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An important word to understand in herbalism (herbology).  Pronounced loowsh (like whoosh) it refers to the cloudiness caused by the suspension of fine particles in a liquid, an oil-in-water microemulsion.

Say you add ten drops of an essential oil to alcohol, such as 90% isopropyl or rubbing alcohol or 95% ethanol such as Everclear™ to make a spray.  Put this mixture into a clear glass and add water.  As the oils come out of solution, the liquid turns milky and opalescent, or is said to louche.

This <i>may be</i> undesirable in perfume sprays as you must sometimes shake the bottle vigorously to mix the ingredients if you've added too much water.

 However it is very desirable in some areas such as absinthe.  Absinthe is a translucent liquor when place in the glass.  Traditionally a slotted spoon is propped on top of the glass with sugar on the spoon.  Cold water is poured over the sugar to dissolve it, and as it trickles through the slotted spoon into the absinthe, the liquid will louche and becomes the mysterious glowing yellow-green we know as drink absinthe.  In absinthe, this is from the essential oils of the herbs and plants used in its making, especially anise which contains anethole, an aromatic compound that louches nicely.

Louche effect is also known as the ouzo effect (ouzo is another anise flavored liquor served as an aperitif popular in Greece and Cyprus.) or spontaneous emulsification.

Louche originally comes from the Latin luscus, meaning blind in one eye.  It is a French word that means cross-eyed or squint-eyed.

You might also enjoy the article: <a href='http://paganpath.com/library-2/herbs/175-thujone'>Absinthe: A Witch's Brew</a> in the PaganPath Library.

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