Sachet Powders and Incense from the Art of Perfumery

Sachet Powders and Incense from the Art of Perfumery


The previous articles have exclusively treated of Wet Perfumes; the present matter relates, to Dry Perfumes,—sachet powders, tablets, pastilles, fumigation by the aid of heat of volatile odorous resins, &c. &c. The perfumes used by the ancients were, undoubtedly, nothing more than the odoriferous gums which naturally exude from various trees and shrubs indigenous to the Eastern hemisphere: that they were very extensively used and much valued, we have only to read the Scriptures for proofs:—"Who is this that cometh ... perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the powders of the merchant?" (Song of Solomon, 3:6.) Abstaining from the use of perfume in Eastern countries is considered as a sign of humiliation:—"The Lord will take away the tablets, and it shall come to pass that instead of a sweet smell there shall be a stink." (Exod. 35:22; Isaiah 3:20, 24.) The word tablets in this passage means perfume boxes, curiously inlaid, made of metal, wood, and ivory. Some of these boxes may have been made in the shape of buildings, which would explain the word palaces, in Psalm 14:8:—"All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad." From what is said in Matt. 2:11, it would appear that perfumes were considered among the most valuable gifts which man could bestow;—"And when they (the wise men) had opened their treasures, they presented unto him (Christ) gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh." As far as we are able to learn, all the perfumes used by the Egyptians and Persians during the early period of the world were dry perfumes, consisting of spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi), myrrh, olibanum, and other gum-resins, nearly all of which are still in use by the manufacturers of odors. Among the curiosities shown at Alnwick Castle is a vase that was taken from an Egyptian catacomb. It is full of a mixture of gum-resin, &c., which evolve a pleasant odor to the present day, although probably 3000 years old. We have no doubt that the original use of this vase and its contents were for perfuming apartments, in the same way that pot pourri is now used.
Sachet Powders.

The French and English perfumers concoct a great variety of these substances, which being put into silk bags, or ornamental envelopes, find a ready sale, being both good to smell and economical as a means of imparting an agreeable odor to linen and clothes as they lie in drawers. The following formula shows their composition. Every material is either to be ground in a mill, or powdered in a mortar, and afterwards sifted.
Sachet au Cypre.
Ground rose-wood, 1 lb.
" cedar-wood, 1 lb.
" santal-wood, 1 lb.
Otto of rhodium, or otto of rose, 3 drachms.

Mix and sift; it is then fit for sale.
Sachet a la Frangipanne.
Orris-root powder, 3 lbs.
Vitivert powder, 1/4 lb.
Santal-wood powder, 1/4 lb.
Otto of neroli, }
" rose, } of each, 1 drachm.
" santal, }
Musk-pods, ground, 1 oz.

The name of this sachet has been handed down to us as being derived from a Roman of the noble family of Frangipani. Mutio Frangipani was an alchemist, evidently of some repute, as we have another article called rosolis, or ros-solis, sun-dew, an aromatic spirituous liquor, used as a stomachic, of which he is said to be the inventor, composed of wine, in which is steeped coriander, fennel, anise, and musk.
Heliotrope Sachet.
Powdered orris, 2 lbs.
Rose leaves, ground, 1 lb.
Tonquin beans, ground, 1/2 lb.
Vanilla beans, 1/4 lb.
Grain musk, 1/4 oz.
Otto of almonds, 5 drops.

Well mixed by sifting in a coarse sieve, it is fit for sale.

It is one of the best sachets made, and is so perfectly au naturel in its odor to the flower from which it derives its name, that no person unacquainted with its composition would, for an instant, believe it to be any other than the "real thing."
Lavender Sachet.
Lavender flowers, ground, 1 lb.
Gum benzoin, in powder, 1/4 lb.
Otto of lavender, 1/4 oz.
Sachet a la Marechale.
Powder of santal-wood, 1/2 lb.
" orris-root, 1/2 lb.
Rose-leaves, ground, 1/4 lb.
Cloves, ground, 1/4 lb.
Cassia-bark, 1/4 lb.
Grain musk, 1/2 drachm.
Sachet a la Mousselaine.
Vitivert, in powder, 1 lb.
Santal-wood, }
Orris, } each, 1/2 lb.
Black-currant leaves (casse), 1/2 lb.
Benzoin, in powder, 1/4 lb.
Otto of thyme, 5 drops.
" roses, 1/2 drachm.
Millefleur Sachet.
Lavender-flowers, ground, }
Orris, } each, 1 lb.
Rose-leaves, }
Benzoin, }
Tonquin, }
Vanilla, } each, 1/4 lb.
Santal, }
Musk and civet, 2 drachms.
Cloves, ground, 1/4 lb.
Cinnamon, } each, 2 oz.
Allspice, }
Portugal Sachet.
Dried orange-peel, 1 lb.
" lemon-peel, 1/2 lb.
" orris-root, 1/2 lb.
Otto of orange-peel, 1 oz.
" neroli, 1/4 drachm.
" lemon-grass, 1/4 "
Patchouly Sachet.
Patchouly herb, ground, 1 lb.
Otto of patchouly, 1/4 drachm.

