If we say “amber” to you, what do you think of? The colour, resin, traffic lights, Jurassic Park? Amber oil is actually one of our favourite fixatives when we’re blending scents, and it makes a great base note. But what actually is amber, and what does it smell like?

What is amber?

Pure amber is a solidified tree resin that has a gorgeously rich colour, and makes the most beautiful jewellery. It’s not unusual to find ancient remains of animal and plant life in the hardened stones (Jurassic Park is accurate up to this point), left over from its time as sticky sap. Fossilised amber doesn’t actually have a strong scent (unless it’s burned), so most amber oils are recreations of a resinous scent.

Amber is a blended oil

Amber oil doesn’t normally come from tree sap, but rather it’s a blend of different ingredients that mimic the rich scent of the resin. Its blend is pretty exotic in itself, made from labdanum, benzoin and vanilla.

Labdanum is a resin that comes from the Rose of Sharon. Benzoin is a balsamic resin, known for its sweet fragrance and excellent fixative properties. Finally, there’s the rich warmth of vanilla (although sometimes, similar tonka bean takes the place of sweet vanilla).

There are light, medium and dark amber fragrances

These main ingredients are blended in different proportions to give varying results. The darker the amber oil, the greater the depth, and it gets a muskier, headier fragrance. As the name suggests, our Amber Noir candle is at the darker end of the amber fragrance spectrum, giving it extra-rich notes. This is one of our most sophisticated and full-bodied scents, thanks to that splash of earthy amber.

Amber’s role in perfumery

With its rich woodiness, amber lends itself perfectly to base notes. When it’s brought to the fore, it creates a dry, sexy, rather masculine-scented perfume that’s a bit spicier than many traditional feminine fragrances. For example, AllSaints use it as the key ingredient in their unisex Sunset Riot eau de parfum, and it’s a popular ingredient in men’s aftershave.

Why we love amber in scented candles

See above! We, too, love amber for its musky, grown-up scent and hint of the night. It makes an excellent base note if you’re after a spicy or woody feel, providing a strong anchor for zingy top notes. Because of its blend of labdanum, vanilla and benzoin, it has a lot to bring to the fragrance table – you’re basically getting a lot of different tones there from just one oil.

The benefits of amber

Amber has been used in medicine for centuries (the Ancient Greeks used it), and it’s still used in some traditional medicines today. The oil is said to complement treatment for anxiety and depression – we can’t vouch for that as we’re not medics or therapists; however, its warm, honey-like fragrance can feel wonderfully comforting and all-enveloping, lifting the spirits. Its resinous scent is also good for cutting through other smells, making it a great air freshener for the home. Try our Amber Noir reed diffuser for a gorgeous ambient scent.

If you’d like to know more about amber or any of our other ingredients, please get in touch with us at Dexter & Mason.