Sea Salt and Brine : Perfume Notes

Does salt have a scent? “It depends on what salt you’re talking about,” says Benoît, who hails from Guérande, a French town in southern Brittany famous for its salt marshes. We meet by chance  at an airport lounge, and as he observes a book I’m reading, Jean-Claude Ellena’s Le Parfum, we strike up a conversation about scents. “Guérande’s fleur de sel smells of violets.” As he explains, refined table salt is about 97 percent sodium chloride and it’s virtually scentless, but sea salts from different regions have  impurities that give them a distinctive flavor and scent. Fleur de sel is hand harvested salt from the tops of salt marshes, and while Benoît is passionate about it, he urges me to try different salts and compare. “If you create a perfume based on Guérande’s fleur de sel, please let me know,” he says as we bid each other goodbye.

salt

While I’m yet to visit Guérande to experience the violet perfume of its famous salt ponds, I’ve been noticing the salty nuances in my perfume bottles. My salt collection has likewise grown. Even the sharp iodine scent of table salt now seems obvious to me, not to mention the roasted aroma of Korean bamboo salt or the earthy bite of Javanese lava salt. I’m suddenly discovering a whole new universe of saline flavors.

Along with sweet, sour, bitter, and umami, salt is one of the five basic tastes and it’s much easier to understand it as such–the sensation that you experience when a salt crystal melts on your tongue. But in perfume, the effect can also be distinctive. Spray The Different Company’s Sel de Vétiver or Lalique’s Encre Noire and notice the briny note that you can almost taste.

It’s not a coincidence that I named two vetiver based fragrances as my examples of salty notes in perfumes.  Vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanoides) tolerates highly saline soils and absorbs some salt into its roots.  There is an unmistakable salty nuance in vetiver oil, a complex material that could be a perfume by itself.

The salt crusted wood shavings, green grapefruit and licorice facets of vetiver have been explored in all of their savory beauty by fragrances like Guerlain Vétiver, Chanel Sycomore, and more recently, Olfactive Studio Flashback. Vétiver and Sycomore augment the natural facets of the root by making the licorice smell more anise like, grapefruit–more bitter, woods–more complex. Flashback, on the other hand, weaves vetiver into a rhubarb-apple dessert. The salty, marine twist is what keeps it intriguing and not exactly edible.

Benoît wasn’t exaggerating when he said that Guérande’s fleur de sel smells of violets. A research study sponsored by Givaudan uncovered various types of ionones, molecules with a violet-like odor, in the aroma of certain salts.  Violet is somewhat of a chameleon, and if it’s paired with floral, fruity notes as in Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose or Yves Saint Laurent Paris, it takes on a spun sugar sweetness. But in Annick Goutal Duel and Lez Nez The Unicorn Spell, the violet is salt sprinkled and green. Another take on Paris, this time by Balenciaga, goes into the green, crunchy direction. The salty part comes in the top notes and reminds me of sea salt and pepper sprinkled on lettuce leaves.

Modern research is also responsible for the sea salt accords that have appeared in some recent fragrances. In Jo Malone’s Blue Agava and Cacao, the salt note, or rather an accord of several notes mimicking the scent of sea salt, offsets the sweetness of chocolate and berries.  Another salted perfume is Yves Saint Laurent Saharienne, a citrus cologne based on jasmine. The salty note is subtle, but it gives this simple perfume a much needed kick.

Salty effects in perfumes need not be deliberate, and various mineral, marine and earthy notes can give a briny illusion, from the earthy accents in Parfum d’Empire Azemour les Orangers to the seaweed like aroma in Hermès Eau des Merveilles. Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena admits that he prefers salty notes to sweet, and many of his fragrances have a briny accent. In Epice  Marine, the salty seaweed (a synthetic molecule algenone) is married to citrus and spices, while in Terre d’Hermès, the vetiver is brined and mixed with mineral dust. It may be my own fancy, but when I smell Ellena’s Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert, which he created for Bulgari, I swear I notice a violet-like fleur de sel note. I wonder what Benoît would have thought about that.

Now, it’s your turn. What perfumes smell salty to you?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, Persian blue salt

Enjoyed this? Get blog posts via email:

Or, stay updated via:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • RSS

141 Comments

  • Anne of Green Gables: What an interesting post! I read it a few times to absorb all the information. To my nose, Jour d’Hermes smells salty. It gave the dry and slightly tightening (or tingling) sensation in my nose which I associate with saltiness.

    I love the way the fine powder of Korean bamboo salt melts in my mouth. It does have a really distinctive flavour, doesn’t it? Have you used it for cooking? When I was younger, my mum made me brush my teeth with that salt – actually one of the bestselling toothpaste in Korea contains it and of course, the toothpaste tastes salty! October 21, 2013 at 8:09am Reply

    • Victoria: Jour d’Hermes also seems salty, especially in the drydown. Maybe, that’s why I like it so much. Usually, white floral notes have a tendency to be thick and sweet (not a bad thing either, of course), but here they seem dipped in sea water.

      I have a little packet and until now I have been smelling it far more than cooking with it. It smells terrific and makes me wish someone did a roasted bamboo salt perfume. I usually sprinkle it on food just before eating. For instance, grilled fish or tomatoes. Or a piece of buttered bread. Or a square of bitter chocolate. That’s probably my favorite combo.

