Category Archives: Flowers & Herbs

Washing beeswax

Well guys, I know I haven’t been posting for some time. I’ve been really busy, life is like that 🙂 I have been doing and learning a great deal, latest was how to wash beeswax. Japp, it’s washed – with water. I came across a bee-keeper from whom I ordered 3 kg of bees-wax. When I went to pick it up, it wasn’t this clean, ready-to-go wax I was expecting, but a huge clump of dirty wax with residue and bits in it.  The lady told me I had to wash it and sketchily described the process, in Luxemburgish. I sort of got it and I’m no newbie, so rather than spending another day driving back and forth, I decided to wash it.

See, it's a bee

See, it’s a bee

Breaking up the clump I found both a bee and little pockets of dark brown raw honey…Yumm, love honey ❤

This is how to give bees-wax a wash:

You need a pot that widens towards the rim. Make sure it’s not to wide for the amount of wax you have. Fill it with about an inch of distilled water and place the wax in the water that should go about halfway up the wax. Now set it on medium heat and allow to melt. Be patient and check often. (I forgot it and mine was just about to boil when I took it off the heat.) Now put it aside and leave to cool. Halfway through I wrapped a towel around the pot and covered it with another towel (something the bee-woman did with her arms while explaining the process indicated this to me). The cooling process is long but the whole house is scented in the process and it’s delicious. When cool, lift the bees-wax (which now has a light creamy yellow color) out of the water and scrape off the residue stuck to the bottom and lower sides. Break up the clean wax and package. Done!

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Russia Warns Obama: Global War Over “Bee Apocalypse” Coming Soon | EUTimes.net

toxic to bees, toxic to us

toxic to bees, toxic to us

I suggest you take the time to read this article as it pertains to global health. The more we inform ourselves on important issues, the better choices we can make. It used to be possible to hide your head in the sand, like the ostrich, but those days are gone forever. Now everybody needs information and knowledge to understand how to survive into the future, not only as a country or a people, but as a world. You might not be hit by this, but your children definitely will be. So inform yourself and take a stand, at one point your opinion will be called upon.

Russia Warns Obama: Global War Over “Bee Apocalypse” Coming Soon | EUTimes.net.

Skin food; oatmeal floral mask & peeling

Oatmeal & floral powder

Oatmeal & floral powder

I get so many questions about natural skin care and how to find stuff that is not full of chemicals. Some raw materials take some studying up on to understand how to use and blend, or they are not always so easy to find, but there is plenty of stuff you can make yourself with really simple ingredients that you either already have in your home or that are easy to find in your local health food store. Here is one wonderful product that I use. It is very mild and can be used 1-2 times per week. You can make up the powder and store it cool and dark in a jar with tight-fitting lid which will save you a lot of work. When it’s time to use, you just add the other ingredients to make a paste. Easy!

What you need for the powder:

  • 1 dl Organic oatmeal
  • 2-5 teaspoons dried lavender flowers or rose petals. If you use rose petals, add the larger amount to get a nice scent. For my blend I use 2-3 tsp lavender flowers. I prefer the lavender during the summer as it is really soothing and has a wonderful scent.

What you need for the paste:

  • Coldpressed vegetable oil, I use sunflower
  • Hydrosol of lavender, rose or witch hazel. If you don’t have hydrosol, you can use a herbal infusion or water.
  • Organic lemon
  • A bit of honey (optional)
  • If you like, you can add a drop or two of essential oil to the finished paste (optional), I don’t because I want it really mild and the floral scent is gorgeous on its own.
Really simple and easy-to-find ingredients

Really simple and easy-to-find ingredients

Step one:

In a mixer or a mortar, crush oatmeal and dried flowers to a powder, the finer it is, the better it will spread.

Step two:

When it’s time for a scrub, peeling or a mask: For a facial, mix 1 tsp of the powder with 1/2 tsp vegetable oil, 1/2 tsp hydrosol, infusion or water, a few drops of lemon juice and a dash of honey. Mix it all together to a paste. If you want to use it on your whole body you need to make about 4-5 times the amount of paste.

On clean, moist skin apply the paste with circular massage movements, you want to get the circulation going. This is the peeling effect. Now you can wash it off or leave the paste on for about 15 min to get a deeply moisturizing mask before you wash it off with lukewarm water. Pat dry and apply a light oil to your face to add more yummy nourishing food for your skin (sunflower, thistle, jojoba, grape seed oils are easy to get and fine for your skin).

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Dried rose petals

One last point; When you make stuff at home for your skin care, always use organic products. If you want your powder to look more beautiful, add some whole flowers or petals to get some colour in there.

