Tonka Bean Image

Tonka Beans in Perfumes

Ever seen this on an ingredient list before? It's found in perfumes, cosmetics and food (Tonka Bean ice cream, anyone?). It's a legume from South America with very strong scent molecules. You can generally get the aromas of vanilla, cherry, almond, and something mysteriously spicy from tonka beans. 

raw and dried tonka beans

Tonka bean's aroma is very strong. A little goes a long way in perfume making

Tonka Beans Imported Into France

Traditionally, tonka beans have been used as an ingredient in South American cuisine. In 1793, it was introduced into France. The French fell in love with its sensual, vanilla-like aroma and the popularity of tonka beans exploded.

If In France ... Perfume

The scent of the tonka bean was first added into perfumes in 1882 in Fougère Royale by Houbigant. This was the origin of the fern fragrance family and why it is called a fougère aroma, after the location it originated from. 

By the early 1900’s, tonka beans became widely used in perfume making because of its rich and complex aromas. Even the tobacco industry began to use tonka bean powder to impart a smoother, softer, and warmer aroma to their tobacco. 

Fluer De Femme - One of Our Best Sellers!

Fleur De Femme is a warm and sexy perfume by La Rive which has a dominant base note of tonka beans. Tonka beans, generally smell similar to vanilla. 

Fluer De Femme perfume by La Rive

Anything Good Is Possibly Harmful

Caumarin, the ingredient which contains the scent molecules in tonka beans have been linked to toxicity. It was banned from consumption in the US at one time. It's not harmful at all when inhaled or applied to skin. It's only mildly toxic when ingested.  

Vanilla Beans vs Tonka Beans

Vanilla beans have a milder scent, closer to almonds while tonka beans have a sort of spicier note, closer to cinnamon. Both are warm scents and mix well with contrasting scents like mandarin or florals. 

Unlike vanilla, tonka beans are very overpowering so must be used delicately. It tends to be a base note, as its natural silage is much longer than vanilla.  

Olfactory Classification and Dominant Scent Accords

Tonka beans belong to the Oriental scent accord. This family has sweet powdery notes reminiscent of vanilla and cistus labdanum. Thanks to their sweetness and warmth, the

silage of this accord is particularly strong. Other common ingredients in perfumes which belong to this family are amber and benzoin. 

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