By ANDREJ BABICKY, IPF Chair Italy
Natural Perfumery, Olfaction Training and Raw Material Extraction Methods Teacher
The arrival of winter brings to mind old memories of my childhood spent in Eastern Europe, precisely in Slovakia, in a small village surrounded by changes and woods.
The days were cold, wet and short. When evening approached, my grandmother, a woman already old and consumed by work, even when she was young, used to prepare strong black tea with spices. with just a drop of honey. She made us sit around the table telling us fairy tales. I vividly remember those moments: the wood crackling in the old stove, the smell of the cast iron top heated by the flame. Grandmother used to put on the stove some oranges or mandarins that perfumed the room and grains of incense, which slowly melted creating an olfactory background to the stories. Along with the love for roses, my grandmother also transmitted to me the love for these smells that for me are always associated with the traditions that revolved around the winter solstice, the day I was born.
Many years later I had the opportunity to meet a person who travels the world in search of new and special raw materials. I call him the Indiana Jones of incense. In addition to researching these raw materials, he teaches indigenous peoples how to extract them to create a sustainable production cycle. Together with him and through his acquaintances, I had the opportunity to discover new essences.
Returning to us, I have always been fascinated by this mix of aromas that accompanied my childhood. I've always looked for the best way to catch them.
Living part of the time in the country house, the most used material to heat it is wood. Some of the essences have strongly perfumed woods, while others, after a period of seasoning, acquire particular aromatic nuances. Among my favorites that I often use in alcohol extractions are lime, acacia, pine, larch, magnolia. They are woods that are easy to manipulate and shred or you can buy shavings or sawdust as waste material in sawmills. The wooden material (small pieces, sawdust, shavings, twigs) I let them dry then I proceed with extraction with alcohol in the form of dye. I leave the material to macerate for several weeks, sometimes for months because from my personal experience, the aroma of the final extract is richer and fuller.
There are two other kinds of wood that I love to use: two species of oak Quercus Petraea and Quercus Robur
Both are easy to find. I collect the fallen branches, let them dry, grind them and then I toast them in the oven to enhance their woody, smoky and spicy aspects.
Resins such as various types of incense, myrrh, balms are readily available. They are odorous substances of vegetable origin, insoluble in water but often fat-soluble and of high molecular weight. Some of them are exudates, while others are an integral part of the tissues of the plant itself. They have various chemical compositions and can occur spontaneously or due to stress.
They have very distinct olfactory profiles and can add warm or cold aspects to a blend depending on the raw material used. They give depth, sometimes a dark and mysterious character, they can serve to anchor the other essences in a blend. The resins may be extracted by distillation, extraction with solvents such as, for example, alcohol that is easy to perform even at home. A very particular extraction process is to capture the smell emanating from a resin if burned or heated.
To discover this method and others, I invite you to enrol in the raw material extraction course where different techniques and different raw materials are dealt with.
Prepare an Interior Christmas Perfume
Different spices are also part of our daily life. I must confess that I don't extract most of them directly, only some particular spices such as certain types of pepper, wild carrot seeds and mace, the shell that covers the nutmeg seed.
In the winter I prepare an alcohol-based Interior Christmas Perfume, a mixture composed of:
20g of cloves
10g part of cinnamon
Zest of an orange
Some eucalyptus leaves
3/4 bay leaves
1 sprig of rosemary
1 tonka bean
10 drops of fir essential oil
All the dry material is crushed in a mortar, poured into a glass container and covered with 300 ml of alcohol. The container is left to rest for 2 weeks, shaking it frequently. After two weeks, the content is filtered and is ready to be used to perfume the rooms, Christmas decorations or doormats in front of the house. It is an old recipe from my grandmother who instead of alcohol boiled all the material together but for easy storage, the formula was reworked with an alcohol base and with the addition of some raw materials.
By TERRY JOHNSON, IPF USA Chair and Business and Marketing Expert
Last month’s newsletter article discussed three value-market fundamentals every business should practice in these very challenging times. Let’s expand on these basics starting with the first fundamental:
To develop a totally value-based business to differentiate you from the competition and persuade growing numbers of high value customers there is greater value in your products than that of other competitive products.
A key word here is “differentiate.”
To succeed against stronger, well-financed competition, businesses can attract more customers by giving them better choices (differentiation) for what they purchase. This is where value and value-added come in. Competition, by the way, is much stronger than most people think it is with budgets the way they are.
If you sell to consumers, you are competing with everything they need to purchase or want to purchase. That’s quite a list!
To attract and keep customers you will be needing every value-added tool available. Why should consumers purchase your perfume or essential oil instead of something else? Can you give them ten reasons why? Twenty?
Establishing yourself as an expert in Natural Essences within your community is empowering because it gives you the capacity to help your community make the right choices for healthier and safer lifestyles.
Obviously, anyone who wishes to become and continue to be an expert in Natural Essences must have a great deal of accurate knowledge about Natural Essences, which is where the value of continuing education comes in.
If you are a Natural Perfumer, you also need expertise as an aromatherapist, and the reverse is true for Natural Aromatherapists needing Natural Perfumery. Having knowledge of the history of perfume also has important benefits and needs to be studied.
