Category Archives: Perfume From Your Garden book

Perfume Tincture of Orange Jasmine Flowers

Monday - 4 May 2015

First, I have to thank my new garden assistant, Eric, because he was the first one in three years who followed my instructions to radically prune back my orange jasmine tree (Murraya paniculata) so that I would get lots of flowers. The pruning is needed to produce new growth, and the flowers appear on the new growth. Other gardeners just wouldn’t do it, fearing I would not like the woody, bare look of the tree, but I’m a horticulturist and botanist, and I had the tree managed for many years that way, but I just couldn’t convince them. Oh, well, thank you, Eric, you not only pruned it back, in doing so, you discovered some hummingbird nests, which was wonderful. The snakes, not so much, but they were chased off to protect the birds.

hummingbird nests in orange jasmine tree

hummingbird nests in orange jasmine tree Feb 22, 2015

So, three months later, on May 2, 2015, I opened the front door, and was surprised and delighted by the pom poms of flower clusters on the orange jasmine! The bees were buzzing around, so I decided to wait two days before harvesting any flowers, to give the bees a chance to eat, drink, and be merry first 🙂 The moon was waxing, in Libra, and that’s always a wonderful time for white flowers.

The orange jasmine has clusters of fragrant blooms, and is a good neighbor to the ylang ylang tree, and the Aglaia Chinese perfume tree :-) May 2015

The orange jasmine has clusters of fragrant blooms, and is a good neighbor to the ylang ylang tree, and the Aglaia Chinese perfume tree 🙂  The number and size of the clusters aren’t back to what they used to be, but I’m grateful for this first flush.

A lovely orange jasmine cluster of flowers

A lovely orange jasmine cluster of flowers

A nice harvest of the flowers. The stems are thin, and scissors do the job, and I just hold a bowl under the clusters as I snip.

A nice harvest of the flowers. The stems are thin, and scissors do the job, and I just hold a bowl under the clusters as I snip.

You have to not only remove leaves that were accidentally harvested, but you have to look for insects and try to remove as many as possible from the upcoming tincture. There were ants and spiders that immediately fled when the flowers were spread out on a piece of newspaper. I forgot to take a photo of that stage. Then, when I placed the flowers back in the bowl to transport them to the tincture table, I noticed that there was a reason I felt the “honeydew” sticky exudate when I was picking, and the only reason: ants had been transporting aphids to the flowers. Here’s the cycle: ants transport aphids, literally carrying them on their backs, because aphids can’t walk/move/fly. The ants know that the aphids suck sweet nectar from the plant, and excrete it in the form of a sticky ooze known as “honeydew”. The ants can then feed on the honeydew. Well, then, bad news for the aphids and ants!  In an organic garden, ladybugs move in to eat the aphids! Thank you, ladybugs.

Every harvest has to be picked over to remove leaves - and insects. The ladybug was enjoying a meal on the mealy bugs (pun), and I carefully picked off the leaf and took them both back to the tree and carefully placed her back on it. Enjoy lunch, ladybug. The aphids were removed by snipping off the stems.

Every harvest has to be picked over to remove leaves – and insects. The ladybug was enjoying a meal on the aphid bugs,  and I carefully picked off the leaf and took her back to the tree and carefully placed her on a flower cluster. Enjoy lunch, ladybug. The aphids were removed by snipping off the stems before the flowers were placed in the tincture.

I have orange jasmine tincture that has had many recharges. I forget how many, but the concentration is monitored with a conductivity meter – it’s strong! It smells incredibly beautiful, a jasmine-like sweetness with no indole.

The alcohol is undenatured organic sugar cane alcohol.

Here's a basic tincture set up: a stainless tray to catch spills, and a stainless bowl for the strained tincture.

Here’s a basic tincture set up: a stainless tray to catch spills, and a stainless bowl for the strained tincture.

Now, on to the separation of scented alcohol perfume tincture from the spent flowers:

I use a stainless steel food press as an herbal press for small amounts. I was able to fit about half the spent flowers into the first pressing.

