perfume ingredients from nature. Natural perfume materials.

60 Comments

  1. Just a thank you for being here. I’ve been searching for a way to make a home-infused frankincense oil, and your site answers all my questions. It’s just wonderful that there’s someone out there who really cares about this magical resin, and is willing to share techniques with all of us. It does look like NIH put Sacra and Carterii into a gas chromatograph and a few other massive, expensive machines – and from those findings determined that, while very similar, they are indeed two distinct species. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22835693

  2. You might try rape seed oil in your mixes. This was the common lamp oil in Roman times. I’ve never tried burning it but imagine the smell must be reasonably tolerable, since it was used in lamps for lighting throughout the empire.

    The myrrh and frankincense that I can buy in London tends to be very strong smelling, too strong to use in my bed sitter. I imagine if I get a weaker resin from another tree and mix them before burning this will reduce the pungent odour, but so far know of no supplier for these.

  3. I am considering buying raw ambergris to make my own attar though I am worrying about shipping to USA. Have you encountered any issues so far?

  4. Hi Dan. I have infused frankincense in a 1:3 ratio of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil by crushing the Boswellia Sacra and putting the jars in a water bath in a crockpot for 26 hours on low. No boiling. The color is beautiful. I’m looking to have an oil I can use for topical treatment as an anti-tumor agent to help with lipomas on my arms. I have had someone tell me recently that the only way I can get the Boswellic acids I need for this use is to make a tincture. Is this true? I love your knowledge and I suspect that my oil is good. I went by instinct and love my finished product. I just wanted to run it by you. Thank you for your help and I can’t thank you enough for sharing your knowledge so I can find it.

    1. Hi Heidi.
      You are right to listen to your intuition.
      The resin acids, including the boswellic acids are indeed collected via the warm vegetable oil.
      While it is true that an alcohol tincture will collect them, it is not practical for topical use since it leaves a sticky residue of resin on the skin. An oil extract prepared just as you have done is a much better product for external use and likely delivers a higher concentration of Boswellic acids.
      A tincture collects both the water-soluble gum and the resin/essential oil while an oil extraction absorbs only the resin and essential oils.
      Dan

  5. Thank you Dan, a quick question. When using 80 proof vodka for a boswellia serrata tincture, the oil floats on the water soluble gums. Does this floating oil contain the boswellic acids or do the acids sink into the gum at the bottom? I just want to know which part has the most boswellic acids.
    Thanks again.
    Frank

    1. Hi Franklyn.
      80 proof alcohol contains only 40% alcohol and 60% water. It is rather a low alcohol content for this type of tincture. This may have something to do with the separation you witnessed. In general, oils will float on top of the water so if there was a separation I would assume it is the essential oils that rose to the surface of your tincture. I suggest using a minimum of 60%, (120 proof), alcohol to extract the resin and Boswellic acids.

    1. Hi Ruth. The sediment makes an excellent exfoliant which can be added to soaps and other skin care products.
      Dan

  6. Hi Dan thanks for all your hard work!
    I wondered if you know more about myrrh because I’m trying to apply what you wrote about frankincense to myrrh. This myrrh is so bitter I can’t imagine anyone wanting to take powder and chase it. But I noticed roasting at low heat (and inhaling the vapor) until it turns a little brown it tastes much better. I put the Roasted remnants in a piece of double mint gum and it’s actually not bad lol delicious until the sugar ran out. Can’t seem to find any info about specific cooking temperatures to prevent burning away the resin or specific temperatures to vaporize the terpenes?

    My interest is the anti-inflammatory effects of course but also anti-memory-loss as recently discovered (2015) in this study if it’s accurate:

    The Ameliorating Effect of Myrrh on Scopolamine-Induced Memory Impairments in Mice:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4655272/

    Also I was interested in making an oil of myrrh for topical use but can all nutrients be absorbed topically?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Andrew.
      Yes, myrrh is quite bitter!! Even the name “Myrrh” is rooted in the Semitic name for bitter. I find encapsulating the powdered myrrh is a great way to consume it and bypass the bitterness.
      I make an oil extract of Myrrh in much the same way I do with frankincense. It is also quite bitter. I use it topically and added to Sesame oil for “Oil pulling” and oral care.
      I have yet to find a study that addresses absorption of resin compounds by the skin.
      I have never tried heating myrrh before processing. I assume the volatile compounds will evaporate first but have no idea how the resin and gum portions are affected by the heat.
      Dan

      1. Look what I just found! Evidence of topical absorption of resins correct? Keyword, percutaneous.
        “ —Enhance percutaneous absorption—
        Phyto-phospholipid complexes can easily transition from a hydrophilic environment into the lipophilic environment of the cell membrane and then enter the cell [37]. Therefore, a large number of studies have displayed that the percutaneous absorption of phytoconstituents is improved because of the application of phytoconstituents in form of phytosome [51], [55].

