Birch Tar Rectified 1% essential oil (White Lotus Aromatics)

Common name: Birch Tar rectified essential oil

Botanical name: Betula pendula roth

Supplier: White Lotus Aromatics

Note: Base

Family: Wood

Diffusion: High

Dilution: 1%

Blends well with: iso amyl phenyl acetate, cananga oil, costus valerolactone, guaiyl buterate, indole (TGSC)

Ambrette seed eo, co2 and abs; ambergris melange; amber sweet melange; angelica root eo, co2 and abs; aruacaria eo; buddha wood eo and co2; cabreuva eo; cassia eo and co2; cinnamon eo, co2 and abs; cedarwood eo’s and abs’s; cedar leaf eo; cistus eo and abs; coffee eo, co2 and abs; costus eo and co2; cypriol/nagarmotha eo and co2; frankincense eo, co2 and abs; galbanum eo, co2 and abs; guiacwood eo; juniper berry eo, co2 and abs; mastic eo and abs; muhuhu eo; mushroom abs; myrrh eo, co2 and abs; oakmoss abs; opoponax eo and abs; palo santo eo; patchouli eo, co2 and abs; peru balsam eo and abs; pine needle abs; seaweed abs; stryax eo and abs; vetiver eo, co2 and abs (White Lotus Aromatics)

Interesting bits: Produced by destructive distillation of the twigs and leaves of Betula sp. and then rectified by steam distillation to remove most of the phenolic elements and meet the IFRA standard: crude Birch Tar should not be used in fragrances….Russian leather smells of birch tar because the leather is tanned with the tar products which also preserve this special type of leather…. (Steffen Arctander via Pell Wall)

In natural perfumery is used in leather accords, amber notes, musk accords, incense perfumes, woody compositions, fougere, chypre, spice accords, after shave lotions. (White Lotus Aromatics)

It adds a leathery note to men’s perfumes. Birch tar oil is widely used in suede and leather tannery in Russia…The name ‘betulae’ has its root in the Latin verb ‘batuere’, meaning ‘to strike’. (Ozmoz)

A definition here, for russian leather, is “a smooth leather tanned with willow, birch, or oak, and scented on the flesh side with birch oil.” The ancient legacy of the drawn resin extends to the stone age, “Birch-tar was used widely as an adhesive as early as the late Paleolithic or early Mesolithic era. It has also been used as a disinfectant, in leather dressing, and in medicine.” And the method of its production is as “a substance (liquid when heated) derived from the dry distillation of the wood of the birch. It is therefore pyroligneous — compounded of guaiacol, phenols, cresol, xylenol, and creosol. These, to the fragrance aficionado offer further intimations — is there a familiarity, to guaiac, or creosol?

Guaiacol is present in wood smoke, resulting from the pyrolysis of lignin. The compound contributes to the flavor of many compounds, e.g. roasted coffee. Creosol is an ingredient of creosote. Compared with phenol, creosol is a less toxic disinfectant. But powerful indeed, an distant in history, their applications. Cresols have an odor characteristic to that of other simple phenols, reminiscent to some of a “coal tar” smell. (Girvin)

It wouldn’t be right to dive deeper into Birch Tar without expanding our knowledge to include how it was used in leathers. The Perfume Shrine has a wonderfully concise introduction into this series as well as The Vintage Perfume Vault.

Their nose: smoky, woody, burnt wood, leathery, phenolic (at 1%) (TGSC)

displaying a potent, penetrating, phenolic, smoky (charred wood, tar-like) with bouquet with a sweet ambery-balsamic-resinous undertone of very good tenacity. (White Lotus Aromatics)

One might find, as well — in even the opening research on birch tar — that there’s a potential for this being a hidden, dark and revealing note, (Girvin)

