Common Scents: Patchouli

Welcome back to our series, Common Scents! Common Scents is a collection of articles exploring the history of commonly used essential oils, and how they became so popular in modern day soap and cosmetic crafting. This week, we’ll talk about patchouli! 

Scent is an incredible sense. A certain smell can make you remember a person or place, or can be associated with a whole group of people; kind of like the smell of patchouli! Patchouli has long been considered a “hippie” smell and is definitely the kind of aroma you either love or hate.

Patchouli or pogostermon cablin is a perennial herb that originated in Southeast Asia. Patchouli prefers tropical jungles, but will also grow in elevations up to 6,000 feet. It is a squat, bushy herb that can grow to around 2-3 feet in height, and can be found growing wild in Java and Sumatra.

Patchouli is harvested 2-3 times per year for the production of essential oil. The leaves are hand picked and the herb is fermented before the oil is extracted. Because patchouli is so easy to grow and is harvested so frequently, the price of patchouli tends to stay reasonable with a very low adulteration rate.

History 

Patchouli has been used in traditional medicine for centuries in Asia. Countries like Malaysia, Japan and China trusted patchouli to treat ailments like eczema, dermatitis, acne, dandruff, oily scalp and other skin conditions.

Patchouli was first exported from India during the 19th century and was used in cloth to repel moths and other destructive insects. Because patchouli was so frequently used for this purpose, dishonest merchants seeking to reap the profits of oriental fabric without providing the same quality would scent their fabric with patchouli, too; this was the only way to trick customers into believing it was official!

Patchouli in Soap and Cosmetics 

Patchouli is very popular in fragrance blending, and is considered to be a base note. It is also classified as fixative, which means that it slows down the speed of evaporation for other volatile oils it is mixed with and can prolong the amount of time the aroma is released. Patchouli mixes well with vetiver, rosemary, sandalwood, lemongrass, citrus type oils, rose, frankincense and bergamot, making it a very versatile oil with a spicy aroma. This warmth lends well to incense, and patchouli is very popular as a scent for many different kinds.

Use in Aromatherapy and Medicine 

As mentioned above, patchouli has been used in traditional Asian cultures medicinally for centuries. Today, patchouli is thought to aid in the prevention of fevers, as an immune system booster, and also as a remedy for insect and snake bites. In aromatherapy, patchouli is used to restore mental and physical balance, and is thought to bring prosperity and abundance to whomever uses it.

Please note: the HSCG makes no medical claims and does not give medical advice. The FDA has not approved patchouli for use medicinally; this information is provided strictly for educational and entertainment purposes. 

Final Thoughts 

Patchouli has a very distinct smell that your customers will either snap up or pass up; blended with other warm, comforting scents, patchouli makes a great addition to any bath line!

Do you make any products with patchouli? Drop us a comment here on our blog, or on the Facebook post for this article!

Do you love fragrance blending? Check out our article titled Fantastic Fragrances and How to Blend Them, available on Cut to the Trace now! http://www.cuttothetrace.com/2016/11/fragrance-bending-how-to/

4 Replies to “Common Scents: Patchouli”

  1. My favorite is dark or aged patchouli. It’s the one essential oil that improves with age.

  2. Patchouli is a very polarizing scent. I happen to love it. My Dirtie Hippie Soap is one of my best sellers – a patchouli & sweet orange combination.

  3. Patchouli is now one of my favorites. I had never smelled the fragrance until a customer requested it in a soap. So I purchased a bottle and fell in love as soon as I opend it! My ALL TIME FAVORITE!

    I like to use it in Lotion Bars. That way it can double as a “perfume”.

  4. I love, love, love patchouli, one of my number one sellers is my lavender patchouli soap, I sell 2 to 1 of any other bar I make. Plus patchouli is so relaxing, great for soaps, lotions, scrubs or even used as a perfume.

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