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How To Make Orris Root Powder

My quest for how to make orris root powder came long before the days of the Internet, in fact it was way back in the early 1990’s when magazines and mail ordering supplies through catalogs was still the popular thing to do.

I was into herbs, soap making, potpourri and homemade cleaning products back in those days however unlike now when you can get online and find what you need, the supplies such as orris root powder were pretty hard to get.

Not to mention when you did find a supplier you had to buy in bulk and shipping was outrageous!

My solution to that was to find out where exactly orris root powder came from and grow that plant myself then learn how to process the plant material so I could have my own private supply.

The freshly harvested orris root. The orris root being cut up and the dried orris root in a jar.


Where Orris Root Comes From

So my first step was to visit all of the herb nurseries within driving distance.

The first one I stopped at not only knew where orris root came from, but had plants in their display garden and was willing to dig a few rhizomes up for me.

I was thrilled, step one was accomplished, I had the plant the orris root powder came from!

Orris root powder is made from the rhizome of the Iris x germanica var florentina, often referred to as orris iris.

The pale lavender flowers appear almost white.

Once this iris is established, the rhizomes multiply rather quickly.

The key to successfully growing iris is to plant them correctly and then allow them to grow until they need dividing.

At this point, you can harvest a few rhizomes, either by digging them out and dividing the plants or simply cutting a few of the rhizomes out, but be careful not to damage the ones you leave in the ground.

The orris root flower in bloom.

How To Make Orris Root Powder

Once you have harvested the rhizomes of the Iris x germanica var florentina, the next step is to turn them into orris root powder.

This is not a quick process, although possibly with the use of an electric kitchen grinder and an electric dehydrator the first steps of the process could be sped up.

However, the final step of allowing the orris root to cure takes two years.

Here is how to make orris root powder at home.

The orris root flower in bloom.

How To Make Orris Root Powder


The freshly harvested orris root.

  1. The first step is to harvest the roots of Iris x germanica var florentina, known as the orris iris. Some people remove their iris rhizomes from the ground and divide them that way. I leave mine in the ground and use a sharp knife or clean pruners to slice through the rhizome removing only the ones I wish to harvest.
  2. Once the rhizome is harvested, cut off all the roots and foliage. Place the discarded material into the compost pile where it will break down and provide black gold for your garden.
  3. Then wash off the rhizomes to remove any remaining dirt.
  4. Pat the rhizome dry with paper towels. While you can allow it to air dry, patting it dry is much faster. The orris root rhizome being cut up.
  5. Put the rhizome on a cutting board and slice it into thin strips using a sharp knife. An alternative is to grate the rhizome because that gives you smaller chips that are easier to powder.
  6. Once the rhizome is in small pieces, lay it out on a drying screen to dry. You can put it in a dehydrador on the lowest setting if you prefer.
  7. Give this root plenty of time to dry. You don't want to put it away wet and risk mold ruining your stash.
  8. Once the orris root pieces are completely dry, put it in a glass bottle with a lid. Putting a couple silica gel packets in with it is a good idea just in case some of the root is still a little damp.
  9. Put the sealed container in a cool, dark, dry place.
  10. Allow the container to sit for two years.
  11. Shake the bottle from time to time if you think about it.
  12. As the orris root ages, it takes on a unique smell similar to violets or lilacs.
  13. Once the two years is up, mix the orris root up one last them, then it is ready to use. The dried orris root powder in a jar.
  14. You can use it like it is or powder it as needed. To powder the root you need a heavy duty food processor or kitchen grinder that is all metal or else it will strip out!.

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Facebook

The orris root flower in bloom.

What Orris Root Is Used For

Orris root powder  is used as a fixative in homemade potpourri recipes and in other crafts, specially ones that are scented.

Orris root powder is also used as a cosmetic stabilizer and to help keep linens fresh.

To use it to keep linens fresh, just add a pinch of orris root powder to your washing detergent if you make your own or directly to your wash water if you use commercial laundry detergent.

I also across some uses orris root powder in tea and saw that is was also used as a homeopathic treatment.

I have not tried orris root powder as a dietary supplement or homeopathic treatment and do encourage you to talk with your doctor and do your own research before using it in either of these ways.

Where To Buy Orris Root

Local herb shops or other local places where you can buy dried herbs often carry orris root powder.

However, an easier way to buy it in bulk is online.

Orris root is sold as both a spice and as a fixative for art and craft use.

Before selecting one, think about what you will be using it for.

For arts and crafts, my choice is the Frontier Co-op Brand Orris Root Natural Powder available on Amazon.

I trust the products Frontier Co-Op sell and I am a member.

Of course, you can choose any brand you prefer and if you are using it for cooking, then be sure to choose one that is food safe.

What are your favorite uses for orris root powder?

Leave them in the comment section below!

Potpourri And Natural Fragrance Extraction


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