I tincture everything. AMA! :)

Rook

Super Member
Aug 3, 2020
Adventures in Tincturing

Hello everyone!
So I've asked a lot from the folks here on basenotes and I thought it might be time to add a little content of my own. I don't know who would be interested or how much value it has, but I'd like to present you with one of my favorite perfumery past-times: Tincturing!

I've been tincturing for other purposes for more than 20 years, but started using tinctures in my perfume about 2 years ago. The spark that began this endeavor was, admittedly, the prohibitively high cost of a few of the materials that I could find around my area. While I knew that tinctures, even concentrated ones, are often not the same or are even weaker than their commercial-grade counterparts, I've found that in many cases, the results are unique and smell fantastic. In some cases, just as powerful and fragrant, if not moreso, than their commercial counterparts! In addition, the products are always a little unique!

Right now, I'm tincturing or have finished tincturing the following:
- Madagascar Vanilla Bean
- Indonesian Vanilla beans
- Treemoss (Usnea hirta)
- Another Treemoss (pseudevernia furfuracea)
- California Bay / California Laurel
- Coffee (Of several varieties)
- Amber (Fossilized)
- Tonka Beans
- Privet
- Mexican Marigold
- Rose
- Neroli (Orange Flower)
- Local Lime Zest
- Local grapefruit zest
- Local jasmine (I believe it to be star jasmin, or perhaps grandiflorum)
- Hummingbird Sage (Leaf and flower separately)
- Cumin
- Various tree resins (frankincense, pine & redwood, Benzoin, etc)

Today, I received in the mail some Osmanthus and real Hyraceum that I'll be tincturing tomorrow! Soon I'll have ambrette seeds as well, and plan on expanding a bit more as well, but haven't quite decided where to go from here. Though, I do know that I genuinely want to tincture oud, castoreum, musk grains, civet and others.

I use a relatively primitive setup and method that uses 99% ethyl alcohol, glass jars and a scale. Sometimes a magic bullet or mortar and pestle. Little else.

While I'm not an expert by any means, I would love to hear what successes and failures you've had in tincturing or using other "primitive" methods of creating your own perfume materials. I'll also be happy to answer any questions!
 

Stevenat

Super Member
Mar 25, 2022
OK NGL reading quickly thru the list, I thought you tinctured hummingbirds... 😹 😹 😹 I've tried tincturing various teas, and altho the results smell very nice & if you put it neat on skin you get some very nice tea smell for a bit, they were all completely useless for perfumery.
 

Jolieo

Basenotes Dependent
Feb 18, 2018
I love tincturing ! i have ambrette seed- ground and whole - not terribly impressed but they have only been in a month- I have local pine say - various- one is sooo musky! I have fran, couple varieties- pretty well developed, myrrh- several and I love them ,popl buds - crazy good- orris - wonderful, rose - musky- orange blossom - beautiful- orange leaves- a bit strange- I will try again- blue sage - crazy good - especially since I have never had any blue sage before and I love it, propolis - perfect amber, vanilla - 4 kinds more coming- love love love ! Costus which smells of old people hair- or maybe just hair - again love - valerian - so beautiful
I love tincturing- be cause I have issues with how strong to make perfume- as if I have no volume control- and this solves it - it seems they are all at a good strength to influence, or even make little mixes- no throw at all - but I am fine with that- I’m sure I have more -
 

Rook

Super Member
Aug 3, 2020
OK NGL reading quickly thru the list, I thought you tinctured hummingbirds... 😹 😹 😹 I've tried tincturing various teas, and altho the results smell very nice & if you put it neat on skin you get some very nice tea smell for a bit, they were all completely useless for perfumery.
I mean, I have a flock of hummingbirds that visit my house every day, but that seems like some sick rendition of Zoologist. :D

Hummingbird Sage. I stumbled on a patch of this and it was like Apritone meets Clary Sage. The tincture isn't bad but I might use it for a Hummingbird Sage accord rather than neat.

I haven't found a good tea tincture yet, but I've found that when you tincture matcha or mate, then let the alcohol evaporate from the filtered remains, it is a pretty nice top note. Granted, when I tinctured my Matcha, it wound up letting it sit for over a year before I even remembered it existed.
 

