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Sachet (scented bag)

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Sachet (scented bag)

Sachet cushion of the 16th century

A sachet is a small cloth scented bag filled with herbs, potpourri, or aromatic ingredients.[1][2][3][4][5] It is also defined as a small soft bag containing perfumed or sweet-smelling items also referred to as an ascent bag, scent bag, sweet bag, sachet bag, sachet de senteurs, spiced sachet, potpourri sachet, scented sachet, perfume cushion, smelling cushion, scented cushion, fragrant bag, pomander and "dream pillow."[6][7][8][9][10][11]

Cultural history

In the Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg to help induce sleep.[13]

In medieval times it was known as a "plague-bag". These were generally worn around the neck, or dangled from the waist. It was believed that they provided protection against parasites and miasmata. These "sachets" contained sweet powders, aromatic calamus, benzoin, storax, galingale, cloves, and other fragrances from a herb or flower garden.[14] In modern times it is a small cloth bag filled with potpourri that is laid among garments in a dresser.[15]


Scented sachets are for containing odorous substances to be laid among handkerchiefs to perfume them. They are also used to make undergarments and outer garments sweet smelling as well as placed amongst linens.[16] Scented sachets are also hung in closets and cupboards. They are also put into briefcases and luggage. Some are used in stationary packets and others are put under pillows to help one sleep.[14] Scented sachets are "sweet bags" (an old name for a small sachet cloth bag) and are put in automobiles, clothes dryers, clothes closets, inside or about children's stuffed animals, on the backs of chairs, and on doorknobs.[17] Sachets with herbs like hops and lavender act as a sedative.[18] These type of sachets are often put in closets and dresser drawers for their scents.[19]

Some "dream pillow" types of scented sachets (i.e. "hop pillows") are made with sleep inducing ingredients like hops, chamomile, valerian, skullcap, and lavender that help promote sleep.[10][20][21][22][23][24] These scented sachets of aromatic herbs are also referred to as "herb pillows" or "sleep pillows" and are designed to overcome sleeplessness.[25][26][27][28][29][30][31]

Ram's 1606 booklet Little Dodoen gave a sachet formula to take to bed to help one sleep:

Certain herbs used in these type sachet "sleep pillows", like hops, have a soporific and a slight narcotic effect.[33] These herb filled sachets are even called "dreamtime pillows".[34] There are formulas using rosemary seeds to fill sachets and these are to be hung in a bedroom to promote sleep.[33] The traditional method to treat insomnia with herb filled sachets of hops or lavender is to place them in, under or near your sleeping pillow.[35][36][37][38][39] The "dream pillow" or "sleep pillow" sachet concept has been used for decades to help overcome sleeplessness.[40] These "sleep pillows" have a therapeutic effect and hops as an ingredient to this type of sachet are considered best at inducing sleep.[41] One type of "sleep pillow" sachet recipe by herb and flower author Penny Black calls for violets, rose petals, rosemary, tonka bean, vanilla bean, and a drop of lemon oil.[42]


Scented sachets are many times homemade and come in many sizes, styles, shapes and fragrances. A typical size would be approximately 4 inches square or thereabouts - some as small as a one inch ball and others as large as an 8 inch square.[10] Many are in the shape of a plump little pillow.[43] The potpourri mix put inside the sachet can be herbal items or flower parts.[44] Some sachets that are made from spices like allspice, aniseed, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and vanilla beans are referred to as "spiced sachets."[45] A scented sachet used as a pot holder that is stuffed with allspice, cinnamon and cloves will release an apple pie smell when a hot dish is put on it.[10]

Other scented sachets are made from the winter savory, lavender, rosemary, tops of hyssop, chippings of cassia ligna, cedar, and sassafras.[46] This type is not only used to make garments sweet smelling but keep away destructive insects and worms.[47] Sachets with dried moth-repellent herbs like wormwood, southernwood, costmary, lavender, pennyroyal, lemon verbena rosemary, rue, sage and tansy are called "moth bags."[5][48]

