June 22 2010
Lucia van der Post
I was introduced to Papier d’Arménie, a wonderfully old-fashioned way of clearing the air in a room or a home, by the lovely people at Guerlain when they were introducing new fragrances to writers and journalists. They’d come upon it because they had so many different fragrances for us to sample that they needed to find a way of neutralising the air in order for us to be able to appreciate the next one.
Classically, though, these papiers, which are soaked in a solution of incense resin and alcohol, are used to deal with the smell of cigarettes, frying fat, cat litter and anything else that smells unpleasant. A pack (£6.90) consists of 36 strips and you simply fold one, light it, then extinguish the flame, letting it slowly burn away, filling the room with a gentle scent of incense.
It’s a very old, traditional method, and the strips are made in a factory near Paris which still belongs to the descendants of Auguste Ponsot, who first brought the idea over from Armenia in 1885.