“… distinctly phenolic, very penetrating and diffusive, obviously reminiscent of tar, charred wood and smoke (all of which have their odor from components of the birch tar oil!) However, the most characteristic feature in the odor pattern of birch tar oil is the sweet-oily undertone which appears distinctly on the smelling blotter when the first empyreumatic notes have faded away. These notes caught the immediate interest of perfumers long ago… ” (Arctander via Pell Wall)

My nose: Birch Tar rectified essential oil opens smelling of leather, intensely phenolic, vibrant and lustrous. To me it gives the impression of luxury. Warm, golden. Pungent, definitely, but it’s so much more, it’s hard-edged, tarry and raw. After 15min the foremost impression is smoky then tarry. This note is unapologetic, like a dark grey colour and I feel like thick, winter sweaters. It’s a provocative and pressing note. 30min on and it’s smoky, fire, protection, it’s a very grown up mature scent. Sleek, and devoid of frivolity – this scent does not joke around. 45min sees it express a hard, indifferent side, direct in its conversation with me, it seems to be more commanding, more tarry and ever more a part of the shadows. It continues to echo a burnished quality after 1hr, even though less phenolic now, and a more earthy note is introduced. I can smell a clear commonality with three other smoky notes I love, Choya Ral, Choya Nakh and Choya Loban! Gorgeous. For me this smell is like embers, it glows and lurks about. 2hrs on and Birch Tar rectified is still very brash, even now and at only 1% it remains a very dominating note, sober, sensible and satisfying, with smoky trails that billow forth and invade the room. It is warm and drier after 3hrs, more tarry, less smoky, earthy and now there is a vague heaviness about it with a hint of camphor, deep in the belly of this note. Odd the impressions we pick up. At the 7hrs mark it’s still edgy, rugged and evocative. I smell my Lapsong Souchong tea in this note only now, burnt, gloomy and haunting. 12hrs into the dry down and this note continues to emit a very strong presence, and it remains phenolic in its dry down, smouldering, fuming and earth-bound. It’s like a warm nuzzle to me, this scent, like most phenolic scents I find them narcotic. After 24hrs the scent is still very present on the scent strip; bold, throbbing and still smelling of smoke, burning as well as leather, too.

Birch Tar rectified essential oil is simply a beautiful note, I adore the smell of burning wood and this totally plays into this love I have. While evaluating this note it became clear to me that it is more an accessory note, to be used in very, very small amounts, I can’t see myself ever over-dosing this note…well, not until I have a very good grasp of what I’m doing, and that’s not for some time yet :).

Have a great weekend!

MC

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Bergamot, organic essential oil (White Lotus Aromatics)

Common name: Bergamot, organic, essential oil

Botanical name: Citrus bergamia/Citrus aurantium var. bergamia

Supplier: White Lotus Aromatics

Note: Top

Family: Citrus

Diffusion: High

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: jasmine, chamomile, lavender, neroli, rosemary, benzoin siam resin, blood orange eo as well as most other citrus oils, boronia, citral, clary sage, clove bud, dihydrojasmone, ethyl linalool, geraniol, geranium bourbon eo, cis jasmine, jonquils, mimosa, patchouli, etc. (TGSC)

African bluegrass; amber sweet melange; anise star eo and co2; apple melange; apricot melange; basil eo and abs; bay leaf eo; benzoin abs; bois de rose eo; blood orange eo; boronia abs; cananga eo; cardamon eo, co2 and abs; cassie abs; chamomile english/roman eo and abs; chamomile wild eo and abs; chamomile blue eo, co2 and abs; champa white flower eo; champa white leaf eo;  citronella eo; clary sage eo and abs; clove bud eo, co2 and abs; clementine eo;  coriander see eo, co2 and abs; cubeb eo; cypress eo and abs; davana eo and co2; elemi eo and abs; erigeron eo; eucalyptus lemon ironbark; eucalyptus citriodora; fir balsam eo; fir silver eo; fir douglas eo; frankincense eo, co2 and abs; grapefruit eo;  galbanum eo, co2 and abs; geranium eo and abs; gingergrass eo; ginger eo, co2 and abs; galangal eo;  hay abs; hinoki eo; hiba eo; juniper berry eo and co2;  ho wood eo; jonquille abs; lemon eo; lemon essence eo; labdanum eo and abs; lavender eo, co2 and abs; lavandin eo and abs; lime eo; lemon eo; lemon essence eo; lime essence eo; mandarin eo;  mimosa abs; myrtle eo; neroli eo; orange sweet eo; orange bitter eo; opoponax eo and abs; pine eo and abs;  peach melange; pear melange; pineapple melange; petitgrain eo; patchouli eo, co2 and abs; plai eo; raspberry melange; sandalwood eo, co2 and abs; spruce eo and abs; tea green abs; tangerine eo; tangerine essence eo;tonka bean abs; turmeric eo and co2; vanilla abs and co2; ylang eo and abs; yuzu eo; zdravetz eo and abs  (White Lotus Aromatics)

