This week has been full of inspiration. I love to hear from friends about their favorite scent combinations, and then riff on the theme. One friend told me of her mother’s favorite combination, lavender and vanilla. The effect is very comforting and harmonious. I started with a homemade oil infusion of vanilla beans, which I heated very slowly over the course of a week in order to coax the fragrance of the pods into the almond oil which I used as carrier.
By the way, it’s unbelievably easy to make your own vanilla extract. The most challenging part is finding an affordable source of the beans. I was fortunate to find organic beans on E-bay. All you need to do is take a few beans, carefully slice them down the length and scrape out the seeds into a jar. I chopped the remaining pods into 1 inch pieces, or you could just leave them whole. Then you take a high proof, neutral flavored alcohol like Everclear or Vodka, and pour over just enough to cover the beans and pods. Leave this mixture somewhere dark for about a month and give it a shake about once a day. It will turn from clear to rich amber brown and fragrant. All you need to do now is filter out the beans and pods and you are left with vanilla extract. Don’t throw away those beans and pods, they can be put back in a jar, and covered with alcohol to make a whole new batch, over and over again until you notice the scent fading.
Back to the perfume making! Since this was already such a precious base, I turned to a very high quality lavender oil, a variety from France. Lavender is the classic oil for relaxation, so gentle and calming. It’s scent can be used to soothe a headache, and it has great antiseptic and wound healing properties.
To increase the depth of the blend I added my tonka bean infused oil. Tonka was once added to vanilla extract, and as I said in my previous post, it has an almond-like or fresh cut hay scent. Balsam Peru is a resin with a sweet, almost syrupy smell which can overpower easily if used carelessly. The whole character of an oil can change drastically depending on dosage, and this was no exception, so I used only a drop or two and am very happy with the results. Finally, to give this blend some roots, I added the incomparable sandalwood
Sandalwood is such an amazing scent, at once sweet and earthy, crown and root, sacred and profane. Commonly used to make incense, it has been long used as an aide to achieving a meditative state of mind, including tantric meditation. It is non toxic and suitable for all skin types, and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda for digestive, respiratory, and mental healing.
This blend is charming in the bottle, and on the skin it blooms into a lovely dose of the comforts of a happy, well kept, and well loved home. This is one aspect of the divine feminine principal as exemplified by Hestia, or Vesta: goddess of the home and peace, whose name means “the essence”. She left the Pantheon, finding their quarreling tiresome and made her home instead on earth. She is the gentlest of the Olympians, and refused to take part in the attempt to overthrow Zeus, as well as the Pantheon’s many other “grand” battles. She symbolizes the sanctity of home as refuge and temple. An interesting counterpoint to my previous blend, which as you may recall was all about wide open spaces and animal musk!
On their own, each scent in the blend has a distinct personality, but once you combine two or more which share an affinity, a synergy occurs and something new is born.
So gentle readers do tell me, what is YOUR favorite scent combination?