VETIVER the oil of tranquility

vetiver roots

vetiver roots

Vetiver (Vetiveria zizaniodes) also called khus khus, is a perennial scented grass. It has a straight stem, long narrow leaves and grows in tufts, reaching a height of 2 meters. It has abundant white scented rootlets.Vetiver is native to South India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, but is cultivated in the Comoros Islands, Reunion, Java and Haiti. In India and Sri Lanka the essence is known as The oil of tranquility.

Vetiver handbag

Vetiver handbag

The fibrous grass is used for many different purposes; as protection against soil-erosion during the tropical rainy season, as pest and weed control in fields and to protect domestic animals from vermin. In 19th century Calcutta the rhizomes of Vetiver was manufactured into awnings, blinds and sunshades. During the hot season water was sprinkled over them which cooled the room while perfuming it. This made vetiver a very popular scent in Britain as it reminded the former British dwellers in India of the colonial times. At the time it was also used for perfuming linens and preventing moth. Ground rhizomes were used to manufacture sachet powders.

VetiverEssentialOilVetiver is widely used in perfumery. It has excellent fixative qualities (binding and stabilizing more volatile essences in a perfume blend). It imparts a woody, slightly earthy, green scent to the finished blend. The essential oil of vetiver is obtained by steam distillation of the washed, chopped and dried roots and rootlets. It is a viscous oil with an amber to brown, olive colour that deepens and turns reddish-brown with age, the scent is deep, smoky, woody and earthy with a touch of green freshness. The best quality oil comes from Reunion and is called Bourbon Vetiver.

USES.

  • Skin: Acne, oily skin, cuts and wounds
  • Muscle: Anti-inflammatory, arthritis, muscular aches and pains, rheumatism, sprains and stiffness.
  • Nervous system: Depression, nervous tension, sleeping problems, stress, PMT.

Personal: I love this beautiful oil. It is safe to use with children, elderly or the very ill. It is deeply relaxing without being sopoforic rather, it brings you back into yourself and gives a feeling of calm assurance. I used it together with Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) for a nap when I was pregnant and to this day it was the most glorious sleep-time I ever had 🙂 I use it for clients mainly when they seem to be “outside of themselves” and can’t find peace and balance. Vetiver is deeply grounding and nurturing in nature. It is often well-liked by children and helps them to calm down when upset. I think the deep earthy scent reminds them of playing outside in the park or forest and it brings them to a happy place.

MAGNOLIA heart

Magnolia_on_parchment_t

Magnolia

Magnolia is a huge and rather confusing arena; researching it for the essential oil is like moving through a labyrinth, looking for clues to connect the dots. There are more than 200 different species and it is not easy to discern exactly which is which.  Over the years, hybrids, new species and sub-species have been found and created, making it even more confusing. The plant is considered to originate in Central Asia, the Americas and West Indies. In the Himalayas, China and Japan  it has a long history of use in traditional medicine. Later it was brought to many other countries and continents to finally be introduced to Europe in the 17th century. Magnolia is believed to be one of the most ancient flowering plants, fossilized specimens have been dated as far back as 95 million years! The tree existed well before the bee and pollination was, and still is to a degree, done by beetles.

The Magnolia was named after the French botanist Pierre Magnol in 1703. The sub genus Michelia was named after the Italian priest and botanist Pietro Antonio Micheli. The names Magnolia & Michelia are important to know as they define different oils.

Magnolia_liliiflora

Magnolia liliiflora

The most common Magnolia is a tree that grows to about 27 meters high with a greyish bark and dark green leathery leaves. In spring it blooms with large white or purple flowers. The flowers are single and situated at the end of branches. Michelia is smaller and bushier, the flowers, white (Michelia x alba) or orange (Michelia champaca) are clustered among the leaves. The flowers are highly scented and grow in profusion on all Magnolias.

The essential oil of Magnolia comes mainly from China. Michelia x alba (also called “White champaca”, “White Jade Orchid Tree”, “Bai Yu Lau”) and Magnolia fargesii are the main species, from which the flowers are distilled. The flowers are picked at night, when the scent is at its peak and the scent is absolutely divine; light, fruity-floral with sweet buttery undertones and a little sharp edge. There is also an absolute which is deeper and heavier in its scent.

Image from Wikipedia

Michelia Champaca. Image from Wikipedia

Champaca (Michelia champaca), which is fondly called “Joy Perfume Tree”, is sometimes called magnolia, but it is actually an absolute that is quite different from magnolia both in scent and action, so pay attention to the Latin name.

