Herbalist Cathy Skipper and Jade have been building links between aromatic and herbal medicine (and botanical perfumery too!). Out of a great love and respect for these fields, they have initiated the this project by providing distillation units to various individuals throughout the country. They believe that one of the most potent links between the these fields is distillation!
I am excited to share that a beautiful, cooper alembic has been sent to me as part of this project! You can see her in the opening photo of this post. She was on display at the perfumery for a few weeks. Now that the course is finished I have been getting my ducks in a row to dive into this very ancient and alchemical art. I have chosen the name Spiritus for my still since the word was one of the names given to the first distillates which were made with wine, herbs and citrus.
Auspiciously, my local friend Monika Peters began her own journey last Autumn, thus I have a "distillation" buddy! On Friday Monika and I decided to distill, thus Sunday I headed out to her home high up in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking the Pacific ocean to do some with my still. We had planned to do a distillation and also "prepare"my still that day. Unfortunately Monikas hoses were too small for my still, so that task is set for another day...perhaps this week.
I then put the lavender bundles and artemesia into a bucket of filtered water while I loaded Spiritus into the car and all my other gear for the day. As I placed the bucket with the plant material into the car I decided to add a quartz crystal in with the plants to help maintain their vitality.
During the process we tested the ph and noted the aroma and taste of the water. At 3:11 we decided to turn off the heat and end the process, although later on we realized we could have let it go a bit longer.
Hydrosols, also referred to as floral or herbal waters, were originally called "hydro-lats" lat meaning milk, because of the whitish color of the water as it comes out of the still. The yellow colored liquid floating on top of the water is the essential oil.
The process gave us 16 ounces of a beautiful fragrant water with notes of pinene, camphor, lavender and lemon. Once the herbal water sets for a bit and we separate out the essential oil I will go on a little tasting/smelling journey with the hydrosol and see what she shares with me. Meanwhile, the quartz crystal that I added to the herbs ended up going into the distillation with the plants and seems to have disappeared.
All photos Roxana Villa.