Friday, November 17, 2017

Pure Perfume

Another section that Marielle and I looked at in the Kitab-i-Aqdas were those passages on cleanliness. There are quite a few of them, mostly dealing with getting rid of the concept of something being considered "unclean", and keeping your clothing free of dirt. Of course with the clothing, Baha'u'llah gives us an out: "Whoso falleth short of this standard with good reason shall incur no blame." And that's wonderful news if you're a gardener.

But one part of paragraph 76 caught our attention:
Make use of rose-water, and of pure perfume; this, indeed, is that which God hath loved from the beginning that hath no beginning, in order that there may be diffused from you what your Lord, the Incomparable, the All-Wise, desireth.

That sounds good, but what about those people who are allergic to perfume?

Well, He does say "pure perfume". So what exactly does that mean? As usual, I'm not sure, but I have a sneaky suspicion. For those of you who don't know, I used to work as a perfumer, years back. I would smell the wrist of a client and design a perfume around their own personal scent. It was quite an interesting job. It helped me gain a greater appreciation of the diversity of people out there.

One thing I learned though, was that most perfume out there is really, quite simply, cheap junk. It's usually a base of cheap rubbing alcohol, or other forms of solvents, with a minuscule amount of essential oils in it. Personally, when I smell this stuff, either on a person, or when forced to walk through the perfume department of some store, I want to gag. Literally. It actually makes me feel a little bit ill.

But when I smell essential oils, I don't get that sensation at all. Not even from civet, which is a very rank and stinky scent, second only to that of a skunk, but is still used in the perfuming industry. (Don't ask.)

So what are essential oils? They are the volatile aromatic compounds of a plant. There are numerous ways of extracting them, but the simplest is to crush the flowers, or stems, or whatever part of the particular plant in question which has the oils you seek, and then soak them in some sort of a solvent. Over time the oils will leech out of the plant matter into the solvent.

If you take a pound of rose petals, for example, crush them, and then soak them in water, you will over time notice a thin layer of oil floating on the water. That oil is the essential oil of the roses. The trick now is to get the oil without getting the water. There are numerous ways to do this, but let's just say that it's not too difficult.

Anyways, most of the people I know who are allergic to perfume are actually allergic to the solvents. I know. We've tested this. Of course, there are some people who actually are allergic to the essential oils, but they really are a rarity.

However, and this is the point I really wanted to make, please people "Whatsoever", Baha'u'llah tells us, "passeth beyond the limits of moderation will cease to exert a beneficial influence."

That's all.

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