I use a stainless steel potato ricer as an herbal press for small amounts. I was able to fit about half the spent flowers into the first pressing.

Here is a shot of the alcohol draining from the press into the bowl.

Here is a shot of the alcohol draining from the press into the bowl.

The stainless steel tray makes it easy to dump the spent flowers without having to worry about a table surface, as the 190 proof alcohol would eat through a finish, marring the surface.

The stainless steel tray makes it easy to dump the spent flowers without having to worry about a table surface, as the 190 proof alcohol would eat through a finish, marring the surface.

The new harvest of orange jasmine flowers, minus insects (!) is placed into the jar with the original alcohol tincture, but there’s one last item to check: the lid.

Always check your lids, as alcohol can degrade them. I keep a box of extra lids on hand to replace ones like this. Now the recharge process is all done - for this time.

Always check your lids, as alcohol can degrade them. I keep a box of extra lids on hand to replace ones like this. Now the recharge process is all done – for this time.

Note: since I tinctured the spent flowers shown in this post, I conferred with a colleague who has convinced me that perhaps only a few hours to two days is enough tincture time for delicate flowers. I am going to tincture these for one day. I do believe that the essential oils will be stripped from the petals, and that leaving them in longer may contribute to more water being removed from the petals, something I wish to avoid. If you have another time table you like to follow, please do, I’m experimenting, that doesn’t mean you have to. I have used this method with ylang ylang flowers, and it has been very successful.

This series of production photos is for my upcoming book Perfume From Your Garden. I keep adding so much to the book, the publishing schedule has been pushed back – a lot. Have patience, it’s in the works, and will be an treasure of information on how to extract scent from plants, built on 40 years of experience. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter to be updated on the book, and subscribe to this blog to read my posts about all things in natural perfumery.

 

Perfume of Meyer Lemon and Labdanum Frolic Together

Wednesday - 21 January 2015

This is a closeup photo of one branch of my Meyer Lemon mini tree showing it touching branches with m labdanum bush. The two labdanums that I’m growing are experimental, to see if they will survive in hot, humid Florida. They’ve survived one summer so far, and are thriving. The Meyer Lemon does very well here, and the juxtaposition of the ethereal citrus top note fragrance from their flowers, blending with the sweet middle note of the labdanum leaves is lovely. Yes, middle note for labdanum leaves. The extract, whether essential oil or absolute or resin, is, of course, a base note. Although I have not extracted the scent from my plants yet, the endearing, sweet and slightly spicy scent seems to be a middle note.

anya's meyer lemon and labdanum

One branch of the Meyer Lemon is touching the base of the labdanum plant, which is about four feet tall and has many branches.

Close up of Meyer Lemon flower.

Closeup of Meyer Lemon flower.

October is Yellow Perfume Flower Month in Miami

Wednesday - 15 October 2014

Five yellow-flowered plants are in full bloom here in Miami, and all yield a valuable perfume, either to the air, or, luckily, to the perfumer’s bottle. I’m growing cassie, vanilla, ambrette seed, aglaia, and angel’s trumpet. This is the first year I’ve ever noticed all the yellow flowers blooming at the same time. The cassie tree, with its tiny, yellow fuzzball flowers, protected by long thorns, is in full bloom. It’s hard to capture the flowers well with a camera, since they’re so small and dispersed throughout the airy, tall canopy of the tree. Acacia farnesana flower absolute is costly, due to the scarcity of flowers and dangers associated with the thorns. However, the perfume in the air is free, and so powdery and delightful!

 

Cassie tree – you have to look closely to see the tiny, yellow, fragrant flowers

The Angel’s Trumpet tree, Brugmansia spp, is the Charles Grimaldi variety, which I think is the most beautifully-scented of all of the Brugs. In the past, I’ve had peach-colored CGs, so this one was a surprise with its yellow flowers. Still, it has the same spicy, narcotic scent of my other CGs. Now that the little tree is about one year old (maybe less, I forget when I got it within the last year), I notice the flowers turn from yellow, to having a peachy tinge, then deep gold. So pretty! Sitting outside at night is a scent experience that I adore.

