Aging of Essential Oils (Patchouli and Vetiver)

Unkle Punkle

Well-known member
Apr 20, 2016
I've always had a fascination with patchouli and more recently vetiver.

I've read how these essential oils can improve with age if stored for a number of years.

Over the last two years I have set about acquiring several brands of both oils and have around 500ml of patchouli EO (over 6 brands)
and 100ml of vetiver EO (over 3 brands). The oils were acquired from several places in the UK (high street shops and on line).

It's amazing how these same oils of different brands smell so different.

These are all essential oils, not fragrance oils and are of good to very good quality.

I've already noticed a patchouli that I've had for around two years has changed quite remarkably for the better. Smoother, sweeter and just nicer.

I intend using the oils as perfume (undiluted; in good old hippy fashion) and also in aromatherapy/lotions etc - but also want to watch and appreciate how the oils change in smell and character as the years go by (hopefully twenty or thirty years if I'm spared).

Hence why I've purchased quite a lot.

I intend to acquire some decent sandalwood at some point too but it's so expensive.

Just wondering if anyone else has any experience of doing anything like this and what to expect?
I've read loads of threads relating to patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood, myrrh, frankincense and many other EO's and resins improving with age and how old lost bottles suddenly rediscovered have changed in smell and viscosity. And also how vintage patchouli oil is quite valuable (although I don't intend to make money from my experiment).

Be interested to hear any thoughts?
 
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Godmu

Well-known member
Jun 20, 2013
very nice to see that these oils change for the better, but on the other hand not quite handy …

how about making one of your (old) fragrances with - lets say patchouli - 5 years from now, from that same bottle of P,
doesn't this needs to be recalculated, for now that patchouli has changed and so will the end product ?

or is there an unspoken rule about an "almost consistency" in the final juice profile?
 

Unkle Punkle

Well-known member
Apr 20, 2016
very nice to see that these oils change for the better, but on the other hand not quite handy …

how about making one of your (old) fragrances with - lets say patchouli - 5 years from now, from that same bottle of P,
doesn't this needs to be recalculated, for now that patchouli has changed and so will the end product ?

or is there an unspoken rule about an "almost consistency" in the final juice profile?

Yes, in the words of Tom Petty, "The waiting is the hardest part."

Not sure if recalculations apply to me.
I mostly use the oil straight from the bottle. It's the only way.
 

Unkle Punkle

Well-known member
Apr 20, 2016
are you sure you try to answer my question?

I thought I did (?)

I have no plans to use these EOs in a composition.
My intention is to monitor how they change and develop as they mature over a long period of time and also to use them neat as a fragrance over the years.

I tried to explain that in my original post but perhaps I wasn't clear or perhaps I misunderstand what you mean(?)
 

xii

Well-known member
Jun 9, 2015
Two oils: myrrh and patchouli. Distilled in tiny scale lab in my cellar.

Myrrh: very good yield but the fresh distillate was opaque, yellow green hard to separate from hydrosol. In that state it had remarkable tenacity and a strong green and turpentine notes. Within a year or so the oil turned orange brown, perfectly transparent and much milder. I'm rather pleased.

Patchouli: I used dried leaves. The yield was very low and the light brown oil was hard to separate from water. It smelled of patchouli but also of peas, bell peppers and galbanum. One year later the vegetable note is nearly gone and replaced by woody one. All in all it smells a bit boring and somehow cheap - don't ask me what cheap smell is, the word keeps popping to my mind whenever I smell it. Considering 1 ml oil I got cost me some 30 euros the present state of it is disappointing. I'm going to give it more time to mature and see if it gets any better.
 

Unkle Punkle

Well-known member
Apr 20, 2016
Two oils: myrrh and patchouli. Distilled in tiny scale lab in my cellar.

Myrrh: very good yield but the fresh distillate was opaque, yellow green hard to separate from hydrosol. In that state it had remarkable tenacity and a strong green and turpentine notes. Within a year or so the oil turned orange brown, perfectly transparent and much milder. I'm rather pleased.

