Saturday, September 8, 2007

Harvesting Lavender

At one point in the past 10 years, I noted to my business coach that if I had to rename Snowdrift Farm, I'd probably choose The Lavender and Shea Butter Company. Lavender essential oil outsells almost every other essential oil, absolute and CO2 extract that we sell, nearly 2:1. There's a reason for that.

Of course, I'd love to boast that Snowdrift Farm sells an oil apart from others that are available on the market today, but the truth is that our best-selling lavender essential oil, our French lavender 40/42, is a standardized material. This means that the lavender 40/42 you purchase from Snowdrift Farm should be of the same quality as any lavender 40/42 in the world. The numbers 40/42 refer to the linalyl acetate/linalool count -- that odor which makes lavender oil smell like, well -- lavender. Essential oils of citronella and eucalyptus are similarly categorized.

What makes Snowdrift Farm's 40/42 different from others out there is our consistency. We have been purchasing from the same source for over 10 years. From distillery to distillery, oils differ, even if ever so slightly. There's a lot to be said for consistency. The same with our Bulgarian lavender essential oil. It's a beautiful oil, with a rounder, sweeter note than the 40/42. Our Bulgarian lavender has a camphor count of about 2%. That's pretty low and its relative absence adds to the sweetness. By contrast, the 40/42 is in the 6-8% range. I use the 40/42 for soapmaking and reserve the Bulgarian for perfumes, lotions and other such goodies.

Lavender grows all over the world in the temperate zone. They say the 'best' lavender is cultivated in the Mediterranean, where the soils are rocky or sandy and drainage is optimal. Hot weather encourages the plants to flower and bloom. Harvest and distillation take place quickly during the summer months, June through September. Here in the USA, plenty of good lavender is cultivated and celebrated. There seem to be an awful lot of lavender farmers located in Washington and Oregon, though. Our friends at Pelindaba Lavender and Sequim Lavender celebrate lavender yearly with festivals and fairs. Now, that would be a fun road trip.


Michelle said...

I just found your blog through your website. I always get my oils and lye through snowdrift and very happy with it all. Just wanted to pop in quick on my way out and say I'm so HAPPY YOU HAVE A BLOG!!

Anonymous said...

Hello. I am a customer of Snowdrift but have not purchased your 40/42 lavender EO. I will do so since reading your Blog. Do you have any suggestions as to how to hold the scent longer in my cold process soap? I find lavender frangrances and essential oils to be fleeting in this process. Is there another EO that will help "hold" the scent longer? Thanks!

Trina said...

Thanks for the comments. I love to write, especially about body care products and the processes behind them. I rarely get the time to write about exactly what I want to, though, as I spend a great deal of time answering customer questions. This forum is my "release", I suppose.

In regard to getting lavender to stay in place longer: any oil will do better when anchored. There are several ways to do this, with lavender and lots of other top and middle note oils, as well. Here are a few suggestions:

1) anchor the lavender with a bottom note, such as oakmoss absolute, patchouli, amyris, beeswax absolute, etc. These oils not only blend beautifully with lavender, but they also add another dimension to the scent. The more resinous an oil, the more likely it is to stick around or enable another oil with which it is blended, to have greater sillage, or staying power.

2) In cold process soaps, you can add a bit of clay to the soap mix to help extend the scent of an essential or fragrance oil. Clay provides a medium on which the scent will anchor, thus improving its staying power.

3) Do not skimp on essential oils. The recommended use rate for essential and fragrance oils in both leave-on and rinse-off body care products is 3%, according to Their website is very intersting, and I recommend a visit there, on general principles.

Trina said...

Here's a the complete link for IFRA: - The International Fragrance Research Assn.

Michelle said...

Thank you very much Trina for the link and the extra information. Its been very helpful!!