Posted on 7 Comments

As the dust settles-Riding the wheel of the year

After 3 months of packing and letting go of “stuff” on different levels, I’m on the other side of my decision to leave Canada and move to Israel. The flight was long, but relatively painless, and I’m back to work 2 days later which suits me well.
Though I hate to admit it to my friends who are in the midst of a classic Canadian Winterlude,  they were right, the weather here is amazing. Not only perfectly warm without being hot, the air caresses you with a sensuous signature fragrance that is hard to describe. Every country has one. That first foreign inhalation, as you disembark the airplane. Here it is a musky female earthiness, like nature, releasing her first spring breath mixed with bitter olive and orange blossoms. Israel by birth is ruled by Taurus and Venus. Need I say more…

Horseshoe nail Jewellry- Wheel of the year-Dan Riegler 2000
Horseshoe nail Jewellry- Wheel of the year-Dan Riegler 2000

I timed my flight to coincide with the traditional sacred day of Imbolc, (or Tu’bishvat?), “The first stirrings of spring”. It is a cross-quarter station of the sun in the cycle of the year, midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox. A symbolic act synchronizing a major life change with the bigger cycle of life on the planet. Like catching a ride on the wheel of the year.

What to pack, to ship, or leave behind was an ongoing dilemma. I crammed 95% tools and materials into my 3 Stanley toolbox “suitcases”, both for apothecary work and carving, with a sentimental grabbing of Ebony, Jet  and antler. I topped my permitted 70 kilograms of luggage with lab-glass wrapped in socks and tee shirts. Our priorities become apparent when the crunch is on.

 

Fresh co-op harvested Frankincense Frereana- from Somaliland-" Maydi or Yemenite Chewing Gum"
Back in stock. Fresh co-op harvested Frankincense Frereana- from Somaliland-” Maydi or Yemenite Chewing Gum” is an exquisite material for making incense, perfume, cosmetics and medicine.

To my delight, I discovered the rare, fragrant and oh so chewable Frankincense Frereana was waiting for me here. As of now, it is officially, and finally back in stock. I can get the first distillation of pre-ordered Boswellia Frereana essential oil up and running! WooHoo!!! With any luck I will record a video of the process and share it..

Though I didn’t write much during the whirlwind of moving, I did finish some new and exciting products for the store in the few weeks before I left. I didn’t have the time to write them up properly, so I left posting them till after the move when life would be a little calmer, (which should happen any time now?)

These are the new items I will post in the Etsy shop over the next while. I will describe them in greater detail in the store, but for now here is a glimpse.

– Frankincense Frereana Rejuvenative Creme.

Frankincense rejuvenative creme
A Frankincense Frereana rejuvenative creme using the whole oleoresin, not just the essential oils, simple whole and no fragrance added. A traditional cosmetic and anti-aging product that includes the therapeutic properties of the resin as well as the essential oils of Boswellia Frereana.

Spruce Oil, for DIY chest or muscle rubs & moustache wax recipes

ruce Oil-an Astrodynamic preparation
Spruce Oil-an Astrodynamic preparation. Ready to use straight or in your own formulas. The messy sap and oil extraction process already done.

 

Frankincense Neglecta Heart and chest rub

Frankincense Neglecta oleo Extract
Frankincense Neglecta oleo Extract. My “Heartsease oil”. Nothing external compares to the calming effect this has on the physical pangs of anxiety, heartache, panic, and tightness of the chest from stress. My  topical and natural Xanax. Reports indicate it might help with the constriction associated with asthma attacks as well. It may be due to the presence of Incensole and Incensole Acetate, but, studies are conflicting on the constituents of Boswellia Neglecta at this point.

5-fold Perfume Tincture of Muskrat Musk glands.

Muskrat 5-fold musk gland tincture
5-fold Muskrat musk gland perfume tincture. Fresh material macerated in the the menstruum/alcohol 5 times.

The name says it all.

Red Pine Ontario
Red Pine Ontario

 Red Pine essential oil-Artisan distilled

I distilled this from the oleoresin of local Ontario Red Pines about 6 years ago. It resurfaced during the move. During distillation, I reserved the first 20% that came over, and kept it separate, leaving a slightly sweeter essential oil minus some of the terpene notes. Like many resinous essential oils, it improves with time. I have about 20 10 ml. bottles left.

 *****

That’s it for now. Time to address the inevitable red tape and bureaucracy , open a bank account, get a local phone, find new suppliers, rates at the post office, and to pack and ship orders to those of you who have been waiting patiently for this move to end. I can’t wait to dig into work, tincturing, distilling and getting the lab up and running at full speed again!

