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Fragrant Christmas Potpourri


You can spice up your home for the holidays with a beautiful and fragrant potpourri blend using dried apple slices, dried orange slices, and dried whole slit oranges combined with pinecones, cinnamon sticks, and whole anise stars.  The combined fragrance is perfect for Christmas. You can also add drops of Christmas fragrance oils like cinnamon, orange, apple, etc., You can add Christmas colors to your blend like red and green leaves and pods, for this blend I added cedar tips for a splash of green and red bakuli pods for a splash of red. There are many different types of colorful pods you can find at aromatherapy shops and crafts shops that sell potpourri ingredients.



How to Make Fragrant Potpourri


Now that your summer flowers are blooming and your herbs are bushy, you can collect them, dry them and make wonderful potpourri blends out of them to enjoy long after the blooming season is over. If you’re not sure how to dry them, see our posts: How to Dry Flowers for Crafts, and How to Dry Herbs for Crafts. If you don’t want to dry herbs and flowers yourself, you can buy them at crafts stores, aromatherapy supply stores, potpourri supply stores, florists, and even some health food stores.

A potpourri blend consists of dried herbs/flowers, essential oils, and a fixative. You can also add pods, berries, spices, and dried fruit slices. What exactly is a fixative and why do you need it? Since you’re going to be adding essential oils to your potpourri, you don’t want the smell to evaporate quickly and that’s where a fixative comes in. It’s a porous substance that literally absorbs the essential oils and retains them and makes the smell last longer. Some of the most popular fixatives are orris root, vetiver root, calamus root, sandalwood bark, gum benzoin, vanilla pods, and oakmoss. Orris root comes powdered or chopped, if you’re going to display your potpourri I would recommend the chopped version because the powder is going to make your potpourri blend look crumbly, but if you’re going to put it in a sachet, use the powder. Some spices also make great fixatives like cinnamon sticks, nutmeg (whole and powdered) and allspice. A good rule of thumb is to use about 2 Tablespoons of fixative per 4 cups of dried flowers and herbs.

When preparing your blend, make sure that your flowers and herbs are completely dry because any moisture is going to cause your potpourri to become moldy.  Some flowers that dry well are: roses, yarrow, hydrangeas, marigolds/calendula, geraniums, strawflowers, artemisia, ameranths, baby’s breath and sunflowers. Herbs that dry well are: lemon balm, rosemary, lavender, mint, sage, chamomile, oregano, basil, thyme, and bay leaves. Dried fruit slices like apples and oranges will also add color and fragrance to your potpourri blends. You can dry them yourself or buy them from crafts stores and potpourri supply stores.

Dried flowers and herbs have different lovely shades of yellows, oranges, blues, reds, pinks, and whites, and you can make a beautiful and stunning display by choosing combinations that complement each other. If you want a rustic country display, you can add whole pods and spices to your blend. With your essential oils, you can add a single scent or even make a combination of your choice.

To make your potpourri, gather together all of your dried materials and fixatives and add 6 to 12 drops of your essential oil onto the fixative, depending on how strong you want the scent to be. Stir your blend gently trying not to bruise or crush the dried flowers and put your potpourri into a brown paper bag and store it in a cool dry place for a few weeks until the fragrance is absorbed well into your potpourri. Every few days shake the bag to evenly disperse the fragrance and check on how strong the scent is. Once you’re satisfied with the result, pour your finished potpourri into decorative jars, bowls, trays, or any display container of your choice and enjoy.



What is a Sugar Scrub?


Body scrubs are a fantastic way to exfoliate and moisten your skin, and one of the most gentle types of body scrubs is a sugar scrub. You can use turbinado sugar, brown sugar, or white granulated sugar. Sugar scrubs are basically a combination of sugar and oil (coconut oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, etc.,), which you rub onto your skin and rinse off while you are in the shower. While the sugar granules gently exfoliate your skin by scrubbing off the top layer of dead skin cells and unclogging your pores, the oil moisturizes your skin.

The great thing is that since these ingredients are readily available, you can make your own homemade sugar scrubs instead of shelling out to buy it ready made, and by making your own you can tinker with the recipe and personalize it. A good rule of thumb for your recipe is to use 75% sugar and 25% oil. You can personalize it by adding natural fragrance to it with essential oils of your choice as well as dried or fresh herbs.

To use your sugar scrub, gently rub it on your body in a circular motion, paying special attention to rough skin areas like knees, elbows, and heels. You can also make salt scrubs but sugar scrubs are more gentle because the granules are not as hard as the salt granules, so if you’re not familiar with body scrubs and are trying them out for the first time, I would suggest a sugar scrub, especially if you have sensitive skin. If you have cuts, a rash, or broken skin do not use any type of body scrub until it heals.

Click the links below for some great sugar scrub recipe ideas:




Carrier Oils


For this post let’s look at carrier oils. As we saw in the post about essential oils, since they are so strong it is not a good idea to apply them directly onto the skin (neat). They should be diluted in soap, body butters, oils, etc., When they are used in oils, these oils are known as ‘carrier oils’ because they ‘carry’ the essential oils to your skin. They are also known as base oils.

