It was with great thrill that I recently discovered sarsaparilla CO2 extract on a suppliers list of goodies. Of course, I promptly ordered it, and spent the next two weeks (shipping was from USA) dreaming about what I might do with the delightful scent of sarsaparilla.
My only experience of this scent is as a child drinking sarsaparilla-flavoured soft drinks, so I was wary not to expect the same sweet-and-bubbly licorice-esque goodness from a little pot of extract. But to my utter delight, there it is in a tin! My childhood romance with sarsaparilla!
The fragrance of the natural extract is very similar to that of the flavoured drinks – tones of vanilla, earthiness, licorice, cinnamon, even butter. My perfumer’s brain is working overtime dreaming of the things I could create!
Initially, I thought I might work it into a gourmand creation (as is an obvious choice), but after an always enlightening jog last night, I have decided to work around a woody theme. I’m thinking a gorgeous creamy patchouli, sandalwood and sarsaparilla note would be utterly delectable. Anyone else?
In my research of sarsaparilla, I have discovered there is not much information out there on the fragrance aspects of this extract, but much on the health benefits. Surprisingly, I only found one perfume house daring to work with the fragrance – a little “micro-perfumery” in Seattle, Sweet Anthem.
Sarsaparilla is a woody wine that can grow up to a height of 50 m. It has small flowers and black, blue or red fruits, in berry-like form, which are eaten by the birds. It is a member of the lily family and is native to the tropical and temperate parts of the world, such as South America, Jamaica, the Caribbean, Mexico, Honduras, and the West Indies. Its long, tuberous rootstock produces a vine, which trails on the ground and climbs by means of tendrils growing in pairs from the petioles of the alternate, orbicular to ovate, evergreen leaves. The small, greenish flowers grow in auxiliary umbels.
The health benefits of sarsaparilla have been enjoyed for centuries, and include treatment of arthritis, intestinal problems, sexual dysfunction, headache, skin complaints and some viruses. European physicians still use sarsaparilla root as a tonic, blood purifier, diuretic, and sweat promoter. And it is often included in sports performance formulas and general health tonics.
In Ayurvedic medicine, Indian sarsaparilla is known as Sugandi, and one of its principal uses is to calm the mind and induce deep relaxation, mediation, and even to prepare one for dreaming. It is this aspect, from an aromatherapy point of view, that I will be focusing on in my perfume creation with sarsaparilla.