Tigerflag Natural Perfumery

Home > Articles > About Attars and Perfumes

Tigerflag Natural Perfumery LLC is no longer in business.

If you are an established customer who has purchased from Tigerflag in the past:
Some items might still be available in small quantities. If you would like to make a purchase, please contact me for a private arrangement.

About Natural Attars and Perfumes

Whether buying for yourself or giving as a gift, the following information will help you make the best choices.

What is an Attar?

Indian girl checking rose fields

A true attar is a perfume oil made from flower petals distilled in water using low heat and pressure. Some attars also contain exotic woods, spices and resins. Over several weeks, the steam containing the fragrance oils is collected into a container of mild sandalwood oil. There, the oils blend together until the sandalwood is completely saturated with the fragrance of the flowers.

In the art of perfumery, sandalwood oil is used as a 'base', or 'fixative'. It binds with the molecules of the fragrance oils and allows their subtleties to develop and last longer than if the flower oil was worn by itself. There is alchemy at work here! Like a fine wine, a true, sandalwood-based attar actually improves with age. You cannot find a more natural perfume than a true attar.

How are Traditional Attars Made?

Jasmine Market in India

Attar-making is a labor-intensive process, requiring great talent, skill and patience. It can take over two weeks to make a small batch of a single attar. Anywhere from twenty-five to three-hundred and fifty pounds of flower petals are collected and placed inside a deg. From the deg, a long bamboo pipe leads downward to a copper recepticle that contains sandalwood oil. Water is added to the deg, and the lid is sealed down with a mixture of cotton and clay. The deg sits over a fire and contains no modern guages or thermostats. As the steam collects, it condenses and flows into the receiving vessel.

The fire must be constantly monitered to keep the correct temperature. Too much heat will burn the flowers. It will also create too much pressure which can explode the clay seal around the deg. The low heat and pressure preserves the fragile fragrance oils better than the hotter steam distillation method used to obtain essential oils.

The receiving vessel sits in a pool of water and is continually rotated by hand to blend the oils and keep them from overheating. Throughout the day, the master distiller monitors the deg and receiving vessel by feeling them with his hands and listening to the sounds from inside. When necessary, wet towels are rubbed over the vessels to cool them down.

At the end of the day, the distillation is stopped. Overnight, as the oil cools down, the water separates from it. In the morning, the water is poured off from the oil and put back into the still. Freshly picked flowers are added, and the process begins anew. This process will be repeated for fifteen to twenty days, until the sandalwood oil is completely saturated with the fragrant oil of the flowers.

Buy Natural Attars

Rarity of True Attars

Over the last decade, sandalwood has skyrocketed in price to $1,500 per kilo in India. Prices are doubling every six months. Sadly, most of the folks doing genuine work have had to close their operations. Of those still producing attars, most have cut costs by using petroleum-based paraffins instead of sandalwood oil, and synthetic fragrances instead of real flowers. Most so-called natural attars, when analyzed, prove to be adulterated with synthetic ingredients, and the word 'attar' is increasingly being used to describe any cheap perfume. The attars I carry use only wildcrafted natural flora and sandalwood oil. They are made under special contract to the highest standards by a man of impeccable character.

Because of the high cost of materials and labor-intensive nature of this process, traditional attar-making is fast becoming a dying art. We do not know how much longer they will be available. It is up to us, the consumers of attars, to support the few remaining natural attar makers so their traditions will not be lost forever. By purchasing their attars, we let them know that their work has value, and we encourage them to continue their tradition.

Buy Natural Attars

The History of Attars

Archaeological digs have revealed round copper stills, used for making attars, that are at least five-thousand years old. These stills are called degs. Following the seasons of the flowers, traditional attar-makers, with their degs, travelled all over India to make their attars on-the-spot. Even now, rural areas often lack good roads to quickly transport the harvested flowers, and a few traditional attar-makers still travel with their degs to be close to the harvest. Their equipment has changed little, if at all, in the last five thousand years. It is one of these traditional attar-makers, a man of impeccable reputation, who makes the attars I carry.

Return to Top

What is a Hydrosol?

At the end of the process, the distillation water (called a hydrosol) is sold, for example, as rose-water, lavender-water, witch-hazel, etc. Hydrosols are fragile and must be refrigerated to keep from spoiling. As the season permits, I will try to have some hydrosols for sale.

What is an Essential Oil? What is an Absolute?

Bottle of Tiferet perfume

Essential oils are obtained by steam distillation. During distillation, the heat can diminish the delicate top notes of the flower oils. This makes no difference for medicinal purposes, but can pose a problem for the perfumer. An absolute is derived from a solvent-extraction process rather than steam distillation. The advantage an absolute has over an essential oil is that no heat is used, leading to a fragrance that is a little closer to what you would get when sniffing a live flower.

Some fragrances, such as fruit scents (except for citrus), honeysuckle and gardenia, cannot be obtained by the distillation process. They must be either solvent-extracted or created through mimicry: blending various fragrance oils together to create an illusion of the desired fragrance.