Charles Grimaldi variety of Angel’s Trumpet. Intoxicating scent!!

The patch of ambrette seed plants, Abelmoschatus moschata, is blooming like crazy! The flower isn’t fragrant, but the seeds have a heavenly musk scent. It’s just so much fun to watch the flowers bloom for one day, then wilt, because then you know it’s pollinated itself, and seed pods are coming.

Quite a lot of stigmas, to fertilize all of the ovaries = lots of seeds 🙂

Ah, the sweet, tiny, citrusy flowers of Aglaia odorata, how I love them! Just realized an easier way to harvest them, which saves a lot of time and sweat, since now they’re quickly sheared and harvested indoors in the air conditioning! It blooms all year, but especially in the hottest, most humid summer months, so I’ve cut down on the labor factor a lot.

Such a fabulous scent! Aglaia flowers waft their fragrance about 100′ in all directions.

I have a vanilla orchid vine that I bought at Marie Selby Gardens in Sarasota in 1988. It almost died due to some bad landscapers I had, but it is booming back, very healthy now. This photo is from last year, because the photo I took today has buds read to open, and spent buds. You can see how it’s in the Orchid family from this photo. The flower doesn’t have a scent, but, when fertilized, produces the vanilla bean. I just love vanilla!

The vanilla orchid flower

Hope you enjoyed looking at the yellow flower bonanza from my garden in Miami.

 

Growing Ambrette Seeds for Making Perfume

Monday - 13 October 2014

Just  a quick post about the progress of my patch of ambrette seed plants. Known as Abelmoschas moschata or (Syn. Hibiscus abelmoschus L.), is prized for food, drink, industrial and medicinal uses, but I prize it for the musk-scented seeds, which are valuable in perfumery. The seeds have a floral, musky scent, and can substitute, in their own way, not identically to, the scent of the musk deer grains. They’re a true cruelty-free way to add a musky scent to a perfume.

Imagine my surprise when I went out to re-shoot the blurry yellow ambrette flower, and found it had morphed to a lovely salmon color!

There are dozens of flower buds on my 15 plants, but there was only the one flower yesterday and today, the first of the patch. I didn’t notice the blurry nature of the first photo until I went inside and uploaded it to my computer, so out I went again, this time to get a clear, sharp photo. I think my mouth dropped open when I saw the color change. This is going to be a fun, rewarding project, and I’ll bet it’ll be full of surprises like this color change, too.

I got the seeds started late, and I think in India, they’re harvesting the seeds now. I can’t wait to document the development of the pods, and the harvesting of the seeds. I plan on a much bigger ambrette patch next year.

I’m using only organic fertilizer, as the plant flourishes with it (as do most!) Here’s some more information on the plant, and it may be helpful if you decide to grow some. https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/CropFactSheets/muskdana.html

Here’s a “long shot” down the ambrette seed patch. Dozens of flower buds about to open!

Please vote on the photo for the Perfume From Your Garden Book

Sunday - 3 August 2014

Can you vote on this? I found the first photo of me with a plant, a tiny tomato plant to my left, from when I was only one and half years old. I want to use the photo in the Perfume From Your Garden book, so I scanned the original 1950s-typical-blurry-Kodak-brownie-camera photo at 600 dpi and sent it to a ‘restore’ service online. Three revisions, I still don’t like the ‘restored’ one. I think they just cranked up the contrast and it looks fake. Should I use the original on the left, or the ‘restored’ on the right. I need some objective opinions on this. T

Anya McCoy - one and a half years old, first tomato plant on stake next to fence. Already a gardener!

Anya McCoy – one and a half years old, first tomato plant on stake next to fence. Already a gardener!

hanks in advance!

Powder Enfleurage! An Ancient Fragrant Art And a Giveaway

Thursday - 26 June 2014

How to Make Enfleurage des Poudres – Powder Enfleurage

Fragrant Body Powders – An Ancient Art Rediscovered      

Update April 19, 2015: I do recommend using a bit of powdered orris root or powdered oakmoss as a fixative. The ylang ylang enfleurage was overpoweringly strong at first, but the scent faded over time. I’m going to mix orris root in with the powder and re-enfleurge the flowers.

