Adventures In Hydrosol

lemon balm hydrosol

As summer sets in and the ritual of gathering plants begins, I am making hydrosol from garden gathered plants. The lemon balm has gone wild in the beds and this makes a lovely light lemony floral water that can be used externally and internally.

What is a hydrosol?

A true hydrosol or hydrolat is the water composed when the plant material is gently steam distilled to release their unique medicinal therapeutic properties that capture the essence of the live plant.

These aromatic plant water extracts also contain tiny amounts of essential oil, therefore resembles the volatile plant oil but in a far more gentle, ethereal form. This makes them suitable to apply directly on to the skin without dilution.  I don’t add any preservatives as it would lose its therapeutic value. As long as the container is sterile and it is kept in the fridge, the hydrosol can last for over a year, depending on which plant is used.

“For therapeutic use, hydrosols need to be totally natural, with no added components, stabilisers or preservatives”

– International Federation Of Aromatherapists.

The lemon balm is organically grown in my garden and is one of my favourite plants, as its so versatile. The hydrosol has a light lemony scent and is healing and hydrating on the skin. It can be used for rashes, cuts and sores, for eczema and as a face toner. Internally, it is taken for staying calm, and for morning sickness, also known to support ADHA (Hydrosol, the next aromatherapy – Suzanne Catty)

I use a small 2 litres copper rotating alembic which I purchased from copper masters here and did a steam distillation. I chose a copper still because it is the same set up used in medieval times, and there is something beautiful in using the same apparatus and ancient methods. Copper is also a wonderful conducter of heat and has antimicrobial properties, making it ideal for water.

The process is simple but quite enchanting. As the water in the copper pot boils, the steam rises and goes through the plant material, and in to the gooseneck tube. The aromatic plant molecules get swept away with the steam into a coil inside the condenser unit, which is filled with cold water. Once the steam comes in contact with the cold surface of the condensing unit, its converts back into liquid. This creates the hydrosol and a very minuscule amount of essential oil. This is the active therapeutic part of the plant captured in water – pure alchemy!

The lemon balm hydrosol took about an hour to produce, and I managed to fill 2 x 700ml glass jars.

Next, I’m planning to use the rose geranium in my garden to make more hydrosol!

The books I read proir to making hydrosol and would highly recommend are: ‘Hydrosols: The New Aromatherapy – Suzanne Catty and ‘Hydrosol Therapy’ – Lydia Bosson.

Hyacinth Enfleurage Pomade

New in the shop, enfleurage pomade made with Hyacinth flowers, using the cold extraction method. This process was definately a labour of love. I spent two months diligently recharging hyacinth flower on to a layer of organic shea butter. Each flower exhales its scent which gets absorbed in to the fat. The scent is delicate and true. The character notes are floral, green and buttery. Works well as a delicate solid perfume.

What is enfleurage?
Enfleurage is a beautiful ancient technique of extracting fragrance from delicate flowers. The botanical is placed on to a layer of fat that absorbs the scent of the fresh breathing flower. The flowers are replaced every day for an extensive period of time, until the scent is captured. The base that absorbs the flower scented molecules is called a ‘pomade’.
This method was devised in 18th century France using animal fat, and then the fat was further distilled with alcohol.
However, I stop at the ‘pomade’ stage, so NO alcohol is used, and the fat I use is organic and 100% plant based. Pomade was also historically made in ancient Egypt and the Near East, using the same technique of applying flowers to a base of fat.

My enfleurage pomade is mindfully made in very small batches, when the botanical is in season (the Hyacinth are grown in my garden). It really is labour intensive, but also a labour of love. The scent is subtle and true.

New Vintage Chai Botanical Perfume

botanical chai perfume

Sunrise over the haveli, awakened with the cries of an old fashioned chai walla, welcoming the haze of the morning mist with a daily ritual of black malty tea, dark spices, steamed milk and traces of saffron and jasmine.

New for 2020 is Vintage Chai botanical perfume. Malty black Assam tea is infused for a couple of months to give the base. Added to this is a number of chai spices such as Cloves, Cardamom, Star Anise, Nutmeg, Pepper and Coriander infusions. There are floral notes from Jasmine Sambac, Osmanthus and infused Saffron. The base notes are heavy with musky Ambrette seed, Labdanum, Sandalwood and warm comforting notes from Benzoin and ethically sourced Tahitian vanilla which I extracted myself. The character is gourmand, spicy, floral, oriental and incense like.

DIY Olive Leaf Tincture

My olive tree is about 10 years old. It’s an amazing tree to have in the UK with its evergreen leaves and occasionally a small olive harvest.
Olive leaf extract is made from the leaves of the olive plant. It contains an active ingredient called oleuropein, a natural antibiotic and antioxidant that can help or prevent many diseases. The bitter leaves of the olives have been traditionally used as a herbal medicine for thousands of years. You can read find more about the science here.

Benefits Of Olive Leaf Extract
• antiatherogenic(prevents formation of plaque in the arteries)
• Anti-diabetic
• antihypertensive (lowers blood pressure)
• anti-inflammatory
• anti-microbial
• antioxidant,
• anti-viral
• bitter
• hepatic
• hypocholesterolemic(lowers cholesterol and protects the circulatory system)
• hypoglycemic (lowers blood sugar)
• protective against radiation damage
• support healthy thyroid function

I have been making an alcohol free version of olive leaf extract for a few years now, below is the recipe I use. I have made 2 jars of tincture here, one with apple cider vinegar (ACV) and one with vegetable glycerine. Glycerine has a sweet taste which many prefer. Alternatively ACV also has extra health benefits too. I make these separately (don’t mix the ACV and the glycerine together).

Ingredients:
1 sterilised wide mouth jar with a non-corrosive lid.
Enough olive leaves to fill the jar.
Organic apple cider vinegar OR vegetable glycerine, depending on which you prefer.
Sieve or cheesecloth to strain the tincture.

Method:
Use unblemished clean leaves which have not been sprayed with any chemicals. Alternatively you can purchase organic olive leaves.
Fill almost all of the jar with the olive leaves.

Once the jar is almost full, pour the apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerine over the leaves to cover.
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, at room temperature.

Shake occasionally and let the tincture steep for about 6 week or more.
After a minimum of 6 weeks shake well and then strain the tincture using a cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve. Transfer in to a sterilised jar and keep in a dark place. For dosages, you can transfer a small amount in an amber glass dropper bottle.

Dosage: I would take 2ml of tincture 3 times a day.

Disclaimer: herbal medicine is powerful – always do your research or ask for medical advice before hand!

Dianthus Enfleurage Pomade

enfleurage pomade

My summer adventure with enfleurage has continued and I’m so please to offer this beautiful Dianthus carnation flower enfleurage pomade to my shop. Made from fresh flowers laid on to a bed of shea butter and jojoba wax and recharged regularly until the scent has transfixed itself on the fat. The result is a subtle scent of the flower. It works beautifully as a single note, soliflore perfume.

My enfleurage pomade is mindfully made in very small batches, when the botanical is in season. It really is labour intensive, but also a labour of love. The scent is subtle and true, like laying on a fresh bed of flowers.

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.