        Due to the above characteristics of skin penetration, phyto-phospholipid complexes are widely employed in transdermal field [56], [57].“

    1. Hi. As far as children consuming frankincense goes, I have seen no studies on contraindications. I suppose it depends on the age of the child and the likelihood of choking on a piece of resin. As far as I know, adults and children chew frankincense traditionally. However, I think you should research the subject thoroughly.
      Dan

    1. Hi.
      All the resins in the myrrh family contain a high percent of water-soluble gum and will not dissolve in oil.
      However, they will all yield their oil-soluble compounds through a warm infusion in vegetable oil.
      The fragrance and resin portion will be absorbed by the oil and for the most part, this is what contains the medicinal properties of the material. The water soluble part constitutes about 70% and this will be left over after your infusion.
      Dan

  7. Thank you for sharing what you know, and are learning. Hoarding comes from fear (of lack, of loss) while sharing comes from love. You are choosing love—good for you!

    1. Hi Alma.
      I have not discovered an ideal ratio of Myrrh to Frankincense.
      I find up to 60% Myrhh works well from an aromatic point of view when co-distilling with Frankincense,, while in cremes and salves 10% to 40% seems to be most pleasant and efficacious. As far as an optimal ratio, your guess is as good as mine.
      Dan

  8. I have infused hemp seed oil with fresh Frankincense Frereana, sourced from your store and obtained a wondrous fragrant thick oil that I’m going to use in one of my facial cream formulations. Thank you for the fantastic work you are doing of bringing the ethically sourced resins and educating us on their proper use.

  9. Hello, love the article! Just had a few questions tumbling around. So here goes — 1) I have seen online that the Allihn condenser is ideally to be used vertically because it will pool. I have seen here that it is used more in a horizontal way. In one of the pictures of it in action in this article, you can see it pooling in each bulb. That doesn’t seem to be an issue with you or even the nice lady who documented the building of the Magical Couscousier. You also mention the Liebig, which is obviously designed to have no pooling. Any thoughts on the two condensers?
    2) Can you distill many multiple and different things in one distiller? Or are there some that leave a scent imprint that would limit what can be distilled in the same distiller?
    3) It seems, in my limited knowledge, that stainless steel would be the best option to distill in. Is there a reason that copper seems to be the unicorn material that a distilling vessel can be made of?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Ben.
      I prefer using the Allihn condenser since it has more cooling surface area than the Liebig condenser. This means it can handle a larger amount of vapours than a leibig. It works as well in a vertical setup as it does in a horizontal one as is the case with hydro/steam distillation.
      You can usually thoroughly clean your still between distillation a. Most often by running water/steam alone through it.
      Cooper is a traditional material. Glass and stainless are no better or worse, simply different. There are small differences in the product of each type of still and it is up to each distillers to choose their preference.

  10. Hi there, your article got me thinking about steam distilling popolis. Do you think that is a good material from which to get an essential oil by this method. I wondered if you might have and any experience with this material since I see it is in your store. Thanks and take care and a big thank you for your amazing blog and store. I have learned so much.

    1. Hi Robin.
      I believe that propolis might be difficult to distil. I think it is composed mainly of resin acids which are not volatile at 100 degrees centigrade, the temperature of boiling water. I may be wrong and would love to hear of your results distilling it. I have found it to be a difficult material to work with in alcohol tinctures and oils infusions, not particularly amenable to yielding all of its compounds.
      Dan

  11. Hi Dan,
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge ! you know so much, its amazing !
    I wanted to ask about using tinctured resin to solid perfume/perfume… I read somewhere tincturing resins and then making perfume can help it last longer and make the scent better/longer. How does that work? does the alcohol extract some of it’s scent ? Thank you

    1. Hi Andrea.
      Thank you for your kind words.
      Yes, many of the resins help “fix” more fleeting notes in perfume blends and I find the tinctures especially useful for this. On top of this benefit to using tinctures in perfume, the resins add their own special aromas to the tincture and deliver a fragrance profile that is much richer than the essential oils on their own.
      Using tinctures in perfumes is an ancient and time-honored method.
      When using resins and Oleo gum resins such as Frankincense and Myrrh which also contain water-soluble gum, it is important to use only high-proof alcohol. The higher, the better. I try to use 95% or 96% alcohol. Also known as 190 and 192 proof.
      One of the drawbacks when using resin tinctures in perfumes is the stickiness that is often left over once the alcohol evaporates. The workaround for this is to freeze the tinctures well then filter them through paper. Sometimes the process needs to be repeated a few times. The colder the freezer, the better.
      For perfume use, a ratio of 1:5 to 1:3 works well I find.
      If you have any other questions about using resin tinctures for perfume, please let me know.
      Dan

  12. Dear Dan, can I use a visa card or send you $ for the products I would like? I guess my pay poal expired and I can’t seem to figure out how toi renew it Mahalo, Allana Noury

  13. Thank you for sharing your art, I really appreciate that you share with those of us who have an interest but no practical experience. I will purchase from you in the future as my life becomes more stable and I am able to utilize your fine products, but I wanted to thank you now, for doing what you do. ~my best regards,
    Robert

  14. Hey Dan,

    I was wondering if you had any advice for using resins in Vodka infusions. I know of Mastika, which is distilled from mastic, but was wondering if infusing something like frankincense, myrrh, or pine/cedar resin in a spirit would achieve a similar effect. Thanks!

