My friend Mary has a green thumb and gets a bumper crop of clary sage every year. We are always trying to preserve the unusual,heady scent. Last year she put some in a mason jar with vodka in the hope that the scent would transfer to the vodka. It did not work. I did some research about homemade essential oil stills, thinking maybe we should try that route. These run the gamut from store bought copper stills that will extract the pure scent from your flowers and herbs to homemade stills employing modified kettles, bags of ice and hoses. Either way, we are a little intimidated by the distiller idea and decided against it.
This year I invited Mary to bring her giant bag of dried clary sage over to my kitchen and attempt to extract the scent into a vegetable oil in the hopes of making a solid perfume with it. She also brought some lavender to add to our mix. I would have liked to add rose petals from my garden but this summer we are experiencing a drought in Chicago and my roses are ailing. It is a good year to be growing native plants like herbs that don’t need lot of water. I am hoping that if you are also suffering from the drought where you are, you may still have some lavender, chamomile, clary sage or other good-smelling herbs to pick and extract. We decided to use a crockpot to keep the kitchen cooler and not have to hover over a hot stove. You can use a crockpot or a regular saucepan. The saucepan requires more continual stirring and surveillance.
Ideally, this perfume should be stable at room temperature and you won’t need to worry about mold. This summer I have witnessed unusual phenomenon like my sunblock and makeup separating due to the heat so I am opting to keep my perfume in the refrigerator.
You also could simply fill a glass jar with oil and herbs and put it in the sun to extract the scent. This can take a few weeks. Then heat it up and add beeswax and you will have made a solar solid perfume.
Photos by Sarah Hart Boone
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