Chemical components: some of the main volatile compounds are: Limonene (37.2%), Linalyl acetate (30.1%), Linalool (8.8%), gama-terpinene (6.8%), beta-pinene (2.8%); the minor volatile compounds make up 14.3%. Some of the major non volatile compounds are Bergamottin (21.42%), Citropten (2.58%) and Bergapten (2.37%).

Interesting bits: You can make an oriental or even a cologne without bergamot, but the classical chypre family is impossible without this citrus note. Bergamot offsets the inky, bittersweet roughness of oakmoss and prevents you from smelling like a moss festooned tree. (Bois de Jasmin)

*** Bergamot is a photosensitizer (increases the skin’s reaction to sunlight and makes it more likely to burn).

“Bergaptene is the naturally occurring chemical constituent found in cold pressed Bergamot Essential Oil that makes the cold pressed oil highly phototoxic. Varieties of furocoumarin-free (FCF) cold pressed Bergamot Essential Oil are available that have the bergaptene synthetically removed. Bergamot Essential Oil is also sometimes available as a steam distilled oil.” (Aromaweb)

Bergamot essential oil is a cold-pressed essential oil produced by cells inside the rind of a bergamot orange fruit. It is a common top note in perfumes. Bergamot essential oil is a major component of the original Eau de Cologne composed by Farina at the beginning of the 18th century. The first record of bergamot oil as a fragrance ingredient is from 1714, found in the Farina Archive in Cologne. One hundred bergamot oranges will yield about three ounces (85 grams) of bergamot oil.[1] The scent of bergamot essential oil is similar to a sweet light orange peel oil with a floral note.[2]

“Earl Grey tea” is a type of black tea that contains bergamot essential oil as a flavouring.

The main compounds in the oil are limonene, linalyl acetate, linalool, γ-terpinene and β-pinene,[4] and in smaller quantities geranial and β-bisabolene.

Linalyl acetate and linalool are qualitatively the most important components of the bergamot oil.

The bergamot essential oil is particularly subject to adulteration being an essential oil produced in relatively small quantities. Generally adulteration is to “cut” the oil, i.e. adding distilled essences of poor quality and low cost, for example of bitter orange and bergamot mint and/or mixtures of terpenes, natural or synthetic, or “reconstruct” the essence from synthetic chemicals, coloring it with chlorophyll. Worldwide, each year, around three thousand tonnes of declared essence of bergamot are marketed, while the genuine essence of bergamot produced annually amounts to no more than one hundred tons. (Wikipedia)

Bergamot orange (Citrus aurantium var. bergamia) is a small, roughly per-shaped citrus fruit, which grows on small trees known as bergamots. It is a cross between pear lemon and Seville orange or grapefruit. Production of bergamot is mostly limited to the Ioanion, coastal region of the province of Reggio Calabria, South Italy, where the soil and climatic conditions are very favourable for its cultivation. It is also cultivated in Ivory Coast, Argentina and Brazil, but in no other part of the world does it fructify with the same yield and quality of essence. Bergamot is named after Italian city of Bergamo, in which its oil was first sold, and it has become a symbol of the entire region and city.