Patchouly herb is often sold in its natural state, as imported, tied up in bundles of half a pound each.
Pot Pourri.

This is a mixture of dried flowers and spices not ground.
Dried lavender, 1 lb.
Whole rose-leaves, 1 lb.
Crushed orris (coarse), 1/2 lb.
Broken cloves, }
" cinnamon, } each, 2 oz.
" allspice, }
Table salt, 1 lb.

We need scarcely observe that the salt is only used to increase the bulk and weight of the product, in order to sell it cheap.
Olla Podrida.

This is a similar preparation to pot pourri. No regular form can be given for it, as it is generally made, or "knocked up," with the refuse and spent materials derived from other processes in the manufacture of perfumery; such as the spent vanilla after the manufacture of tincture or extract of vanilla, or of the grain musk from the extract of musk, orris from the tincture, tonquin beans, after tincturation, &c. &c., mixed up with rose-leaves, lavender, or any odoriferous herbs.
Rose Sachet.
Rose heels or leaves, 1 lb.
Santal-wood, ground, 1/2 lb.
Otto of roses, 1/4 oz.
Santal-wood Sachet.

This is a good and economical sachet, and simply consists of the ground wood. Santal-wood is to be purchased from some of the wholesale drysalters; the drug-grinders are the people to reduce it to powder for you—any attempt to do so at home will be found unavailable, on account of its toughness.
Sachet (without a name).
Dried thyme, }
" lemon thyme, } of each, 1/4 lb.
" mint, }
" marjoram, }
" lavender, 1/2 lb.
" rose heels, 1 lb.
Ground cloves, 2 oz.
Allspice, 2 oz.
Musk in grain, 1 drachm.
Vervain Sachet.
Lemon-peel, dried and ground, 1 lb.
" thyme, 1/4 lb.
Otto of lemon-grass, 1 drachm.
" " peel, 1/2 oz.
" bergamot, 1 oz.
Vitivert Sachet.

The fibrous roots of the Anthoxanthum muricatum being ground, constitute the sachet, bearing the name as above, derived from the Tamool name, vittie vayer, and by the Parisian vetiver. Its odor resembles myrrh. Vitivert is more often sold tied up in bunches, as imported from India, than ground, and is used for the prevention of moth, rather than as a perfume.
Violet Sachet.
Black-currant leaves (casse), 1 lb.
Rose heels or leaves, 1 lb.
Orris-root powder, 2 lbs.
Otto of almonds, 1/4 drachm.
Grain musk, 1 "
Gum benzoin, in powder, 1/2 lb.

Well mix the ingredients by sifting; keep them together for a week in a glass or porcelain jar before offering for sale.

There are many other sachets manufactured besides those already given, but for actual trade purposes there is no advantage in keeping a greater variety than those named. There are, however, many other substances used in a similar way; the most popular is the
Peau d'Espagne.

Peau d'Espagne, or Spanish skin, is nothing more than highly perfumed leather. Good sound pieces of wash leather are to be steeped in a mixture of ottos, in which are dissolved some odoriferous gum-resins, thus:—Otto of neroli, otto of rose, santal, of each half an ounce; otto of lavender, verbena, bergamot, of each a quarter of an ounce; otto of cloves and cinnamon, of each two drachms; with any others thought fit. In this mixture dissolve about two ounces of gum benzoin; now place the skin to steep in it for a day or so, then hang it over a line to dry. A paste is now to be made by rubbing in a mortar one drachm of civet with one drachm of grain musk, and enough solution of gum acacia or gum tragacantha to give it a spreading consistence; a little of any of the ottos that may be left from the steep stirred in with the civet, &c., greatly assists in making the whole of an equal body; the skin being cut up into pieces of about four inches square are then to be spread over, plaster fashion, with the last-named compost; two pieces being put together, having the civet plaster inside them, are then to be placed between sheets of paper, weighed or pressed, and left to dry thus for a week; finally, each double skin, now called peau d'Espagne, is to be enveloped in some pretty silk or satin, and finished off to the taste of the vender.