USES: Magnolia oil has an affinity for the heart on a vibrational level, instilling a sense of beauty and self esteem. It is of great help against anxiety, insecurity and fear. As an aphrodisiac it helps us to release inhibitions and increase sensuality. It brings joy and exultation.

Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnolia_%C3%97_alba

Magnolia x alba/Michelia x alba. Image from Wikipedia

PERSONAL: I use this oil mainly for its vibrational and emotional properties to enhance the feeling of Self. Useful for people who have postural problems creating aches and stiffness due to inner emotional pressure; then I use the oil together with posture correction. It is also helpful for shy, quiet and insecure individuals who make themselves invisible.

As with other expensive floral oils, this oil is enhanced in lower doses, both as a perfume as well as therapeutically. I use only one drop to a full body massage. Too high doses can be cloying and overpowering, creating nausea, almost as if the scent “kills itself”. It is so gorgeous that it can be used on its own as a perfume, you will walk around with a smile, feeling fabulous.

EXTRACTION METHODS FOR ESSENTIAL OILS, what is the difference?

There are different ways of extracting the essential oils, or scents, from plant matter and I will explain the methods in this post. Some oils can be extracted through different methods and give EO’s  different in scent: Rose, for example, is both distilled; Rose Otto, and solvent extracted; Rose absolute, giving very different scents. Jasmine can be both solvent extracted; Jasmine absolute, and extracted through enfleurage; Jasmine enfleurage, but it can’t be steam distilled.

SteamdistillationSTEAMDISTILLATION:  The most commonly used method.  Steam is passed through the plant matter, “popping” the essential oil cells in the plant, carrying the light-weight EO with it into a cooler where the steam returns to water and the essential oil separates from the water. This is then collected in a vessel where water and essential oil will  separate since EO’s don’t mix with water. Depending on the density of the EO, it will either sink to the bottom or stay on top of the water. The EO is then taken out and bottled while the water is either used again or bottled as a hydrolat. The steam will only carry molecules that are light-weight enough, leaving behind waxes and other heavier plant-matter. Other light-weight molecules that are water-soluble will be carried by the steam and stay in the resulting water, hydrolat, which also contains tiny amounts of EO.

SOLVENT EXTRACTION (absolute, concrete, resinoid):This method is used mainly for very fragile materials such as flowers (jasmine, tuberose), or to extract scents for perfumery, as absolutes tend to be more true in scent to the real thing. The plant matter is mixed with a solvent, usually hexane, in which essential oil, waxes and colour is extracted from the plant matter. The solvent is then distilled off, leaving a waxy, semi-solid substance called concréte which consists of essential oil and other plant substances such as natural waxes. The concréte is then mixed with alcohol and filtered from all substances but the aromatic material. After evaporating the alcohol, there is an absolute.

COLD EXPRESSION: This method is used for all citrus oils, where the essential oil is found in the rind of the fruit. There are two different methods: The sponge method: The rind and pith is removed from the fruit and soaked in warm water to become more pliable. It was then inverted to break the cells that hold the essential oil. The EO is collected by sponges which are then squeezed to release the liquid. Water and EO separates. Écuelle à picquer: The citrus is placed in a rotating device with needles that break the EO cells, the oil and water-based material run off through a funnel, the oil is separated from the water and bottled.

CO2 EXTRACTION: Hypercritical carbon dioxide gas extraction. CO2 is the gas we breath out and the gas that plants thrive on. Carbon dioxide becomes hypercritical when a certain amount of pressure is applied, which means that the gas is turned into a liquid. This liquid can be used as a safe solvent for extracting EO’s from plant matter. CO2 is inert and doesn’t interact with the essence that is being extracted, furthermore there is no thermal degradation of the essence, since heat is not being applied. To remove the CO2, all that is needed is to remove the pressure, turning the liquid into gas, which can be used again, leaving only the EO. To obtain EO’s, relatively low atmospheric pressure is needed, extracting only the volatile parts of the plant. When higher atmospheric pressure is used, “heavier” plant materials are extracted as well (waxes, resins), leaving a substance much like the absolutes but without any traces of solvents.