    1. Hi Joseph.
      Absolutely!
      Oleo resins can be added directly to alcohol, then filtered in the making of a liquer.
      The other method is to infuse the resins and other aromatic materials in the alcohol, then distil the Maceration and collect the distillate. This distillate can be a finished product, or other, (and more delicate) Aromatics can be infused in this product to lend it further aroma and colour.

  15. Hi Dan,
    As always your posts are so informative, clear and helpful. Thank you for taking time to share your knowledge and experience with the rest of us. Its so appreciated. The plastic crisis is so sad. Glad to hear you are taking steps to reduce its use. Same here in my home.
    Best,
    Mary

  16. Thank you, Dan. I have made a tincture of ambergris, but I will attempt an oil infusion and perhaps an attar.

    1. Hi Susan. Yes. You will see a description of the process under preparing a tincture in the post. I usually place the filtered tincture in a shallow bowl and cover it with a cloth to keep dust particles out.

  17. Maybe you can help me. I have some Labdanum it’s like a dark very sticky stuff and smells very good but I am just getting interested in Essential Oils and wanted to try some health remedies and some perfumes so I got this Labdanum but no idea how to make it into something like a liquid I can use to make perfumes unless maybe wondering if I put a little in a glass jar and added some essential oils to it a few days if that would add fragrance to that oil so I would still get the fragrance of the Labdanum and can then I guess strain it and add a couple more essential oils and come up with something that would work because I don’t see anything else I can do especially because it’s extremely sticky. I would appreciate any advice I can get. Got to get off here a little while and so glad maybe I finally found something that will help with this Labdanum.

    1. Hi Brenda.
      You could indeed infuse your Labdanum resin in an essential oil for a very potent fragrance material.
      Traditionally, Labdanum resin is infused in either alcohol or a carrier oil, filtered, and then added to a blend or a perfume product. These are all options for you.

  18. I ordered some Essential Oils and a couple are the resins that came in a one ounce little jar but was so hot I guess that some had managed to get outside the jars and I had a sticky time trying to clean them up but wanted to try using them to make perfumes but I have no idea how to use them like they are now because they are very sticky kind of like sap on a tree but they smell very good and I only want to know how to make them where I can use them.

    1. Hi Brenda.
      Most resins will dissolve in high-proof alcohol. Most perfumes nowadays are alcohol based so this offers an ideal solution for you. Use pure ethyl alcohol that is between 140 and 190 proof, or 70% to 95%. Fill the resin jars 1/2 to 3/4 with the alcohol, replace the lids and let them sit in a relatively warm place. When the resin starts to soften you can stir it in the jar until it is completely dissolved. Filter the liquid through a coffee filter and you can use it in alcohol-based perfume blends.

    2. Thank you Dan for trying to help me figure out how to make a liquid from that resin and so now I have a bottle of Perfumers Alcohol and I have one of those small bottles of Vodka so which should I use? I am nervous because this will be my first time trying to make anything and don’t want to waste any of the Essential Oils I have collected so far. Can you give me a simple recipe to try for my first one? I have several absolutes as have been ordering Essential Oils along trying to get more for making perfumes and health care recipes and really enjoying seeing how very good they work for your health also and finding out about so many things you do with them but since I first saw I could make perfumes I have really been excited and believe I have some great oils to start with now but nervous and don’t want to make something that will not smell good. Hopefully I will get better as I am trying to learn. Thank You for helping me because when I got two jars that had that very thick and sticky stuff in them I had no idea how I would be able to use them and nowbI know where to go for more help. Thank You very much, Brenda

      1. Hi Brenda.
        You can make a perfume tincture or absolute from your resins if you steep them in alcohol at a ratio of 1:5, (one part resin to five parts alcohol), or 1:3 for a thicker stronger smelling tincture.
        I would use whichever alcohol has the highest % of alcohol. The aromatic compounds in the resins are alcohol soluble and not water soluble.
        I grind hard resins before steeping them and let them sit at least 6 weeks before filtering through a paper coffee filter. If you evaporate the alcohol by putting the tincture in a shallow cloth-coverd dish, you will end up with a very thick absolute, also called a resin absolute.
        Please see my post, how to make a tincture of frankincense and other oleoresins on this blog for more details.
        Dan

  19. Heya, I have some spruce sap powder I made out of dry sap and I was wondering if you have any tips on how to turn it into a sticky goo once again? My thinking is that maybe adding some really strong alcohol could achieve a favorable result. Do you have any experience with that?

