My Fragrant Old House

I’ll be posting a new series of articles on stained glass construction in a few weeks. I purchased some new (expensive!) stained glass design software from Dragonfly, Glass 2000 Professional, to help me complete the half-dozen stained glass projects I’ve got on my plate. So I’ll post a review of that as well.

I’m gonna change gears and show a bit of my metrosexual side. I like fragrant houses. I spent my early years living in a small town in Japan, where my mother became a passionate connoisseur of oriental incense. She often had a subtle fragrance burning in the house long after we moved back to the States.

For me, a fragrant house smells like home. Since I moved out on my own, I’ve usually had a cone of incense burning, mostly temple fragrances. It beats smelling the dogs’ microwaved breakfast all day. And the cats’ litter pans in the kitchen extension.

After moving to Brooklyn I found myself estranged from my Manhattan oriental incense supplier. I tried buying it online but the stuff I was getting smelled more like a brothel or a hippy crash pad than the earthier stuff I liked.

On an early trip to Nantucket, Karen and I visited a fragrance store where the owner turned me on to something called essential oils and a device called an oil burner. While I still prefer the smokier fragrance of Japanese incense, oil lasts a lot longer. After feeding the dogs in the morning, I pour a 1/4 ounce or so into the burner and it’s good for the whole day. Here’s a shot of the burner.

Another cool thing about essential and fragrant oils (there’s a difference: essential oils are extracted from natural sources; fragrant oils are made chemically) is that you can create your own blends. Some days I want a woodsy fragrance, other days I want a Christmasy smell. Here are a few of the scents I have stashed behind the kitchen sink:

Most of these are essential oils like pine, clove, cedar and other spices. But a few are fragrant, like Victorian Christmas.

But beware: I’ve read that essential oils can make pets sick and can even be lethal for some. So I stick with fragrance oils, which are usually cheaper anyway.

I usually pick up these oils wholesale from two online sources:

Buying oils online is a bit of a crap shoot. The names only give you a general indication. For instance, “cranberry” can have a light, fruity aroma or it can stink like cheap candy. It’s like going into a wine store without knowing the labels you like. Some stores offer one-ounce samplers where, chances are, you’ll find one or two you like.

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