enfleurageENFLEURAGE: A very old, time-consuming method which is hardly ever used today. The only oil I have come across that is extracted this way is a lovely Jasmine. There is not much of it around and it is very costly. Cold enfleurage: Odorless fat that is solid at room-temperature  (usually deodorized tallow or lard) is smeared onto framed glass-plates, called “chassis“, upon which the flower petals are spread in a single layer. The scent is then absorbed by the fat. Once the petals are depleted, they are removed and new petals are spread onto the fat. This is repeated until the fat is saturated with scent, it is then called a pomade. The pomade is mixed with alcohol, drawing the scent into the alcohol. The fat and alcohol is then separated and when the alcohol evaporates it leaves the absolute. Hot enfleurage:Petals are stirred into deodorized fat and heated. Again, depleted petals are strained and new added until the saturation is complete. The rest of the process is the same as in cold enfleurage. The remaining fat is used for soap as it is still scented. If you have read or seen “The Perfumer”, this is the method he used to extract the scent of woman 🙂

Citrus aurantium var. amara – Abundance

Citrus aurantium var. amaraThis is a tree; the bitter orange tree. It yields no less than three different essential oils; from the fruit (bitter orange), the flowers (neroli) and the leaves (petit grain bigaradier). How’s that for abundance?

The tree originated in southern China and northeast India and was later introduced to Italy. It is widely cultivated for its oil in France, Paraguay, Africa, Italy and Tahiti.  The name amara comes from the Latin “acrumen”,  in French amère, which means bitter. This evergreen tree grows to a height of 10  meters, the leaves are dark green and glossy. Old leaves fall after new ones have grown. The trunk is smooth and greyish as are the branches. It carries fragrant white flowers and fruits that are smaller than sweet orange. It is the hardiest of all citrus trees.

Bitter orange (pomerans and bigerade are other names for it) is the essential oil pressed from the rinds of the fruits. In perfumery it is sometimes called “Seville orange”. The scent is reminiscent of sweet orange but sharper and deeper. It is fresh, dry with a slight floral undertone.

USES:

  • Skin: It helps balance the sebum-production, making it useful for oily skin. Its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities can be used for acne. Use in massage against stretchmarks.
  • Circulation: Can help with water-retention.
  • Digestion: tonic and aiding cramps, indigestion, flatulence.
  • Emotional: Studies have showed that bitter orange oil can “quiet” the brain which makes it useful against insomnia when there is too much “chatter” in the head. It is helpful against anxiety or feeling low.
  • All citrus oils have a shelf life of about 6 months. They oxidize very easily and then turn cloudy. Do not use on skin since they become skin irritants as they age.

Bitter-orange-Citrus-aurantium-L.-RutaceaePetit grain bigaradier: The name comes from the French “petit grain”, meaning small grains as the oil originally was distilled from the small, green unripe fruits of the tree. Now the oils come mainly from distilling the leaves (and sometimes green, fresh twigs). It is an ingredient in the classic “Eau de Cologne” and sometimes called “poor man’s neroli”. The scent is floral and fresh with a citrusy woody undertone, slightly herbaceous.

USES:

  • Skin: Balancing and calming, it is helpful with both oily and dry skin. Helps with acne.
  • Digestion: Works as a tonic when liver is sluggish and can help with nausea. It is useful for digestive cramps and spasms that have an emotional origin.
  • Emotional: Calming, balancing and uplifting. Use for anxiety, depression, shock. It is a good oil to have around when you feel stressed.

ApelsinblommaNEROLI comes from the flowers which are handpicked. The yield of essential oil is 30 times less from the flowers than the fruits or leaves. The oil is very costly, but as always with the more costly oils, little goes a long way. I have found that with these oils, less is more, the scent as well as the effects are actually magnified in lower dosages. The name is believed to come from an Italian princess, Anna Maria de la Tremoille, Countess of Neroli who used the scent as her personal signature perfume. The scent is rich, deeply floral and sweet with fresh overtones.

USES:

  • Skin: Improves skin elasticity by helping cell regeneration, use for dry, sensitive skin.
  • Emotional: Depression, grief, hysteria, anxiety and shock. It is believed to have an aphrodisiac effect by releasing nervous tension.
  • Physical: Neroli can help with a wide variety of physical problems that originate from emotional disturbances. I recently used this oil for a grieving widow. It kept her balanced and calm all through the funeral arrangements and later eased her grieving process.

PERSONAL: I use the Bitter orange oil for people who chatter uncontrollably, often from stress. It helps calm and freshen the mind, allowing a free flow of positive thought-patterns and diminishes the tight feeling around the head, creating a feeling of space. Petit grain is a terrific balancing oil and easily incorporated into blends. It can highlight any aspect of a blend, be it woody, fresh or floral. It calms physical tension and relaxes the spirit. The uplifting, fresh aroma brings a sense of lightness and ease. Neroli is one of the best oils for grief as it is uplifting and gives a feeling of hope, like a ray of light in the darkness. When desperation threatens, Neroli will take you through it by inspiring calm serenity.