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Saturday, April 27 Local Botanical Item Spotlights - Mitica brand honeycomb, from Gelson's.

 One of my more recent fragrance fascinations was with the raw material, the honeycomb. I'd once had a great sample of Beeswax Absolute, which I highly enjoyed, and, which I'd mixed in to some fragrance compositions, with some slight attainment about them. I found the material very overpoweringly dominant, in what I felt, at the time, were small portions (I was just beginning to investigate and experiment with perfumery materials, having come from a background in making fragrance compositions with essential oils and absolutes that are more commonly found in local retail stores. 

In any case, I was fascinated by the physiological, or psychoactive (bioactive, perhaps, at least), effects of Beeswax Absolute, and, once I had run out of my sample product, I'd sometimes obsess over the ingredient, and I'd spend a lot of time, here and there, trying to find out new things to know about the product, itself, and I also developed a fascination with producing the absolute, myself, as well. 

Recently, I came across a great retail product beeswax honeycomb, by Mitica brand, which I found at Gelson's grocery store. I made sure to pick one up, since I had lots of money on my Food Stamps account, still. The item comes in its own frame and plastic box (which, for aroma chemical extraction, might not be the best material, but this is just my first try at producing my own agricultural fragrance ingredient from this material).

A top view of Mitica brand's honeycomb box, which includes a frame that the beeswax and honey, contained within the honeycomb, is built upon.

A diagonal view of Mitica's honeycomb box and frame. I felt that the product was ideal, over other choices in retail honeycomb availability, particularly on account of that a box and frame are included with the product.
I had not much knowledge base to work from, as far as discovering literature in regards to the chemical and molecular composition and form of honeycomb and beeswax material, so I had to do some looking up, of things. I had some notion that I could try to produce an alternative product to an absolute, using regular cooking vinegar. I tried it out, by soaking the honeycomb frame, in the box, and I felt that it could take weeks, or months, or more, perhaps, for a full extraction, as limited as with vinegar, solely, as the extraction fluid, although evaporation would be fairly reliable, I figured, and there could be useful compounds produced, with acetic acid thrown in to the equation, given that I be patient. 

At this point, it's been a few weeks, or so, and I noticed some slight changes - almost of that the beeswax seemed almost alive, in and of itself, even under vinegar, since I felt that some of the beeswax seemed to have creeped along, further out, on to the frame's top edges, where I don't remember seeing beeswax establishments, previously. The vinegar solution, itself, slowly became yellowish, but there wasn't a whole lot of action, in this instance of experimentation. 

Upon investigating the solvency considerations of the material, it was learned that the extraction would be best done with a polar solvent. I don't have any of the standard solvents, on hand, but, at one point, I became reminded that I have dimethyl octenone on hand, of which, I'd had previously employed a similar (somewhat) product, in doing an extraction and production method, as an experiment, with 3-octanone, as part of the extraction. Dimethyl octenone has a fairly relative olfactory scent profile to 3-octanone, and I figured that it is a polar solvent, in and of itself, perhaps as a scarce fraction of some other, more gross product of some other agricultural crop, in being separated, for qualitative purposes.

With a 15 mL bottle of dimethyl octenone, I was capable of pouring around a third, or less,  of the bottle out, in to the vinegar solution, and still cover the entire top surface area. Immediately, I noticed that the two layers didn't immediately mix; it was like oil and water, so I felt that my decision to employ dimethyl octenone was justified. This was yesterday. The liquid in the box became very vaporous, so I felt that perhaps a timeline of an extraction, in this experiment phase, would work along a much quicker timeline. If you'd notice, in the first photo, some of the honeycomb cells are destroyed, over on the top left. There are also some "breathing holes" that had developed, as a result of introducing the dimethyl octenone to the solvent solution (I shook the box, so the liquids became a more thorough solution). I figured, dimethyl octenone, pungent and musky solvent-smelling that it is, it'll eventually evaporate off; I should seek to establish more generalized visible similarities between what I produce, regardless of what it is, specifically, and if the viscosity, or consistency, in terms of the product's thickness, or solidity, becomes a familiar and standard sort of outcome, it would be easier to sit and wait for this type of portion of patience being necessary, being that dimethyl octenone might only dissipate over several weeks, or so, perhaps. 

Part of the challenge would be discovering what becomes of the wax, itself. I would typically take a "hands-off" approach to playing with my extraction experiments, and just stick to observation, and just the slightest of mixing, or disturbance of the solution, but, in this case, I touched the corner of the beeswax, and it melted like cake frosting, so I knew, then, that the extraction would be successful, from here. Only time will tell, as to what the outcome of this experiment will produce.


This honeycomb / beeswax project continues to reveal delicate mysteries about its form, within the acidic, polar solvent liquid At this stage, 4 days later, following the original post, the Mitica honeycomb's plastic box proves to have taken on acid damage, bearing leaks, and penetration, through the outer layers of plastic, whereas the now emulsified lipophilic liquid, which has incorporated the beeswax, as liquid beads, as an outer phase of emulsifier, wherein the solvent layer acts as the inner phase, with the dimethyl octenone / acetic acid, perhaps mixed with the plastic, somehow acting as a surfactant, to make the emulsification fairly molecularly small. Have a look! 

This (not so delicate) bulge is pretty resilient, in fact - almost like a rubbery latex, in texture, but definitely bendable and flexible, with the plastic walls having disintegrated, due to the particular nature of the acidic polar solvency of the solution. I'd suppose it would be a perfumer's hand at pulling off this trick; some of it is just gestural artistry, since I didn't know that this would happen - although if you did the same extraction, it very well could happen for you, also. 

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