      How interesting about toothpaste! Does the salt whiten the teeth or is it added for other reasons? October 21, 2013 at 8:27am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: I never smelled salt, so I think of salty food, salted cashew nuts for instance. Non-sweet perfumes are mostly sour, peppery, bitter..but salty? Racine MPG comes to mind. Or Royal Saffron (Bella Bellissima). Other non-sweet perfumes, like Aromatics Elixir are too balsamic. No, I can think of nothing!
        We used to have in the Netherlands a toothcleaning powder with salt (Boldoot). The dentist advised it and I used it until it was discontinued. October 21, 2013 at 8:37am Reply

        • Victoria: Speaking of roasted cashews, that’s another scent I love and would have wished to see in perfume. I occasionally make spiced cashews tossed with cardamom, cinnamon, chili and lime juice, and when they’re roasted (before the spices are added), I always want to bottle the aroma.

          I wonder if anyone still makes tooth powders? When I was little, I remember that they were common, although tooth paste seemed more convenient. My grandfather, however, preferred the powder and would use nothing else. October 21, 2013 at 8:44am Reply

          • rosarita: In my rural part of the US, the Amish are everywhere. They seem to prefer tooth powder and it’s sold in many local drugstores. October 21, 2013 at 9:55am Reply

            • Victoria: Thank you, I had no idea, but I suppose that it makes sense knowing that the Amish prefer the traditional ways. When I lived in PA, we had some stores where you could buy Amish made products, and while I don’t remember tooth powders, the soaps were amazing. October 21, 2013 at 12:09pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: That sounds great! Do you roast unsalted cashews in a dry frying pan, or do you add some oil? Chili means chilipowder? October 21, 2013 at 10:50am Reply

            • Victoria: I roast them in the oven and I don’t use any oil. When they’re half way done, I add a spice paste (I use a little bit oil in it to make spices cling to nuts) and salt. Yes, chili means chili powder. You can use hot cayenne powder or even more mild paprika for color. October 21, 2013 at 3:16pm Reply

              • Cornelia Blimber: Thank you! Perfect for evenings in the fall! October 21, 2013 at 3:53pm Reply

              • Karen: I heard a while ago how adding salt to food right before serving causes the food to release certain fragrance molecules. The body responds by your tongue secreting saliva – thus, food really can be mouth watering!

                Perhaps someone can add more correct terms or info to this, but that fact has stayed with me for quite some time. October 22, 2013 at 6:12am Reply

                • Victoria: The way it was explained to me is that salt releases the aromatic compounds by softening the cells of the food. This works really well if you try salting fruit or vegetables before eating. The difference is immediately noticeable. A piece of cucumber will smell more cucumber like when salted. October 22, 2013 at 9:31am Reply

          • NeenaJ: The brand Lush makes tooth tablets that are basically compacted powders. Full of baking soda and salt with a tiny bit of flavor, they are incredibly salty. You just chew them up with the option of using a brush, so they’re perfect for camping or randoneurring. October 21, 2013 at 11:13am Reply

            • Victoria: That’s convenient and very cool. I don’t remember the last time I camped out anywhere, but it would be great for traveling too. October 21, 2013 at 3:18pm Reply

      • Caroline: Salt must have antiseptic properties, because I remember being advised to rinse with salt water after I had my wisdom teeth out.
        Both AG Vetiver and Eau Sauvage make me think of a salty note (more so the former). Must be the vetiver… October 21, 2013 at 8:38am Reply

        • Victoria: I now remember that too. The whole wisdom tooth removal experience was so traumatic (I had all 4 out at once) that I barely recall what happened for a few days afterwards. 🙂 I also gargle with salty water if I ever have a sore throat, and it makes it heal quicker.

          AG Vetiver is my favorite salty vetiver too, but it’s now discontinued. Why would they do that? October 21, 2013 at 8:42am Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: Salty water is also good for your nose when you have a cold. Much better than an agressive spray. October 21, 2013 at 10:53am Reply

            • Anne of Green Gables: Agreed! I use seawater spray frequently and it really helps! October 21, 2013 at 3:04pm Reply

            • Victoria: I’ve told to try that before, but I can’t really bring myself to do it. I have a feeling as if I’m going to drown. October 21, 2013 at 3:17pm Reply

              • Maja: You should try it. It really, really helps and it is safe 🙂 October 21, 2013 at 6:01pm Reply

          • Austenfan: On top of that they have gone and discontinued Mon Parfum Chéri as well. Two beauties gone. October 21, 2013 at 2:32pm Reply

            • Victoria: Two of my most worn Goutal perfumes lately (apart from the perennial favorite Neroli). I’m very disappointed. October 21, 2013 at 3:39pm Reply

            • nozknoz: I was sad to read that, too! October 22, 2013 at 12:53am Reply

            • Rachel: I need to buy a backup bottle of Vetiver before it’s too late. October 23, 2013 at 5:37pm Reply

      • Patricia: I never thought of Jour d’Hermes as being salty, but that is probably why I like it, too. The salt cuts through the sweetness. October 21, 2013 at 9:15am Reply

        • Victoria: I also like that it’s versatile enough to go from day to evening. It’s a light perfume, but Jour d’Hermes lasts on me for the entire day. October 21, 2013 at 11:51am Reply

      • Lena: My mom, who is a dentist, recommended to use salt to remove plaque. October 21, 2013 at 2:09pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you, Lena. I’m flipping through my great grandmother’s beauty recipes, and incidentally, I’ve just spotted a face mask for oily skin that includes salt. I sometimes use salt in a body scrub (mixed with almond oil and lemon juice). October 21, 2013 at 3:36pm Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: Chocolate + salt combination is something I haven’t tried yet although I’ve seen these Lindt chocolates. I love chilli + chocolate combination. At first, I thought that this was a crazy idea but when I tried it, I fell in love with it! Maybe, salt + chocolate will be the same so I should give it a try.

