The roots of homespun alchemy lie in the play of childhood – sneaking bits and pieces from the garden and mixing them in jam jars, hoping for a magical scent. This kind of experimentation is no less fun as an adult, but with these recipes from Rachelle Blondel, author of Forgotten Ways for Modern Days, you’ll get far more satisfying results. Harnessing the natural power of the likes of beeswax, nuts, seeds and rosewater, these are great weekend projects that will reward you – or, in the case of the perfume, perhaps someone else – with some gentle, natural pampering throughout the working week.
To make a reed diffuser you will need:
5-6 thin bamboo skewers
50ml surgical spirit
50ml light oil (grapeseed, sweet almond or light olive oil)
Narrow-necked vase or bottle
30-40 drops of your favourite essential oil or blend
1 Remove the pointed ends of the wooden skewers with a pair of sharp scissors and put them to one side.
2 Place the surgical spirit and oil into the vase or bottle and swirl around to mix the two.
3 Add the essential oils and swirl again.
4 Place as many skewers into the bottle as will fit, but don’t over-fill as the skewers will need space to release the fragrance.
5 Leave for several hours, swirling the liquid every now and again, then flip the skewers so that the dry ends are in the liquid.
6 You can repeat the previous step until the wood is completely saturated with the oil and then flip the skewers every couple of days to keep the fragrance wafting. The volume of oil and surgical spirit can be increased according to the size of your vase or bottle, but keep the ratio 1:1. Essential oils can be added at 10 drops to 100ml of base oil: experiment with this volume for a stronger or weaker fragrance.
Taken from Forgotten ways for Modern Days: Kitchen cures and household lore for a natural home and garden by Rachelle Blondel (Kyle Books, £14.99). Photography by Catherine Gratwicke.