(make sure you read to the end to discover how to win the fabulous giveaway prize!)

On June 15, I was working on the first re-edit of my upcoming book Perfume From Your Garden, checking references, when I stumbled across a few sentences in a vintage perfumer book that stopped me, and truly surprised me with some wonderful information.

The process of enfleurage des poudres aka powder enfleurage, the manufacture of powders perfumed by flowers, is very ancient. The process takes place by simple contact, in a closed receptacle, and the flowers are removed and replaced with carefully chosen and sorted ones. The authors state that this ancient process was the inspiration to the French for oil and pomade enfleurage that they began in the 17th century.

I immediately knew I had found some incredible, long-lost art form. So many artisans are now enfleuraging with oil and pomades, the use of powder is an easy adaptation. So, I decided to post an excerpt from the book, ahead of publication, so that readers could enjoy this new process with the lovely summer flowers in their gardens. I hope you enjoy this!

From the rough draft I’m inserting into the Perfume From Your Garden manuscript:

“Powders treated in this manner included the plant powders, orris, ambrette, oakmoss; amylaceous matter, starch and faecula;* and minerals, crayon and talc; the flowers used included jasmine, hyacinth, jonquil, orange flower, nutmeg. rose, mignonette, tuberose, and even wallflower and lily-of-the-valley. By an analogous process, hides and gloves have been perfumed with the same flowers, and also with violet and crimson carnation.

It is to these long-abandoned methods that we trace the modern experiments with enfleurage with pulverized solid adsorbents.”

From Natural Perfume Materials, Naves and Mazuyer, 1947

*amylaceous and starch are synonyms and faecula means a starch made from plants or seeds.

I felt like an archaeologist who had stumbled upon a long-forgotten (in authors Naves and Mazuyer’s words, “long-abandoned”) method that was the reason that other methods came into being, like the cold and hot enfleurage processes detailed in this book. What a revelation that garden perfumers can capture the scent of gardenias, magnolias, roses, lily-of-the-valley, heliotrope, linden, and dozens of other fragrant plants in a luxurious, true-to-scent, body powder. For historical purposes, I was also thrilled by the mention of the glove and leather scented processes mentioned, as they gave birth to the first perfumers guilds, as I am the head of the Natural Perfumers Guild. Further research showed that these powder enfleurages were the methods used, in the early perfume industry in France, to produce dusting or body powders, not mixing essential oils and absolutes with powder, which is a new method. “What’s old is new again”.

True, nowadays, many artisans, copying the methods of the larger cosmetics industry, make these aromatic powders by adding essential oils, dried powdered flowers, and absolutes to a base powder such as arrowroot, tapioca root, non-GMO corn, and some clays. But how many have true gardenia absolute? Or use pricey rose essential oils or absolute? Since many artisan perfumers around the world are reviving enfleurage, I am happy to present to everyone this most ancient enfleurage method. For the two decades I have been on perfumery forums and discussion groups, read ancient perfumery books, and followed blogs and spoken with perfumers, and I never found anybody writing about this method. I’m going to focus on a few rare flowers in my garden, like ylang ylang, golden champaca, various jasmines, and Vietnamese and Tahitian gardenias. Well, at least that’s my start! Imagine capturing the scent of your summer roses, lavender, or other delicious plant in powder, and using the results as gifts.

I immediately got some arrowroot powder and harvested some of my ylang ylang flowers and tested the process. Great success! With only one enfleurage, using eighteen ylang ylang flowers and about 2.5 pounds (approx. 1100g) of arrowroot, within one day I had a highly-scented powder. The next day I only had six ylangs to add, but the strong scent of the one day/eighteen flowers almost took my breath away! The next day, when my apprentice Paula came by, she harvested more, and we were almost overcome by the strong scent! She actually asked “is it possible to infuse too much scent?” I replied that if that’s the case, we can just “dilute” it with more powder. We both commented on how the ylang powder scent was so much richer, and intoxicating than the living flowers or the oils – it was overwhelmingly sensual!

anya mccoy's ylang flower powder enfleurage

Eighteen organic ylang flowers from my garden in arrowroot powder, about to be covered in more powder

anya mccoy's ylang flower powder enfleurage

Gently tapping the cover powder over the ylangs to ensure contact between the flower petals and powder. The tray cover was then put in place to cover and keep the scent in.

