Scent From the Past


I am a 21st Century gal who has a condition called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Anything with artificial fragrance can set it off, perfume, hairspray, strongly scented lotions, scented dryer sheets or even the ‘odour guard’ infused into garbage and doggy-doo bags. The other day I was chatting with someone about life in the 18th century, and she said it was a good thing I did not actually live back then because people bathed little and wore heavy fragrance to mask the odor.

My initial response was that I would have been better off back then because fragrance was derived from natural products, and not chemically manufactured, and to my knowledge, I have never had a reaction to pure essential oils. I may hate the smell, but it does not cause the headaches, rashes, or asthma attacks that modern chemical scents do.

So I checked it out…

17th and 18th century perfumes fell into two general categories: floral or musk. Florals were made from distilled essential oils or waters distilled from flowers such as roses, orange flowers, lavender, and jasmine. Musk was usually animal-based. Perfume came in a variety of carriers: alcohol-based, oil-based, water-based, and wax-based. There was no difference between the scents used by men and women, people simply used what they liked. People enjoyed adding fragrance to objects such as handkerchiefs or gloves.

So to honor days gone by, here is a simple recipe for a natural homemade perfume


  • 2 teaspoons of beeswax
  • 2 teaspoons of sweet almond oil (available at health food shops)
  • 48 drops of pure essential oil
  • An old lip balm container that has been well cleaned


1. Blend the following essential oils before you melt the beeswax. 12 drops each of essential oil of orange, essential oil of bergamot, essential oil of lemon, and essential oil of lavender. (Or just use one type oil that you fancy). Be aware that some essential oils can irritate the skin. If you are unsure, ask a clerk in a health food store to make sure.

2. In a separate cup from the essential oils, measure out the almond oil.

3. Melt enough beeswax to yield 2 teaspoons.

4. Once the wax is melted, add the almond oil and stir to combine. Then add in the essential oils and stir to combine. Quickly pour the mixture into your container. Cover it, let it rest for about 10 minutes to set, and apply sparingly…please!


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