Tips on Blending Your Own Potpourri
There are many ways of creating 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 create...s 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 Victorian 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 botanical.
For example, at Christmas you could fill your favorite holiday bowl with mini pinecones and add a light touch of Christmas 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.
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 them up.
-- 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. Just keep an eye out, and recycle to the Mother any items that seem to be infested...or have mold...
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 (google for it, it's worth it). Anything porous enough to absorb the oil and hold it will work. Fiberfix 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 potpourri.
Even if you have a multitude of wonderfully scented botanicals, a touch of 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".
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.
-- 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.
You may also decide to start with a pre-mixed potpourri blend instead of just dry botanicals. Starting with a pre-mixed blend gives you a huge time advantage for blending and you will not have to cure it quite as long. 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.
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 (powder) in a small envelope. Silica Gel is available at most craft stores.