Powder enfleurage is the easiest and quickest way to draw the fragrance of botanicals into a usable product. Small children can easily make this with adult supervision. Powders are made by simply placing the flowers or leaves (I’m using scented geraniums and mints) in a layer, in a powder. I recommend arrowroot, tapioca root, rice, or non-gmo cornstarch. I would add powdered orris root, or powdered ambrette seed in small amounts to the finished powder as fixatives. You may have to purchase them, because they’re rarely grown in home gardens, but it’s well worth it to have a fixative to make your powder enfleurage last longer. The enfleurage is made in a closed container, and the flowers are sifted out and replaced by recharges. I love to use mint leaves, scented geranium leaves, any flower, and citrus peels with the white pith removed. You may wish to mix a lot of different botanicals together, and make a millefleurs poudre, or you may wish to stick to one scent. My first powder enfleurage was just ylang ylang flowers and arrowroot powder. Heavenly! You can always decide at a later date to mix your one-scent poudres to make a unique dusting powder. If you study perfumery, either by taking classes, or a course, or study on your own, you’ll love this addition to your scented products.

Equipment Needed

o   Choice #1: Scentless powder, such as arrowroot, tapioca non-gmo cornstarch, rice flour, or one that you may prefer. I recommend at least one pound, 454 grams, to start.

o   A closed container, that is shallow, a rectangular or square shape is best, such as a restaurant steamer tray, with a lid that fits snugly. They come in various sizes, so choose one that suits your current project.

o   Drying rack or flat surface if very moist botanicals needs to wilt slightly. Towels, cheesecloth or other porous material spread over an object like an oven rack or screen can work for this purpose.

o   Freshly-picked botanicals that are allowed to wilt slightly, if necessary, in a cool, dark place, placed on the drying rack described above.

o   A spatula, offset spatula, big spoon, or piece of stiff cardboard to move the top layer of powder for recharges.

o   Chopstick, fork, or other implement to check on the stage of dryness.

o   A pan sieve or stainless-steel strainer, or just your hands to remove the botanicals.

o   A chopstick or other instrument to gently tap powder off the botanical when you remove it for recharges.

o   Stainless steel sieve.

o   A decorative container, either with an attached lid with holes to shake the powder out, or a removable lid and a powder puff. Vintage ones are available on Etsy or other Internet sites.

How to Prepare and Process the Powder Enfleurage

  1. This extraction process should be conducted indoors, with no fans on.
  2. Harvest the botanical, and let it dry slightly if it’s extremely moist, (eg lush flowers, mint leaves).  Generally, they should be harvested when they are dry, not after a rain, or when morning dew is on them. Take care not to bruise the botanicals.
  3. Empty the powder of choice in the container, using half the powder for the base.
  4. Use an offset spatula to smooth the powder (optional).
  5. Place the botanical on the powder base, not overlapping, just having the edges touch.
  6. Put the remainder of the powder on the botanical.
  7. Press the powder down gently to ensure surface contact between the botanical and powder. I use a piece of cardboard, or a broad spatula.
  8. Cover the container.
  9. Place the container indoors in a warm, dry place, out of the sun.
  10. Check the botanical for dryness once a day. You want it to be very dry, with no moisture remaining. It typically will be dry in one day.
  11. When dry, take care not to greatly disturb the powder as you either carefully remove the botanical by hand.
  12. Gently tap the botanical with a chopstick to release clinging powder. There will always be some powder remaining on it, that’s unavoidable, but you want to get the excess off, back into the extraction container.
  13. Move about half the powder with a spatula to one end of the container, making a small mound.
  14. Leave a layer of powder on the bottom of the container, allowing this layer to be about 80-90% of the surface area of the bottom.
  15. Recharge the botanical as described in Step 3, and put the top layer of powder back in the container, repeat Steps 5 – 8.
  16. When the powder is scented to your liking, stop recharging with the botanical.
  17. Use a sieve or strainer to remove any last bits of the botanical from the powder, if necessary.
  18. Place the powder in the container of your choice, label with powder used, botanical used, number of recharges, and the date.