Skin or leather thus prepared evolves a pleasant odor for years, and hence they are frequently called "the inexhaustible sachet." Being flat, they are much used for perfuming writing-paper.

The lasting odor of Russia leather is familiar to all and pleasing to many; its perfume is due to the aromatic saunders-wood with which it is tanned, and to the empyreumatic oil of the bark of the birch tree, with which it is curried. The odor of Russia leather is, however, not recherché enough to be considered as a perfume; but, nevertheless, leather can be impregnated by steeping in the various ottos with any sweet scent, and which it retains to a remarkable degree, especially with otto of santal or lemon-grass (Verbena). In this manner the odor of the peau d'Espagne can be greatly varied, and gives great satisfaction, on account of the permanence of its perfume.
Perfumed Letter-Paper.

If a piece of peau d'Espagne be placed in contact with paper, the latter absorbs sufficient odor to be considered as "perfumed;" it is obvious that paper for writing upon must not be touched with any of the odorous tinctures or ottos, on account of such matters interfering with the fluidity of the ink and action of the pen; therefore, by the process of infection, as it were, alone can writing paper be perfumed to advantage.

Besides the sachets mentioned there are many other substances applied as dry perfumes, such as scented wadding, used for quilting into all sorts of articles adapted for use in a lady's boudoir. Pincushions, jewel cases, and the like are lined with it. Cotton, so perfumed, is simply steeped in some strong essence of musk, &c.
Perfumed Book-markers.

We have seen that leather can be impregnated with odoriferous substances, in the manufacture of peau d'Espagne; just so is card-board treated prior to being made up into book-marks. In finishing them for sale, taste alone dictates their design; some are ornamented with beads, others with embroidery.
Cassolettes and Printaniers.

Cassolettes and Printaniers are little ivory boxes, of various designs, perforated in order to allow the escape of the odors contained therein. The paste used for filling these "ivory palaces whereby we are made glad," is composed of equal parts of grain musk, ambergris, seeds of the vanilla-pod, otto of roses, and orris powder, with enough gum acacia, or gum tragacantha, to work the whole together into a paste. These things are now principally used for perfuming the pocket or reticule, much in the same way that ornamental silver and gold vinagrettes are used.

There is no doubt whatever that the origin of the use of pastils, or pastilles, as they are more often called, from the French, has been derived from the use of incense at the altars of the temples during the religious services:—"According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot (Zacharias') was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord." (Luke 1:9.) "And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense.... And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning when he dresseth the lamps, and at even when he lighteth the lamps he shall burn incense upon it." (Exodus 30.)

An analogous practice is in use to the present day in the Roman Catholic churches, but, instead of being consumed upon an altar, the incense is burned in a censer, as doubtless many of our readers have seen. "As soon as the signal was given by the chief priest the incense was kindled, the holy place was filled with perfume, and the congregation without joined in prayers." (Carpenters Temple service of the Hebrews.)
The Censer.

"On the walls of every temple in Egypt, from Meröe to Memphis, the censer is depicted smoking before the presiding deity of the place; on the walls of the tombs glow in bright colors the preparation of spices and perfumes." In the British Museum there is a vase (No. 2595) the body of which is intended to contain a lamp, the sides being perforated to admit the heat from the flame to act upon the projecting tubes; which are intended to contain ottos of flowers placed in the small vases at the end of the tubes; the heat volatilizes the ottos, and quickly perfumes an apartment. This vase or censer is from an Egyptian catacomb.

The Censer. The Censer.