        It’s really fascinating that the sweet-salty combination works well in foods as well as in perfumes. After reading your description on the saltiness of vetiver, I tried smelling the Vetiver Tonka blotter (it’s more than 2 weeks old but I can still smell it) and it’s there!

        As others have said, salt toothpaste is especially good for people with gum problems. I think Weleda salt toothpaste has good reputations if you would like to try one. October 21, 2013 at 3:02pm Reply

        • Victoria: There is also a Catalan recipe for bread toasted and topped with grated chocolate + olive oil + salt. This is another addictive combination. I make it for breakfast time to time and feel very decadent. 🙂

          By the way, this is off-topic, but a couple of days ago you and George were talking about Lutens’s Iris Silver Mist. I really recommend to revisit it again later, because I also wasn’t a big fan at first, but over time it grew to be one of my top 5 favorites. It’s definitely challenging at first, because it’s so rooty and cold, but once you get used to that, you notice the softness of violet petals, and the contrast between the petals and roots is exquisite. October 21, 2013 at 3:46pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: I like camembert or brie with dark chocolate.
            Unfortunately dark chocolate sometimes provokes my migraine.

            Iris Silver Mist: Victoria says it so much better! It’s heaven and earth together in a perfume. And in the very end, when the perfume is almost gone, I smell something that puzzles me, reminding me of some other perfume and I can’t figure out what it is: could it be Climat?
            Plus: the longevety is amazing. October 21, 2013 at 4:02pm Reply

            • Victoria: Soft cheese with dark chocolate was a recent discovery for me, and now I’m hooked. Although truth be told, I can eat almost anything with chocolate. 🙂 October 22, 2013 at 9:45am Reply

  • Maja: My saltiest perfume is Eau de Rochas. And it’s somehow pungent, too, I love the combination. I also like the salty note in Eau des Merveilles. It makes it truly special. And I often wear it to the beach in winter 🙂

    ps. I use the salty toothpaste all the time. It takes a couple of days to start appreciating the taste but later it becomes addictive. It helps gums and cleans better than the regular one, in my opinion. October 21, 2013 at 8:44am Reply

    • Victoria: What brand of salty toothpaste do you buy, Maja? I’m now determined to find it too.

      Adding Eau de Rochas to my revisit list. I have a small bottle and I like it very much, but I’ve been neglecting it lately. October 21, 2013 at 8:45am Reply

      • Maja: It’s quite easy to find. I love Parodontax, the red one without fluoride. There is also Weleda salty toothpaste. It’s hard to go back once you get used to the taste 🙂 October 21, 2013 at 8:56am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you! I’ve seen it in stores, so now I know to try it next time. October 21, 2013 at 11:47am Reply

    • carole: Maja,

      I love the Rochas, too! that wonderful earthy, flinty note makes me happy. Like the smell of a rock pool of water.

      And thank you, Victoria, for explaining the salt notes used by M. Ellena. I love his scents, and I can almost taste that mineral aspect.

      I bought the most expensive sea salt, for use on salad leaves. Fleur de Cabarnet. It’s so beautiful-deep purple salt which smells and tastes so good. I wish a perfume existed that smell like this salt. October 21, 2013 at 4:08pm Reply

      • Maja: Oh, Carole, I am glad you like Eau de Rochas, I was wearing it today since it was really hot! It never, ever disappoints. 🙂
        I had the same idea about a sea salt herbs I bought in Dubrovnik, Croatia. There is a lovely lady who sells them at the market place – she harvests coarse sea salt and also handpicks mountain and mediterranean herbs and makes truly wonderful blends. I wish I could have the same perfume – rich, breezy, salty, sweet and spicy. My blend has cinnamon, laurel, sage, lavender and lemon and it is just perfect. October 21, 2013 at 5:45pm Reply

      • Victoria: I like that mineral aspect very much in Terre d’Hermes and also in Voyage d’Hermes.

        Your wine salt reminded of something else related. In Russia, there is a special kind of roasted salt made for Easter. Plain salt is mixed with the residue from kvas, a fermented malted beverage somewhat like beer. Then it’s roasted. The Easter eggs are eaten with it, and the toasty, bread-like scent of this salt is very unusual. October 22, 2013 at 9:44am Reply

  • Nicola: Oh lovely I get to mention my favourite salty perfume first! Somewhat obviously – Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel. I spent a large part of this past Summer wearing it. I am going to check it for the violet facet since I believe it was created with the Brittany coast in mind. I am definitely a salt fiend. But I also love how it can be paired with sweet notes to enhance both sensations – sea salted caramel being the most delicious (to my mind) case in point. A lovely post, thank you.
    Nicola October 21, 2013 at 9:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Sea salt caramel or salt water taffy are addictive. I’m normally not a big candy eater (apart from dark chocolate), but anything sweet and salty is hard to resist.
      I need to try Fleurs de Sel, since it’s mentioned here a lot. October 21, 2013 at 11:49am Reply

  • MinaJoon: I’ve always noticed a scent to salt, especially grey salt. I’ve used grey salt for tooth brushing for a few years now, and nothing works better for a smooth feeling overall.
    One of my favorite scents, Odalisque, smells like sea and skin. October 21, 2013 at 9:20am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Mina. I’m taking notes. I started using grey salt once I came to Belgium, because it’s very inexpensive and widely available here. It definitely has an earthy hint to it, which makes sense since grey color comes from clay residue.