    1. Hi.
      Yes alcohol will return the sap to a liquid sticky state as will essential oils.
      When the sap is fresh it has al its essential oils and volatile compounds. As it ages these compounds evaporate until there are none left and (as yours is), the resin is brittle and dry.
      I suggest adding the solvent in small increments. If you use alcohol and the resin becomes too liquid you can allow the alcohol to evaporate until the resin is of a consistency you are happy with. If you use essential oils as a solvent they may take longer to evaporate. A light hand adding your solvent of choice to the powdered resin would be best.

  20. Hi there, I am in Germany and have bought Witch Hazel water but used the distilled version of Dickenson’s in the past. I am not sure if I want to use this pure water generously, directly on my skin as it is a high concentration. I was wondering, what your suggestion or insight would be on using this or making my own astringent/toner (I know there is a difference but exploring options) with this. This is bio and a good marka so I know the quality is reliable. Thank you

    1. Hi Bianca.
      The product you purchased has very little essential oils in it. It is intended for use directly on the skin. You can of course dilute it with distilled water if you like, but you need not worry about applying it to the skin as-is. a small amount of alcohol has been added to the distillate as a preservative so if you do decide to dilute it, best to do so in small quantities and keep them in the fridge if they are not used immediately. There are many astringent herbs that can provide a base for a toner. The list is extensive, so it may be best to do some research online and find an herb or toner formula that inspires you.

  21. Do you think this is possible with Palo Santo Resin? I’ve tried it before and did not have success – there was also some oil that was released and it was all very hard to separate. I’ll be besting out again soon, was wondering if you had any suggestions.

    1. Hi valerie.
      To the best of my knowledge, Palo santo resin is a pure oleoresin. Since it has no water-soluble gum in it, it will likely dissolve completely in alcohol and in carrier oils. Depending on the purpose you have in mind for it, you may need to filter your resin/solvent solution through paper before it is ready for use.
      Dan

  22. HI Dan,
    Thank you for the awesome knowledge you are passing on here! I am from Oman, and have done a few documentaries on the harvesters – its an amazing history that goes back thousands of years. The people of dhofar (where bosweila sacra grows) use it for literally every ailment and swear by it!
    Im trying out your tincture method and wondering if I need to evaporate off the ethanol to get the pure oil at the end of it? Or is a tincture basically an alcohol solution with oils in it? I was hoping to make a balm or similar with a few other infused oils including cbd. come to think of it, have you got any tips of cbd extraction from flowers? 😉
    Salam

    1. Salam Jassim.
      Thank you for your sharing your experiences with the Frankincense culture and harvesters of Dhofar.
      You are correct in assuming the tincture is an alcohol solution with the resins and essential oils in it. It is also the basis of a Frankincense “absolute”, a concentrated form of the oleoresin, which results from evaporating the alcohol after filtering the tincture. The absolute will contain all the resin compounds as well as the essential oils in one homogenous product.
      the only way too isolate and collect the essential oils from Frankincense is via steam or hydro-distillation since they are bound so tightly with the resin acids.
      To prepare a balm from Frankincense you can either make an oil infusion/extract of the material, (you will find a couple of posts on this blog with instructions), then thicken the oil extract with wax in a water-bath. Some Frankincense absolutes will dissolve directly in carrier oils and these can give you a very concentrated balm when blended with the wax.
      If you have any other questions about preparing Frankincense products please let me know.
      Also,if you would like to share any information, insights or work you have done with the harvesters in your region, I would be happy to share it with my readers.
      Dan

  23. Hi Dan.
    Do I chop the ladanum into smaller pieces before mixing with the oil?
    After it is cool, can a similar raw oil be added into the mixture?
    What to do with the sendiment after the production?
    Thank you for your valuable advise.

  24. hey there,

    thank you so much for writing this up (along with the visual explanation in your other post about extracting). i have used this method to refine/extract palo santo resin to great effect.

    at first, i had some doubts if palo santo resin would react the same as frankincense, but noted that they are both Burseraceae (so i assumed it would be have to be similar). the resulting resin extracted using this method was incredible!

    i thought i had a bad batch of palo santo, due to it having a muggy/funky/dirty base note after a minute of burning. but, it turns out there was a magnificent resin hiding there all the time. once the sediment/debris was removed, and the palo santo resin was able to show its potential, the end result is a divine aroma.

    palo santo is by far one of my favorite resins to burn, and this method really amplified its cleansing presence.

    thanks again!