This fruit is not edible and is cultivated for production of its essential oil. The essential oil of bergamot is expressed from the ripe fruit peel and is used extensively in perfumery for its sweet freshness. Bergamot oil is also used for flavouring purposes, e.g. Earl Grey tea and the so called althea drops, candy-making, in aroma therapy to treat depression, and also as digestive aid. (Fragrantica)

Their nose: Fresh, orange/lemon/citrusy, slightly floral. (Aromaweb)

citrusy, bitter and sour, elegant light note, complex with nuances of fruit and aromatic elements, reminiscent of eau de Cologne, flavors Earl Grey tea. (Fragrantica)

complex citrus, tangy-green, sweet, fresh and clean, slightly floral and spicy (Floracopeia)

citrus woody orange linalyl acetate (TGSC) 

citrusy, agrestic, reminiscent of lavender (Albert Vieille SAS via TGSC)

a fine, rich, juicy, sweet, fruity bouquet with an elegant herbaceous, balsamic undertone. (White Lotus Aromatics)  

My nose: Bergamot, organic essential oil starts off uplifting, invigorating, revitalising but also tense and terse, fever-pitched, feeling like it bursts out and grabs you as it wakes up with it’s battle cry I’m alive! A scant 15min later I’m getting a sense of a cool, bracing and frozen temperature. It’s lemon-lime in scent too and I get the sense that this would pair very well indeed with a spicy, peppery note. It’s movement is quick-paced and zesty. After 30min this note is beginning to lessen in intensity but it still has a strong lemon-lime characteristic. The impression is becoming thinner, simpler, less exuberant and drier. Just heading into 45min and it’s a light, lime, lemon, note as it fans out. Also as it heads into the dry down it becomes much more one-dimensional. The 1hr mark opens up a less dramatic landscape and it’s much more mellow in tune, dwindling now it reminds me of the petals of a fading rose, and with it a sense of warmth. 2hrs in and what I get is a dry, almost stale impression. It’s slightly translucent and beginning to expire, as if it’s flickering on and off. It’s still present on the strip after 3hrs, although in an isolated way and with scant reference to the beginning impression. Now it’s minimalist and pristine. 7hrs sees this note to be much more stale, dry and oddly herbaceous totally not what I was expecting in the dry down, now I can pick out commonalities with Lavender. 10hrs into its evolution and the scent is almost gone, just a faint breath remains and that impression is dry, lemony, smelling faintly of cleaning product. The final evaluation at 24hrs reveals a hint, just a whiff that seems very pale and bleached out, but I’m amazed that it’s still on the strip! Holy cow!

While I originally purchased this from WLA they don’t currently have the organic version as they like to deal with fresh product so when that runs out that’s it until they stock more. So if you’re interested keep an eye on their shop for when it becomes available. As I am a lover of Earl Grey tea, you can well imagine how much I adore the smell of Bergamot essential oil and even when you think you know a material because you’ve heard about it so often as is the case with many citrus oils, or you smell it every single day in your tea, like me, there is always some new, undiscovered facet that reveals itself upon closer observation, living with the scent around you for longer, such was the case with Bergamot, organic, essential oil.

Take good care, make lots of scents and I’ll be back on Friday with an evaluation of Birch Tar rectified essential oil.

MC

blending perfumes with clove bud eo

clove-bud-eo


Common name: Clove

Genus name: Myrtaceae (Family) Syzygium (Genus) S. aromaticum (Species).  It’s also synonymous with: Caryophyllus aromaticus L., Eugenia aromatica, Eygenia caryophyllata, Eugenia caryophyllus.  I mention the synonyms only because it’s important to know that in the botanical world one plant can have many names.