      Your description of Odalisque is so pretty. It’s one of my favorites too. October 21, 2013 at 11:53am Reply

  • Leah: Oh how fun! Secretions Magnifique definitely has a salty quality to it (once you get past the blood smell) but it reminds me more of tears or sweat than it does of salt. I would have to go with Navegar by L’artisan. While it has a subtle salty quality, it always feels more pronounced because of the nautical imagery. Now you have me sniffing my arm Victoria but alas I am not finding much salt in my Bellodgia 🙂 PS grey sea salt has the most delicious mineral/moist earth smell – lucky girl, you can find some lovely ones in Brussels October 21, 2013 at 9:23am Reply

    • sol: Do you like Secretions Magnifique? I’ve tried many of the Etat scents & have difficulty finding one to wear {despite liking a few}. October 21, 2013 at 10:19am Reply

      • Leah: Hi Sol! Interesting to hear you say that – I like a lot of their scents theoretically but also have a tough time wearing them (especially Secretions). I thought I would love Jasmin et Cigarette, but I find it a bit synthetic for my taste. Putain des Palaces is interesting but I think The Afternoon of a Faun is the one I like best. That being said, I wear it few and far between. Nice to meet you 🙂 October 21, 2013 at 11:32am Reply

        • sol: Thankyou for the response & greeting, Leah. It’s off topic from the main post, I know, but just wanted to ask about Secretions & wondered whether you could wear the scent successfully. Etat’s concepts are intriguing, bold, playful, yet I’m unsure sometimes what female can wear them often, & where. October 21, 2013 at 3:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: Belgians take their food seriously, and some things that in the US tend to be the provenance of gourmet shops, here are quite common. Fleur de sel is more expensive than some other salts, but it’s still affordable and available at regular supermarkets. You can even get fleur de sel potato chips and other fleur de sel flavored snacks!

      Your comment about Bellodgia made me wish for a salty carnation. Wouldn’t it be interesting? Most carnations tend to be sweet, sometimes even sugary, but it would be so interesting to try something savory and salty. October 21, 2013 at 11:58am Reply

    • sol: Lovely suggestions, also. October 25, 2013 at 11:10am Reply

  • Aisha: It’s probably just the power of suggestion after reading this post, but the Pleasures Delight that I’m wearing seems to have a saltiness to it that I had never detected before. Strange…

    That Persian blue salt in the photo looks so lovely. I like to use Hawaiian sea salt (usually the ones flavored with dried chili) to season meats before broiling them. October 21, 2013 at 9:23am Reply

    • Victoria: My husband picked it up on one of his trips, and while it looks absolutely stunning in the jar, the crystals are too big to sprinkle on top of food. They need to be ground. Once ground, then you don’t notice any difference in color between this and other sea salts.

      I used to buy Hawaiian sea salt from Mountain Rose Herbs in large packets. They had it very reasonably priced, and I loved the taste. Your chili flavored salt sounds wonderful. I will have to try mixing something like that. October 21, 2013 at 12:01pm Reply

  • Jillie: And of course I will now have to seek out the Guerande Fleur de Sel to see if I can smell the violet! Thank you, Victoria, for teaching me about the nuances in salt – I only ever thought about actual flavoured salts before, but I suppose now that you have nudged my brain, I realise that my pink Hamalayan salt crystals do indeed smell different from my Maldon sea flakes …. It’s another dimension to appreciate! October 21, 2013 at 9:38am Reply

    • Victoria: My husband once said out of the blue that it smells like “flowers” to him. He is not a nose (although his sense of smell is pretty good) and he wasn’t even aware that fleur de sel is meant to smell like violets, so that observation was interesting. I can’t say that I notice a clear violet note, but it does smell differently from other unflavored sea salts I have. When it comes to taste the shape of its flakes makes more difference than anything else. Their crunch and the way they melt on the tongue are fascinating. Although I’m also a big fan of Maldon sea salt and we probably use it even more than fleur de sel. October 21, 2013 at 12:06pm Reply

      • Jillie: I have just ordered the Guerande Fleur de Sel! Well, I am a sucker for violets, and even if this has just the merest smidgeon, I will be happy. I am sure that your husband is developing a nose by “osmosis”. Mine surprises me all the time nowadays with his perception of notes. October 21, 2013 at 12:10pm Reply

        • Victoria: Please let me know what you think of it! Also, try sprinkling some fleur de sel on a thin square of black chocolate. Heaven!

          When we’re smelling and discussing what we’re smelling all the time, it’s not surprising that our significant others pick up some of it too. My husband can identify orange blossom, cumin and cardamom really well, and he’s even quicker to pinpoint them than I am. October 21, 2013 at 12:19pm Reply

          • Jillie: Yes, my husband has put me to shame several times recently. I will definitely try the salt on chocolate – yum! October 21, 2013 at 12:34pm Reply

            • Martyn: Lindt’s Fleur de Sel chocolate is a staple in our house. At one time you could only get it (or, I should say we could only get it) in France, so we’d bring back whole boxfuls of it.

              Others have mention caramel, but I haven’t yet seen a reference to salted caramel ice cream. I have a recipe, if anyone’s interested, one that doesn’t need an ice cream machine. It’s gorgeous! October 21, 2013 at 1:14pm Reply

              • Anne of Green Gables: Hi Martyn, salted caramel ice cream sounds amazing! Could you please share the recipe? Thanks! October 21, 2013 at 2:21pm Reply

                • Martyn: I will! It’s quite long, so it might be a day or so before I get the opportunity, but I certainly will. October 21, 2013 at 5:49pm Reply

                  • Anne of Green Gables: Thank you, Martyn. I’m looking forward to it. October 22, 2013 at 6:16am Reply

                  • Solanace: I’ll be trying it! October 23, 2013 at 4:22am Reply

                  • Martyn: OK, here’s my tried and tested recipe for Salted Caramel Ice Cream

                    ========

                    2 cups whole milk
                    1 1⁄2 cups sugar
                    1 tbs salted butter
                    3 egg yolks
                    2 tbs plain flour
                    1⁄4 tsp salt
                    1 cup thick cream
                    1 1⁄2 tsp vanilla essence
                    1 tsp Malden-type flaky sea salt