Jolieo

Basenotes Dependent
Feb 18, 2018
To make them stronger , last longer some have to be heated- some have to be rebatched-some left longer- it’s a matter of messing about - oh - and tarragon,works well and lasts-kaffir lime - ditto , Cuban coffee- again love
carob which is musky lovely, galangal very fleeting but starts strong
licorice which is a low woods- doesn’t last - rebatching now
 

Rook

Super Member
Aug 3, 2020
To make them stronger , last longer some have to be heated- some have to be rebatched-some left longer- it’s a matter of messing about - oh - and tarragon,works well and lasts-kaffir lime - ditto , Cuban coffee- again love
carob which is musky lovely, galangal very fleeting but starts strong
licorice which is a low woods- doesn’t last - rebatching now
Rebatching or "recharging" as I've heard it called, is key for some. Orange Flowers, for example.

Heat is touch and go for a lot of them and takes quite a bit of experimentation. Have you found any that heat works particularly well with?

Also, "low woods"?
 

sorance

Super Member
Feb 14, 2020
Adventures in Tincturing

Hello everyone!
So I've asked a lot from the folks here on basenotes and I thought it might be time to add a little content of my own. I don't know who would be interested or how much value it has, but I'd like to present you with one of my favorite perfumery past-times: Tincturing!

I've been tincturing for other purposes for more than 20 years, but started using tinctures in my perfume about 2 years ago. The spark that began this endeavor was, admittedly, the prohibitively high cost of a few of the materials that I could find around my area. While I knew that tinctures, even concentrated ones, are often not the same or are even weaker than their commercial-grade counterparts, I've found that in many cases, the results are unique and smell fantastic. In some cases, just as powerful and fragrant, if not moreso, than their commercial counterparts! In addition, the products are always a little unique!

Right now, I'm tincturing or have finished tincturing the following:
- Madagascar Vanilla Bean
- Indonesian Vanilla beans
- Treemoss (Usnea hirta)
- Another Treemoss (pseudevernia furfuracea)
- California Bay / California Laurel
- Coffee (Of several varieties)
- Amber (Fossilized)
- Tonka Beans
- Privet
- Mexican Marigold
- Rose
- Neroli (Orange Flower)
- Local Lime Zest
- Local grapefruit zest
- Local jasmine (I believe it to be star jasmin, or perhaps grandiflorum)
- Hummingbird Sage (Leaf and flower separately)
- Cumin
- Various tree resins (frankincense, pine & redwood, Benzoin, etc)

Today, I received in the mail some Osmanthus and real Hyraceum that I'll be tincturing tomorrow! Soon I'll have ambrette seeds as well, and plan on expanding a bit more as well, but haven't quite decided where to go from here. Though, I do know that I genuinely want to tincture oud, castoreum, musk grains, civet and others.

I use a relatively primitive setup and method that uses 99% ethyl alcohol, glass jars and a scale. Sometimes a magic bullet or mortar and pestle. Little else.

While I'm not an expert by any means, I would love to hear what successes and failures you've had in tincturing or using other "primitive" methods of creating your own perfume materials. I'll also be happy to answer any questions!
You can expand the journey to black pepper, pink pepper, coriander, linden, cacao, nutmeg, angelica root, licorice root, artemisia, caraway, etc. Use x fold if needed.
 

Alex F.

Super Member
Nov 29, 2019
I tincture (almost) everything, too. 😄 Among the ones I don't consider a success are (ground) ambrette seeds (Abelmoschus moschatus). Heat helped a bit, but still not enough to convince me. I wonder if anyone has any pointers on how to make a good ambrette seed tincture?
Spices with pepper in their name work well. Notably cubeb (Piper cubeba) and Xylopia aethiopica which comes dried or smoke-dried, the smell/taste of the pure variety leaning towards bay leaf (Laurus nobilis). Xyl. aeth. is known as "grains of Selim", but what's interesting about it is the hull. I usually discard the grains.
Castoreum and hyraceum are very interesting, too, but more challenging than I expected, especially hyraceum. It smells very zoo-like.
Costus and orris root, as jolieo mentions, are great. But valerian root is a challenge. It smells good up close, but from further away the cheesy components like isovaleric acid make it smell just like someone with really poor hygiene.
Rose and jasmine work well, too. I use the dried buds that are sold as tea and am quite happy with the result.
Regarding resins and balsams - I don't usually go to New Age shops, but I've found two in my city that have great stocks of incense materials. I've bought almost everything they have. Labdanum, Tolú and Perú balsam, copal varieties, elemi, frankincense, myrrh, ... All great for tincturing. (Gum) benzoin (benjoin in French), also sold unter the name of loban in Indian shops, is one of my favourites.

