I attended an incredible 3 day Ancient Alchemy Workshop in Spokane Washington at the end of the summer with great thanks to my teacher and friend Jade Shutes. Founder of The School for Aromatic Studies. She offered me her registration and helped me with acccomodation and plane fare. :) We studied with a wonderful and unique group of Artisan Distillers, Master Herbalists, Botanical Perfumers, Clinical Aromatherapists, Scientists and Chemists. Many thanks to my teachers
Ann Harman, Cathy Skipper, Jessica Ring, Marco Valussi, Christa Obuchowski and Jack Chaitman. There were many highlights for me throughout the course of the three days. Learning experientially with 20L and 30L Alembic Stills and a couple of 10L Alquitar Stills and seeing the differences in the two units as well as the many different methods of distillation was fascinating! Alquitars are designed differently than an Alembic. The Alembic has three parts, the pot, the swan neck lid and the condensing unit. The Alquitar has two main parts, the pot and the lid. The inside has a vapour chamber with the condensation area at the top. It is more compact and takes up less space. A sweet bowl at the top holds ice. I quite enjoyed working with the Alquitar, the unit really resonated with me. What resonated even more was learning many unique methods of distillation, I was inspired by the freedom to 'throw it all in the pot!'
What a concept to have an essential oil or an herbal infusion in the receiving vessel to capture and mingle with an emerging distillate of many different plants! Imagine placing Sandalwood in the receiving vessel while distilling rose petals and lavender. This incredible perfume would be referred to as an Attar (Ittar). Imagine the aroma.....
Interestingly in London in 1527, Still Rooms were the place where country-women would distill medicinal plants in a room that was usually adjacent to the kitchen, and use those aromatic waters as well as decoctions, infusions and teas as her families pharmacopeia. This was how she kept her family healthy. In 1527 aromatic waters were in use! Huzzah!
We distilled ourselves over the course of two days. The multi-distillation we did was incredible. Frankincense in the pot, black poplar infused in fractionated coconut oil in the receiving vessel, and an array of garden herbs including Rosemary, Lavender, Sage and Marjoram, which were placed in the pot, with the Frankincense. The same garden herbs were also placed in the tower. (steaming vessel) We waited approximately 45 minutes for our distillate to present. Oh, so aromatic and very medicinal. Such a transformative and ethereal process to witness. It feels as though you are stepping out of time and space with the aroma lingering in the air, while watching the aromatics fuse together in the receiving glass vial. As you may have guessed, I am excited to share that I will obtain a 10L Alquitar Still this month, perfect for distilling resins, gums and flowers. I'm going to create Attars!!!!! I will be able to distill all winter long on my stove top. Stay Tuned!
Sweet Botanical Perfuming here I come!