                    1 In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until it’s about to simmer. Turn off heat but leave milk on burner
                    2 In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar melts and begins to turn golden. Stir unmelted sugar grains into the caramelised sugar until completed melted. Be careful not to let it darken too much. Add the butter, stirring to combine.
                    3 Slowly add the warm milk to the caramel, stirring with a wooden spoon until the caramel dissolves into the milk. The caramel will sizzle at first, and might start to clump up into a granular mixture, but will eventually melt into the milk.
                    4 In a medium bowl, combine the egg yolks, flour and a pinch of salt, using a whisk. Gradually whisk the caramel-milk mixture from the saucepan into the egg mixture, about a quarter of a cup at a time. Whisk after each addition. When all combined, pour back from the bowl into the saucepan and heat again over low-to-medium heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This should take about 5 minutes.
                    5 At this point, I usually find some of the egg has scrambled and realise I haven’t been sufficiently careful at Step 4.
                    6 Using a clean bowl, pass the mixture through a coarse sieve into the bowl, catching the bits of scrambled egg, and allow to cool.
                    7 When cool, stir in the cream and the vanilla essence and chill, preferably overnight, in a refrigerator.
                    8 Move the bowl with the mixture to the freezer, and then, every hour or so, using a spatula, fold the mixture from the edge of the bowl towards the middle and then beat it thoroughly to break up the ice crystals that will form. Repeat this until it has a uniform ice-cream-like texture. It should take three or four goes, depending on the ambient temperature of your freezer. During the final beat, sprinkle on the flakes of Malden salt and work them through the mixture.

                    ========

                    I make two or three different ice creams and parfaits. They’re usually quite delicate citrus-y things, but there’s nothing delicate about this recipe – it’s strong on flavour, and you don’t need huge servings. October 23, 2013 at 1:25pm Reply

                    • Victoria: Just reading this recipe makes my mouth water. Thank you so much for taking time to share it with us, Martyn. I’ll try it this weekend. October 23, 2013 at 4:02pm

                    • Anne of Green Gables: Thank you very much, Martyn! I laughed at step 5! October 23, 2013 at 4:57pm

              • Victoria: Please share it with us, Martyn! I don’t have an ice cream maker, so this would be perfect. October 21, 2013 at 3:32pm Reply

  • Lucas: I find many ambers to have a salty undertone.
    For example Jovoy Ambre Premier or Hermes L’Ambre des Merveilles. I don’t mention that have an intentional salty accord like Profumum Roma Acqua di Sale or Laboratorio Olfattivo Salina.

    On the other hand I do not feel the saltiness in Parfum d’Empire Azemour les Orangers October 21, 2013 at 9:54am Reply

    • Victoria: I also find that about some ambers, especially L’Ambre des Merveilles. I very much like that flanker to Eau des Merveilles. October 21, 2013 at 12:07pm Reply

  • rosarita: This is so interesting! I am curious about different salts and there’s quite a collection at a local shop but it’s very pricey. I like the salty note in Eau des Merveilles and L di Lolita Lempicka – in L, it’s salty caramel and licorice. October 21, 2013 at 9:59am Reply

    • Victoria: In the US, I usually bought them online, because in many stores the prices were outrageous. I just checked at Mountain Rose Herbs and I see that they have Black Lava Salt and Himalayan Pink Salt that I like very much (1lb is $8, but smaller quantities are available too). Since I mostly use them as finishing salts, 1lb would last me for ages.

      Lolita Lempicka’s L is also on my salty list, and even better, it’s sweet and salty. An excellent, underrated perfume. October 21, 2013 at 12:12pm Reply

      • rosarita: It never occurred to me to look for salt online, thanks, V! October 21, 2013 at 7:58pm Reply

        • Victoria: When I lived in a small university town, I was forced to explore online and as a result discovered some interesting sites. Mountain Rose Herbs is still one of my favorites for herbs, spices and salts. October 22, 2013 at 9:35am Reply

  • Nataliya: I have a sample of Pioggia salata by Il Profumo, to me it is one direction salty perfume. Another which comes to my mind is Sea Rem by Reminescence. The salty notes in both perfumes are marine and fresh. October 21, 2013 at 10:14am Reply

    • Victoria: Will definitely give them a try, since I’m not familiar with these two perfumes. October 21, 2013 at 12:13pm Reply

  • george: This salt discussion is very interesting. October 21, 2013 at 10:17am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m glad to hear it! It was fun to collect notes as I was thinking about it. October 21, 2013 at 12:13pm Reply

  • Erin T: “Salt” is one of my favorite notes. I would be inclined to say that, like Ellena, I prefer salty perfumes to sweet ones – I feel about perfume much as I feel about snacks! – except what I really prefer is probably salty AND sweet.

    My beloved salty perfumes are S-perfumes S-ex, L’Artisan Côte d’Amour, Dior Dune (not *really* salty, but evokes something like it), Hermessence Vanille Galante and Slumberhouse Pear + Olive. For vetivers, I do like Heeley Sel Marin (and along the same lines, the much mourned Diptyque Virgilio) as well as Heeley’s unjustly discontinued Cedre Blanc. Somehow I never quite got into Eau de Merveilles, but I do like the Ambre and the Elixir. October 21, 2013 at 10:24am Reply

    • Erin T: Oh blast, and of course, Gigi reminded me, one of my all-time faves, PdN Odalisque, is very salty. October 21, 2013 at 1:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: I thought that it was curious that Ellena preferred to go the full-on gourmand route for Elixir des Merveilles, but that at the same time the salty crunch prevents it from becoming cloying.

