Tinctures are one of the methods used in natural perfumery to extract the scent from materials, particularly those that cannot be steam distilled or cold-pressed. Tinctures capture the aromatic profile of a material by steeping it in alcohol, much like how one would make a vanilla extract.
Making a Tincture:
Select the Material: This can be a plant, flower, spice, or animal material. Ideally, it should be fresh and free of contaminants.
Prepare the Material: Chop, grind, or bruise it to increase its surface area. This ensures a more effective extraction.
Place in a Jar: Put the prepared material into a clean, sterilized glass jar.
Cover with Alcohol: Perfumer alcohol is best for tinctures as they extract a wide range of aromatic molecules.
Seal and Store: Tightly seal the jar and store it in a cool, dark place. Shake the jar daily.
Mature: Allow the tincture to mature for a few weeks to several months. The duration depends on the material used and the desired strength.
Strain and Filter: Once matured, strain out the solid materials and filter the liquid to obtain a clear tincture. This liquid is your perfume material tincture.
Store Properly: Keep the tincture in the dark glass bottle, tightly sealed, and stored away from light and heat.
Examples of Materials for Tinctures:
Flowers: Lilacs, violets, and roses which may not yield much essential oil through distillation, can be tinctured to capture their delicate aromas.
Spices: Cloves, star anise, and cinnamon can be tinctured to get spicy notes.
Herbs: Fresh herbs like basil, mint, or rosemary.
Animalics: Materials like ambergris or deer musk can be tinctured, though sourcing must be ethical and sustainable.
Resins and Balsams: Frankincense, myrrh, or benzoin can be tinctured to extract their aromatic properties.
Miscellaneous: Seashells, dried fruits, or even leather can create unique tinctures.
Using tinctures in natural perfumery can offer a broader palette of aromas, mainly when certain materials don't produce essential oils or absolutes in appreciable quantities. They can also capture more delicate and nuanced profiles of materials, providing an authentic and diverse array of scents for a perfumer's formulation.