In addition, with a wide array of uses, vanilla is used for aromatherapy—the calming effects of its scent help with high blood pressure and a relaxing good night’s sleep. Not only adults, but it can also calm newborn children.
First used by the Aztec Indians of ancient Mexico in the 15th century, vanilla and chocolate were introduced to Europe in 1520. In the 19th century, the French transported it to the island of Réunion. Soon, the orchids were sent to Madagascar along with the manual regarding its pollination. After multiple climatic disasters in Madagascar, Indonesia became the largest producer of vanilla in 2018.
Why is vanilla so expensive?
The word vanilla comes from the Spanish word vainilla, meaning “little pods.” Vanilla comes from an orchid plant, and only one type of orchid grows vanilla beans. Each flower is hand-pollinated, which makes it a grinding task. Not only this, once the beans are harvested, the crop is dried with care. This whole process takes up a year time.
Around 80% world’s vanilla used to grow on an island in Madagascar until recently when hit by a tropical cyclone. Due to the gap between demand and supply, prices for vanilla beans went up to $600/kg. This makes vanilla the second most expensive spice after saffron.
This is why the estimation of 95% of vanilla products are artificially flavored instead of vanilla beans.
The sweet and warm scent of vanilla
While vanilla is a popular flavoring in commercial or domestic baking, we cannot overlook its sweet, warm, and welcoming scent. It can be used both in a feminine or a masculine fragrance. In addition, a vanilla fragrance can be both comforting or erotic, depending on the paired-up ingredient.
The blend of vanilla with higher fruity notes and musky ground notes makes Black Opium by YSL a sensual yet energizing fragrance. While base notes of vanilla with warm heart notes of chestnut and Gaïac Wood in Replica By the fireplace makes this perfume a comforting memory in the woods.
Other warm and sweet vanilla perfumes which give you a mouth-watering aroma are,
1. Oud Satin Mood by Maison Francis Kurkdjian
2. Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford
3. Vanilla Fields by Prism Parfums
4. Gypsy Water by Byredo
5. Replica Coffee Break by Maison Martin Margiela
6. Halfeti Leather by Penhaligon’s
Substitute to vanilla
A gross way to imitate vanilla is to extract a chemical compound from a beaver’s castor sacs. This chemical compound is called Castoreum.
Another way to imitate vanilla in perfumes could be the use of synthetic vanillin. Some people might find the difference between natural and artificial, most won’t.