Patchouli: I used dried leaves. The yield was very low and the light brown oil was hard to separate from water. It smelled of patchouli but also of peas, bell peppers and galbanum. One year later the vegetable note is nearly gone and replaced by woody one. All in all it smells a bit boring and somehow cheap - don't ask me what cheap smell is, the word keeps popping to my mind whenever I smell it. Considering 1 ml oil I got cost me some 30 euros the present state of it is disappointing. I'm going to give it more time to mature and see if it gets any better.

Thanks for the replies.

I have a myrrh oil I have also bought to mature.
I've heard myrrh gets thicker as it gets older then gets to the point where it almost sets hard.

Find it amazing that you distill these oils yourself. Shame about the patchouli.

Great little story here about someone smelling a 111 year old patchouli oil
http://www.pharmacyantiques.com/107-year-old-patchouli/
 

Clare30

Well-known member
Sep 25, 2015
I used up the very last of my Sri Lankan vetiver that I had bought in bulk and used as an aromatherapist some 20 years ago, and have never found anything to replace its grassy topnotes and its earthy, marshy coolness in the depths. I have come to the concusion they just don't produce vetiver like that any more - or for the same reasons? Most vetiver today to me smells dry and often smoky, or the greener ones very mild with a greasy peanut note. The KHus I have smelled always remind me of basamati rice.

I still have a tiny bit of 20 year old patchouli, that I just sniff every now and then. It actually still smells just like patchouli, but it is VERY smooth and rich. OOh, edit going back to it now, haven't smelled it in ages, it has slight undertones of some kind of oaky booze and toffee in there, I forget how nice this is compared to the things I smell today! I bought all these specialities of heart and fractionations with percentages of patchoulol - forget it, just buy a good, pure patchouli and leave it. I might be too old before I can use a good one again. :)

I also have spikenard that is over 20 years old, and it is truly heavenly. LIke smelling dark, peaty earth over grass. Not a stinky foot smell anywhere near it. Ageing is key I think to some oils. If you find a good one, buy loads.
 
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Alysoun

Well-known member
Feb 4, 2011
Clare, did you buy aged spikenard or did you have it when it was young? Did it have the stinky foot note in the beginning?
 

Clare30

Well-known member
Sep 25, 2015
Clare, did you buy aged spikenard or did you have it when it was young? Did it have the stinky foot note in the beginning?

I bought it about 20 years ago. Organic spikenard. I don't remember what it actually smelled like back then to be honest. I was naive enough to take the smells for granted then, and not pay much attention, as I was new to plant oils, and didn't have a lot to cross reference from. It was from Materia Aromatica back in the day when they were sourcing some of the best oils you could buy ( which they still do, but on a much smaller and more limited scale).
 

Alysoun

Well-known member
Feb 4, 2011
I bought it about 20 years ago. Organic spikenard. I don't remember what it actually smelled like back then to be honest. I was naive enough to take the smells for granted then, and not pay much attention, as I was new to plant oils, and didn't have a lot to cross reference from. It was from Materia Aromatica back in the day when they were sourcing some of the best oils you could buy ( which they still do, but on a much smaller and more limited scale).
Thanks for answering. I find it hard to imagine you could have overlooked the spikenard stink if it was anything like mine, new to plant oils or not.
 

Clare30

Well-known member
Sep 25, 2015
Thanks for answering. I find it hard to imagine you could have overlooked the spikenard stink if it was anything like mine, new to plant oils or not.

I don't ever remember thinking it smelled like feet or stank. I didn't like the smell much, but at the time was far more focussed on properties of oils rather than comparing smells. Now I look back and realise i was spoiled and had no idea how good the things i was smelling were.

Try Spikenard co2 - Eden used to stock it, but discontinued I can now only find it stocked at Liberty Natural( and I haven't smelled it from them, but assuming it's the same thing). The Co2 sample I got from Eden was very close to the aged spikenard I have.

I have never found anything that compares to my old vetiver and this old bit of patchouli. I don't remember precisely, but i DO remember being taught that vetiver was wet to Patchouli's dry, and now that never seems the case to me.
 
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Serg Ixygon

Well-known member
May 2, 2015
Liberty now sell patchouli by MOLECULAR DISTILLATION. How is smell different from traditional STEAM DISTILLED? Thanks.
What I read - it's just fine redistillation to eliminate heavy fractions and iron. Does it mean that new product is lighter, with high volatility and no aging, because iron is catalyst of aging?
 
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