on Blending Your Own Potpourri
There are many ways of creating your own personalized potpourri blends.
Potpourri is essentially a combination of dry botanical
materials, fixative to hold the scent and scented oils. While fixatives are less than inspiring, adding your own botanical materials and/or scented oil creates a
distinctively personal touch.
This is the major component of all potpourri blends.
Botanicals include any plant material or natural
material you can think of. Some examples would be; flower petals, flower heads,
pods, cones, seeds, moss, bark, berries, leaves or even shells.
Choosing and mixing botanicals is probably the
best part of making potpourri. With these materials you invent the color scheme,
texture and feel of the blend. Mixes can be brightly colored and bold to soft,
muted blends of monochromatic colors. Textures play a big role in developing the
feel of the blend. Large, chunky botanicals with lots of texture look wonderful
together for a dramatic and modern presentation. Lots of tiny botanicals give a
delicate, more natural
flavor to the blend. Generally, a potpourri blend has
at least three different types of botanicals, if not more. However, it makes a
dramatic and stunning display to put out a container full of one type of
For example, at Christmas you could fill your favorite holiday bowl
with mini pinecones and add a light touch of Pine oil for a festive
touch. A silver or crystal bowl filled with red rose petals and a light touch of
rose oil creates a romantic touch for Valentine's Day. Your only limitation is
your imagination and the ingredients you have on hand when making potpourri.
Build on pre-mixed blends to create your own,
unique blends. A quick and easy way to create a "signature blend" for
your business is to begin with a pre-mixed one, then add in a few new botanicals
or change the scent slightly. Or start with an unscented pre-mixed blend and add
your own scent.
Mixing in your own dried materials gives you a
chance to create unique blends. For some, collecting their own materials is the
best part. Gathering leaves, flowers, pods, mosses, cones and berries can be fun
and easy depending on your location. Look around as you go for a walk and see
what you notice while thinking about potpourri potentials. If you have a flower
shop, you may think about drying your leftovers and recycling them into
potpourri. All you need to dry is the flower head, petals or leaves. You may
wind up with more botanical materials than you can use! If you are going to add
some of your own dried botanicals into potpourri, there are a few precautions
you need to follow.
- Make sure the botanicals are completely dry.
The best drying methods are using a food dehydrator or an oven. The
principle here is that the faster something dries the more of its original
color and shape it will retain. If drying in an oven, keep the temperature
at 100° Fahrenheit and the oven door cracked open. Keep a very close eye
while the oven is on. If the botanicals get too hot, they may ignite. While
a microwave will work, it is very easy to scorch the botanicals or even blow
- Another factor you need to consider with your
own dried material is bug infestation. Drying in an oven or dehydrator will
usually take care of most bugs, but if you are selling lots of potpourri,
you may want to add this precautionary step. Find a household "bug
bomb" or fogging bug spray. Place all the dry botanicals on window
screens (or something similar) and prop the screens up on legs so there is
air circulation all around them. Stack the screens in a closet or room that
can be closed off. Read the directions on the bug spray carefully then place
it in with the dried botanicals and set it off. This should free your
botanicals of any bug infestation.
Fixative is a generic term to describe the material
that absorbs and holds the scent of fragrance oil, adding a stronger or new
scent to your potpourri. The fixative is also what allows the fragrance of your
potpourri to last and last. There are many types of fixatives available. Some
traditional ones are orrisroot, wood shavings, bark, vermiculite and Fiberfix.
Anything porous enough to absorb the oil and hold it will work. We carry only Fiberfix
as a fixative because it seems to work best. It is
inexpensive, compared to the others, 100% natural and non-toxic. Since it is not
water soluble, the oils penetrate and stay. Moisture from the air will not
dissipate the scent.
Using Fiberfix is easy. Place a 1/2-cup of
Fiberfix in an air tight container, preferably glass or metal. Drizzle the
desired amount of oil over the fixative and stir it well. Usually less than 1/4
teaspoon of oil is more than enough to scent even 5 pounds of dry botanicals.
Cover the container and allow 2 to 4 hours for the oil to absorb into the
fixative. Once the oil has soaked in, the fixative is ready to blend into the
Scented Oils and Fragrances
Even if you have a multitude of wonderfully
scented botanicals, a touch of fragrance
oil can tie your potpourri blend all together. It
can enhance scents already naturally occurring and make them stronger or it can
blend with the natural fragrances to create a perfume unique to the blend.
There are two types of scented oils, Essential
Oils are natural oils extracted from the plant or Fragrance Oils which are
synthetic versions of natural oils. Generally, essential oils are more expensive
because it takes more time and requires more raw materials to create the pure
oil. Many people will only use pure, essential oils for aromatherapy purposes or
skin care. Others are not bothered by the synthetic versions for the same
purposes. For potpourri, either type of oil will work equally well. You need
only choose one according to your preference of "flavor".
fragrance oils in large, 8-oz containers. Each container will
lightly scent approximately 500 pounds of dry potpourri botanicals!
Blending It All Together
You may be amazed how easy it is to make your own
potpourri. To blend all your ingredients together and make up a batch of
potpourri, just follow these three easy steps.
Just a few days of curing will do. To create your own unique
blend from a pre-mixed base, simply follow the same steps listed above. How many
extra botanicals or how much extra scent you use is completely up to you.
- Choose all your botanicals first and mix them
together until you create the perfect color and texture combination. If you
choose some heavily scented botanicals, that will steer the direction of
your blend and could influence the scent of the oil you choose.
- Place some Fiberfix in a glass, ceramic or
metal bowl and add the desired amount of scented oil. Stir the oil in well,
cover the bowl (with a plate) and allow the oil to soak into the fixative
for 2 to 4 hours
- Once the scented fixative is ready, stir it
into the botanical blend. Mix everything well. Pour the entire batch of
potpourri into a paper bag for "curing". This curing process
allows all the smells to blend into each other. Seal the paper bag with
tape, staples or paper clips and set it in a cool, dry location out of the
direct sun. Shake the bag once daily to keep everything blending evenly.
After 5 to 7 days, the botanicals and scented fixative will have blended and
mellowed into the final scent of the potpourri and it is ready to put out or
bag and sell.
If you plan to store your potpourri for a long
period of time you will need to put it in an airtight container. Make sure there
is not moisture in the container. Place a packet of silica gel in every pound of
potpourri you are storing. Silica packets absorb the moisture, preventing mold
and mildew during storage should there be any moisture still in the container or
in the potpourri. You can make a pack by sealing about a tablespoon of silica
gel in a small envelope or a muslin bag.
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