Tag Archives: scent

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).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

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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 🙂

ARTEMISIA HERBA ALBA, white wormwood

There are many different species of Artemisia (200-400), the most commonly known are Mugwort, Sagebrush, Wormwood, Tarragon. Most artemisia-species are high in ketones, which are neurotoxic and should not be used in aromatherapy at all, so make sure that you have the right one; Always check the latin name.
Artemisias belong to the family Asteraceae, as does chamomile, tansy and other plants. The most renown artemisia is Mugwort (A. absinthium) which was used to make the alcoholic beverage “Absinthe”. Due to absinthe’s content of  thujone (a neurotoxic) it was prohibited in the early 1900’s.

White wormwood (Artemisia herba alba).  Shih in Arab,  Armoise blanche in French, la’anah in Old Testament Hebrew. It is also known as desert wormwood. The name Artemisia comes fron the Greek Artemis, the goddess of hunting and the moon.

W. Wormwood is a low-growing shrub (20-40 cm) as opposed to its northern cousins that can grow to a height of 1-2 m. They are dry-land plants found in the desert-like vegetation in Central Europe, North Africa, Middle East and Asia. The leaves are strongly aromatic, hairy and have a greyish tinge, the flowers are small and yellow. It’s taste is extremely bitter. The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation. The scent is gorgeous; sweet, herbaceous with a bitter tinge on the end-note. It is strong and predominant in blends.

As the name Wormwood indicates, it has traditionally been used as a remedy for intestinal parasites. The plant is a digestive stimulant and used for its antiseptic and antispasmodic properties. The essential oil has slightly antibacterial properties. One of the chemical constituents of the EO is 1.8-cineole which would make it useful for respiratory problems. It is also believed to help regulate menstrual cycles.

Personal experience: I don’t use White Wormwood for specific physical conditions but have found it very useful on a vibrational and emotional level. I use it when there is inner nervousness; in low doses it is emotionally calming yet clarifying, bringing balance to the whole being. I use it mostly on women and call it the “witch-oil”. It empowers women and help with calming inner turbulence. I believe this is how it can regulate menstrual cycles. It is deeply warming and strengthening, enhancing dreams and visualizations. I find it a truly magical oil when used in small doses. For physical conditions I would rather use the plant.

Safety: White wormwood is high in ketones (thujone) so it should be used with care. In high doses it can give head-ache, dizziness and nausea. I use max. 1-2 drops for a whole-body massage. For a room-scent 1 drop can be enough, depending on the size of the room. Do not use for children or during pregnancy.


Flowers’ Fragrance Diminished By Air Pollution, Study Indicates

 

Flowers’ Fragrance Diminished By Air Pollution, Study Indicates.

The power of scent is enormous. This article shows how devastating the results are when scent is distorted or destroyed. I sincerely recommend you to read this.

OUD PERFUME

In Paris I found a shop the specializes in Oud-perfumes; blends, pure oils and wood-chips. On the shelves were the most luxurious  perfume-bottles I have ever seen, like glorious gem-stones glittering in the light. They cost a kings ransom. I love the oil of Oud (Agar-wood; Aquilaria malaccensis) and entered this beautiful realm for a sample. I asked the man for oil of Oud, and he made me try a couple of different perfume-blends. I said no thank you, I want the pure oil.

Finally he went to a cupboard in the corner and brought out a discreet crystal bottle and gave me a sample to smell. Finally! The man smiled brightly and said it was the first time anybody ever asked for the true oil of Oud in his shop. We discussed oils for a while and he poured me a small bottle (above) for a very humane price (humane as opposed to ridiculously expensive), seeing as we were both “in the business”.

I now own a small bottle of Oud which I use as perfume. 2 drops in the morning lasts forever. During the day and heat of my body, the scent changes from earthy musky to a deeply sensual floral scent. It is not obvious as a perfume usually is, more like it is a part of my personal body-scent. Delicious!

Automatic Aromatherapy to Keep Drivers Awake | Popular Science

Some years ago I was part of a scientific group concentrating on olfaction. I was invited as an aromatherapist to join the group in their endeavours to unravel the mysteries of scent and what scent does to us. The other members of the group were chemists, biologists, physicists and reps from the culinary and artistic world.

Each time we held a seminar the largest group to attend were always from the automotive industry. They wanted to know more about how to scent a car attractive. There is actually such a thing as a “new-car-scent” that is sprayed into cars for added attraction.