Supplier: White Lotus Aromatics

Note: Base

Family: Spice

Diffusion: 6.5

Blends well with: spice accords, incense perfumes, sweet florals (White Lotus Aromatics).  “In rose, honeysuckle and certain deep-sweet florals, clove bud oil lends a unique note of natural richness and body. The classic ‘rondeletia’ perfume type is based upon the combination of clove and lavender oils. Modern variations include the use of lavindin, sage clary, bergamot, bay leaf oil, pimenta berry oil, etc.” Steffen Arctander.  If you have a snoop around the TGSC site and check clove bud oil you’ll see a vast list of possible blenders.  These are just a few: amyris, iso-amyl salicilate, beeswax abs., peony alcohol, phenethyl acetate, boronia, cardamom, guacwood oil, ho wood, Labdanum, immortelle abs., and linalool, just to name a few!

Chemical components: eugenol makes up 72-90% of the essential oil and is responsible for that distinct ‘clove’ aroma. “the aroma of cloves is influenced by the presence of eugenol, but also by the presence of some minor compounds in the composition. One of these is methyl salicylate, an ester commonly referred to as oil of wintergreen; another is 2-heptanone, which has a fruity, spicy odour. 2-heptanone is particularly interesting; much like eugenol, it can act as an anaesthetic, and research has shown that it is also contained in the mandibles of honeybees. The compound is secreted when the honeybee bites intruders in its hive, paralysing the intruder and allowing it to be removed by the bee. This is a comparatively recent discovery, and the compound has been patented for potential use as an anaesthetic in humans in the future.” (CompoundChem) Have I said how much I love their site lately? Well I do!

Interesting bits: clove bud also comes as an absolute.  “Cloves grown on the evergreen clove tree and they are picked unopened, while the flower buds are stil pinkish” (Fragrantica).  “Archeologists have found cloves in a ceramic vessel in Syria, with evidence that dates the find to within a few years of 1721 BC” (Wikipedia)

Their nose: “warm clove sweet fruity woody, spicy, eugenol, aromatic, clove, woody and medicinal with a nice depth” (TGSC).

My nose:  my first whiff at 09:30 met with a warm quality somewhat hidden, and to me this is a thoughtful note, sensual and soft.  15min later and I still get soft, but this time woody, even a hint of incense.  Feather light and downy.  After 30min it’s open , warm, like a hug! Gentle and kind, also sweet in a way that reminds me of cinnamon, reassuring. 45min now and I get happy memories of celebrations, joyful note, wood note too, open and embracing.  It’s 1hr and the impression is still of openness, warm, strong but not over-powering strong.  2hrs later and sweet, warm plumes float up to soothe me like a warm blanket of spice, golden in colour. Ahhhh!  3hrs into the dry-down and it’s quite delectable, distinguished, light, hushed now and just beginning to trail off noticeably. After 7hrs it’s only now making a distinct exit, still warm and balmy, evocative. After 12hrs it’s still like a cognac warmed up by your hands. Dim and smooth.  24hrs later and when I blow on it it’s still pungent, very much integral just much more subdued, still with a beautiful presence, warm and spicy.

Musings on composition: I can totally smell this together with Labdanum!  But also Frankincense and Sandalwood.  I can get this working it’s way lovingly into a smoky base.

In-joy!

MC


 

blending perfumes with nutmeg eo

nutmeg-eo


Blending perfumes with nutmeg essential oil?  If you’re learning to make your own perfumes then here’s an overview of a wonderful and versatile perfume ingredient.

Common name: Nutmeg essential oil

Genus name: Myristica fragrans

Supplier: Perfumery Art School (part of our kit)

Note: Base

Family: Spice

Diffusion: 5

Blends well with: woods and florals especially Ylang Ylang, ginger,

Chemical components: The chemistry of nutmeg is full of inspiration – either sabinene or camphene (pungent)account for 50% of the essential oil. Yikes!  Then you have d-pinene 20%, dipenthene 8%, d-linalool 6%, d-borneol 6%, i-terpineol 6%, geraniol 6%, myristicin 4%, eugenol 2%, iso-eugenol 2% and safrole 0.6%.