The Censer, as used in the "holy places," is made either of brass, German silver, or the precious metals; its form somewhat resembles a saucer and an inverted cup, which latter is perforated, to allow the escape of the perfume. In the outer saucer is placed an inner one of copper, which can be taken out and filled with ignited charcoal. When in use, the ignited carbon is placed in the censer, and is then covered with the incense; the heat rapidly volatilizes it in visible fumes. The effect is assisted by the incense-bearer swinging the censer, attached to three long chains, in the air. The manner of swinging the censer varies slightly in the churches in Rome, in France, and in England, some holding it above the head. At La Madeleine the method is always to give the censer a full swing at the greatest length of the chains with the right hand, and to catch it up short with the left hand.

Several samples of "incense prepared for altar service," as sent out by Mr. Martin, of Liverpool, appear to be nothing more than gum olibanum, of indifferent quality, and not at all like the composition as especially commanded by God, the form for which is given in full in Exodus.

The pastils of the moderns are really but a very slight modification of the incense of the ancients. For many years they were called Osselets of Cyprus. In the old books on pharmacy a certain mixture of the then known gum-resins was called Suffitus, which being thrown upon hot ashes produced a vapor which was considered to be salutary in many diseases.

It is under the same impression that pastils are now used, or at least to cover the mal odeur of the sick-chamber.

There is not much variety in the formula of the pastils that are now in use; we have first the
Indian, or Yellow Pastils.
Santal-wood, in powder, 1 lb.
Gum benzoin, 1-1/2 lb.
" Tolu, 1/4 lb.
Otto of santal, }
" cassia, } each, 3 drachms.
" cloves, }
Nitrate of potass, 1-1/2 oz.
Mucilage of tragacantha, q.s. to make the whole into a stiff paste.

The benzoin, santal-wood, and Tolu, are to be powdered and mixed by sifting them, adding the ottos. The nitre being dissolved in the mucilage, is then added. After well beating in a mortar, the pastils are formed in shape with a pastil mould, and gradually dried.

The Chinese josticks are of a similar composition, but contain no Tolu. Josticks are burned as incense in the temples of the Buddahs in the Celestial Empire, and to such an extent as to greatly enhance the value of santal-wood.
Dr. Paris's Pastils.
Benzoin, }
Cascarilla, } of each, 1/4 lb.
Myrrh, 1-1/4 oz.
Charcoal, 1-1/2 lb.
Otto of nutmegs, } of each, 3/4 oz.
" cloves, }
Nitre, 2 oz.

Mix as in the preceding.
Perfumer's Pastils.
Well-burned charcoal, 1 lb.
Benzoin, 3/4 lb.
Tolu, }
Vanilla pods, } of each, 1/4 lb.
Cloves, }
Otto of santal, }
" neroli, } of each, 2 dr.
Nitre, 1-1/2 oz.
Mucilage tragacantha, q.s.
Piesse's Pastils.
Willow charcoal, 1/2 lb.
Benzoic acid, 6 oz.
Otto of thyme, }
" caraway, }
" rose, } of each, 1/2 dr.
" lavender, }
" cloves, }
" santal, }

Prior to mixing, dissolve 3/4 oz. nitre in half a pint of distilled or ordinary rose water; with this solution thoroughly wet the charcoal, and then allow it to dry in a warm place.

When the thus nitrated charcoal is quite dry, pour over it the mixed ottos, and stir in the flowers of benzoin. When well mixed by sifting (the sieve is a better tool for mixing powders than the pestle and mortar), it is finally beaten up in a mortar, with enough mucilage to bind the whole together, and the less that is used the better.

A great variety of formulæ have been published for the manufacture of pastils; nine-tenths of them contain some woods or bark, or aromatic seeds. Now, when such substances are burned, the chemist knows that if the ligneous fibre contained in them undergoes combustion—the slow combustion—materials are produced which have far from a pleasant odor; in fact, the smell of burning wood predominates over the volatilized aromatic ingredients; it is for this reason alone that charcoal is used in lieu of other substances. The use of charcoal in a pastil is merely for burning, producing, during its combustion, the heat required to quickly volatilize the perfuming material with which it is surrounded. The product of the combustion of charcoal is inodorous, and therefore does not in any way interfere with the fragrance of the pastil. Such is, however, not the case with any ingredients that may be used that are not in themselves perfectly volatile by the aid of a small increment of heat. If combustion takes place, which is always the case with all the aromatic woods that are introduced into pastils, we have, besides the volatilized otto which the wood contains, all the compounds naturally produced by the slow burning of ligneous matter, spoiling the true odor of the other ingredients volatilized.