One important note of warning: it's not been mentioned, but some may be curious about tincturing tobacco. Don't. It can be very dangerous because of the high nicotine content. Nicotine is a potent neurotoxin, soluble both in ethanol and water and readily absorbed through the skin.
(I'd advise you to take a look at the constituents of the materials you are tincturing and find out what it is you're extracting. Some compounds may be poisonous, some may not, but could still have undesired effects. Take alkaloids like nicotine, for instance. Piperine and capsaicin are relatively harmless, but would you want them in a perfume?)
 
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jameshillier

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jul 15, 2020
I've tried tincturing rice and have had a somewhat successful jasmine enfleurage experience. I've tried pine needles and twigs but the smell ends up a bit manky. Before I got Cardamom EO, I tinctured some cardamom which does not last very long but is a bit smoother than the EO.

So you've tried fossilised amber - what does that tincture smell like? Come to think of it, dry crunchy autumn leaves (from a plane tree) have quite a nice (yet soft and subtle) smell which I've considered pursuing in perfume form. Perhaps a tincture is just the thing!?
 

Rook

Super Member
Aug 3, 2020
You can expand the journey to black pepper, pink pepper, coriander, linden, cacao, nutmeg, angelica root, licorice root, artemisia, caraway, etc. Use x fold if needed.
Spices. Ah, spices. Good stuff. I've tinctured them in days past. I plan to tincture cacao as well, as thats really the only one I have yet to try from your list.

One important note of warning: it's not been mentioned, but some may be curious about tincturing tobacco. Don't.
o_O
Oops. Too late. :D

Don't worry. I have several years of lab experience. To wit, I've had 100mg/ml nicotine solution spilled on my hand before. I was wearing gloves but it did slip up to my wrist where free skin was. Not even a buzz. Disappointing.

Im genuinely looking forward to the hyraceum. In fact I plan to begin that today. I'm a fan of animalics.

As for alkaloids and stuff.. what, you mean to tell me that you don't try to poison yourself and others? I hear datura is in bloom this time of year.

Obviously kidding. Im also versed in plant materials, alkaloids, and guidelines from various safety organizations regarding living and nonliving chemicals and potential toxins. I did mention that I grew up learning from an herbalist, and went to school for a science field, yes?

As for your ambrette tincture, my tip is to hone in on the method you use and tweak it.

I've tried tincturing rice and have had a somewhat successful jasmine enfleurage experience. I've tried pine needles and twigs but the smell ends up a bit manky. Before I got Cardamom EO, I tinctured some cardamom which does not last very long but is a bit smoother than the EO.

So you've tried fossilised amber - what does that tincture smell like? Come to think of it, dry crunchy autumn leaves (from a plane tree) have quite a nice (yet soft and subtle) smell which I've considered pursuing in perfume form. Perhaps a tincture is just the thing!?
Oh, you've tinctured rice? How did that go?

Enfleurage is something I have only had small success with.

Fossilized amber smells lemony, piney with an overarching plastic-esque theme that I can't get over. I know it was real fossilized baltic amber, so Im assuming thats just how this batch smelled. Its not bad, though. Almost like it has high levels of para-cresols or something. I plan to use it in an ancient-styled fragrance.

As for leaves, Ive found that you dont always get the smell you want or even think youll get from them. I'd take different brown, dry leaves and do small batches of each and see which works best - if any work the way you're wanting at all. That or go for some stemone. Admittedly, I tinctured some brown japanese maple leaves once and the results were not great.
 

Jolieo

Basenotes Dependent
Feb 18, 2018
Ok so licorice only has the back note of slight licorice- the front end is a novel low impact wood aroma- but I suspect the root has very little to tincture so I will do several recharges- which is tedious because the materials absorb ethanol, so I have to reup the levels so it’s two feet forward , one back kind of situation
I have the spices too- coriander, saigon cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, cocoa, nutmeg
how long have you had the ground ambrette in tincture- I am having the same issue but it’s only been a month- I am hoping that time will help- the whole seed is definitely doing better
I am also becoming fussier over where I get my stuff- so incense materials make sense
i might buy a heat stirrer- I do believe that could be a game changer
i tell you what this rabbit hole is definitely my favorite!
 