Interesting bits: did you know another name for nutmeg is Mace? Apparently, nutmeg from Grenada is the one that sets the standards for all others.  The nutmeg we are familiar with is the shelled kernel (who knew?!). Native to the Banda Islands in the Moluccas, Indonesia; but also cultivated on Penang Island in Malaysia, in the Caribbean and especially in Grenada and Kerala. The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation from the ground nutmeg. (Wikipedia)

Their nose: “the fruit of Myristica fragrans, it has a spicy sweet facet with earthy and more pungent base notes, and is used to provide an oriental spiciness that is subtler than the usual cinnamon-clove-vanilla bouquet of orientals, thus perfect for masculines and lighter woodies.” (Fragrantica)

“…warm, sweet spicy-aromatic bouquet with balsamic woody undertone.”-from Indonesia and “terpenic top-note…with fresh, warm, sweet, aromatic spicy body note and a woody undertone.”-from Sri Lanka (White Lotus Aromatics)

My nose: I started sniffing at 09:30 and I was met with a warm, pungent but soft aroma, slightly woody, hint of something light and green just around the edges. 15min and whoa! this is way more pungent! Like it’s leaping off the paper but I’m getting a slight medicinal note as well. After 30min this is a spice that sits firmly in place. Now more woody with much more character, a bit on the dark side, but grounded. 45min into it and there is a harshness, it’s like it doesn’t want to come out, just wants to rest in the background. Now it’s 1hr later and I smell something I can only describe as bitter lurking in the background, a tinge of acidity and it’s begun to fade rather dramatically. 2hrs later and a smell of rust?! Dry, totally hidden in the shadows, dusty, faded and antique. After 3hrs I get more fading, very dry, understated now, I like it because now it’s very discreet and indiscernible.  Now 7hrs into the dry-down and it’s almost gone, a sort of metallic effect remains, cool metal or cool wood comes to mind. After 12hrs the smell is warmer even though it’s just about gone! Nice perk! it’s more interesting now, less rugged, more tame.  And 24hrs later this note is still alive. Soft, still sweet, much more woody in the dry-down though it’s lost a lot of it’s pungency, but still definitely alive on the strip.

Musings on composition: mostly used to modify the spicy notes; my thoughts are that this note could hide out very well, tucked away neatly in a composition.

Now of course I have to source the Grenada version.  Good grief, does it ever end?!  Thankfully the answer is, no :).

In-joy,

MC

aromatic profile: black pepper

black-pepper1


Common name: Black pepper

Genus name: Piper nigrum

Supplier: Perfumery Art School (part of our school kit)

Note: Heart to Top

Family: Spicy

Diffusion: 6

Blends well with: See my other post on Green Pepper tincture.

Chemical components: See my other post on Green Pepper tincture.

Interesting bits: In the winters, black pepper essential oil becomes a great substitute used as warmth-generating aromatherapy constituents. Black pepper essential oil is used as an aromatherapy massage oil, to increase the blood circulation. The essential oil can make a room feel warmer and cosier when used in an aromatherapy diffuser. (Fragrantica)

Their nose: See my other post on Green Pepper tincture.

My nose: pungent, spicy, wakes you up, but warm though. Lovely.  It’s like a burst of sunshine. That’s how black pepper begins its story for me. Then after 15 minutes it becomes comforting, very warm, very familiar, subtle and elegant, refined. It was so surprising for me to find black pepper to have a gentle, lived-in feeling. It was like rediscovering an old friend. 30 minutes later and it’s still very alive, familiar, citrus quality(?), it seems to add structure, a certain predictability, sharp. After 45 minutes I just love this note, now there is a sweetness to it. It’s glowing softly, it’s sheer! It’s light and translucent; it’s as if the presence of black pepper could gentrify the whole. 1 hour later and it remains just beneath the surface with a sensation of ice, this note is very integral, almost proud. 2 hours and it’s still pungent, it almost has the ability to make you forget it’s the humble black pepper. Clean, freshly pressed, centred. The prevalent impression is clean at this point. 3 hours later and it is still explosive, powerful, thin, dry, very dry actually and refreshing. After 7 hours it is still pungent and piercing but no longer really noticeable as black pepper. 24 hours into the dry down and it still possesses that uplifting characteristic, though fleeting — much more so than the Brazilian Pepper berry. Still recognisable as pepper because it is sharper.

