A few years ago when I made a commited decision to dive deep into distillation, I started collecting raw material from essential oil producers I work with so I could try distilling them. By the time agarwood powder arrived, my producer was used to my agarwood lists of essential oil, hydrosol and handmade bracelets. I had one focus with the powder: to produce it as a co-distillation with sandalwood to create an attar or as an agarwood essential oil. But something a little magical happened early fall 2023. I was teaching an incense making class with Justine Crane or more accurately, I was distilling apples and watching a real incenseur, a master at her craft demonstrating a historical process used in ancient Egypt. I smelled gorgeous raw material dampened by hydrosol and rolled into perfect little non combustible balls. I realized I had overlooked an equally important use for agarwood powder. The next day, I organized a section in the apothecary specifically for dried aromatic treasures.
This cultivated agarwood is beautiful and until I decided to offer it in both shops, it occurred to me that the scented luxuries I search the world for are the ones I deny myself fully experiencing. But as I write this, I’m inhaling agar wood smoke as it swirls into my hair and face, allowing a sacred perfume to take me back to the moment last fall when I experienced a master sharing her craft.