The ride might have been hairy till now, but with all the wonderful medicinal and aromatic materials to work with close by, both in Africa and the Mediterranean, it’s also bound to be well worth the upheaval and change.

Ahh, new beginnings..

 

Dan

Posted on 19 Comments

A Moustache Wax Recipe with Frankincense resin

Fresh co-op harvested Frankincense Frereana- from Somaliland-" Maydi or Yemenite Chewing Gum"

As promised, here is the recipe for my “Abyssinian Twirling Wax”, a Frankincense summer styling wax made with the oleoresin of Frankincense Frereana, co-op harvested in Somaliland. The Frankincense resins in the formula can be replaced with Spruce, Pine or Fir resins if desired. I chose Frankincense Frereana because of its wonderful fragrance and lack of water-soluble gum, perhaps the only Frankincense with this quality. This allows it to dissolve readily in the oils and butters, as the coniferous saps do.

Much as I love my spruce sap moustache wax, (solid moustache wax recipe), I find I am always learning, growing, exploring, and discovering new things. I better be improving with age.

Instead of adding olive oil as a solvent and carrier with the spruce sap in my earlier recipe, I mixed the hot cocoa butter and the coconut oil with the semi-melted Frankincense which gave the resin enough mobility to be filtered through a metal mesh coffee filter. (Easier on the hands than squeezing hot resins through a pillowcase! ). It was then put back in the water bath in the mixing vessel and the rest of the ingredients blended into it till the texture and consistency were just right. This method works just as well with Pine, Spruce and Fir saps.

Resins have the very cool attribute of training or “perming” ones hair. After using a resin based wax for a day or two, one’s moustache notably keeps its shape with less or no waxing. Hairs may still separate, but they will do so according to the shape the resins imparted to them. When you want to try a different style, the resin wax holds it exactly where you want it and sets your facial hair to the new style with the same ease. Simple or extremely elaborate creations are thus possible with no extra effort.

So here is my new and improved recipe for a really lovely resin based, solid moustache wax This recipe is pretty close to the “Abyssinian Twirling Wax”. The product in the shop also has resins of Frankincense Rivae from the Ogaden region in Ethiopia, (hence the Abyssinian part), but it is not a prerequisite for a wonderful product.  To it, I added some Frankincense Rivae resin left over from distilling the essential oils, but you could simply add a little essential oil of Frankincense Rivae to accomplish the same end. These two fragrances compliment each other well.

If you would like to try out a Frankincense resin moustashe wax before you make it, buy some to compare to your own recipe, or if you would like to support and encourage my need to make cool things for cool people, you can find it in my Etsy shop here. https://www.etsy.com/listing/193421122/abyssinian-twirling-wax-a-frankincense

You can experiment with a wide range of ingredients and proportions. A little more Frankincense adds durability and hold in hot humid conditions, a little less, works well in cooler climates.

We all have different needs from a grooming wax, so take the time to play with the proportions and ingredients, and do a”drop test” on a room temperature surface as often as you need, till you are happy with the results. I often do this 10 -20 times till I am satisfied. Remember you can re-melt and redo your wax almost indefinitely. Just return it to the waterbath at any point to experiment , add or adjust ingredients.

-The Frankincense Frereana adds tenacity, nice hold and “perming power”. Plus it has a most lovely fragrance of amber, wood and spice

-The Cocoa butter helps it go on smooth without pulling hairs and smells wonderful with the Frankincense.

-The coconut oil is semi solid at room temperature so I figure it is better for consistency than olive oil, and of course it’s all the rage now for skin, hair and everything else it seems.

-I always use fresh fragrant local Beeswax, not the bleached or deodorizer stuff. Fresh beeswax smells amazing complements the resin’s fragrance, and adds a lovely texture and hold of its own.

You can use any kinds of oleoresins you like or have around, in similar proportions to those below. This recipe yields 1 liter of moustache or beard wax. The percentages should help you make smaller quantities. For a beard wax or dressing, I would reduce the resins and Beeswax, and up the Lanolin and Cocoa butter till you have the consistency and hold you are looking for. I hope to get some in the shop sometime soon.

So,, enough talk-

A recipe for a Frankincense resin Moustache Wax

In  a water bath, (See a solid mustache wax recipe),  heat up the items below.  (Note these are not exact proportions that must be followed to the letter or decimal point, but do work well. I expect everyone to tweak them to their own individual taste and grooming needs.)