Musings on composition: more than intellectual, I can feel this note together with other top notes to add radiance, the kind of radiance that Galbanum imparts to a blend or that we get from other synthetics like green leaf alcohol.

Hey! Get out there and smell something different today OR smell the ordinary differently.

adventures in tincturing: jasmine & elderflower

Today I tinctured Jasmine flower. I have high hopes, it smells very promising already.

Yesterday Elderflower. LV went out and picked me about thirty flowers and I cut off the heads and steeped them in ethanol.  It really is humbling to have your hands covered in pollen, something so alive and pregnant with potential life. For the moment all I can say is, meh, not as impressive as the flower in its natural state. I’ve got some more that I will add to the alcohol when I strain off this one tomorrow. Below are my first efforts at fresh flower tincturing:

“The benefits to using tinctures as the alcohol base for botanical perfumes are numerous.  Notice I stated “as the alcohol base.” I recommend using tinctures as the perfumers alcohol for blending a perfume.  …. we are not creating a tincture to replace an essential oil or absolute (although one can tincture vanilla beans very successfully and use them as a replacement for vanilla absolute) we are more creating a subtle back note for the perfume by using the tinctured alcohol to blend.”  – Charna Ethier of Providence Perfume

This is a very interesting idea. Just a few months ago I started formulating for the first time and I’m using drops just in the test phase and haven’t yet made any full versions of my testers. So, this approach really interests me from a purely artisanal standpoint, the uniqueness of each one would be amazing!

As an aside: my package came and and with it the natural isolates and essential oils that I’ll need for the chemistry course, yeah!  I was at the door before the delivery guy could even ring the door bell and literally tore into the box when I got it into the studio. And the smell that met me when I opened the box was divine, heady and optimistic! I can’t wait to deepen my understanding of these wonderful gifts of the Earth.

Have a wonder-filled weekend!

adventures in tincturing – tonka bean

Tincture1

I love tincturing my own aromatics! There’s a special kind of delight that comes from taking something from its raw ingredient to something you can actually wear on your body that just sends me. Today I want to talk about my experience tincturing Dipteryx Odorata a.ka. Tonka Bean.

So, here’s how I did it and some thoughts and impressions during process:

Tonka beans: they are these little shrivelled up black beans and when I cut them up there was this glorious vanilla smell that rose up to tickle my nose.  I cut up about 50gr of beans with a knife, the beans I got from De Hekserij in Holland and then I added 200ml of 96% ethanol.  I used a mason jar and put it away in a cupboard and shook it every day – of course sniffing as I went.

I love that part; shaking and sniffing (…sniffing, sniffing, sniffing – headache!), everyday the smell is different! All of my tinctures I find to be so satisfying, I’m not even really sure why but they seem to leap forward and speak to me.

Decanting it I am totally struck by how much it has in common with Vanilla!  I haven’t gotten the essential oil yet so can’t compare but this smell is so soft. I value tinctures in my perfumes because sometimes I want a watered down effect of an essential oil, something just slightly different and tinctures give me this flexibility, this nuance.  And there’s a certain gratification in knowing I made it.

When I first started tincturing I was so anxious, what if I screwed up and had to throw everything away?! But what’s important to note is that tincturing is not an exact science, that’s what’s fun about it, just trust and follow your nose.

I have yet to use fresh ingredients. It was my intent this spring to use the fragrant petals of our rose bush but my mother-in-law, sweet woman, lay claim to it for her her soap making.  That’s okay, she needs to keep busy and I’ve got enough on my plate…next year.

image credit: freshpickedbeauty.com