A sachet base can be made where you can add certain aromatic or perfumed oils later to make various sachets. Some types of sachets are called "Patchouli Sachet" (that goes with woolens and blankets); "Florida Sachet" (which ingredients are fruity); "Oakasia Sachet"; "Orange-rose Sachet"; and "Sweet Bag of linen".[49] Some scented sachets even have names like ""Heliotrope Sachet" and "Tonka Bean Sachet." [50] Others still are called "Provencal pillows", "Country pillows" and "Pillows for Love".[33]

Some are even made into Sweet Bag necklaces.[51] Some are decorated with embroidery, beads, buttons, ribbons, and fancy cloth. The oldest formula printed for a list of ingredients in an America scented sacket comes from a Colonial Williamsburg book, The Compleat Housewife, published in 1742.[52]


Scented sachets


  1. ^ Simmonds, p. 324
  3. ^ Duff, p. 34
  4. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary. "small perfumed bag," 1838, from Fr. sachet (12c.), dim. of sac (see sac). A reborrowing of a word that had been used 15c. in the sense "small bag, wallet."
  5. ^ a b Oster, p. 54
  6. ^ Hunter, p. 4080
  7. ^ Sweringen, p. 341
  8. ^ Gasc, p. 500
  9. ^ Tibbins, p. 943
  10. ^ a b c d Natural Remedies
  11. ^ a b c d Cultural China
  12. ^ Garland, p. 223
  13. ^ Gutenberg ebook Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure
  14. ^ a b Hemphill, pp. 24-26
  15. ^ Merriam-Webster difinition
  16. ^ Fettner, p. 91
  17. ^ Booth, p. 121
  18. ^ Buchanan, pp. 322, 333
  19. ^ Sisko, p. 31
  20. ^ Garland, p. 268 Pillows stuffed with dried hops are an old treatment for insomnia.
  21. ^ Chopra, p. 40 A sachet of hops is traditionally placed under a child's pillow to deliver sleep-inducing aromatherapy.
  22. ^ Lust, p. 370 A small pillow filled with dried hops and slept on is a well-known folk remedy in many European countries for inducing a calm, restful sleep.
  23. ^ How To Make Herbal Pot-Pourris, Sachets And Pillows
  24. ^ Here's How To Make a Dream Pillow Dream pillows are used to promote restful sleep and pleasant dreams. They are small and flat, placed in a standard pillow, and stuffed with a sachet of calming and sleep-inducing dried herbs... George Washington reportedly used one filled with hops...
  25. ^ Walter, p. 123 The "herb pillows" of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (little sacks of aromatic herbs thought to be a remedy for sleeplessness) always included lavender, clovepinks and costmary as principal ingredients.
  26. ^ White, p. 111 There are several herbs that have a reputation for easing insomnia, and by creating a blend of these leaves and flowers, you can make small "herb pillows" to help you sleep.
  27. ^ Murphy-Hiscock, p. 159 Sweet Dream Pillow - This pillow is designed to encourage relaxation and soothe restless sleep.
  28. ^ Dream Pillows
  29. ^ Dream Pillows
  30. ^ Making herbal pillows
  31. ^ Dream Pillows
  32. ^ Rohde, p. 29
  33. ^ a b c Garland, p. 229
  34. ^ Knapp, p. 61
  35. ^ Calbom, p. 211
  36. ^ Williamson, p. 191
  37. ^ Mitrea, p. 31
  38. ^ Kothe, p. 46
  39. ^ Foster, p. 212
  40. ^ Bond, p. 265
  41. ^ Oster, p. 55
  42. ^ Black, p. 66
  43. ^ Black, p. 96
  44. ^ Black, pp. 57-71
  45. ^ Seton, p. 54
  46. ^ Freeman, p. 172
  47. ^ Cox, p. 259
  48. ^ Garland, p. 222
  49. ^ Strobell, p. 139
  50. ^ Freeman, p. 173
  51. ^ Cox, p. 279
  52. ^ Fettner, p. 95


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