Continuing Natural Essences education along with effective messaging of the value of Natural Essences will lead to clear, positive distinctions between your up-to-date expertise and the lack of expertise from your competition.
Three Action Steps to Implement Beginning Today
by Pr Françoise RAPP, IPF Chair France
and French Natural Perfumery and Natural Aromatherapy Expert
Perfume has always had a sacred meaning connecting man with the divine, but did you know that it had other more "therapeutic" roles such as protecting or even preserving the good health of the body?
The oldest knew it and they used essences, resins in various forms for this action. Fumigations, anointing, and also accessories for carrying perfume were used as early as ancient Egypt. This way of proceeding was then taken up again during ancient Rome and then came to Europe through the Crusades.
This accessory diffused the scent of aromatics, animal raw materials and various resins thanks to the body heat. It is said then that he helped protect himself from the Black Death and other miasmas of the time. Far from being a tool or means of seduction, this perfume had above all a medicinal function above all.
It was most often of an almost solid pasty texture. Its powerful and purifying fragrance emanated from an accessory called sweet apple.
This object has evolved greatly over the course of history to be worn like a jewel on the belt or around the neck. The Renaissance saw sweet apples as a fashion accessory with multiple functions, including those of covering bad body odor and protecting against epidemics decimating the population. It must be remembered that bodily hygiene was understood as something almost erotic by the Church. The sweet apple was then very practical to use and this accessory was declined like a real jewel even demonstrating a level of richness by the object and by the raw materials used because these were expensive.
What is a sweet apple and how does it work?
Sweet apples, "pommanders" or "pomanders" are either openwork or made up of airtight "quarters". These objects are almost exclusively precious jewels. Common people and poor people cannot afford these rare and expensive perfumes. Pomanders are usually spherical in shape and open in two parts and then into several quarters, like an orange. In each of these quarters are placed the herbs. In contact with the heat of the body, the aromatics exhaled their perfumes, delicious perfumes offered to God "per fumum". Perhaps this original oblation helped to obtain a divine favor: that of living a long life or curing an illness in addition to emanating powerfully purifying and protective aromatic scents. Medieval sweet apples were continually worn by their owner. As a necklace, a ring or held at the end of a velvet ribbon or a precious metal chain, they accompanied the body and remained as close as possible to it.
What raw materials for perfume were then used?
These objects allow you to carry the scent of musk, ambergris or civet with you (materials all secreted by wild animals with a ... pronounced smell)
The Song of Songs also regularly refers to spices. In its different versions (Greek, Latin or Hebrew), it always ends by evoking "the mountain of spices". The aromatics therefore legitimately find their place in the culture of the Middle Ages. They are the luxurious ingredients warmly recommended by the Church to guard against epidemics and especially the Black Death.
In 1174, the ancestor of perfume diffusers arrived in Europe. On this date, Baudoin IV (1161-1185), King of Jerusalem, offered Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (1122 - 1190) several golden apples (precious sweet apples) filled with musk. Chronologically, musk and amber are the most popular scents. Nevertheless, from the middle of the 14th century, the Paris medical faculty added no less than 29 odorous substances suitable for taking place in these cases. Thus make their appearance nutmeg, aloe wood, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, camphor, sandalwood or cinnamon. These herbs come from the Eastern Perfume Roads crossing countries as far as they are fascinating.
Recipe for making pomander included in The Treasury of Commodious Conceits, and Hidden Secrets by John Partridge (London, 1586)
"Benzoin resin, calamus, labdanum, and storax balm were ground into a powder, dissolved in rose water, and placed in a saucepan over a fire to cook together. The cooked mixture was then removed from the heat, rolled into an apple shape and coated with a powdered mixture of cinnamon, soft sanders and cloves. After that, a concoction was made from three grains each of ambergris, deer musk and civet musk. Ambergris was dissolved first, and deer and civet musk were mixed later. The "apple" ball was rolled through the musk concoction to blend into these ingredients, then kneaded to combine and molded into an apple shape."
Michel de Nostredame had a similar method and formula but a rather different procedure. The "rose tablets" were made by soaking a pound of roses without the flower heads in deer musk water overnight. The water was then carefully wrung out and the roses crushed with seven ounces of benzoin, a quarter of ambergris and another of civet musk. This mixture was made into tablets, which were each sandwiched between rose petals and dried in a cool, dark place. To form the final pomander, two ounces of the purest labdanum, one ounce each of styrax and benzoin resin, half an ounce of rose tablets, one ounce of violet powder, and half a dram each of ambergris and musk were ground into powder and kneaded with rose water from the manufacture of rose tablets. This produced "an aromatic ball of the most sublime and long-lasting scent that could be made anywhere in the world" it seems.
If you were to create a pomander today with existing raw materials, what would the formula be?
Become a natural perfumer and discover how to formulate natural fragrances; discover the program and register quickly before November 8th. The French Natural perfumery program opens its doors for 8 exciting weeks!
And if you want to learn more about the history of pomanders don’t miss Creezy Courtoy’s World Perfume History MasterClass starting on December 6.
THE POWER OF THE RAW MATERIAL AND THE ART OF REDISCOVERING THE ORIGINS OF NATURAL PERFUMERY.