Monday, October 15, 2012

Making "A Curious Perfume"

I have wanted to try this recipe for A Curious Perfume for a long time. I love perfumes and I felt very excited to finally be able to make an 18th century one.

Updated recipe
700 ml Rose Water
15 gram Benzoin resin
2 Cloves
1 gram Labdanum
1 gram Calamus root
A little Lemon peel
A few drops Storax essence

The photo is really bad, I’m sorry to say- my cell phone isn’t the best to take pictures it, but the batteries on my camera died on me.
Benzoin resin, Cloves, Calamus root, Labdanum, Lemon peel

I put the Benzoin, Cloves, Labdanum, Calamus and Lemon peel in a little fabric bag (i.e. wrapped them in a piece of old linen and sew it shut) along with the Rose water in a pan and boiled it all under a lid for 30 minutes. Then I strained it through a coffee filter. When cooled I added the Storax and poured it into a bottle.

My thoughts
The Storax in the original recipe was probably the resin, so I took a liberty in using essence. The result, not surprising, smells quite heavily of roses, but the other ingredients give the perfume a spicy, woody depth that makes it more interesting than just plain Rose water. It also has a hint of bee’s wax, which is odd as there is none in the recipe. The perfume looks a bit cloudy and there is some residue settling on the bottom of the bottle. I think a good shake is in order before use.

A word of warning though. The Benzoin and Labdanum melted into a sticky goo that is not water soluble. So even if most of it stayed in the fabric bag a residue was left in the pan and believe me, it’s hard to get rid off! So if you try this recipe, use a pan that you don’t care for…

Will I do it again?
Perhaps. It would be interesting to make it with Storax resin instead and see what happens. I also think the perfume would be better if left to boil a bit longer. As this perfume is without alcohol I think it has a limited shelf life, so if you don't plan to use a lot of it, make a small batch. However, I don’t much like wearing rose-based perfumes and this one if just a bit too much of that. If you do like the scent though, then I think you have an 18th century winner here!


  1. Sounds like an interesting pefume. I have never been keen on roses but I sure would like to try this one.
    I wonder if it would keep better if you made it oilbased? If you just used resins melted in almond oil and changed the rose water to rose oil?
    that way you might be able to otne done the roses and up the woodsy scents.

    1. I have a lot so I can give you some. :) Yes, perhaps that would work, but I'm not sure I like it enough to start to tinkle with it. There are some more animalistic perfumes I would like to try first, at least. :)

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