From a standpoint of chemical sensitivity, the disadvantage of absolutes is that they may contain traces of solvent. A high-quality absolute contains little if any solvent residue.

Undiluted absolutes are extremely concentrated; they can cause skin irritation and don't smell good until they are diluted. When small amounts of high-quality absolutes are diluted in a carrier oil to make a perfume, the level of solvent residue falls to virtually indetectible levels.

Perfumes made from high-quality absolutes, such as my
Tiferet Aromatherapy Perfume Oils
contain virtually no traces of solvent and should be well-tolerated by most people with fragrance sensitivity.

Return to Top

About Madini Perfume Oils

Bottle of Madini perfume

The Madini family has been making perfumes in Morocco according to Sufi tradition for four-hundred years. They claim to use traditional ingredients and methods to make their perfumes. I have never experienced any other perfumes- synthetic or natural- that are blended with the skill of the Madini perfumes. Because the ingredients are composed of blended essential oils and absolutes, they use the term "Perfume Essences" to describe them. I have queried the importer and he has assured me that the Madini perfumes are all-natural perfumes.

In the interest of full disclosure for my chemically sensitive customers, I will tell you that at least one perfume expert finds that claim hard to believe. She does not know how they can offer some of their fragrances for the prices they do unless some synthetic ingredients are used.

What the importer has told me is that Madini expertly blends natural ingredients to mimic and enhance expensive and hard-to-obtain ones. Some fragrances that depend on extremely expensive ingredients such as Agarwood, actually use only a little real Agarwood, and additional ingredients are blended to mimic and enhance it. Fragrances from flowers that do not lend themselves well to extraction processes are created through mimicry. If they run out of an essential ingredient, rather than use a synthetic substitute, they'll temporarily discontinue making the perfumes that depend on that ingredient. They used to charge different prices depending on the ingredients of each composition, but decided for simplicity's sake to average it out and charge one price for everything.

I have worn, or spent time around people wearing, all of the perfumes I carry. These are really lovely, high-quality perfumes, but since I cannot see the ingredient lists myself, I cannot tell you what is in them. To be safe, I don't carry any of their perfumes that would normally not be obtainable except through synthetic means, such as Gardenia and Honeysuckle. They have assured me that their Musk is not from animal sources. If you have any concerns about their ingredients or are extremely sensitive, I recommend you buy the Natural Attars or Tiferet Blends, and Order Samples first. Otherwise, I believe that Madini has taken the perfumer's art to the highest level. You will be astounded by the complexity and subtlety of these magnificent perfumes!

Buy Madini Perfume Oils

Advantages of Madini Perfumes

Some people prefer modern perfume blends rather than single-note attars. While the Madinis make beautiful single-note perfumes, they've also created exquisite blends. They make incredible fragrances for men, as well!

Madini Perfume Oils are very affordable, and come in convenient little 3 ml. bottles with roll-on applicators- easy to toss in your purse or pocket.

Buy Madini Perfume Oils

Return to Top

My Experiences with Madini

Being chemically sensitive myself, I can tell you what my friends and I have experienced with the Madini Perfume Oils:

The neurotoxins in synthetic fragrances make me spacey and extremely irritable. They impair my concentration and memory. I know I'm around neurotoxic fragrances when I find I'm barely breathing. The Madini perfumes I carry have not had this effect on me. I have worn them extensively... daily... to test them, and have not developed any sensitivity to them. I have worn Madini's divine Ambre comfortably for at least seven years, long before I decided to go into this business. I have given Madini perfumes to people around me to wear in my presence, and have felt clear-headed and happy around them after daily, all-day exposure for many months.

One friend switched from his expensive cologne, which made me feel very sick, to Madini perfumes for men. Three weeks after making the switch, he told me that for some reason he'd been feeling much better than he had in a long time. He started feeling better a week after making the switch to Madini perfume. Just a coincidence? He also told me that he thinks the Madini perfumes are the highest quality perfumes he has ever smelled.

One morning, a co-worker at my former job spilled her bottle of Madini Henna perfume on her desk. Rather than waste it, she rubbed it into her skin. The effect in our small office was overwhelming! All day long, we breathed in a thick fog of Henna. Had it been a synthetic perfume, we would all have gotten headaches or worse, and I would have had to leave immediately. Instead, we felt wonderful. That entire day everybody was so happy... laughing, giggling, cracking jokes... It was aromatherapy at it's very best!

Buy Madini Perfume Oils

Click here for more Helpful Information about Natural Perfumes

My Guarantee:

You will always receive the highest-quality products at fair, honest prices. I want you to be happy with your purchases and will do all within my power to help you before, during and after the sale. If you are ever dissatisfied with your purchase, contact me and I will do my very best to make you satisfied.
See the Policies Page for details on ordering, shipping, privacy, etc...