ZT31

Basenotes Member
Aug 10, 2021
I had success with some materials like: myrrh, cocoa, oakmoss, tobacco (cigar), vanilla, safran,... But some where a total failure, I have read that some of you tried licorice, which is soluble in water and not in alcohol so do not bother trying.
 

Alex F.

Super Member
Nov 29, 2019
how long have you had the ground ambrette in tincture- I am having the same issue but it’s only been a month- I am hoping that time will help- the whole seed is definitely doing better
It's been macerating for close to 6 months (at a strength of 10%). I don't expect much improvement anymore. I might try again at a higher concentration.
 

al22

New member
May 28, 2022
Hello, complete newbie here. Do you ever tincture those materials in carrier oils? How are the results?
 

pkiler

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Dec 5, 2007
Hello, complete newbie here. Do you ever tincture those materials in carrier oils? How are the results?
rarely do fixed oils offer any solvent capacity, which is needed for a tincture to have any success and odor as a result.
And when other materials are so much better at making a tincture than an oil...
 

al22

New member
May 28, 2022
rarely do fixed oils offer any solvent capacity, which is needed for a tincture to have any success and odor as a result.
And when other materials are so much better at making a tincture than an oil...
Is there any other solvents besides alcohol? And how is a tincture is incorporated in a perfume? As an example; is "carrier oil + essential oils of x and y + tincture of z" a valid formula?
 

Rook

Super Member
Aug 3, 2020
Hello, complete newbie here. Do you ever tincture those materials in carrier oils? How are the results?
I've seen it done with DPG and TEC. Heat was applied as well. I haven't done so myself.

Is there any other solvents besides alcohol? And how is a tincture is incorporated in a perfume? As an example; is "carrier oil + essential oils of x and y + tincture of z" a valid formula?
Many. Ethanol is just the easiest to use and acquire. Butane is also one that I've used.
 

Jolieo

Basenotes Dependent
Feb 18, 2018
I have several mryrs from apothecary- and galbanum resinoid in tec , carrier oil and ethanol- and it is a game changer on them- much longer lasting- distinct differences on the myrrhs
I have musk root - which is strong and smells like a strange version of celery seed
orris which is from the the health food store( anyone have a lead on aged nice root?)-it is strong enough but doesn’t last
carob is longish lasting and musky - chocolatey and a bit sweet
my valerian is strong, musky floral
my costus is now strong human skin/hair
tarragon is a strong green tarragon
butterfly bush even stronger green
perilla - sour green w notes cinnamon, citrus
kaffir lime is gorgeous- bright cheerful dries down musky lime
i am not hoping for strong materials- more anchors for my naturals, mods for my acs
but many of them bring me joy
 

shinycrow

Basenotes Member
Oct 20, 2016
Adventures in Tincturing

Hello everyone!
So I've asked a lot from the folks here on basenotes and I thought it might be time to add a little content of my own. I don't know who would be interested or how much value it has, but I'd like to present you with one of my favorite perfumery past-times: Tincturing!

I've been tincturing for other purposes for more than 20 years, but started using tinctures in my perfume about 2 years ago. The spark that began this endeavor was, admittedly, the prohibitively high cost of a few of the materials that I could find around my area. While I knew that tinctures, even concentrated ones, are often not the same or are even weaker than their commercial-grade counterparts, I've found that in many cases, the results are unique and smell fantastic. In some cases, just as powerful and fragrant, if not moreso, than their commercial counterparts! In addition, the products are always a little unique!

Right now, I'm tincturing or have finished tincturing the following:
- Madagascar Vanilla Bean
- Indonesian Vanilla beans
- Treemoss (Usnea hirta)
- Another Treemoss (pseudevernia furfuracea)
- California Bay / California Laurel
- Coffee (Of several varieties)
- Amber (Fossilized)
- Tonka Beans
- Privet
- Mexican Marigold
- Rose
- Neroli (Orange Flower)
- Local Lime Zest
- Local grapefruit zest
- Local jasmine (I believe it to be star jasmin, or perhaps grandiflorum)
- Hummingbird Sage (Leaf and flower separately)
- Cumin
- Various tree resins (frankincense, pine & redwood, Benzoin, etc)

Today, I received in the mail some Osmanthus and real Hyraceum that I'll be tincturing tomorrow! Soon I'll have ambrette seeds as well, and plan on expanding a bit more as well, but haven't quite decided where to go from here. Though, I do know that I genuinely want to tincture oud, castoreum, musk grains, civet and others.

