Category Archives: News

New! Loose Incense

loose incense

I’m excited to share something I have been working on all summer, a range of 6 new loose incense recipes. I’ve been busy growing, harvesting and drying many herbs to add to my loose incense collection.

Incense has always been a part my life. Growing up, my mother used Indian incense sticks and cones as well as Arabian bukoor and resins. Scenting the home is something I do everyday, whether through incense, or essential oils, candles, or sage sticks, the natural aroma of botanicals and resins always helps me feel in a good place.

Many cultures around the world use incense as a modality for a wide range of reasons. The ancient practice of burning plants and resins, has been used for thousands of years for its spiritual, therapeutic and healing properties.
Studies have shown that burning certain botanicals, can release negative ions from the atmosphere, improves focus and increases the sense of wellbeing in the same way as aromatherapy does. Indeed it was the first ‘aromatherapy.’

Incense Uses:
– Promote calmness and relaxation.
– Clears negative energy.
– Focus and clears the mind.
– As a medicinal modality.
– For meditation.
– Fragrance
– Cleans impurities from the air.

My blend of sacred resins, woods, herbs and flowers have been intuitively chosen for their different properties. Many of the herbs have been organically grown in my garden, other ingredients are wild harvested and ethically and organically sourced.

How to burn loose incense:
Place a charcoal disc in a heat proof dish.
Hold a flame to the charcoal disc until it is lit and an ash grey colour.
Add a very small amount of incense on top and enjoy.

New Botanical Perfume ‘Birdsong’

birdsong botanical peach perfume

A Midsummer’s day when the light hits the trees, and the branches sway in the colours of a gentle wind. Scattered crushed peaches lay on an orchard floor, accompanied by a sea of iris. Overhead, there is a symphony of tiny winged creatures, and the scent, is that of birdsong.

Birdsong is an earthy grassy gourmand I have been working on for a while. I must admit I have spent months perfecting this scent, made with extract off macerated peaches, essential oils, and plant, seed and bark extracts and all mindfully made with organic, wild crafted or ethically sourced botanicals.

Opening notes are Fresh Oranges, Bergamot and Elemi merged with herbaceous Pettitgrain. Galbanum adds the scent of grass, helped along with the extracts of Green tea. This leads to a heart of crushed peaches, merged with iris root, evoking a hint of violets. Osmanthus is fruity and narcotic and then there is a subtle mention of Gardenia. The base ends with Sandalwood and the golden warmth of Amber, Vanilla and Benzoin. Labdamen is also incorporated and juxtaposed with the earthy scent of Vetiver.

Enfleurage Pomade

rose enfluerage

This is simplified version of ‘enfleurage’ a beautiful age old technique of extracting essential oil from delicate flowers. Historically this method originated in 18th century France, by perfumers who were looking at different ways to capture the scent of flowers. Similar methods of extracting scent from fat and oils were also popular in antiquity, in ancient Egypt and the Near East.

Certain delicate flowers such as roses, tuberose, orange blossom, violets, lilacs and jasmine continue to release perfume after picking.  Fat has excellent absorption properties, therefore when they come in to contact with a fragrant flower, they readily absorbs the perfume that is released. Traditionally, the fat used in enfleurage comes from animals, and later this is combined with alcohol to further distill the fragrance. I am going to omit the alcohol process, and use coconut oil instead of animal fat. The fat containing the flower scent and oils is called an ‘enfleurage pomade’ this is what I will be making.

You will need:

2 glass dishes, one to fit on top of the other.

Fat – enough to cover about 2cm of one of the glass dishes. I’ve use coconut oil here.

Fragrant flowers – enough to lay on top of the fat.

The process:

+ Gently melt the coconut oil in a pot, but do not heat up. Pour the fat in to the glass dish and let it cool. Once cooled, score the fat in to a diamond pattern to help the fragrance of the flower absorb the fat.

+ Before adding the flower on to the fat, remove any foliage or stems from the flower. Place the flower face down on to the fat, making sure you cover it entirely with the floral matter. Gently press down. Place the second glass dish, or a cover on top. You can seal with tape or cling film to make sure it is completely covered, but I just like to place a cover or lid on top.

