Bushman’s Candle-Namibia. Sarcocaulon Mossemedense
Bushman’s Candle is the fallen bark from the desert succulent Sarcocaulon mossamedense, a member of the Geranium, (Geraniaceae), family found in Namibia and Southern Angola where it grows in mainly coastal areas in grit with little water and lots of sun.
When a part of the plant dies, the soft interior decomposes over time leaving behind fragrant hollow sleeves of bark.
The bark possesses a unique and enduring, soft, sweet Amber fragrance that is used in incense, perfume and body-care products.
It is used on its own as an incense material while the tincture and extract of Bushman’s Candle are also used in the creation of perfume.
The bark, made of waxy resinous material, endures the harsh desert climate for many years maintaining its fragrance, shape and chemical properties, though temperatures can reach over 60 degrees Centigrade. (140 degrees Fahrenheit).
The Himba traditionally use the bark to add a unique aroma to wild game that is smoked over the fire.
The wax will ignite and stay lit much like a candle that gives this material its colloquial name.
Bushman’s candle can be powdered and used directly in incense blends though, it is more common to make an alcohol tincture of the powdered bark which separates the aromatic resin from the waxy base.
Once the product is filtered and the wax separated, the alcohol is evaporated to leave one with a fragrant “Resin Absolute” which can be used as a perfume or incense ingredient.
Bushman’s candle has a beautiful soft Amber scent that is rich, sweet, warm, woody and tenacious.
While the resin and essential oil of Bushman’s Candle can be extracted with alcohol, the wax portion dissolves in warm oils and creates a fragrant wax that is useful in skincare products.
In theory, it should be possible to extract 2 separate products from the raw bark, the alcohol extract for perfume and incense and the wax which can be used in candles, Balms, salves and cosmetics.
This material is ethically and sustainably collected by a co-op of Himba tribespeople and fairly traded.
To learn how to make your own products from Bushman’s Candle, please read my post at https://apothecarysgarden.com/2019/07/26/bushmans-balm-extracts-and-formulas/