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Homemade aftershave with spices

I'm running out of aftershave and I'm cheap, so I'm looking to make some. I normally use bay rum (Captain's Choice Cat o' Nine Tails), and I gather it's pretty easy to make: equal parts rum and witch hazel with spices such as bay, clove and cinnamon steeped for a couple weeks and then strained.

Now, there's a local plant around here called spicebush, and I just love the smell. It produces fragrant little half-inch edible berries, but the entire plant is fragrant. I would love to walk around after a shave smelling like spicebush.

My question is whether anyone knows or has a guess whether steeping a fresh spice like this in rum and witch hazel (or rum and vodka, as some recipes have it) would extract enough of the fragrance to be noticeable. I can't think of an analogue; maybe someone has made an aftershave with juniper berries or something? I know fresh citrus peel works, but spicebush isn't as oily as citrus and also not dry like cinnamon stick or clove.

It won't hurt to experiment, but I'd greatly appreciate if someone in this community has gone before me and can share tips and pitfalls. Thank you!
 
Steeping the bark, berries or flowers of the plant will produce a weak solution like an herbal tea. Perfume essential oils are much more concentrated. These are usually made through processes like steam distillation, solvent extraction or fat extraction. Unless you build your own still from things you already have in your kitchen or workshop, you probably won't save money compared to just buying some essential oils to make your aftershave with.

Most aftershaves & colognes use a mixture of several essential oils. For example, lime, lavender, lemongrass, etc. You can probably buy spicebush (Lindera benzoin) extract or essential oil.
 
I would start by trying to find medicinal usage of plants and or warnings before doing that
Keep in mind that roots, stems, leaves, berries ans flowers can have very different properties and some can be toxic in short and long term.
Fresh or dried also changes properties.

So experiment carefully
 
I would start by trying to find medicinal usage of plants and or warnings before doing that
Keep in mind that roots, stems, leaves, berries ans flowers can have very different properties and some can be toxic in short and long term.
Fresh or dried also changes properties.

So experiment carefully
Spicebush seems pretty safe. The berries were used in older times like we would use allspice in food. Herbal teas were made from the bark. Still, doing some research would be a good idea.
 
Steeping the bark, berries or flowers of the plant will produce a weak solution like an herbal tea. Perfume essential oils are much more concentrated. These are usually made through processes like steam distillation, solvent extraction or fat extraction. Unless you build your own still from things you already have in your kitchen or workshop, you probably won't save money compared to just buying some essential oils to make your aftershave with.

Most aftershaves & colognes use a mixture of several essential oils. For example, lime, lavender, lemongrass, etc. You can probably buy spicebush (Lindera benzoin) extract or essential oil.
Thanks! I've been reading more and it looks like it's possible to do with alcohol, but you seem to need at least 70 percent alcohol for extracting oils (like a 151 rum or even Everclear) which is a higher level than is sold in my state. I'm not put off this entirely, but it's a barrier. I know I could probably get the oil elsewhere, but scenting myself with things I collected myself is part of the fun.
 
Thanks! I've been reading more and it looks like it's possible to do with alcohol, but you seem to need at least 70 percent alcohol for extracting oils (like a 151 rum or even Everclear) which is a higher level than is sold in my state. I'm not put off this entirely, but it's a barrier. I know I could probably get the oil elsewhere, but scenting myself with things I collected myself is part of the fun.

For drinking purposes,
I make something using 80 proof brandy
which cold extracts the flavor from an orange
suspended in a plastic net bag above the brandy without touching it,
inside of a gallon pickle jar with the lid on,
over the course of five weeks.
 
For drinking purposes,
I make something using 80 proof brandy
which cold extracts the flavor from an orange
suspended in a plastic net bag above the brandy without touching it,
inside of a gallon pickle jar with the lid on,
over the course of five weeks.
This is amazing to me. A whole, fresh orange? Not touching liquid? What’s going on here? There’s so much moisture in there that can’t evaporate out—where does it go? Are you somehow separating out orange oils from the water? And how? So many questions. Does this process have a name?
 
This is amazing to me. A whole, fresh orange? Not touching liquid? What’s going on here? There’s so much moisture in there that can’t evaporate out—where does it go? Are you somehow separating out orange oils from the water? And how? So many questions. Does this process have a name?

A whole fresh orange.

I got it from a YouTube on how to make homemade Gran Marnier.

Apparently, the alcohol vapor forms a conduit for the oils
or whichever fluids contain the orange flavor,
to extract from the orange, and enter the brandy.

At the end of five weeks, the interior of the orange is highly alcoholic
and completely devoid of flavor. I don't eat it.
I don't try to recover the alcohol from the orange.
I just throw it away.

I add a Chinese restaurant tea cup full of sugar
to it and I call it Grand Mariner.
I use 1.75 liters of cheap brandy.
It has to be cheap or there's no point.

Everybody likes it. If I make it for myself, I spike it with Everclear.

I pour 1.75 liters of Christian Brothers brandy into a clean empty gallon size pickle jar.
I put an orange into a plastic net bag of the type that might be used for garlic.
I tie a knot in the top of the bag. I tie a non stretch string, tightly around the neck of the jar.
I use sewing thread to attach the bag to the string so that the orange
is not touching the brandy even wth the lid on tight.
The orange never touches the brandy.
I think that this way, the bitter and otherwise unsuitable tastes which are good in an orange
but not in a liqueur, stay in the orange.
 
Last edited:
A whole fresh orange.

I got it from a YouTube on how to make homemade Gran Marnier.

Apparently, the alcohol vapor forms a conduit for the oils
or whichever fluids contain the orange flavor,
to extract from the orange, and enter the brandy.

At the end of five weeks, the interior of the orange is highly alcoholic
and completely devoid of flavor. I don't eat it.
I don't try to recover the alcohol from the orange.
I just throw it away.

I add a Chinese restaurant tea cup full of sugar
to it and I call it Grand Mariner.
I use 1.75 liters of cheap brandy.
It has to be cheap or there's no point.

Everybody likes it. If I make it for myself, I spike it with Everclear.

I pour 1.75 liters of Christian Brothers brandy into a clean empty gallon size pickle jar.
I put an orange into a plastic net bag of the type that might be used for garlic.
I tie a knot in the top of the bag. I tie a non stretch string, tightly around the neck of the jar.
I use sewing thread to attach the bag to the string so that the orange
is not touching the brandy even wth the lid on tight.
The orange never touches the brandy.
I think that this way, the bitter and otherwise unsuitable tastes which are good in an orange
but not in a liqueur, stay in the orange

Oh I'm trying this!!
 
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