  • Frankincense Frereana-125 grams for a summer wax. 100 grams might work well for a winter or cold weather wax. 100 to 125 grams-10%-12.5% . (Or 150-200 grams-15% -20% Spruce, Pine or Fir sap).
  • Cocoa Butter-200 grams. 20%
  • Coconut oil-200 grams-20%
  • Lanolin-150 grams-15%
  • Beeswax 300-350  grams-30%-35%
  • Vitamin E. 400 IU per 250 ml. or more. It helps preserve fats from rancidity and is nourishing to hair and skin. Not obligatory, but an option.
  • Essential oils if you like. You can add essential oils of your choice during the cool down period, before you pour your wax into containers. The fragrance of the Frankincense, Beeswax and Cocoa butter combined is warm, mild, woody and lovely on its own. Some oils that go well with Frankincense Frereana are other Frankincense types, Cedars, Opoponax, Balsam Peru, Cabreva, Muhuhu, Sandalwood, Pettigrain and citrus types.
  •  For more essential oil suggestions and information on how to incorporate natural fragrance in your moustache wax, please see the post How to create a natural fragrance for male grooming products.
Fresh co-op harvested Maydi- Frankincense Frereana
Fresh co-op harvested Maydi- Frankincense Frereana-Natural chewing gum, incense and moustache wax ingredient.

 

So, in the water bath, heat up all your ingredients. Wait till your water boils and everything has melted. Gauging by eye, or with a thermometer wait till they reach a similar temperature.
Add part of the Cocoa butter and part of the coconut oil to the gooey Frankincense resin, stir thoroughly till it is homogeneous and all the Frankincense has dissolved.
Remove and carefully pour it through a metal coffee filter via a funnel or directly into your mixing jar.  Use the back of a spoon or a stir stick to press it through and keep the pores in the filter open.  If you have a large quantity, do this in small batches and return the Frankincense mix to the water bath to keep the contents liquid. If you can’t get a reusable metal coffee filter, (The gold coloured Melita type), then use the corner of a clean and well rinsed pillowcase, and wearing gloves press the mixture through the fabric and funnel to the jar.Any residual goo left on hands and tools cleans up well with olive oil then soap and water.

Put the container with the filtered mix into the water-bath, wait till it is same temperature as the rest of the jars, and you are ready to start adding the remainder of the ingredients to it.
I ususally don’t pour things in all at once, but reserve some for final adjusting. Often I will measure more into the jars than the recipe calls for, just so I have some room for play. Its easy enough to measure what I have left over afterwards and deduce how much I used. Add most of your ingredients then do a cold drop test and see if it suits your needs. More Cocoa butter? More beeswax? Coconut oil?  What do you think??
When you are happy with the result, you are ready to pull it out of the waterbath and either mix in your essential oils or just pour it into containers to set. And that’s it.
Enjoy the gender you were blessed with this life.
And always always remember to take notes! Clear legible and dated notes!

Your future self will thank you…

Dan

Oh and if you are considering using Frankincense frereana in your recipe, you can find it here-https://www.etsy.com/listing/191307066/frankincense-frereana-maydi-somaliland

Abyssinian Twirling Wax. A Frankincense based Moustache wax. In the Etsy store.
Abyssinian Twirling Wax. A Frankincense based Moustache wax. In the Etsy store.
Housemate Jesse James, a regular user of Abyssinian twirling wax.
Housemate Jesse James, a regular user of Abyssinian twirling wax.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on 6 Comments

Maydi-The King of Frankincense

Boswellia Frereana, Maydi

Perhaps one of the least known Frankincense types in the western world, but one of the most prized  in Arabia and Africa, Boswellia Frereana is native to the Somali Puntland the Somaliland highlands, and is their pride and joy. In Somaliland and neighboring regions, Maydi is considered the King of Frankincenses.

With a sweet and warm amber fragrance highlighted by spice, and floral notes, Frankincense Frereana differs from most other types of Frankincense with its pure oleo-resin content and lack of water-soluble gum.

Fresh Frankincense Frereana- from Somaliland-" Maydi or Yemenite Chewing Gum
Fresh Frankincense Frereana- from Somaliland-” Maydi” or Yemenite Chewing Gum

Harvested from fewer trees over a much shorter period during the year, Maydi, or Boswellia Frereana, is not as abundantly available as the other more familiar types of Frankincense. It is bought up quickly by the Coptic church, Saudi, Omani and Yemenite dealers, and much of it is used domestically.

Maydi is burned in Somali homes to sweeten the air after cooking, to add fragrance to clothing and used on special occasions. The Somalis have a  traditional amber type incense they “cook” up, made from Frankincense Frereana and other local ingredients called “Uusni”. A recipe I hope to eventually discover. ( Any insights or advice would be greatly appreciated!).

