Fragrances Life

Capture plant essences from the garden for long-lasting enjoyment.


| October/November 2004



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Since ancient times, scented body products have been used to seduce, entice, influence and heal. The queen of Sheba reportedly used aromatics to seduce King Solomon. Cleopatra used scents to influence the Greeks and Romans. People of many different cultures wore plant essences in an effort to prevent illness and plague. Even Napoleon enjoyed herbal scents; he reportedly used up to 60 bottles of rosemary cologne a month!

For me, making herbal perfumes, powders and oils is a way of capturing a little bit of my garden to be enjoyed later. Fragrance is the very heart and soul of my patch of herbs, and wearing that fragrance is a way of keeping my garden close throughout the day.

Even if you don’t have a garden of your own, there are many ways to capture and wear herbal fragrances. Essential oils and a few ingredients found at the local supermarket can be combined to create delightful perfumes, powders and body sprays. You can use just one fragrance note at a time, such as lavender, rose or peppermint, or you can combine essential oils to create your personal signature fragrance.

The recipes here are very basic, but if you crave more information on perfumery, several books teach the fine art of blending natural perfumes. As you try the different recipes, remember that you always can experiment and substitute different oils to suit your taste. That’s part of the fun.

Making your own fragrant products gives you great freedom of choice. Using the principles of aromatherapy, you can decide how you want your fragrances to affect you and those around you. For example, you may want to wear lavender for its calming, refreshing effects, sweet orange because it is uplifting, or rosemary for mental stimulation. However, you must use pure essential oils (distilled using water and steam) or absolutes (essences extracted with the use of a solvent such as alcohol) to reap these benefits. Synthetic fragrance oils do not offer the same results.

Some pure essential oils can be very expensive or hard to find. Attar of roses and oil of neroli can cost about $200 per ounce. (You may choose to simply omit the neroli from the solid perfume recipe.) Other essences, such as vanilla, are hard to find in a pure absolute. From such natural products, however, come superior fragrance and less chance of an allergic reaction. Expensive essential oils often are available in very small quantities, such as 1/16 ounce or 1/2 gram. These tiny amounts are perfectly adequate, however, because you only need a few drops per recipe (see sources on Page 30).





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