How to Choose Fixatives for Making Potpourri

Fixatives consist of a substance (natural or synthetic) that is added to a potpourri mixture to reduce the evaporation rate of the plant scents and to assist in increasing the scent of the potpourri as a whole. Sometimes fixatives also assist in a better blending of different scents but their most important role is in helping to ensure a longer shelf life of the scented component of potpourris; without fixatives in a potpourri, the volatile scent essences would flee quickly. This article discusses the different types of fixatives that you can use when making your potpourri.


  1. Image titled Choose Fixatives for Making Potpourri Step 1
    Select a fixative to suit your potpourri type. When deciding on a fixative for your potpourri, be guided by the scent and properties of the fixative, including whether you are keeping your potpourri exposed in a container or in a sachet. Powdered fixatives work better in sachets or bags where the powder can be evenly distributed and kept confined; finely chopped fixatives are better for container-held potpourri where it blends in well and does not fall the base of the potpourri as the powdered fixative would do. However, it can be harder to find the chopped or whole version of your fixative; if so, the powdered version will still work, albeit a little more messily. Naturally, availability and price will also impact on your choice.
  2. Image titled Choose Fixatives for Making Potpourri Step 2
    Choose a fixative. Examples of fixatives include:
    • Orris root - this is a perennial favourite that has long been used to act as a fixative in potpourri. It comes from the Iris florentina Orris root can be found in many health food and herbal stores.
    • Gum benzoin resin, ground
    • Sandalwood bark
    • Myrrh
    • Frankincense
    • Vetiver root
    • Tonquin/Tonka bean
    • Costmary
    • Patchouli, dried leaves
    • Calamus root
    • Oakmoss
    • Cellulose fibre
    • Dry lavender, whole or ground
    • Clary sage leaves
    • Cinnamon stick, ground or broken
    • Nutmeg
    • Vanilla pods
    • Myrtle leaves, dried
  3. Image titled Choose Fixatives for Making Potpourri Step 3
    Follow the instructions provided by your potpourri recipe. If you wish to change the fixative over time, you can experiment to see which fixatives work best for your style of potpourri. It is likely that you will prefer some over others and this is a natural evolution in your own potpourri making.


  • Natural fixatives are considered to be a "base note" in the area of scents and perfume fragrances because they have low volatility in comparison to chemical fixatives.[1]
  • Some potpourri makers,, such as Elsie van Rouen advise using two fixatives in potpourri. Elsie suggests that a combination of gum benzoin and orris root is a common duo.
  • There are also commercial fixatives on the market; ask your local craft store or florist for more information, e.g., FiberFix.

Things You'll Need

  • Fixative
  • Potpourri recipe
  • Container or sachet

Sources and Citations

  1. Wikipedia, Fixative

Article Info

Categories: Potpourri