Vetiver Fans for Vetiver Fans

Vetiver Fan, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Marcia Elston from Samara Botane kindly sent me a lovely Vetiver Fan. This is going to be a must have for all vetiver fans, pun intended!
The fan is weaved from vetiver rootlets and surrounded by an outline of firmer branches to hold up its shape. It is recommended to use during the hot summer days after sprinkling it with water or better yet - vetiver hydrosol.

I will be taking this with me on my travel to warmer parts of the world so I can report on the effectiveness of combating heat. A real challenge.

To order your own vetiver fan, contact Marcia.

Khus Khus (Wilde Vetyver)

putting down roots, originally uploaded by Splat Worldwide.

In my second mod of vetiver I wanted to focus on the unique Ruh Khus, a traditional East Indian distillation of wild vetiver. The note is challenging for the uninitiated-Khus-Khus-nose. As I mentioned earlier, this distillation in copper alembics makes for a very unusual note, not just because of the raw, earthy tone of the root itself, grown in Indian soil, but also because some of the copper remains in the oil and adds colour as well as olfactory residues.

I wanted to go wild all the way with the Ruh Khus, and bring out its characteristics by adding two additional oils that are quite unusual as well: Attar Mitt, which is a distillation of baked Indian earth into sandalwood oil, and also a co-distillation of both vetiver and Mitti (earth). All three oils, Ruh Khus, Attar Mitti and the co-distillation of Indian vetiver and baked earth make for a genuinely earthy olfactory experience.

To balance some of the sharpness from the copper tones of the Ruh Khus I also added a bit of the milder varieties of vetiver in my possession: the woody vetiver from Sri Lanka, and the sweet & tart Haitian vetiver. I also used a bit of the Indonesian vetiver to add body and intensity, and balanced it all out with a tad of Peru balsam, for a rounding, smooth sweetness.

The result was at first alarmingly earthy, but it mellowed with time. Last week I sensed in the mid-top notes a certain aromatic green sweetness that made me recall the unusual scent of unripe guavas. This has subsided a week later (and about 4 weeks after maturing the mod), and now presents a new olfactory resemblance to freshly uprooted root-vegetables, particularly garden carrots, dug out of the garden in a cold winter day and eaten by the enthusiastic gardener after rubbing in the wet grass – which inevitably means that some dirt is consumed along with the crispy sweet vegetable.

The dry down is indeed showcasing the natural, earthy complexity and simple harmony of Ruh Khus. The connection to earth cannot be portrayed in a more immediate way than these particular essences. Once you delve into it, I hope you will understand why it is called “The Oil of Tranquility” in India.

Samples of Wilde Vetyver (Khus Khus) are available for $8 including shipping internationally. You may also order

Vetiver Blanc

dear aga,, originally uploaded by _kasia_.

Starting with a blank sheet of paper… Focusing just on vetiver, the very basics, with the barest additions possible. I prefer to name mods with a real name, this way they have a certain personality and existence. I also find numbers utterly confusing when used as a labeling method. They are great for showing chronology, but terrible for helping me to recall which one was my favourite…

My first attempt was to create a vetiver that would be clean and woody, and almost simplistic. As a pivotal point I chose a vetiver that I was not so familiar with: the vetiver from Sri Lanka. As I mentioned earlier, it has a far more woody aroma, a softer presence. I paired it with very few other essences: bits of other vetiver oils (Haitian and Indonesian), and besides this, nutmeg absolute and fresh ginger oil. The fresh yet warm presence of the spices is very subtle, and fades out very quickly, leving a trail of very woody vetiver, almost like sandalwood and powdery sawdust…

If you want to try Vetiver Blanc, email me and I will make sample sizes available for purchasing via PayPal (the price is $8 including shipping worldwide).

Next Saturday you will hear about my following vetiver mod: Wilde Vetyver.

Vetiver Mods

I told you earlier about my new fascination with vetiver. And I promised I will let you in on bits of my process for making a vetiver “soliflore” – well, that would be a single note, not a single “floral” literally, because vetiver is a root. Not a flower. I am not sure where this vetiver adventure is going to lead me. I am hoping to discover new things about vetiver, as well as new and exciting combinations that will go with the different varieties at my disposal. I may launch a perfume that is all about vetiver, or I may not. This is an experiment and a study of vetiver made public on this blog, and I hope you will enjoy your ride with me here.

What I do know is that I will publish here on my blog my notes and thought and descriptions of my different mods, and if you are curious to try, I will make sample sizes available for purchasing upon request (the price is $8 including shipping worldwide). It will be like an open-ended dialog about vetiver, and you will witness some of the process here on SmellyBlog.

Another thing that I would like to do during this vetiver marathon, is take a moment to observe some of my olfactory relationship with vetiver, as well as some particular ways I utilized it in some of my perfumes. I think this will provide an interesting insight into the versatility of vetiver and how it can contribute to perfumes that are very very different from one another. But this has nothing to do with the mods for vetiver, so let's begin in the beginning: Vetiver Blanc.

Back to the Roots

Vetiver Roots 03, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Yesterday I got my shipment from Penn Herbs, including dried, chopped Vetiver roots. The main objective of the order was to tincture dried deer tongue leaves for the rich coumarin sweetness for another project I am working on (which you will hear about very soon!). I glanced through the website and spotted vetiver roots, and added them to the shopping basket with no hesitation.

What I found when I opened the ziplock bag is the incredible richness of the full plant roots – cleaned from the soil, of course, and with an earthy, grassy, bittersweet scent, and that familiar dry woven basket aroma. All I could do is chug the ziplock with my nostrils, and suck in all the fragrant air. I want to do so many things with those magical roots – put them in a pillow for easy inhale around bedtime, make a bathing sponge out of them (don’t ask me how, because I haven’t figured it out), grind it into body scrubs – you name it.

Penn Herbs labels this as a stimulating tonic, and recommends to drink it as a tisan (1 cup of boiling water to ½ or 1 tsp. of the dried roots, steep for 4-7 minutes and drink as is or with honey and/or lemon), and counter indicates it for pregnant women.

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