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August 2009

Growing Patchouli

Patchouli Leaves
Patchouli Leaves Taken From My Plant  
I'm not alone in my fondness for Patchouli Essential Oil...

Despite its aroma being an "acquired taste" (so to speak) for some, Patchouli Essential Oil is remarkably versatile. I use patchouli in skin care applications, emotionally in diffuser blends, romantically in sensual blends, spiritually at times for meditation, and in making natural personal fragrances.

Patchouli Plant
  Patchouli Plant Grown in Michigan
Unlike most essential oils that oxidize and diminish in therapeutic and aromatic quality over time, Patchouli Essential Oil improves with age like a fine wine.

Often associated with the hippies and the 1960s, the fragrance of patchouli is rich, earthy and grounding. In perfumery and fragrancing applications, patchouli is a base note that acts as a fixative and grounds a blend. Its aroma is suitable for unisex and men's blends. It can act as an aphrodisiac. In skin and hair care, patchouli is a wonderful staple to keep on hand. It is helpful for most all skin types ranging from dry, cracked skin all the way to helping to regulate oily skin and acne. Those with eczema, psoriasis and dandruff have said that patchouli is especially helpful for them. Emotionally, patchouli is calming and grounding. Spiritually, patchouli has been used alone or in blends during prayer and meditation. For more information, view AromaWeb's Patchouli Essential Oil Profile.

Close-Up of Patchouli Leaves
  Close-Up of Patchouli Leaves
Patchouli thrives in tropical regions and can be found in Hawaii, regions of Asia and other tropical areas of the world.

I've been curious to learn more about the actual botanical (Pogostemon cablin) that the oil is distilled from. A few months ago, I was delighted to learn that patchouli is capable of growing outdoors in the midwest during the warmer summer months. I haven't personally found patchouli plants available for sale here in Michigan (Zone 5), but I decided to seek out a nursery online that ships patchouli across the US. Although the poor plant arrived in pathetic condition and was not properly packaged for shipment, I was able to nurse it back to health, and it's now doing splendidly. I'm looking forward to see it flower come fall.

Fresh patchouli leaves are quite fragrant and are green and earthy in aroma. Although my patchouli plant is now thriving, the growing conditions here in Zone 5 certainly aren't ideal. Although I'm sure that the natural essential oil in my plant isn't as outstanding as if this plant was grown in optimal conditions by an experienced grower, it's nice to be able to finally learn more about the fresh botanical.

Patchouli Extract
  Patchouli Tincture (Patchouli Extract)
I'm curious to see if the leaves are suitable for use in making a pleasantly aromatic tincture. This weekend, I harvested leaves off the plant and am in the beginning stages of making two jars of tincture using the fresh leaves (see photo at right). I'm also curious to know if there is any aromatic difference in the resulting tincture by starting either with fresh leaves or with leaves that are first dried. To find out, I'm in the midst of dehydrating some of the leaves using my Excalibur Dehydrator. Once they are dried, I will create additional tincture using the dried leaves. You can learn how to make herbal tinctures/extracts by viewing AromaWeb's Herbal Tinctures Recipe.

I'm going to attempt to keep the patchouli plant indoors during the cooler months. Do you have experience in raising patchouli outside of its natural habitat? If so, please leave a comment or drop me an e-mail. I'd love to hear from you.

Aromatherapy Bath Bombs Recipe

Bath Bath BombsI love bath bombs. Dropped into the tub, they fizz and release their nutritive and aromatic ingredients. They make bath time an even more special occasion to relax and cleanse. Children find bath bombs fascinating and fun to plunk into the tub. Adults love the aroma and visual appeal, and they make beautiful gifts.

Once you have made bath bombs a time or two, you will find them quite easy to make.

By making them yourself, you'll know exactly what's in them. Not all commercial or artisan-made bath bombs are all-natural, but you can make virtually all-natural bath bombs at home that fizz amazingly well. Making them yourself will also save you at least half the price of what equivalent bath bombs cost from artisans and bath bomb specialty stores.

Click here to read the rest and view the Aromatherapy Bath Bombs Recipe on AromaWeb....

Introducing AromaWeb's New Advertiser Spotlight Area

I am pleased to announce the launch of AromaWeb's new Aromatherapy Advertiser Spotlight area. Through the Advertiser Spotlight, I am looking forward to telling you a bit more about each of AromaWeb's largest advertisers. Through their advertising dollars, AromaWeb's valued advertisers support AromaWeb's efforts to share objective, honest information about the field of holistic aromatherapy with the public.

Soon, I look forward to working with each of AromaWeb's advertisers including prominent and long term supporter, Marge Clark of Nature's Gift to share a Spotlight for her extraordinary company and line of essential oils, carrier oils, hydrosols and other aromatherapy related ingredients and accessories. Marge is the author of Essential Oils and Aromatics, and holds a well respected place within the field of aromatherapy here in the United States. I've been blessed to consider Marge a mentor and friend for over twelve years.