      Funny that you mention Vanille Galante, because I wanted to include it as well, but the article was already on the long side. Salty vanilla and lilies is such an ingenious combination. I only wish it lasted on me, but it probably wouldn’t be as weightless then. October 21, 2013 at 3:13pm Reply

  • K: Womanity! October 21, 2013 at 10:29am Reply

    • Keith: I was *just* thinking of of the caviar brine note in Womanity! Kind of a coincidence that I wore it this morning. 🙂 October 21, 2013 at 10:40am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree. Womanity with that briny note seems salty to me. October 21, 2013 at 3:14pm Reply

  • iodine: You got me burying my nose in a pot of Guérande salt…. no violets, I’m afraid! Nothing at all, to be honest 🙁
    I can’t really tell what I’d define “salty” or “savoury” in perfumes, but for me Azemour, Mistral Patchouli and Legno di Nave by AbdesSalaam Attar Profumo share this sensation. Also certain leather fragrances- Bandit or Etro Gomma for example- smell “savoury” to me. October 21, 2013 at 11:29am Reply

    • Jillie: Can’t help asking, Iodine, but do you like iodised salt??!! And seaweed sushi??!! October 21, 2013 at 12:12pm Reply

      • iodine: O course I do! 😉
        Too bad iodine itself is quite a bit toxic, otherwise I’d directly snff its gorgeous purple fumes!!! October 21, 2013 at 12:46pm Reply

        • Victoria: Since I grew up in Ukraine, after Chernobyl accident we were forced to drink iodine spiked milk. I mentioned it once before in another thread and Austenfan explained why it was needed, but I don’t remember the rationale exactly (something about helping body get rid of ionizing radiation). I should hate the smell of iodine, but instead I really like it and find it comforting. October 21, 2013 at 3:31pm Reply

          • Austenfan: Iodine is only absorbed by your thyroid gland. After nuclear disasters there is a lot of radioactive iodine in the air and water. If you supply people at risk of ingesting radio-active iodine with “safe” iodine they will saturate their thyroid gland with it, and it will no longer be able to absorb the dangerous radioactive iodine. Very simple and effective. October 21, 2013 at 3:37pm Reply

            • Victoria: Thank you for explaining. I still remember the taste of iodine milk. October 21, 2013 at 3:48pm Reply

              • Martyn: I visited India many years ago, and stopped over for a few days on the inward and outward journeys in Bombay. There was an overriding smell above the smoke and the spices, and when I asked I was told it was iodine, which was put into the water supply to disinfect it and which consequently became all-pervasive. It was surprisingly attractive. November 5, 2013 at 3:46pm Reply

                • Victoria: Martyn, that smell you’re describing–yes, I now remember it. I recall being struck by the smell of smoke too! Smoke and iodine. And moth balls. 🙂 November 6, 2013 at 9:07am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t smell any violets in my pot of fleur de sel either. I notice a very subtle scent, which is very different from my other salts, and it’s hard to describe. A bit fresh and woody (like soft bark).

      Bandit is salty to me too as was Futur (now discontinued, I believe). October 21, 2013 at 3:23pm Reply

  • Solanace: Some Lutens feel salty to me, like Arabie and Ambre Sultan. (By the way, I’m surprised by my appreciation of Arabie. It just feels great, and I want to wear it all the time.) The blue salt picture is amazing, V! I don’have access to many different salts, but I realized that If I get my salt from the natural food aisle, then it’s not refined and does not smell chemical, but has a nice, more subtle aroma instead. October 21, 2013 at 11:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, A! As I was explaining to Aisha, this Persian blue salt is mostly for looks. It looks great in a transparent grinder. I also mixed it with black and pink peppercorns to keep on the table for grinding. I don’t know if it tastes any different, but it’s so much fun to use it.

      Unrefined sea salt is my favorite for all cooking. I don’t use much iodized salt, because it has a slightly bitter taste and also because for some preparations (like pickles) iodized salt doesn’t work at all. October 21, 2013 at 3:27pm Reply

  • Gigi: Thank you so much for writing about this! A question that has had me sniffing boxes of salt, and pots of boiling salt water.

    Eau des Merveilles was the first perfume I’d tried that hit me with saltiness and it gave me the sensation of swimming in the ocean, and the salt water gets in your nose giving that ‘tingle’ at the back of the throat. Since that first experience, I’ve gotten entranced by the sensation in perfumes. Besides the Merveilles, I get a lot of it in Womanity and in Odalisque as well.

    Thank you so much for the lovely post, I’m so excited to hear about other examples! October 21, 2013 at 12:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m very glad that you liked it, Gigi! Your question via email inspired me to finish the post, which has been sitting in drafts for a while. So, thank you in turn.