It’s summer in the northern hemisphere, and many of you have gardens bursting with beautiful flowers. My friend Andrine just harvested linden flowers and buds in Seattle and is using powder enfleurage to extract their scent.

How to Use Powder Enfleurages

The powder enfleurages can be packaged into nonporous containers to help them retain scent. You can choose screw-top plastic shaker bottles, like those sold in the store for baby powder, cardboard tube powder dispensers (may allow the scent to evaporate over time), metal shaker top canisters, or powder boxes that look pretty on a vanity or bureau. These can be modern or vintage, and a fluffy powder puff is delightful to use, as it brings a very feminine touch to getting dressed.

If you decide to make powder enfleurages to use as deodorants, you may want to choose a shaker top container, so you just have to shake a little into your fingers for application.

Vapor Essence Powder Enfleurage

Two days ago, as I was falling asleep, which is always a great time for ideas to slip into your consciousness, I realized that it would be possible to infuse scented vapors from resins, powdered woods, and incenses into the powder! A few years ago I blogged about the incense warmers sold by Katlyn Breene of Mermade Magickal arts and how they made it possible for me to use incense again. I had become allergic to smoke, but the warmers didn’t produce smoke, they warmed the botanical so that the aromatic vapors filled the room. See below to photos of how I rigged the Golden Lotus Incense Warmer in a restaurant steamer tray and infused the powder with myrrh. The result is gorgeous, and I’ll be infusing frankincense, powdered aloeswood, sandalwood and other botanicals into the powder soon. This way, you get soft, perfumed powder without any ground resins in it, which can get gummy on the skin.

anya mccoy leveling powder enfleurage base

Leveling the powder base for vapor essence enfleurage.

anya mccoy myrrhpowder enfleurage

The Golden Lotus Incense Warmer from Mermade Magickal Arts with Myrrh nestled in powder enfleurage tray.

Myrrh powder enfleurage trays covered with tape over cutout for power cord.

Myrrh powder enfleurage trays covered with tape over cutout for power cord.

Thanks for reading this far, and now the big giveaway: a copy of the Naves and Mazuyer book Natural Perfume Materials, 1947. This book is incredible! It’s typically costs about $200 if you can find it on reseller sites. The gods were smiling on my discovery because two days after I found the tiny passage in the book about the powder enfleurage, I noticed somebody had it on eBay and I won the bid, so I can share my second copy with a reader who does the following:

1. Leave a comment here.

2. Visit my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AnyasGardenPerfumes and “like” the page. That will give you two entries!

3. Please share the post about this that’s on the Facebook page, and anywhere else on social media you like. I really want to get this out to artisans, who can begin working on this new art immediately.

Contest ends 11:59 PM Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Winner will be drawn randomly and announced on Thursday, July 3, 2014. Book will be mailed Priority, insured, with winner receiving tracking number. If book is lost or destroyed in transit, offer will be rescinded, and alternative prize awarded, but every effort will be made to replace book for thirty days. It’s a rare and pricey book, so let’s hope the mail system delivers it safely. 🙂

Ylang Ylang Tincture is Gorgeous!

Monday - 16 June 2014

I wish you could smell these ylang-ylangs!! They look limp, and that’s because I wilt them for an hour or so before putting into tincturing alcohol. The tincture I wrote about a few weeks ago is dark green, and saturated with so much scent, it could be ylang absolute. Incredibly sweet and heady. There are about two dozen in the basket. (I wrote about this tincture a month ago, when I started it, and it is so saturated with aroma molecules now, the alcohol looks black)

Ylang Ylang flowers ready for the alcohol tincture.

Ylang Ylang flowers ready for the alcohol tincture.