In the coming months, AromaWeb looks forward to introducing you to each of AromaWeb's largest advertisers within the new Advertiser Spotlight area:

Aromaland By Aromaland

Nature's Gift

Birch Hill Happenings

SunRose Aromatics

Samara Botane

Aromatics International

The Aromatherapy Place

Essential Wholesale

Naturally Thinking

From Nature With Love

Oak Ridge Candle Company

Diffuser World

100% Pure Essential Oils & Aromatherapy

A Healing Essence

Tip 2 Toe Essentials

American College of Healthcare Sciences

Botanic Oil Innovations

As you move forward within your aromatherapy journey today and into the future, please do rememeber to make it your priority to select AromaWeb advertisers as your source for all of your essential oils and aromatherapy products. AromaWeb advertisers support my desire and ambition to develop and share honest and objective aromatherapy information with you. Without their financial support, AromaWeb and AromaTalk would not have the extensive level of content that it presently offers.

Learn How to Advertise on AromaWeb

Combat Ants Naturally: Ant-Repellent Aromatherapy Surface Spray

Aromatherapy Ant Repellent
Peppermint Essential Oil is the active ingredient in this homemade Ant-Repellent Aromatherapy Surface Spray. The spray is shown resting against a garden of peppermint.  
I have a thing for fresh, home grown, tomatoes. I prefer them at room temperature. Yum. Mine are just starting ripen on the vine, and I had several tomatoes sitting in a bowl on my kitchen counter. I've never had a problem with ants before, but a week ago, I found a few lurking about in my kitchen. I'm no expert on ants, but they seem to be the bigger, carpenter ant variety. Ick. Aside from the tomatoes as a potential temptation to the ants, I'm not finding an entry point for them or other evidence of what might be attracting them into my home. Into my fridge went my beautiful fresh tomatoes.

I was noticing less ants, but was still finding an ant every few hours. I put on my thinking cap for a natural solution, and one quickly came to me:

It occurred to me that usually after doing dishes and working around my kitchen, I usually use an aromatherapy surface spray on my countertops. It's a simply spray that I make and keep on hand, but I haven't been using over the past couple weeks as I haven't been spending as much time in my kitchen lately. Peppermint essential oil is a natural deterrent to ants, and my homemade surface spray contains peppermint.

Aromatherapy to the rescue. After resuming use of my surface spray, I stopped finding any more ants within the day and they aren't showing up anywhere else in my house.

If you are experiencing a similar dilemma, consider trying the following surface spray recipe. It's certainly not going to combat a serious ant problem, but it should help with minor issues like the one I had.

It's that time of the year where warmer weather and sweeter garden produce like tomatoes, watermelon rinds and corn cobs can attract ants into the home.

Ant Fighting Surface Spray:

  • 4 oz. clean spray bottle with a fine mist setting (do not use a bottle that previously contained cleaning products or hair products such as hair spray).
  • 15 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
  • 10 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil (Avoid if you have cats)
  • 5 drops of Grapefruit Essential Oil (to soften the aroma a bit). Lavender Essential Oil can be used in place of the Grapefruit, if desired.
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled water and 1.5 ounces of high-proof alcohol (vodka is suitable, isopropyl or rubbing alcohol is not). Alternatively, you may omit the alcohol and increase the amount of distilled water to 3 ounces. The alcohol helps kills germs and disperse the essential oils. Alternatively, you can use an alcohol-based homemade peppermint tincture in place of the alcohol. View AromaWeb's Herbal Tincture Recipe to learn how to make your own.

Fill the spray bottle with the choice of either 1.5 ounces of distilled water and 1.5 ounces of alcohol or 3 ounces of distilled water. (Even though a 4 oz. bottle is suggested, leave about 1 oz. unfilled so you can shake the bottle well between uses.) Then, add the essential oil. Peppermint essential oil is especially strong in aroma. You may want to start by using only 7-10 drops of peppermint at first especially if you live in a household with someone who is sensitive to strong aromas. Shake the bottle prior to each use.

To Use:
Be sure to first test a small, hidden section of each surface you plan to use this spray on to make sure that the spray does not harm the surface. It's unlikely in these dilutions, but alcohol and essential oils can potentially damage some surfaces.

Mist your kitchen counters lightly. Be especially careful not to allow the mist fall onto food or into open beverages. Spray into your sinks as well to ensure that no tiny food particles attract ants. You can also periodically squirt a few sprays into your garbage pails to help combat ants. For garbage pails, however, I recommend adding a couple drops of peppermint oil every so often and keeping rotting garbage out of your kitchen.