      Eau des Merveilles was also my first experience with truly salty notes. I had a sensation as if I just took a dip in the sea, and it was so unexpected and exciting. It’s still one of my top favorites. October 21, 2013 at 3:29pm Reply

  • jane: I too love the salty scents. My favourites are Miller Harris Fleur de Sel with its floral heart, and Heeley’s very beachy Sel Marin. I also get salt in his Cuir Pleine Fleur, one of my most worn and loved perfumes. October 21, 2013 at 1:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Jane. I added Cuir Pleine Fleur to my list as well. October 21, 2013 at 3:32pm Reply

  • Domestic Goblin: Does anyone know if Jean-Claude Ellena’s Le Parfum is available in English? October 21, 2013 at 1:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, it’s called Perfume The Alchemy of Scent. October 21, 2013 at 3:33pm Reply

      • Domestic Goblin: Thank you! October 21, 2013 at 3:58pm Reply

  • Nancysg: I find a significant smell of salt water in Mona d’Orio’s Absolue. The tang and dryness come together and speak of ocean water. No calm beach – rather breakers crashing. October 21, 2013 at 1:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: What an evocative description, Nancy! October 21, 2013 at 3:34pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I have little to add to the conversation other than that I loved the post. However;
    I have been wondering which of my scents read as salty to me:
    Goutal’s Vétiver for sure, more so than the Guerlain or Encre Noir. Odalisque, and Virgilio.
    I have a box of Fleur de Sel sitting in my bookcase. I just think it looks so pretty in it’s colourful box. October 21, 2013 at 2:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much!
      Have you been to Guerande when you traveled in Brittany? October 21, 2013 at 3:39pm Reply

      • Austenfan: No, I haven’t, and now I want to. I’ve so far only explored the North coast of Brittany as far as Lannion. Still plenty more coastline to investigate! October 21, 2013 at 3:43pm Reply

        • Victoria: I was looking at photos of Guerande as I was preparing this post, and the town itself looks beautiful. I would have loved to visit the salt ponds and see how the crystals are gathered. October 21, 2013 at 3:50pm Reply

          • Solanace: This reminded me of when I could see the salt ponds in Trappani, Sicily, from my room in Erice, a cute tiny town up in he hills. It was beautiful how the different depths of the ponds would affect their colors, which span from blue to rose When the sun was just up. I ‘ve seen pictures of women gathering Fleur de Sel in Guérande, this – and Britanny in general – must be cool. October 22, 2013 at 4:39am Reply

            • Victoria: Sounds so beautiful! Salt in Trapani is also very famous. I remember reading that the Italian food authority, the late Marcella Hazan, preferred Trapani salt to any other. October 22, 2013 at 9:32am Reply

              • Solanace: Everything there was delicious. 🙂 October 23, 2013 at 3:53am Reply

            • Austenfan: Brittany is a wonderful place to pass a holiday, but then so is Sicily I suppose. Never been there, but it is high on my “to visit” list. October 24, 2013 at 5:01am Reply

  • Wesley Hall Parker: I was going to mention Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel – but Nicola beat me to it 🙂

    I love salt-laced scents. Provides a nice counterpoint to sweetness. A few ideas:

    – Lostmarch’h Ael-Mat – this is “Jasmine by the Sea” done quite nicely. Has some interesting juniper/chamomile notes. Always reminds me of the northern California coast.

    – Anything in the Eau de Merveilles line, obviously. I think the original is the most salty, especially when worn in late summer.

    – Le Labo’s Neroli 36. To me – this fragrance is not so much about Neroli, but about CALONE. It has that salty melon Calone thing happening – which reminds me, a bit abstractly, of the salty/sweet dance in that wonderful Italian summer dish – prosciutto e melone.

    – Heeley Sel Marine (again, sort of obvious) does the same salty calone / melon thing.

    – L de Lolita Lempika – to me, this is an over-the-top sweet foodie, but it has a salty edge to it, like a salted vanilla caramel. Perhaps it’s just the slight bitterness of orange in the opening, contrasted with the sweetness and spices, that conspires to create that “salted sugar” effect. October 21, 2013 at 2:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love your salty list. 🙂 It reminds me that I need to revisit Neroli 36 again. Finally, after all of this talk of L de Lolita Lempicka, I pulled out my bottle and put some on. Makes me wonder why I don’t wear it as often, because this is such a beautiful perfume. October 21, 2013 at 3:41pm Reply

    • Nicola: Wesley I’m so happy there’s another fan of Fleurs de Sel here!
      Nicola October 23, 2013 at 9:26am Reply

  • Annikky: I don’t have much new to add, either, but I’ve been kind of obsessed with salty notes lately. I absolutely love Sel de Vetiver and I think another TDC scent, Tokyo Bloom has a salty nuance as well, as does Bois d’Iris by VC&A. This got me thinking that in addition to vetiver, a very cold iris (mostly meaning Iris Silver Mist) almost reads salty, or kind of mineral to me.

    Fleur de Sel is another one I enjoy, but ultimately, all of them (with the possible exception of Sel de Vetiver) have too little salt! Despite all my love for cardamom, I kept wishing that my new favourite, Epice Marine had more of the sea salt and brine to balance the spices. October 21, 2013 at 4:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: I missed Tokyo Bloom, but of course, I’m now curious. How would you describe it? October 22, 2013 at 9:40am Reply

  • Eva S: Isn’t there a saltiness in my favorite lily- FM Lys Mediterrane?
    I love salty notes in perfumes, and chocolate and salt-mm! October 21, 2013 at 5:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: I completely forgot about it! One of my favorite salty florals too! I think that it’s also deliberate in making the lily salty, because the idea was to capture the scent of sea breeze and Casablanca lilies. October 22, 2013 at 9:39am Reply

  • Charlotte: I love salty and mineral notes!
    I have Il profvmos Pioggia salata and must say its the saltiest Ive ever smelled! Supposed to include six different kind of salts. I swear you can feel it on your skin!
    I bought it at first as a kind of stand in for the ridicilously expensive Aqua di sale, but now it seems far apart. October 22, 2013 at 3:39am Reply

    • Victoria: I completely missed that line in my explorations, but I’ll try Pioggia Salata when I have a chance. Your description is too tempting. October 22, 2013 at 9:33am Reply

  • Akimon: Dior Dune, especially the original version, has a salty, dusty feel that is very unique. October 22, 2013 at 10:51am Reply