+ Leave in a cool dark place for 24 to 48 hours, depending on the type of bloom.  Now remove the old blooms and recharge with fresh ones. Repeat this process ideally, a minimum of 6 to 7 times and up to 30 times. The scent is stronger the more times you repeat this process.

+ You now have an elegant enfleurage pomade!

+ You can whip the scented ‘pomade’ up and put in to glass jars and use as required. Makes a wonderful balm for the skin and hair, or use as a base for making other beautifully scented products.

Homemade Smudge Incense Sticks

The burning of herbs for its smoke has been practiced since ancient times in many different indigenous cultures for thousands of years as a ceremonial ritual for healing and cleansing. The benefits of burning herbs have been studied and have shown that it does in fact release antimicrobial as well as other beneficial properties, which keeps bacteria and viruses at bay. See study here and here.
Smudge sticks that are derived from Native America are usually made up of sage or a combination of herbs. Different herbs such as rosemary, bay, thyme, cedar, and flowers such as lavender or rose can be used. You can research the herbs you want to combine. For example lavender for calm and restfulness, rosemary for mental clarity and purification, sage for cleansing the bacteria in the air etc. Be sure to use plants that have not been sprayed with pesticides. You can ethically wild craft the plants to be used or use your own from your garden.

You will need:

Fresh or dried herbs
Cotton twine/hemp
Scissors

Collect all the plant material. You can use dry or fresh, or a mixture of both.
Here I have used herbs that are in season in my garden right now. They include sage, rosemary, lavender, olive leave, bay leaf, calendula and geranium flowers.

Cut the plants to similar lengths and bundle together.

Cut a long piece string or hemp, enough to wrap 2 – 3 times around the plants, and to make two knots.

Start tying the bottom of the plants together, making a knot and wrap around the bottom a few times.

Wind the string around firmly at an angle all the way to the top of the bunched plants and then wind it back down diagonally, in a zig zag fashion, and tie a not at the bottom again.

Let the plants dry out for a few weeks.

To smudge:

Light the top of the smudge stick. Once it has a flame, blow it out quickly and let it smoke. Fan the smoke around the room or around your body and hold a fireproof bowl underneath to catch the ash, or to place the smudge stick in.

The Nature Of Botanical Perfume

When it comes to botanical perfume, it has a completely different nature compared to synthetic perfumes that are mass produced and created in labs.

The colour
Botanical perfumes take on the hue of the botanical ingredients. Perfumes with a high percentage of darker materials such as Oakmoss, Oud or Labdanum will give a darker colour. Perfumes with a larger percentage of light coloured botanicals will have a lighter hue.

Sediment
My perfume making methods are motivated by ancient civilisations. The Egyptians, Greeks and Arabs used botanicals and oils to produce their scents. The ingredients come from plant, seeds, spices, flowers, bark and resins and are obtained through tinctures, infusions, essential oils and absolutes of these plant materials. As a result, my perfumes may have some sediment from the raw natural ingredients. This does not effect the scent in any way, just shake the bottle before application.

Slight variation in scent
As with anything in nature, botanicals vary from season to season, depending on their environment. I think this is the beauty of a botanical perfume as you capture the true essence of the plant in a bottle, as opposed to chemically formulated identical perfumes.

Longevity
With botanical perfume, the durability depends on the alchemy between the botanical ingredients and your body temperature. Therefore it can vary from person to person. Typically a scent can last anything between 3 – 6 hours. Main stream synthetic perfumes have a chemical fixatives that keep the scent at an intrusive level and makes it lasts longer. As there are no chemicals in my perfume, I use plants that are natural fixatives to help lengthen the sillage of the perfume. These can include Sandalwood, Vetiver, Cedarwood, Ambrette seed, Violet leaf, Vanilla and many more wonderful botanicals.

New Botanical Perfume ‘The Bookist’

Cosy evenings, darken days, dusty books, serendipity old bookshops, orange peel, steaming hot ground coffee and decadent chocolate. This is a description of my new perfume ‘the Bookist’ a multifarious fragrance with a character that is gourmand, earthy and woody.

