Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Gardener's Delight: The Scent Library

I feel like we gardeners can never have too much of the Plant Kingdom in our lives. In addition to actual plants, including many smelly plants, I keep a scent library of essential oils, absolutes, tinctures, and CO2 extracts.
A Page From My Smelly Library
I have about 350 of these bottles/vials in my collection at this point. And I love to tincture. Tinctures are made from the actual plants (generally dried), plant parts, or resins, soaked in perfumer's alcohol and aged. They are lighter cousins to essential oils, which are distillations, and absolutes, which are solvent-extracted in a multi-step process to yield a denser, more complex product. CO2 extracts use no solvents like hexane, only carbon dioxide under high pressure (where it becomes supercritical, something between a gas and a liquid).

I use these items for my hobby of perfumery, and also for health reasons. For example, if anyone in the house shows signs of developing a respiratory infection, they get a nice steaming with Oregon Peppermint and Austrian Silver Fir, with a little Red Thyme thrown in.

Basically, collecting these extractions helps me learn more about many plants that I grow, and many others I don't or can't. And playing with them, and sharing them with friends, is a never-ending delight.

So for this blog, I may, from time to time, extol the virtues of a particular extract, or give a recipe, or some such thing. Any other gardeners out there who do likewise? You are welcome to share!


  1. I would love to learn how to do this, do you have an entry that you have written that we can read. Thanks

  2. Hi, Patricia! Yes, I wrote a more extensive article on this topic, from the perfumery angle, on the blog Perfume Smellin' Things:
    I may revise it later for this blog, to have it more from the gardener's point of view.

  3. Oh, and here is Part II! Again, it's from the perfumery angle--