Carrier oils are mainly vegetable and nut oils…these oils are also the kinds you cook with, and since they contain beneficial qualities and nutrients for the skin, they are also used as the base oils for massage and bath oil blends. It is important to remember though that you shouldn’t go to the supermarket and buy any vegetable oil and use it for your skin because some oils are manufactured differently. The kinds of oils you should use on your skin should be ‘cold pressed’ or ‘cold expeller pressed’ – which means that the oils have been extracted without the use of additional heat. Although there is some heat involved in the cold pressed method because of the friction produced during the extraction, it is not enough to destroy the vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids that are beneficial to the skin. Some oils, however, are manufactured using extra heat in order to increase the amount of oil during the extraction but this heat is so strong that it destroys much of the oil’s beneficial skin properties. Make sure your oils have been cold pressed, your best bet is to shop from health food stores or aromatherapy supply stores.

There are many different carrier oils available and the kind you choose should depend on what you want to use it for – some oils are beneficial for dry skin, others are beneficial for oily skin, others for sensitive or aging skin, etc., Most carrier oils are clear and odorless, although you may be able to detect a slight aroma. The cool thing is that the aroma is not strong enough to interfere with the fragrance of essential oils that are added to it. There are some oils though that have a very very strong aroma, like olive oil but most people really don’t mind the strong distinctive smell.

Examples of carrier oils that are generally good for all skin types are Sweet Almond oil, Apricot Kernel oil, Sunflower oil, Avocado oil, Safflower oil, Grapeseed oil, Coconut oil, and Jojoba oil*.

Avocado oil, Olive oil, Sweet Almond oil, and Rosehip Seed oil are good choices for dry skin types; Jojoba Oil, Sesame seed, Sweet Almond, Apricot Kernel oil, Avocado oil, and Grapeseed oil are good choices for sensitive skin; Jojoba oil, Safflower oil, and Grapeseed oil are good choices for acne prone skin.

Carrier oils and essential oils can be used to make awesome bath oils and massage oils. So how much should you use? The general rule is a 2% dilution, which would be 10 to 12 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil.

You can get really crafty and creative with bath and massage oil blends and package them in pretty bottles and add dried fruit slices or dried flower petals and herbs inside the bottle to enhance the look and smell. A dried orange slice looks fantastic in a bottle of orange bath oil, as do dried rose petals in rose oil, etc., But make sure that your fruit, herbs, and petals are completely dry before adding them to the bottle otherwise they will go rancid. Also, keep in mind that carrier oils themselves will go rancid after a certain amount of time.



Luxurious bath and massage oils make great gift ideas especially when dried flowers, herbs, and fruit are added inside the bottles. You can decorate the outside of the bottles with raffia or bows or dried flowers and herbs. Another great gift idea is to make add the bottles to gift baskets that contain other fragrant products like candles, potpourri, bath salts, etc., Below is an example of a Rose themed gift basket that I had made.




* Jojoba oil is technically not an oil but a liquid wax. It is very similar to the natural oil on human skin and it works as a great moisturizer.

* If you have nut allergies, please use caution and do not use oils that are derived from nuts. Use the seed based oils instead.



Essential Oils/Fragrance Oils…What’s the Difference?


For this post I want to discuss essential oils and fragrance oils which are important whether you’re making fragrant products (soap, candles, potpourri, etc.,) for sale, or buying them for your own use. First of all, what are they and is there a difference between an essential oil and a fragrance oil?

While many people use the words essential oil and fragrance oil interchangeably there is actually a difference between them. Essential oils are natural essences derived from plants, flowers, and fruits. Many parts are used to extract essential oils – leaves, petals, leaves, rinds, etc., The most common way to extract them is by distillation, in which the plant/fruit parts are crushed and steam-heated and the essential oils are condensed from the steam. The amount of plant material needed to extract the essential oils varies, which is why you will find a great difference in prices of various essential oils. Some of them are quite expensive for a small amount, for example over 60,000 roses are required to make just one ounce of essential oil. Since essential oils are natural essences of plants they are used in aromatherapy for their medicinal properties and mood enhancing qualities.

Fragrance oils, on the other hand, are synthetically produced aromatic oils. Since they are commercially produced they are much less expensive than the natural essential oils. Also, because they are synthetic, fragrance oils do not contain the natural aromatherapy properties of essential oils, although some fragrance oil do contain certain amounts of essential oils in them. But since they are not derived from nature but are manufactured, you will find a great many interesting varieties of fragrances like cinnamon buns, pecan pie, sweet candy corn, and buttercream. Fragrance oils are used to make fun, fantastic bakery scented candles and soap/bath products. Keep in mind though that not all fragrance oils are safe to use on the skin and if you’re a crafter, be sure to check with fragrance oil companies to check which ones are safe to be used in bath products.

So does this mean that since essential oils are natural they are better than the synthetically produced fragrance oils? Well, no actually, and in the cases of some essential oils, make that hell no. Just because something is natural it doesn’t mean that it is good for you. All essential oils are highly concentrated and very strong and they should never be used directly on the skin (called “neat”) without being diluted first, either in carrier oils, bath salts, body scrubs, etc., Some essential oils are actually milder than others but even these can cause a bad allergic reaction if used neat and if it happens to you, you’ll definitely be thinking this is so not neat. Some essential oils shouldn’t be used at all because they can be toxic and some shouldn’t be used by pregnant women.

But all this doesn’t mean that you should be looking at all essential oils with a nasty side-eye and avoiding them like the plague, they are safe when used correctly and make wonderful additions to fragrance and aromatherapy crafts. It’s just always better to err on the side of caution.