I wanted to create a scent to wear for autumn and the winter season. When nights draw in and there’s a feeling of nostalgia as summer has ended and the leaves have fallen. The feeling of comfort when sitting in an old armchair, reading an old book, drinking bitter coffee and the comfort of eating sweet chocolate treats.

The notes include Bitter Orange, Bergamot, Magnolia, Damascus Rose, Pepper, Black Cumin, freshly brewed Coffee, pure Cocoa essence, Vanilla, Amber, Vetiver, Benzoin, Amyris, Cedar and Ho wood. An enveloping elixir, that is reassuring and calmative, perfect for this time of year.

Fire Cider

Fire cider was first introduced to me a few years ago by my sister. It’s an old folk remedy made from a blend of steeped vegetables, herbs and roots in vinegar. Known to be a powerful immune booster, that is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and great as a decongestant too. I can personally vouch for fire cider, I started drinking a tablespoon of this every day from October last, and found it hugely beneficial in keeping colds at bay.

There are plenty of recipes online for fire cider, below is my version:
Try to find as much organic ingredients as possible. It doesn’t have to be the exact measurements as listed below:

1 litre sterilised preserving jar (or a couple of smaller ones will do)
½ cup peeled and shredded/diced ginger root
½ cup peeled and shredded/diced fresh turmeric root (alternatively a tablespoon of dried turmeric if fresh is not available)
¼ cup Horseradish – if you can find it
½ cup white onion, chopped
¼ cup minced or crushed garlic cloves
2 scotch bonnet chilli peppers, chopped
2 lemons chopped including the peel
1 orange chopped, including the peel
Organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the mother (has to be raw and with the mother).
A few sprigs of Rosemary and thyme
A teaspoon of black seeds (nigella sativa seeds/kalonji)
A teaspoon of peppercorns
A couple of cloves
Maple syrup or agave nectar to taste. For non vegans, raw organic honey.

Add all the chopped/grated vegetables, roots, herbs and spices in to the jar until it’s about 3/4 full. Pour the apple cider vinegar over this mixture.
If you’re using a metal lid, line it with wax paper so that the vinegar doesn’t corrode it, and then put the lid on. Place in a dark, room temperature cabinet for about 4 weeks. Shake every few days.

When the fire cider is ready, shake well and then strain the root and veg using a cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve. You can also put the sieved vegetable mixture through a juice extractor to extract even more liquid.

Add maple syrup or agave nectar taste and store in the fridge in the sterilised jar.

For dosage, you can take a tablespoon of the fire cider liquid every day or even add to your food or a salad.

Please note, herbal medicine is powerful – always do your research or ask for medical advice before hand!

 

The Scent Of Mountains And A New Solid Perfume

Recently, I took an impromptu trip to Turkey, to the small town of Gazipasa, a district of Antalya Province on the Mediterranean coast. A quiet agricultural town, renowned for its banana plantations and surrounded by cliffs, mountains and pine trees. Not on the tourist map, Gazipasa has many undiscovered coves, an underground cave, ruins, and also home to the Caretta Caretta sea turtles.

I arrived late at the hotel due to flight delays and the first thing I could hear was the sound of crickets. The scent that hit me immediately was of a mixture of sea and herbaceous plants. Having only a couple of days in Gazipasa, I didn’t get a chance to go to many of the places I wanted to, however I did go the rugged area of Zeytinada with its fir, cedar, juniper and black pine clad mountains.

Walking through the forested mountains, the scent was not something I had sensed before. The air was heavy with a green mossy, herby piny, peppery scent, but also something resembling a touch of burnt wood and dead vegetation. The heaviness was possibly from the humidity and being so close to the sea? Being surrounded by years of ancient wooded trees and dirt and also the stillness of the sea and the rock cliffs added to the atmosphere and fragrance. A unique aroma, one that was overwhelming and at the same time calming. A bit like trying a new perfume for the first time and not being sure of it and then later on, actually loving it.

Inspired by the scent of the mountainous region of Zeytinada, I created my ‘Wild Mountain’ solid perfume, on my return. The perfume includes essential oils and extracts of Galbanum, Lavender, Juniper, Palo Santo, Vanilla, Amber, Cederwood, Oakmoss, Vetiver and Birch tar. A strong characterful scent, not for the faint hearted.