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Essential Oils

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

Spring is everywhere, and finally this week we had a few days of warmth in

the sun, that golden promise of summer that makes you think about bare

arms and sandals and painted toes. Somnolent sheep graze quietly, and

lambs play or bask in cosy pockets against rocks or tufts of soft grass; they

are used to us walking through them now and take little notice as we do.

I’ve seen my first bees, and again thought that I need to get a guide – are

they bumble bees or solitary bees, these tiny zeppelins?

The girls and I are on school holidays and while they have finally mastered

their balance bikes and are now tearing up tracks all over the farm, I have

been digging up our garden. I don’t usually start in the garden so early but

every year we under-estimate - by at least 100% - how much input the

garden will need, and I had to do something with the space left by the

greenhouse (it blew away in a gale about this time last year) So out came

the spade.

Our plans for the garden are pretty big: by necessity we are replacing the

whole perimeter fence; we would like to pave the area at the front door as

well as a create an area for seating, and we are adding another vegetable

bed. Of course, my digging had nothing to do with these projects!

I’m digging a bed for herbs, mainly, with an area for seedlings and lettuce.

I’m hoping that being right at the back door it will get lots of attention and I

imagine that it will smell amazing.

So that’s what I think about as I dig and breathe in the earth as it warms a

little in the sun: the smell of things. I think about blending the scent for a

new soap, not rich and loamy like soil but something herby and green with

a bit of lazy summer sun, the smell of afternoons in the garden to come.

I will use essential oils to make this scent. Essential oils have long been

valued as having a positive impact on our health and emotions, being

calming, healing or energising. Using them suits my philosophy of keeping

to natural ingredients in my products, and I like that they bring added

therapeutic benefits.

Essential oils are extracted from plants, usually through distillation, and you

can get different ones from different parts of the same plant, for example,

orange, neroli, and petitgrain essential oils all come from orange trees – the

fruits, flowers and leaves respectively. Fragrance oils are synthetic,

created in a laboratory, and while they will certainly smell nice, they don’t

add any goodness and may cause skin irritation.

However, while essential oils may be more ‘natural’ then fragrance oils,

they are still powerful organic chemical compounds, and can be toxic if

used incorrectly – like fragrance oils, they shouldn’t be used lightly.

Both fragrance and essential oils come with their own cautions, and

benefits. It is up to us as consumers and makers to decide what is most

appropriate for what task, and to educate ourselves about the risks and

advantages of what we put on our bodies and in our products.

What do you think summer smells like?

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