The west sees very little of this precious Frankincense. Averaging around  99% oleoresin with barely any water-soluble gum content, (as compared to 20% -35% in Boswellia Carterii/Sacra and other types), this Frankincense is all fragrance.

Maydi is used in its unprocessed state as a natural chewing gum,  locally and in Arabian nations, for this reason it is also known as “Yemenite Chewing Gum”. Due to its lack of water-soluble gum, it does not deteriorate in the mouth with warm saliva, but holds its form indefinitely, releasing healing oils and resins for extended periods of time. Even after chewing  B. Frereana for hours, the used oleoresin still releases heavenly fragrances on the hot coals. Legend says Maydi trees were transplanted to Yemen many decades ago, but the demand for Boswellia Frereana in arabic countries far exceeds quantities grown outside Somaliland.

It is an easy to use ingredient in Bakhoor, powder and formed incense, and due to its near complete solubility in alcohol and its affinity with oils, it is perfect for making , cremes, salves, tinctures and many other natural cosmetic, fragrant  and healing products.  Akin to Elemi, B. Frereana is an excellent oleoresin for mature skin and signs of aging.

For the incense makers and connoisseurs out there, another little known fact about Frankincense Frereana, is that as an incense, it burns clean on the charcoal, pools with the heat and melts into it, leaving no charred water-soluble gum or unpleasant secondary fragrance as do other Frankincense types and Myrrh.

Boswellia Frereana essential oil has a light yellow colour and a unique set of defining chemical markers. It has an olfactory signature distinct from all other types of Frankincense. It is high in  α-pinene (38%), p-Cymene 11%, a-Thujene 8.1%, limonene (2.4%), sabinene (2.6%), trans-verbenol (4.2%) and bornyl acetate (2.8%), contains  dimers of α-phellandrene and close to another 30 odd compounds in varying amounts. These consituents are present in the, Oleo, or volatile, hydro distilled essential oil portion. The resin portion of this fragrant species holds many more therapeutic and fragrant constituents, similar to other well-known and esteemed healers such as the various Frankincense types, Mastic, Spruce Fir and Pine.

I have started purchasing from a cooperative of families and tribes that have tended their Maydi, Myrrh and Sweet Myrrh, (Opoponax) trees for generations in the highlands of Somaliland.  Collection of the resins is a yearly tradition the whole family and tribe participate in, and through which they earn their yearly wage.  Besides their value as a source of livlihood, these trees are an important part of the tribe’s culture. Often trees are reserved unharvested  for decades to be bestowed  as dowry or as an inheritance.

Due to past conflicts in the area there is no government legislation, control of pricing, or supervision of trees and harvest. No big brother to watch out for the harvesters. The harvesters have been susceptible to theft, vandalism of trees, and unscrupulous buyers.This has changed since establishment of the co-op, and money is regularly being reinvested in schools, medical facilities, communication and transport.  This is a social and economic endeavor worthy of our support.  I hope to visit the cooperative this winter if at all possible, while working in Ethiopia on the ethical Civet project.

Fresh 2013 harvest of Frankincense Frereana oleoresin from this co-op is now available for sale in the Etsy store. You can click on the photo below, or in the sidebar to check it out.

Fresh co-op harvested Maydi- Frankincense Frereana
Fresh co-op harvested Maydi- Frankincense Frereana

Showcasing the versatility of Frankincense Frereana, I have just made a batch of a new moustache wax, I named it “Abyssinian Twirling Wax” and posted it in the Etsy store if you would like to try it out. It is a unique summer Moustache Wax,  which easily creates and holds moustache embellishments and twirls, even through hot summer days and overnight romps.  The fresh Frankincense resins in this wax help train and “perm” facial hair. The fragrance of fresh beeswax, Cocoa butter, Maydi, Frankincense Rivae and Labdanum is heavenly.

Another new “Maydi” product posted in the shop, is my Frankincense Frereana Rejuvenative Creme” which utilizes the therapeutic in both the essential oils and the resin portion of Frankincense Frereana. We have come to think of a plant’s essential oils as representing the healing properties of the plant, but in the case of our oleoresins, we miss out on what is often 95% of the healing compounds available to us. For this reason, I consider this a “Holistic” product that maintains the natural synergy between the oils and resins and brings us a product much closer to its natural form.

Abyssinian Twirling Wax. A Frankincense based Moustache wax.
Abyssinian Twirling Wax. A Frankincense based Moustache wax.

And  for T.B. and all the rest of you that are waiting patiently for Part 2 of “How to distill essential oils from Pine, Fir and Sruce saps”, Hang in….. I’m almost there :-).