I posted this on my Facebook page the other day, and had a tremendous amount of interest. Most aromatherapists and natural perfumers know the ylang ylang essential oils and concrete that is available for blends. I’m fortunate in that I live in the subtropics, so that I can grow this tree, but I was able to inform readers that there are dwarf varieties that will grow in colder climates. Just grow it in a pot, and bring it indoors when it gets cold. It will need a sunny window to thrive.

The flowers tincture in alcohol, or infuse into oil very easily. Their scent is very strong, so anyone growing it will have instant gratification, either just smelling it growing, or the end product, if they extract the scent such as I do. You can buy all varieties at http://toptropicals.com

Extraction methods will be covered in detail in my upcoming book Perfume From Your Garden.

Ylang Ylang Flower Tincture is Gorgeous Perfume!

Tuesday - 13 May 2014
The first tincture flowers are in the jar. The slightly-wilted second recharge flowers are in the foreground.

The first charge of flowers are in the jar. The slightly-wilted second recharge flowers are in the foreground. The liter jar holds about eight flowers, and they give color and scent immediately to the alcohol.

If you have Ylang Ylang growing, you must tincture it, it’s so beautiful, so easy.

My ylang ylang is blooming here in Miami, and I gathered flowers in various stages of maturity, from green to the “ripest” with yellow petals and a red throat, and put them into 190 proof alcohol. Within a few minutes, they had surrendered their perfume to the alcohol. I let them sit for a day, and then recharged the alcohol. The flowers are slightly wilted, as you see, and that is the best way to prepare them for the alcohol, as it insures the minimum amount of water is introduced to the alcohol.

Now, if you just want to make a beautiful room, linen, or body spray, use 100 proof vodka, no need for the 190 proof alcohol I use. I use it because it is for use in perfumes, and that’s the standard proof we perfumers need. For a spray, you can even dilute it a bit more with water when you are done recharging. You may wish to recharge many times to get a really strong extract. Have fun!

The scent of picked ylang ylang flowers is sweeter and more delicate than the concrete, absolute or various essential oil grades, it’s just lovely. I encourage my students to make extracts of many fresh and dried perfumery ingredients, it’s a rewarding adjunct to buying essences from suppliers. Of course, details on these processes will be in my upcoming book Perfume From Your Garden.

It’s Hyacinth Tincture and Enfleurage Time

Wednesday - 12 March 2014
Three fragrant hyacinth flower stalks

Three fragrant hyacinth flower stalks

It’s a real hassle to try to grow hyacinths in Miami. Yes, I can get the bulbs from a northern supplier, put them in the refrigerator to force them, try to harden the bulbs after the blooms are spent, etc., but I really don’t have the time or space for that. I’m not going to buy hyacinths from Fresh Market or Whole Foods again. This year I discovered that the local Publix has much stronger-scented ones, and since one stem of the four flowering bulbs in a pot was drooping, I got two pots for the price of one. The flowers were fine, the stem just looked awful. Into the tincture and enfleurage they go!

These processes will be documented in my upcoming book Perfume From Your Garden. If you like, you can follow the posts about the book contents I write on Facebook by clicking here, and you can sign up for the newsletter here. Both sites will have giveaways when the book is published, for members of those sites only.

The Beauty of Aromatic Tinctures

Monday - 24 February 2014

It’s not just the fragrance of the plant that is beautiful, some of the colors of the tinctures are gorgeous, too. These photos of some of my tinctures are about ten years old – it’s time to take some new photos! At the time, I put the jars on my windowsill, and the screen pattern came through, so I “smeared” the photos with a photo program. It made some of the colors morph a bit, and I loved it. They are all very close to the natural color of the tinctures, just a bit of an abstraction. The deerstongue green spectacular. The deerstongue and michelia alba are the easiest/quickest to tincture of the four. They’ll be in the Perfume From Your Garden book. Sign up to be on my mailing list, there’ll be special offers for newsletter recipients when the book is released. I’m in the midst of step-by-step instructions for the tinctures right now, and I’m working to make it as easy as can be to follow the instructions.Four aromatic tinctures