I use a relatively primitive setup and method that uses 99% ethyl alcohol, glass jars and a scale. Sometimes a magic bullet or mortar and pestle. Little else.

While I'm not an expert by any means, I would love to hear what successes and failures you've had in tincturing or using other "primitive" methods of creating your own perfume materials. I'll also be happy to answer any questions!

I have never done this before but I have some property with a lot of creosote that I would like to do something with.
 

Rook

Super Member
Aug 3, 2020
Im performing two interesting experiments, now.

Smoked cinnamon and the second is Skunk scent gland. Should be fun!
 

WestOzDave

Basenotes Member
Mar 26, 2021
I am trying some Bladderwrack Seaweed as a tincture. Have only really tinctured a few things so it will be a fun experiment.
 

pkiler

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Dec 5, 2007
I have never done this before but I have some property with a lot of creosote that I would like to do something with.
Do not tincture Creosote leaves that are fresh growth. Look for dark leaves that are covered in resin. Better not to tincture when flowering, wait till after flowering for the plant to concentrate on making the resin. Leave leaves in for only 10-15 minutes, then remove and strain. Leaving in the leaves will obtain a scent profile other than the odor of what you smell from the plant, and the odor profile will go more green.
 

shinycrow

Basenotes Member
Oct 20, 2016
Do not tincture Creosote leaves that are fresh growth. Look for dark leaves that are covered in resin. Better not to tincture when flowering, wait till after flowering for the plant to concentrate on making the resin. Leave leaves in for only 10-15 minutes, then remove and strain. Leaving in the leaves will obtain a scent profile other than the odor of what you smell from the plant, and the odor profile will go more green.
Thank you!!!
 

jameshillier

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jul 15, 2020
Overnight, I tinctured some Osmanthus flowers!

Osmanthus is BEAUTIFUL stuff. Almost unbelievable that a flower produces such a smell, as it seems artificial. The collection of flowers in my hand gave an intoxicating imaginary peach and apricot aroma as I carried them home. However, I think I needed to take Paul's advice above and take the flowers out from the alcohol in a shorter amount of time... The nice osmanthus smell is there in the tincture, but it has also come along with some potato juice/decomposing flower petals and leaves smell. On a smelling strip the bad smell goes away first, and leaves a faint osmanthus behind for a couple of hours.

Perhaps I need to remove the stem completely and only use flowers, and leave them in for a shorter time. Of course, more recharges of the tincture would increase the potency, but I don't have access to that many flowers - I picked these from a tree in the street.

Click button below to reveal image:
The flowers were originally as shown in second image and have turned dark brown since being removed fro the alcohol.
Screen Shot 2022-06-20 at 2.34.17 pm_compressed.jpg
Screen Shot 2022-06-20 at 2.41.21 pm_compressed.jpg
 

jameshillier

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jul 15, 2020
OK, so I nabbed some more osmanthus flowers this afternoon, and have just done a tincture for about 10-15 minutes with no stems involved. Then transferred these semi-spent flowers to a separate pot to tincture in new ethanol to see what happens when I leave it for longer (overnight), so I can determine if it was the green stems or the extended time that contributed to the bad odour in the previous batch.

It took about half an hour to de-stem the 320+ miniature flowers.

More pictures below...
In the video you can see a substance falling from the flowers, mixing into the ethanol and you can see how quickly it turned yellow!



IMG_4532 Large_compressed.jpeg
IMG_4535 Large_compressed.jpeg IMG_4538 Large_compressed.jpeg IMG_4539 Large_compressed.jpeg

*** UPDATE***
The overnight tincture of the half-spent flowers does carry the undesirable decomposing flower smell (though it is not as bad as when green stem parts were involved) in front of the pleasant osmanthus aroma. Lesson learned... Remove green stems and short tincture only.

The short tincture is quite weak, and has darkened to a deep orange colour overnight. It is gaining some undesirable traits, but is still pleasing. Thousands more flowers required to strengthen the tincture!
 
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Rook

Super Member
Aug 3, 2020
Got hold of some Onycha operculum yesterday and will be tincturing very soon. This stuff is amazing. Its so surprising that a snail smells this way!
 

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