More tinctures please

Bamboo, Gran Lapsang Souchong, Orange Blossom, Kaffir, Galanga, Black Cardamom

Bamboo, Gran Lapsang Souchong, Orange Blossom, Kaffir, Galanga, Black Cardamom

Lately our lab is getting more and more filled with colourful bottles. Those are our tinctures, which basically means a liquid extraction made by soaking parts of plants for several weeks in a high-proof alcohol like ethanol.

Only for the good

Ok, you got that. But what are the benefits of tinctures in perfume? Nope, we’re not using them as substitutes for essential oils, absolutes or isolates, but yes, we use them as a soft back note by applying the tincture alcohol as a blend.

Kaffir Lime

Kaffir Lime

Most tinctures are made from botanicals containing sugars which act as a sidekicks - a little bit like Batman & Robin. They help trap scent molecules to the skin and slow the evaporation process down, which comes in handy when you’re creating natural perfumes.

Imagine you want to keep a top note you love - like pink grapefruit - longer on the skin throughout the whole dry-down. Just infuse your perfume blend with a pink grapefruit tincture. It will capture the scent through the length of the entire perfume. From top to heart, from heart to base. Magic.

But the biggest advantage is that you can experiment with basically everything that smells. So you can broaden your perfume organ as much as your vinyl collection. And that’s what makes us really happy.

What do you need? (Almost nothing)

  • a clean dry glass jar with a tight fitting lid (also called granny jars)

  • high proof alcohol - we use 96% ethanol from the drugstore

  • a cheese cloth or a coffee filter to strain the tincture

Seaweed from Sitges

Seaweed from Sitges

So let’s tincture

But from what? Well, you can make a tincture from everything that smells: flowers, fruits, grasses, herbs, leaves, petals, seeds, spices, resins, roots, twigs, woods and so on. But hey, if it doesn’t smell, forget about it. And make sure it’s dry as water is the enemy of a good tincture.

Talking about dry, if dried botanicals are used, a common ratio is 1 part dried plant material to 4 parts liquid. If fresh picked plants are used, 1:1 is the ratio.

First remove the unwanted parts, then chop the wanted parts into pieces and place them in a glass jar filled with alcohol. Allow your botanicals to sit for weeks - be patient here - shake them regularly and top up with alcohol if necessary to avoid rotting parts. Remove and strain the botanicals with a cheese cloth or coffee filter and pour the tincture into a bottle. Et voilà!

How long a tincture needs to sit

Orange Blossom from Barcelona

Orange Blossom from Barcelona

That depends. You need to use here a bit of common sense mixed with some good old fashioned trial and error. Herbs, spices and woods you can keep in a jar for two months or even longer. Flowers you need to recharge daily to even get some scent out of them. Sleep Recharge. Repeat. The amount of recharges depends from flower to flower. A good guideline here: your nose will sense when the alcohol is becoming pretty fragrant. When you go the fruity way be sure to tincture deep frozen fruits. You will avoid that water - coming from juicy fruit - blends in with your tincture which equals to failure. So experiment, smell a lot and learn on the spot. Your reward will be sweet at the end.

Tinctures made in our lab

  • Bamboo

  • Black Cardamom

  • Galanga

  • Gran Lapsang Souchong

  • Kaffir Lime

  • Orange Blossom - Barcelona

  • Oud - Oman

  • Raspberry - deep frozen 100% organic

  • Roman Chamomile

  • Seaweed - Sitges

  • Tonka

  • Wild Fennel - Collserola

  • Wild Rosemary - Garraf

  • Wisteria - Barcelona

Oud from Oman

Oud from Oman

Peter Vijgen