Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Neroli Oil - A Popular Perfume Ingredient

Neroli Oil - A Popular Perfume IngredientImage via Wikipedia

I had never heard of neroli oil before until I was given a DIY deodorant recipe given to me by a Bulgarian friend, which had this included in the ingredients. Not knowing about it before is not surprising as being a bloke who doesn’t take much interest in perfumes. Well I know about it now and so will you.

Neroli oil is produced from the blossoms and the scent is similar in scent to bergamot produced from the blossom of the bitter orange tree.

The blossoms are pick by hand in late spring and the oil is made from water distillation, as the blossom is to tender a herb to go through the process of steam distillation as with other herbs and spices.

Neroli Oil - A Popular Perfume IngredientPrincess of Nerola first introduced the essence of bitter orange tree as a popular fragrance and used it in her gloves and in the water when bathing. This is where the name comes from. Neroli has a fresh distinctive and quite spicy scent with a flowery characteristic. Its floral oils are used extensively in perfume manufacture. It is a non-toxic, non-irritant oil and over 12% of all perfumes use Neroli now as their main ingredient. It blends well with all citrus and other floral oils. A little know fact is that Neroli oil is also one of the key flavouring components of some Cola based recipes.

Used in aromatherapy and massage treatment, Neroli has a soothing effect on the nervous system. For many years it has been used to relieve tension and anxiety with a marked affect to increase blood circulation. A solution can be made by adding three or four drops of the essential oil to one cup of almond oil. This can be added to grapefruit seed extract to make great oil for massage, but not for children or pregnant women.

Next time I see perfume in the shops I will look at the ingredients to see if I can detect the neroli content.
Images via Wikipedia

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Sunday, 24 May 2009

Bulgarian Homemade Witch Hazel Deodorant

Witch Hazel Squared

Witch hazel makes a great deodorant and because of its natural skin-healing and skin-care properties is an ideal replacement for commercial deodorants.

This DIY recipe for witch hazel based deodorant was given to me by a friend who works in a perfume shop and of course using locally produced Rakia with a high alcohol content, the higher the better. You can use vodka if you can’t get hold of Rakia. Here is a Bulgarian homemade recipe you may want to try. It makes 100 ml of deodorant.

You need to get a range of essential oils, which can be easily bought from good health shops or online stores. When you buy stocks they last for years so it is a good investment and of course many of the oils have therapeutic benefits in their own right.


  • 1 tsp 50% (or more) proof rakia
  • 10 drops geranium oil
  • 10 drops cypress oil
  • 10 drops rosemary oil
  • 5 drops neroli oil
  • 5 drops lavender oil
  • 40 ml witch hazel
  • 25 ml rose water
  • 25 ml cornflower water

  1. You need a 100 ml bottle (glass) with a spray attachment to store the deodorant
  2. Put the Rakia in the bottle and add the oil one at a time.
  3. Give it a good shake so all the oils and alcohol have been thoroughly mixed.
  4. The witch hazel should be added into the bottle then the rose and cornflower flower waters.
  5. Mix well by shaking the bottle.
  6. The deodorant is now prepared and ready for application.
  7. You need to shake the deodorant before you apply it each time.

You will feel fresh all day and know that it is doing your skin a world of good.

Image by urtica via Flickr

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Friday, 15 May 2009

Ginger Wine - A Simple Recipe

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Ginger Wine is a great herb drink which has been underrated for many a year. Having made many batches in the UK, I often forget how much I enjoyed this drink in the evening and not just in winter, but all year round. It is a fortified wine and not like ginger beer where the finished article only has its own alcohol content from fermenting.

This recipe has stuck in my mind for years I don't know exactly where I got it from but is was a learning curve to arrive at this particular recipe. You can of course customise it to you own taste.

  • 5 litres water
  • 1 1/2 kg sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 50 g fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp dried wine yeast
  • 120 g chopped raisins or sultanas
  • 1 bottle brandy (75 gm)

  • Put the water, sugar, lemon zest and ginger that has been cut and crushed in a saucepan and boil. Leave on a low simmer for at least and hour.
  • Leave it to cool after discarding any scum that forms on the top of the liquid.
  • Stir in the wine yeast when tepid and place the saucepan lid on loosely and leave for 24 hours.
  • Add lemon juice and raisins or sultanas to the liquid and transfer the mixture into a clean plastic container and cover with a lid loosely or a clean tea towel. This needs to be left in a warm place for 2-3 weeks and stirred every day.
  • The brandy can now be added and left another couple of weeks without stirring.
  • Place the container in a cool place for 24 hours then strain or siphon off the clear wine into wine or plastic lemonade bottles.
  • Serve cool or with ice.
You can serve this as a toddy by heating up the wine on a cold night (not too hot though as the alcohol will evaporate.)

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Monday, 4 May 2009

Pokeweed - A Toxic Herb

Pokeweed - A Toxic HerbI'd never heard of pokeweed before so looking up about this herb is new to me. It will certainly stick in my mind now that I know about its dangerous toxins and also the benefits it gives in medical remedies. Certain a gamble to the novice, perhaps it should be called pokerweed.

Pokeweed is also known as poke, poke bush, pokeberry, pokeroot, polk salad, polk sallet, inkberry and ombĂș. There is quite a selection of names to choose from depending on where you come from. They are perennial plants and originate from North America, South America, East Asia and New Zealand. Pokeweed are poisonous to mammals although the berries are eaten by birds who are not affected by the toxin as the seeds have a very hard outer shells and remain sealed throughout their digestive process.

Pokeweeds grows up to 10 ft. tall with single alternate leaves which are pointed at the end and has crinkled edges. The stems are usually pink or red with greenish-white flowers that come in long groups at the top of the stems. These flowers go on to develop into dark purple berries.

Boiling young pokeweed leaves three times will reduce the toxins producing a poke salad this is and is occasionally available in shops. There is an official campaign against eating pokeweed even after triple boiling, as some toxin may still remain. Poke salad has been a staple of southern USA diet even tough discouraged by the medical profession. There are poke salad festivals held annually in this region.

Pokeweed - A Toxic HerbPokeweed has been used as remedies to treat many ailments such as acne, tonsillitis/swollen glands and weight loss. Grated pokeroot was used as a poultice to treat inflammations and rashes of the breast. There is ongoing research are investigating the use in treating Aids and cancer patients. It can relieve the pain of arthritis add pokeberry juice to other juices for jelly.

Pokeweed berries can be made into a red ink or dye. This was used by Native American Indians to paint their horses. The United States Declaration of Independence was actually written in fermented pokeberry juice. Soaking fabrics in fermenting berries in hollowed-out pumpkins can make a brown dye.

Some pokeweeds make attractive ornamental plants and the impressive display of berries have been selected and cultivated to enhance the size.

To those who have not been properly trained in its use, pokeweed should be considered dangerous and possibly deadly. So beware of the dangers.
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