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aromatherapy 101

Aromatherapy Sachets and Pastilles

Drawers and linen cabinets are great places for sachets and pastilles. Both of these mixtures will scent clothing and repel insects. Sachets (small sacks of powdered potpourri materials) can be made from a variety of formulas. The color and texture additives are not needed. Your blend is aged for two weeks, then ground in a blender or coffee mill, and placed into sachet cases. Working with materials that have already been powdered gives more accurate idea of the final scent.

To make an easy sachet mixture, combine an equal amount of powdered fixatives and a neutral materials such as arrowroot starch or sawdust. Orris root powder is a popular fixative for a sachet. Essential oils can be added next, in any combination you like. Transfer the blend to a sachet case with a funnel.

The base blend system, varied by adding different materials or oils, can also be used to make a sachet. A nice blend can be made from one pound of orris root combined with one pound of sandalwood, four ounces each of lavender, vetiver, ambrette seed, and cedarwood; six ounces each of woodruff and patchouli, two ounces of both tonka and benzoin, and one-half ounce of musk oil. You can experiment and make variations of this sweet, neutral fragrance. One variation can be made by adding two ounces of each of the following: Balm of Gilead buds, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, and tonka, and one ounce of both cardamom and myrrh.

Remember when you are experimenting to work in small quantities. Work with teaspoon-sized amounts, and limit yourself to no more than eight materials in combinations. Begin with equal portions of each material and then adjust them if you need to, but keep in mind that 50% fixative is needed to help retain the sachet's fragrance.

Here are some combinations you may want to try in your experiments with sachets.

* lavender, rose, woodruff, orris, orange blossoms, tonka, sandalwood
* orris, sandalwood, violet oil, orange blossoms, vanilla
* patchouli, oak moss, cedar, benzoin
* musk oil, sandalwood, benzoin, tonka, myrrh
* rosemary, peppermint, cloves, thyme, vetiver, southernwood
* lavender, rosemary, sage, bay, angelica
* lemon balm, lemon peel, lemon verbena, lemon and other citrus oils, orris
* oak moss, balm of Gilead, sandalwood, orris, tonka, floral oils
* cedarwood, southernwood, wormwood, patchouli, oak moss, vetiver, lavender, cloves, pennyroyal
* allspice, cinnamon, vanilla, calamus, carnation oil
* rose, clover, woodruff, violet leaves, deer's tongue leaves, tonka, oak moss
An interesting approach to sachet blending is to create "his and hers" mixtures. Make up a quantity of base including materials you both like, then divide the base and individualize the fragrance of each part with oils.

It is also easy to customize a sachet base with subtle variations. Each variation can be useful for different types of clothing. Musk and jasmine are sensual and, when added to the sached blend, are suitable for lingerie. Insect-repellent materials can be added to sachets for use in storage closets. Oak moss is a sweet-smelling, guaranteed moth-proofer. Rue, savory, chamomile, and especially pennyroyal are repugnant to fleas. Flies can be repelled by using clover flowers, sassafras, clove, bay, eucalyptus, and tansy. Mosquitos hate citronella and citrus oils. Other materials which will discourage insects are: feverfew, mints, bergamot, lavender, tonka, patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood, woodruff, calamus, cedarwood, southernwood, wormwood, and pine oils. Avoid using the oils from phlox, mignonette, primrose, or other night-blooming flowers because they attract moths.

Sachets, whether created for fragrance or as moth repellents, need to be put into cases. These can be simple or elaborate, but finely woven silk works best, because it prevents powders from leaking out. If you want to use needlework or loosely woven fabric as a sachet case, you will also need an inner liner.

Heart-shaped, quilted red satin, or fabrics cut into circles, ovals, diamonds, triangles, or squares that have been trimmed with lace, ribbon, or sequins make attractive sachet cases. Finish the case by adding a ribbon loop, so it can be suspended from door knobs or clothes hangers. Large flat sachets may be used to scent blankets stored on closet shelves.

Even if you do not sew, you can make sachets. One way to create a sachet is to seal the mixture in envelopes and place them in drawers. You can make your own decorative envelopes from wrapping paper or origami paper. Another simple method for non-sewers is the "ball of sachet" method. Cut squares or circles of fabric with pinking shears. Place a small mound of sachet in the center, then gather the fabric edges and hold in place with rubber bands. Make a bow around the rubber bands with ribbon to complete the case. Embroidered or appliqued handkerchiefs with pre-finished edges also make good cases. They look fancy, but are simple to make.


Pastilles are tiny tablets made of ground materials, oils and a binding agent. They are the easiest way to scent drawers and shelves. Pastilles can be made by several methods. Each of these techniques will produce several dozen pastilles in only an hour.

Wax pastilles can be made by following the same techniques used in candle-making. You will need paraffin or beeswax, candy molds or miniature cupcake tins, and a recycled tin can to use as an improvised double boiler. If you have any trouble finding a mold, you can use a shoebox lined with greased aluminum foil, and cut the wax into smaller pieces with a sharp knife after it is cool.

Since wax ignites easily, always melt it in the can placed in a pot of boiling water -- never directly over the flame. When the wax is melted, add small shavings of candle color and stir with a dowel rod or stick until it dissolves completely and evenly into the wax. Next, essential oils can be added, a drop at a time, until the desired fragrance is reached. Stir the wax well, remove it from the stove, and pour it into molds greased with vegetable shortening. Remove the pastilles from the molds after they have cooled.

Children love homemade play dough that has been scented with oils. The homemade version works just like regular play dough; it can be molded or shaped and allowed to dry to make pastilles. To make homemade play dough, mix two and one-quarter cups white flour (not self-rising) with one cup salt and one tablespoon alum. Add four tablespoons essential oil to the dry mixture and stir in one and one-half cups boiling water. Use a mixer to stir the dough and add food coloring if you want colored dough.

A more artistic dough can be made by mixing together one cup of gum tragacanth and one cup powdered fixative. Add whatever essential oils you desire and blend in one cup of lukewarm water. Mix this well and add more water -- never more than two cups -- if necessary. Knead the dough by hand until it resembles pie or bread dough. Run the mixture through a cookie press or hand shape it to make pastilles. The pastilles should be allowed to air dry before you use them.


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