Herb_Lady

Super Member
Apr 13, 2006
After returning from the beach and washing all of our towels in hot water (and drying them), they still have that specific smell of the ocean - the Atlantic Ocean in the Northeastern USA.

So does anyone know exactly what isolated fragrance chemical is clinging to the fabric, that still smells like the ocean? It's not sunscreen or perspiration, but true ocean water after you've dried your skin with the towel. I've always noticed this, but could never figure it out. Some mineral? Fish or seaweed? Other?

Thanks. I know this is a bit offbeat, but I love the real smell of the sea, and am not too fond of artificial aquatic fragrances.
 
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tinker424

Basenotes Dependent
Apr 24, 2006
I live in the Ocean State :rolleyes: and to me it is the smell of the iodine from the sea plants that tends to stick to everything. I know nothing about Marine Biology, that is only my humble "average jane" coclusion.
 

helg

Basenotes Junkie
Sep 18, 2005
Iodine and salt are my guesses too. ;-)

The overall smell of course is more complex, since you are also smelling the beach and the people and the cool air and everything, but since you asked on what clings to the towels...(and it's the same on skin, I might add)
 

Artisankey

Basenotes Dependent
Aug 12, 2004
Good question! I live near the ocean and on some days you can just smell this wonderful "briney" smell coming off the cool breeze.

When I was in Greece I noticed the Atlantic Ocean smells different than the Aegean Sea. The Atlantic really does smell salty and sea weedy- maybe that whiff of iodine? When I was in Greece the water didn't have that odor at all- it was a "clean" salt water smell- not briney at all. I wondered if it has something to do with different variations of sea weed?

I know my mussings probably don't help you very much. In the end I don't really know what that ocean smell is. I like it a whole lot though too!
 

Herb_Lady

Super Member
Apr 13, 2006
Artisankey said:
Good question! I live near the ocean and on some days you can just smell this wonderful "briney" smell coming off the cool breeze.

When I was in Greece I noticed the Atlantic Ocean smells different than the Aegean Sea. The Atlantic really does smell salty and sea weedy- maybe that whiff of iodine? When I was in Greece the water didn't have that odor at all- it was a "clean" salt water smell- not briney at all. I wondered if it has something to do with different variations of sea weed?

I know my mussings probably don't help you very much. In the end I don't really know what that ocean smell is. I like it a whole lot though too!


Exactly! The ocean here really does smell of brine, salt, seaweed (especially eelgrass right now) and marine life. At low tide, I can smell the ocean from a few miles away, although then it predominately smells of seaweed, mucky sand, and perhaps stranded shellfish (oysters, clams and mussels mostly). Maybe it is iodine that I'm smelling, mixed with salt. The ocean off Bermuda or the Caribbean smells sweeter, lighter and cleaner to me - not so briney.

So, with that in mind - what commercial fragrances have iodine and that briney salt smell? Anyone know?
 

Artisankey

Basenotes Dependent
Aug 12, 2004
Demeter's Salt Air; Hawaiian Surf (some say it's the same fragrance re-packaged.) I have the Salt Air and it does have a bit of what we're talking about. Also CPS Aqua Moto. Those are really the only two that come *somewhat* close.

IMHO a "real" sea-air fragrance has yet to be captured perfectly.
 

Herb_Lady

Super Member
Apr 13, 2006
Artisankey said:
Demeter's Salt Air; Hawaiian Surf (some say it's the same fragrance re-packaged.) I have the Salt Air and it does have a bit of what we're talking about. Also CPS Aqua Moto. Those are really the only two that come *somewhat* close.

IMHO a "real" sea-air fragrance has yet to be captured perfectly.


zztopp said:
Also try Bulgari's Aqua and Creeds Erolfa


Thank you for these suggestions! I'm always amazed to see how many perfumes are out there evoking the very familiar everyday fragrances I'm trying to recreate!
 

maisonstinky

Basenotes Dependent
Aug 23, 2005
Sandflowers ---------------> Montale

Mare ----------------------> Creative Universe

These two might peek your interest too :)

PM me on these.
 

Tovah

Basenotes Dependent
Oct 10, 2005
One fragrance that really brings the ocean to my mind is Calypso Marine. It truly has the "feel", if not the exact components, of Laguna Beach at sunset in the early spring.

I think the smell depends upon the location of the ocean and the components in that particular body of water, like Limestone, iron compounds, copper, algae, high dissolved mineral content, etc.

Here's some trivia:

Elemental composition of ocean water (by mass):

Oxygen 85.7 Sulfur 0.0885
Hydrogen 10.8 Calcium 0.04
Chlorine 1.9 Potassium 0.0380
Sodium 1.05 Bromine 0.0065
Magnesium 0.1350 Carbon 0.0026

Calypso Marine Notes:
bergamot, raspberry, bamboo leaves, nutmeg, patchouli leaves, lotus flower, driftwood accord, sandalwood, musk, white amber

Il Profumo Nymphea is very oceany to me, as well:
Nymphea notes:
bamboo, white peach, sweet orange, white water lily, lothus flowers, water jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, white rose, white fig, honey

And (this is very subjective, of course), Nica is very oceany to me:
Nica notes:
blueberry, grape, tangerine, violet, freesia, cardamom, cedar wood, sandalwood, musk

But the Crème de la Crème of ocean fragrances to me is Les Parfums de Rosine Ecume de Rose.
Ecume de Rose notes: blackcurrant leaves, waterlilies, dune roses, strawflowers, St. John's Wort, vetiver, amber, and white musk.
 

Ensoleille

New member
Aug 8, 2006
I grew up next to the Pacific Ocean, and it also had a sea weed, salt, and a slight petroleum smell, too.

Now I live close to the Gulf of Mexico and it has a much higher concentration of salt smell, with more animal organic smells (I am sure because there are shrimp and crab beds/farming etc., so close to shore).

As far as fragrances that remind me of the ocean, I like Vivara by Emilio Pucci.
For some reason, almost anything with a strong vetiver note also reminds me of the ocean.
 

odysseusm

Basenotes Dependent
Jan 12, 2007
Ayala Moriel's L'Ecume des Jours has a marine plant extract (I think) that gives a haunting, briny kind of tang. I really like that scent, it is a work of art.
 

Maz24

Basenotes Junkie
Jan 15, 2007
Also try Bulgari's Aqua and Creeds Erolfa

I'm with you on that. Those are my true two favorite aquatics. I don't really care for Bulgari Aqua Marine as much even though I have a bottle of it.
 

LedByMyNose

Basenotes Junkie
Jul 17, 2008
I grew up right next to the Pacific and the sea there smells salty, briny, cold, fresh. Except at low tide, which I have come to appreciate but that still seems to evoke 'farts' to vistors. ;) Best sea air frag I have experienced is Profumum Acqua di Sale (salt water). Marine frags in my experience are very, very difficult to get right.
 

Strollyourlobster

Basenotes Dependent
Oct 21, 2006
Herb_Lady, I love what your question does to my mind. It's pretty different than the usual questions about aquatics. A couple things. One is that the actual smell of the ocean is not always that pleasant, esp. at the beach. It often smells like piles of rotting stuff. Out on the water, it's quite different, but so subtle that it's hard to describe. The second is that the ocean is such a huge force that it's hard to imagine taking away a strictly olfactory impression. The ocean is so active, vast, powerful, and quick to remind you that it's in charge. So anything that seems tame or narrowly pleasant fails to evoke the ocean for me. I've sort of given up the ocean as something to be carried around as a fragrance. But I do love it, I dream about it.
The closest thing I know to the actual ocean in a fragrance is Laura Tonatto's Oltre, and I decided it was too stark and harsh to actually wear. But I do wish I hadn't sold it, actually. I may have to get another bottle.
Great thread, thanks.
 
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DebraJean

Super Member
Aug 23, 2008
Fun read for those of us who've never smelled saltwater. Your comments are pretty evocative.

no!? you really havent?

my grandparents bathroom is the best sea smell. a million baths for seawater soaked grandchildern mixed with the southern cali soft water & a strange bottle of perfume honeysuckel scent, I think, among other things, plastic bath toys from the 60s, clean towlels, the wall paper wet, the garden air coming in the window, someday i'll bottel it just for you.

but in anycase every body of water smells different. the are all so interesting. i like the smell of the blackberrys vine fresh & rotting berries, river water, the mud, the green, the wet. so portland!
 

Quarry

Doing the BN salute
Basenotes Plus
Aug 9, 2005
plastic bath toys from the 60s
Rush! Instantly shot me back in time, Soakies--Popeye and a half dozen others plastic characters. Mom and Dad threw away nothing--ever. I sent the Soakies out to auction just seven years ago and hadn't thought about them until now.

In the upper Midwest, you took the kids swimming in one of our many fresh water lakes in order not to have to give them a bath. This was especially helpful to families with lots of kids. You still came home with a beachy smell, but no brine.
 

30 Roses

Basenotes Institution
Oct 8, 2007
Hampton Sun Privet Bloom smells of beach/beach grasses without the typical ocean /aquatic noes that are so overused.
 

DebraJean

Super Member
Aug 23, 2008
Rush! Instantly shot me back in time, Soakies--Popeye and a half dozen others plastic characters. Mom and Dad threw away nothing--ever. I sent the Soakies out to auction just seven years ago and hadn't thought about them until now.

In the upper Midwest, you took the kids swimming in one of our many fresh water lakes in order not to have to give them a bath. This was especially helpful to families with lots of kids. You still came home with a beachy smell, but no brine.

mmmm thats sounds good. kids smell so compelling & mixed with freshwater, not the ick water of today either, clean water, I want to smell it all the time.

http://cgi.ebay.com/1976-Donald-Duc...3388435QQcmdZViewItem?_trksid=p3286.m20.l1116
that guy right? oh man i love that plastic smell. my grandparents are the same way, they don't toss away anything. i know what every room in that house, the garden, & the garage smells like. I would love to recreate it like that Perfume the movie boxed set.
 

Tovah

Basenotes Dependent
Oct 10, 2005
Two amazing scents: i Profumi di Firenze Brezza di Mare and Antonia's Flowers Sogni del Mare!!:)
 

Olfacta

Super Member
Feb 20, 2008
Different seas smell different; the Pacific (California coast) smells like kelp, a kind of seaweed that forms huge beds near the shore, and often washes up on it -- fishy, iodine and brine.
 

alba

Basenotes Junkie
Jan 27, 2008
The Mediterranean smells of salt, of course, but also of sun tanned skins (a bit of sweat, also salty), and perhaps some suntan lotion. Add the flair of a paella and you get the picture.Now, would I like to smell like that? No, I don't think so.
 

Astaroth

Basenotes Dependent
May 24, 2008
I grew up right next to the Pacific and the sea there smells salty, briny, cold, fresh. Except at low tide, which I have come to appreciate but that still seems to evoke 'farts' to vistors. ;) Best sea air frag I have experienced is Profumum Acqua di Sale (salt water). Marine frags in my experience are very, very difficult to get right.
I have a couple of posts in other threads about this topic here and here, and part of this post. I agree that Profumum Acqua di Sale is the best there is, but I will also add up near the top of my list the new oceanic scent Hyle by Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561. I tried some at The Scent Bar here in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, and it is about 99% as good as Acqua di Sale ... at half the cost. If it had been available in the United States at the time I bought my Acqua di Sale, I might have opted for it instead and saved the extra $120 for other smellies. ;)
 
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LedByMyNose

Basenotes Junkie
Jul 17, 2008
Thanks Astaroth - I have been pondering whether or not to get Hyle in my next Luckyscent sample order, and you've just confirmed that I will. I hope it's as good as you say!
 

On Dit

New member
May 1, 2008
I agree that Profumum Acqua di Sale comes closest to the smell of the Northeast seacoast. A big part of this is its myrtle note, pretty close to the smell of the bayberries, Myrica pensylvanica, that grow along the shore in most parts of New England. Bayberries are tolerant of salt in the soil and have a salt note themselves that lies underneath a penetrating, spicy, herbal smell, somewhat like lavender but less floral. The blue-gray berries have been used for hundreds of years in New England to make scented candles. (It takes bushels; after one stab at doing it myself I'll gladly pay any price to buy them ready made as long as they are the real thing and not synthetically scented,)

For less aggressive scents than Acqua di Sale, I think Lostmarc'h Aod is pretty good, too, with a salty rose note that's reminiscent of the rosa rugosa that grow alongside the bayberries. And then there's Antonia's Flowers Tiempe Passate for a less wild, more cultivated seaside garden-- perennials with a seaweed mulch.