Over time the automotive industry has apparently stayed on the scented trail of aromatherapy and understood what these powerful essential oils actually can do as this article  shows:

Automatic Aromatherapy to Keep Drivers Awake | Popular Science.

What do you think? Any opinions?

THE MYSTICAL SCENT OF OUD

Oud is an oil that has fascinated me for the last 18 years. Its scent is mystical, mythical and magical, this is why I want to present this profile to you.

Oud or Agarwood or Aloeswood (Aquilaria agollocha, A. malaccensis, A. crassna) is an evergreen tree native to the forests of Northeast India, Bhutan and Southeast Asia; Viet Nam, Kambodja, Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea. The tree reaches a height of about 40m with a diameter of about 60cm. It bears sweetly-scented snow-white flowers. For the oil to exist, the tree needs to be infected with a fungi; Phialophora parasitica. The tree produces this oleoresin to protect itself against the fungi by saturating the heartwood. The longer time a tree is infected, the deeper and darker the oleoresin gets. This can take up to a 100 years and inevitably ends with the tree dying. By this time the heartwood is almost black, deeply saturated and scented by the oleoresin. The heartwood of an uninfected tree is light and pale-colored.

Extraction methods:

  • Water extraction: The wood is immersed in water for about 3 months, after which it is put into stills (huge burners) where it is cooked for many hours until the resin dissolves and floats to the top of the water; Indian distillation method.
  • Steam distillation of the wood-chips; Mostly used by East Asian countries.
  • CO2 extraction: When a certain amount of pressure is applied to CO2 (carbon dioxide) this gas turns into liquid. This liquid CO2 can be used as a very inert, safe, “liquid solvent.” CO2 is the gas we all breathe out of our lungs. It is also the gas that plants themselves thrive on.

Because of the immense popularity of this plant-matter for oil, perfume and incense, the trees are now endangered species  protected world-wide under the CITES-convention (http://www.cites.org/) and by laws in the different countries. Even so a large number of trees are illegally cut down to obtain this hugely expensive material.

There are many grades of Oud; First-grade (the highest quality) is one of the most expensive natural products in the world. The pricing lies around 13 000 dollars/pound of oil. (0,453kg) The oils from wild trees (illegal) catch an even higher price, more than 27 000 dollars/pound. The whole-sale price for a decent quality oil is around 1000-1400 dollars/ounce. (30ml)

In Assam, India a few families have started plantations with Aquilaria agollocha, ensuring the survival of this precious tree and its hidden gifts. Most reputed Oud-traders today, trade with plantation-grown oils and wood. Due to the success of the plantations in Assam other countries are following suit; Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam and other areas in Southeast Asia.

History

Oud has a long history of use in the eastern parts of the world; Buddhist monks use ut for meditation, saying it aids in the transmutation of ignorance. Tibetan monks use it to calm the mind and spirit. Sufis use it for esoteric ceremonies and in China it is considered to have psychoactive properties. Oud has been used as incense, aromatic oil and medicine for thousands of years. It is mentioned in the Bible (under the name of Aloewood): “Nicodemus used pounded aloewood to embalm the body of Christ”. The Prophet Muhammed of Islam mentions in the Koran 1400 years ago; “Treat with Indian Oud, for it has healing for seven diseases”. In Egypt Oud was used by the Pharaos for embalming. Buddha called it the “Scent of Nirvana“.

The Scent

Complex, balsamic, deep woody fragrance. Tenacious basenote, it lingers longer than any other known scent. The scent is rare and powerful. Blended with other precious oils such as Rose (r.centifolia, r. damascena), Jasmin (jasminus officinalis), Sandalwood (santalum album), it enhances them and creates a blend which is deeply soulful.

Uses

A well-known aphrodisiac; use it as a perfume neat on the skin (I recommend a patch-test for sensitive skin) or diluted in Jojoba-oil or alcohol. The skin will release its scent over the course of 12-15 hours. (It is tested safe to use undiluted on skin.) The oil is viscous and in room-temperature it stays thick. To make it thinner, put the bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.

It has been used by Chinese, Tibetan, Ayurvedic and Unani physicians in practice to treat various disease and mental illness.The list of ailments that can be helped by Oud oil is vast. I will not document it here, since considering the price and rarity of this oil, it is better used for higher purposes such as meditation and personal growth. During my research I have found that every eastern culture names Oud in treatment of the respiratory and digestive systems. This is interesting because these two systems are both deeply connected to life-force, and the most outstanding feature of Oud is its magical and mystical properties when used in meditation; It connects Heaven and Earth within us, creating balance, inner peace and enlightment.