Perfumed Alphabet: I is for Ionone

A bitter violet

Cast shadows over mint leaves

It helps clear the throat

Of the isomers that form the compound credited with enabling the creation of violet perfumes without the expense of the flower as raw material, ionone alpha is described as the most “violet-like” of all the ionones. I’m still getting used to smelling it—it’s purple and green and bitter and mentholated to my nose, getting warmer and sweeter with familiarity. It reminds me of some kind of medicinal hard candy. I’m just starting to detect the orris-like, dry woody facet also in the description.

In terms of chemical structure, ionones are closely related to rose ketones, which include damascones and damascenones. The maximum recommended concentration of alpha ionone in a perfume is 5%.

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