However, for salt water and just salt water without the smell of aromatic seaside plants, my pick is Hermes Eau des Merveilles. For me, this is as close as it gets to the smell of saltwater drying on my skin after swimming in the ocean.
 

Astaroth

Basenotes Dependent
May 24, 2008
Thanks Astaroth - I have been pondering whether or not to get Hyle in my next Luckyscent sample order, and you've just confirmed that I will. I hope it's as good as you say!
I haven't tried Hyle and Acqua di Sale side-by-side, but I would order samples of both and see which one you like most. Acqua di Sale is twice as expensive, but it also has tremendous longevity.
 

wggmn3

Basenotes Member
May 20, 2010
No immediate comment, just love the subject, love the ocean & the smells of the ocean...must read more when I have more time...commenting in order to keep the thread...I should / will / must leave JFK's quote on this subject although it has little to do w/ aromas...
 

wggmn3

Basenotes Member
May 20, 2010
Here's the quote:
I really don't know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it is because in addition to the fact that the sea changes and the light changes, and ships change, it is because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. (We also have the same percentage of water in our bodies as there is between the sea and the land.) We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it we are going back from whence we came.
 

Siifter

Basenotes Dependent
Sep 9, 2010
That reminds of a Seinfeld episode where Kramer is trying to launch a fragrance that smells like the beach through Calvin Klein:

KRAMER: Go ahead smell, smell.
STEVE: Yeah, so?
KRAMER: Do you recognize it? ... The beach.
STEVE: What are you talking about?
KRAMER: Oh, I'm talking about the beach.
STEVE: What about it?
KRAMER: You know the way you smell when you first come home from the beach?
Well, I want to make a cologne that captures the essence of that smell. Oh yeah.
STEVE: That is the dumbest idea I have ever heard.
KRAMER: Oh, wait, Did you here what I just said?
STEVE: Do you think people are going to pay $80 a bottle to smell like dead
fish and sea weed? That's why people take showers when the come
home from the beach. It's an objectionable offensive odour.

There you go. An objectionable offensive odour. Thats the ocean! lol
 

N_Tesla

Basenotes Dependent
Apr 29, 2008
Decomposition of plant material and microbes, I agree, are part of the ocean smell complex. Think of the ocean as a huge pot of soup with minerals (including salts), iodine, microbes, other sea animals and their bi-products, and plants in various stages of life and decay. The question is; does one really want to smell like this? :)



Herb_Lady, I love what your question does to my mind. It's pretty different than the usual questions about aquatics. A couple things. One is that the actual smell of the ocean is not always that pleasant, esp. at the beach. It often smells like piles of rotting stuff. Out on the water, it's quite different, but so subtle that it's hard to describe. The second is that the ocean is such a huge force that it's hard to imagine taking away a strictly olfactory impression. The ocean is so active, vast, powerful, and quick to remind you that it's in charge. So anything that seems tame or narrowly pleasant fails to evoke the ocean for me. I've sort of given up the ocean as something to be carried around as a fragrance. But I do love it, I dream about it.
The closest thing I know to the actual ocean in a fragrance is Laura Tonatto's Oltre, and I decided it was too stark and harsh to actually wear. But I do wish I hadn't sold it, actually. I may have to get another bottle.
Great thread, thanks.
 

Sugandaraja

Moderator
Basenotes Plus
Aug 28, 2007
Different seas definitely have different smells - I can't help but notice the difference between home and Miami, for example, where the seawater is very light and mild-smelling, none of that not-nice but kind of nice salty-soupy-planty smell we get here. Also find European Atlantic to have a slightly different smell from here, though more similar than that of down south.

Can't say I've smelled a realistic rendition of any ocean I've come across.
 

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