  • Dao: What an inspiring post. When cooking I never think of salt as a possible scent but only consider it as a flavor.. Your comment on bamboo also takes me away as bamboo has an infinite range of evokation depending on its variety and how it is prepared.. moist or dry, fresh or canned and slightly fermented… I’m taking note of all this as future inspiration of recipe where salt could be a flavor AND a scent… !:) October 22, 2013 at 12:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: I would love to hear what you end up creating!
      By the way, I tried bamboo rice recently, and the flavor was very interesting–sweet, milky, nutty, while the color–jade green. October 22, 2013 at 3:07pm Reply

      • Dao: For sure , I’ll post you a link to the recipe coming..!:) October 23, 2013 at 1:45pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: What a timely post, dear Victoria! I arrived at the isle of Fuerteventura yesterday (a short escape from German autumn ;)) . I enjoyed the beautiful salty smell of the sea while swimming today. It’s so relaxing and gives me so much energy! Of course I took a decant of Sel de Vetiver with me, and also a bottle of Lumiere Blanche. I think SdV is my favourite salty scent but I also love the woody saltiness of Bois d’Iris.

    I often use fleur de sel for cooking as it is really widely available here in Europe. It definitely has a distinctive smell to it! A friend gave me a box of orange salt flakes from Mallorca a few weeks ago. It’s delicious sprinkled over fried Mediterranean vegetables!
    I love salted chocolate too. My favourite is the salted milk chocolate (with a quite high cocoa content, though, I think over 50%) from Michel Cluizel. October 22, 2013 at 1:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: It must have been a perfect escape, since the weather over the past couple of weeks was oppressive and right now it’s improving (for the time being). I like all of your salty choices, and I agree on Bois d’Iris. It has a mineral, earthy touch, which further heightens the salty illusion for me.

      I don’t think I’ve tried salted milk chocolate, but it sounds wonderful. I can just imagine the creamy chocolate contrasted with the crunch of salt. Hmm, I need to find some chocolate asap, as this discussion on salt and chocolate is making me crave some. 🙂 October 22, 2013 at 3:52pm Reply

      • rainboweyes: Canary Islands are the only place in Europe where the weather is perfect most time of the year and they can be reached within a reasonable time. And there are no big time zone changes required (very important when you have kids!).
        Actually, Fuerteventura is the least impressive of the islands but the beaches are just phantastic.
        I forgot to mention another two salty favourites of mine – Aire by Profumi del Pantelleria (salt with a lovely kiwi fruit and tea note) and Lorenzo Villoresi Aura Maris. I also need to test Vanille Marine by M. Micallef – it sounds lovely too! October 23, 2013 at 5:33am Reply

        • Victoria: I’ve never visited Canary Islands, but I have a friend who lives there and occasionally she sends me recipes for some local dishes. I’m sure I will visit one of these days.

          Please let me know what you think of Vanille Marine. I like the first Vanille Micallef did, but I lost track of the subsequent launches. October 23, 2013 at 7:29am Reply

  • Jenny: Frederic Malle Lys Mediterranee by Edouard Flechier. The first perfume where I identified salt, and my love for it. Thanks for the list…..it’s given me a focus to explore. October 22, 2013 at 10:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s such a beauty. I think that some other perfumes in Frederic Malle’s collection may overshadow Lys Mediterranee, but if one wants an elegant and not overly heady floral, it’s a great choice. October 23, 2013 at 7:17am Reply

  • Rowanhill: Lutens’s Vetiver Oriental immediately came to mind as well as Odalisque, which definitely has that salty skin feel to it. October 23, 2013 at 3:06am Reply

    • Victoria: I also just recalled that Weekend a Deauville by Parfums de Nicolai smells like a salty lily of the valley to me. I don’t wear it that often for some reason. October 23, 2013 at 7:18am Reply

      • Nicola: Thanks for reminding me of Weekend a Deauville! It does have that briny sensation evocative of a place by the sea. I love it but like you don’t wear it often. October 23, 2013 at 9:29am Reply

        • Victoria: I think that it falls into a category of versatile, “perfume on days when you don’t feel like wearing perfume” scents. October 23, 2013 at 3:15pm Reply

  • MissKumi: I love this topic! Salt with a sweet decadence gets me every time. Right now I’m loving Hilde Soliani’s Fraaagola Saalaaata. It’s like salted strawberries for the skin…
    And L de Lempicka? Always a staple in my wardrobe. October 23, 2013 at 11:54am Reply

    • Victoria: Looks like we have many fans of sweet and salty (and of L de Lolita Lempicka) here. 🙂 October 23, 2013 at 3:54pm Reply

  • Rachel: Love this topic! My list of salty perfumes includes Voyage d’Hermes, Marc Jacobs Bang, Serge Lutens Bas de Soie and Annick Goutal Vetiver. October 23, 2013 at 5:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: Great list! I love that you mention Bang. I wear it myself too, but it smells even better on my husband. October 24, 2013 at 9:09am Reply

    • Alex: Annick Goutal Vetiver is hard to find but I love it October 24, 2013 at 11:34pm Reply

  • Alessandra: Miller Harris’ Fleurs de Sel. Wonderful fragrance. October 27, 2013 at 1:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve revisited it thanks to this thread, and I agree, it’s fantastic. October 28, 2013 at 7:27am Reply

  • jb: my favorite salty amber is hermes l’ambre des merveilles, the fragrance enveloping me makes my mouth water 😀 February 5, 2014 at 9:22am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s another beautiful take on Eau des Merveilles. I find it so addictive. February 9, 2014 at 11:29am Reply

What do you think?

From the Archives

Latest Comments

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2016 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved.