What On Earth Is An Attar?

February 25, 2010

It’s that time again. No, it’s not time for a nap, it’s time for your favorite educational and slightly irreverent blog about all things natural, and some things completely unrelated to natural.

Today’s topic? Indian attars. I’ve had a few people ask after reading our perfume ingredients ‘What is an attar?’ So for those of you with an interest:

The word ‘attar’ is Arabic, and it literally means scent. The practice of extracting scent from flowers (which is what the artisan is doing in the photo), herbs and spices began in India and is as ancient as the hills, well…at least 5000 years. To distill the scent the botanical was placed in vegetable oil or water. Given enough time the oil would become infused with the scent and would retain it after the plants or flowers were removed. Pure attars actually don’t have an expiry date and many of them smell better the older they are. Attars are a luxury and in ancient times were used in offerings to the gods.

They aren’t all opulence though, attars also have health benefits ranging from blood sugar regulation, headaches, stress, an aid to ‘gettin’ busy’ and the list goes on. The attars that we use in our perfumes are Jasmine, Pink Lotus, and Magnolia flowers. Lotus calms the mind, balances emotions and improves concentration. It’s actually so valued in India that it is the nations flower. Jasmine is another treasured perfume whose vibrant and romantic scent is an aphrodisiac but it is also reputed to strengthen the nervous system. Magnolia is said to alleviate stress, ease depression, and believe it or not help with food cravings.

So there you go – you can gain some benefits, and smell pretty at the same time. Perfume with function, who knew?

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