Dan

Posted on 3 Comments

Ebb and Flow

After a month and a half of silence since my last post, I believe I am back. It has been an oddly difficult year leading up to my 60th birthday last Sunday. For the most part I felt like I was sloughing through waist-high molasses to get the smallest thing done. Thank god for the consistency of Nature, and the inevitable ebb and flow of all things. If you can’t fight it, wait it out.  As soon as my birth day was behind me, I felt like a heavy fog lifted from me. Still a little cautious, but optimistic, and taking every opportunity I can to build on it.

I returned from Ethiopia in April a bit shell-shocked. Having gained an intimate and first hand understanding of the state of Civet farming, (See the attached WSPA report), I felt disheartened. Effecting improvements in ethics and practices that were deeply ingrained culturally, in a society that was so slow to embrace change, felt daunting and unrealistic. Even their own government had seemed to have given up trying to modernize the cruel practices, what could one foreigner hope to accomplish on his own?

I have slowly regained some composure since my return, spoken with natural perfumers over the past month, and am selling some of the Civet paste I brought back with a message. Can you help?  So it’s not just a product, but a call that I hope will be passed on. The treatment of Civets for perfume in Africa, and Kopi Luwak Coffee in Asia is truly barbaric. Boycotting the producers has had the reverse effect intended, these people a frighteningly poor already. They will find a way to survive and I don’t blame them. Removing the little income they have, and turning our backs on them indignantly, did absolutely nothing for the Civets. All we have done is increase the poverty and hardship of people who already suffer from lack, created black markets and back doors for the perfume companies to avoid negative publicity. There must be a better way. Even if it means going in there and getting our hands dirty.

If you want to learn more about Civet culture and farming, have a look at my post- Ethical Civet, a glimpse from the mountaintop. If you would like to buy authentic Ethiopian Civet paste at a very reasonable price that includes a call for your support to help change the current farming practices, contact me or leave me a comment. I will get it in the store shortly.

Ethiopian Civet paste 2014
Ethiopian Civet paste 2014

Ok. On a more positive note, I have 3 new apothecary products and have started working with bone, stone, wood, horn and antler again. Hurray for me! I laid down my tools 2 years ago when I started this blog, part of my second Saturn return and 60th birthday evolution no doubt. Three gorgeous large chunks of Jet, (about 20 Kg.), have kept vigilant watch over me  ever since, sitting in my study, whispering all the wonderful things I could carve and turn from them. Not letting me forget they were waiting for me and there was no way I could get them out of my life until I made something spectacular from them. I wonder if Jet is ruled by Saturn astrologically? Likely so.

So my lathe is now set up and turning lovely little incense/moustache wax spoons out of recycled Ebony piano keys. They aren’t finished yet, but looking promising.

Incense/Moustache wax spoons waiting for carving and details. Recycled Ebony piano keys
Incense/Moustache wax spoon blanks, waiting for carving and details. Recycled Ebony piano keys

I formulated a great new summer moustache wax. “Abyssinian Twirling Wax”. Made with oleoresins of Frankincense Frereana from Somaliland and Frankincense Rivae from Ethiopia. Not only does it keep its hold through hot and humid weather, smells great, but it trains and “perms” moustache hairs even better than my old “Solid moustache wax recipe”.

Abyssinian Twirling Wax. A Frankincense based Moustache wax.
Abyssinian Twirling Wax. A Frankincense based Moustache wax.

 

I now have the very rare co-op harvested “Maydi” or Frankincense Frereana from Somaliland for sale and will do a post introducing it very soon.

Will be posting “Pet Medic” to the Etsy store this week, a safe, natural skin healing ointment for most domestic animals and pets. Made “Astrodynamically” using a triple extraction of fresh Calendula petals, it was originally intended for baby’s butts, but so many people were thrilled it worked so well on their pets, I figured I would go with the flow.

"Maydi" Frankincense Frereana-Co-op harvested Somaliland 2013.
“Maydi” Frankincense Frereana. Co-op harvested Somaliland 2013.

I now have an all-purpose bdsm crème. If you don’t know what that is then just skip to the next item….

One fulfills the needs of the community. Whatever that community might be.

I think my 60th birthday gift from my Self, is a vision of bringing together all the seemingly disparate parts of my long life, my incarnations, into a cohesive whole. That’s really all I wanted to say for now.

Oh, and I will be at the Apothecary’s Garden most Saturday mornings until further notice, so if you have any gardening, herbal or apothecary questions, and if you would like to help grow the Teaching Gardens with us, you know where to find me.

Warm regards

Dan