There are, it is true, certain kinds of fumigation adopted occasionally where these products are the materials sought. By such fumigation, as when brown paper is allowed to smoulder (undergo slow combustion) in a room for the purpose of covering bad smells. By the quick combustion of tobacco, that is, combustion with flame, there is no odor developed, but by its slow combustion, according to the method adopted by those who indulge in "the weed," the familiar aroma, "the cloud," is generated, and did not exist ready formed in the tobacco. Now a well-made pastil should not develope any odor of its own, but simply volatilize that fragrant matter, whatever it be, used in its manufacture. We think that the fourth formula given above carries out that object.

It does not follow that the formulæ that are here given produce at all times the odor that is most approved; it is evident that in pastils, as with other perfumes, a great deal depends upon taste. Many persons very much object to the aroma of benzoin, while they greatly admire the fumes of cascarilla.
The Perfume Lamp.

Shortly after the discovery of the peculiar property of spongy platinum remaining incandescent in the vapor of alcohol, the late Mr. I. Deck, of Cambridge, made a very ingenious application of it for the purpose of perfuming apartments. An ordinary spirit lamp is filled with Eau de Cologne, and "trimmed" with a wick in the usual manner. Over the centre of the wick, and standing about the eighth of an inch above it, a small ball of spongy platinum is placed, maintained in its position by being fixed to a thin glass rod, which is inserted into the wick.

Perfume Lamp. Perfume Lamp.

Thus arranged, the lamp is to be lighted and allowed to burn until the platinum becomes red hot; the flame may then be blown out, nevertheless the platinum remains incandescent for an indefinite period. The proximity of a red-hot ball to a material of the physical quality of Eau de Cologne, diffused over a surface of cotton wick, as a matter of course causes its rapid evaporation, and as a consequence the diffusion of odor.

Instead of the lamp being charged with Eau de Cologne, we may use Eau de Portugal, vervaine, or any other spirituous essence. Several perfumers make a particular mixture for this purpose, which is called
Eau a Bruler.
Eau de Cologne, 1 pint.
Tincture of benzoin, 2 oz.
" vanilla, 1 oz.
Otto of thyme, }
" mint, } of each, 1/2 drachm.
" nutmeg, }

Another form, called
Eau pour Bruler.
Rectified spirit, 1 pint.
Benzoic acid, 1/2 oz.
Otto of thyme, } of each, 1 drachm.
" caraway, }
" bergamot, 2 oz.

Persons who are in the habit of using the perfume lamps will, however frequently observe that, whatever difference there may be in the composition of the fluid introduced into the lamp, there is a degree of similarity in the odor of the result when the platinum is in action. This arises from the fact, that so long as there is the vapor of alcohol, mixed with oxygen-air, passing over red-hot platinum, certain definite products always result, namely, acetic acid, aldehyde, and acetal, which are formed more or less and impart a peculiar and rather agreeable fragrance to the vapor, but which overpowers any other odor that is present.
Fumigating Paper.

There are two modes of preparing this article:—

1. Take sheets of light cartridge paper, and dip them into a solution of alum—say, alum, one ounce; water, one pint. After they are thoroughly moistened, let them be well dried; upon one side of this paper spread a mixture of equal parts of gum benzoin, olibanum, and either balm of Tolu or Peruvian balsam, or the benzoin may be used alone. To spread the gum, &c., it is necessary that they be melted in an earthenware vessel and poured thinly over the paper, finally smoothing the surface with a hot spatula. When required for use, slips of this paper are held over a candle or lamp, in order to evaporate the odorous matter, but not to ignite it. The alum in the paper prevents it a to certain extent from burning.

2. Sheets of good light paper are to be steeped in a solution of saltpetre, in the proportions of two ounces of the salt to one pint of water, to be afterwards thoroughly dried.

Any of the odoriferous gums, as myrrh, olibanum, benzoin, &c., are to be dissolved to saturation in rectified spirit, and with a brush spread upon one side of the paper, which, being hung up, rapidly dries.

Slips of this paper are to be rolled up as spills, to be ignited, and then to be blown out.

The nitre in the paper causes a continuance of slow combustion, diffusing during that time the agreeable perfume of the odoriferous gums. If two of these sheets of paper be pressed together before the surface is dry, they will join and become as one. When cut into slips, they form what are called Odoriferous Lighters, or Perfumed Spills.