Tag Archives: enfleurage

Operation Magnolia for natural perfume

Operation Magnolia for Esscentual Alchemy’s natural botanical perfumes has begun ;)  I need a theme song!

Oh how about this one:

They are sweet, like sugar :D

I have started some enfleurage, and maceration of the magnolia blooms.

Magnolia Blossoms - Esscentual Alchemy

Magnolia Blossoms – Hello my pretties!

Maceration Pot - Esscentual Alchemy

Oh Maceration Pot…You are so nice ;)

Esscentual Alchemy natural botanical perfume - Enfleurage of Magnolia

Magnolia Enfleurage – Gimme all your scent molecules!

After a day of doing this, I’m thinking I just will switch to doing only maceration.  The blossoms are already falling.  I’m not sure if that’s because of the snow, or they just don’t last long.  I need more time to properly enfleurage them, and the maceration is going quicker.  Which means I’m going to get more recharges of my maceration.  Which will give a stronger product in the end, scent wise.

Soooo Double, double, toil, and trouble.

I have to say a crockpot is way easier than a pot over a fire.  And I hope the end result isn’t wicked LOL  :D

Magnolia Maceration - Esscentual Alchemy natural botanical perfumes

Magnolia Maceration – Oh you sweet vixen!

Just in case you weren’t aware, the difference between maceration, and enfleurage (exerpt from Septimus Piesse’s book on perfumery):

Maceration._–Of all the processes for procuring the perfumes of flowers, this is the most important to the perfumer, and is the least understood in England; as this operation yields not only the most exquisite essences indirectly, but also nearly all those fine pomades known here as “French pomatums,” so much admired for the strength of fragrance, together with “French oils” equally perfumed. The operation is conducted thus:–For what is called pomade, a certain quantity of purified mutton or deer suet is put into a clean metal or porcelain pan, this being melted by a steam heat; the kind of flowers required for the odor wanted are carefully picked and put into the liquid fat, and allowed to remain from twelve to forty-eight hours; the fat has a particular affinity or attraction for the oil of flowers, and thus, as it were, draws it out of them, and becomes itself, by their aid, highly perfumed; the fat is strained from the spent flowers, and fresh are added four or five times over, till the pomade is of the required strength; these various strengths of pomatums are noted by the French makers as Nos. 6, 12, 18, and 24, the higher numerals indicating the amount of fragrance in them. For perfumed oils the same operation is followed; but, in lieu of suet, fine olive oil or oil of ben, derived from the ben nuts of the Levant, is used, and the same results are obtained. These oils are called “Huile Antique” of such and such a flower.

Enfleurage._–The odors of some flowers are so delicate and volatile, that the heat required in the previously named processes would greatly modify, if not entirely spoil them; this process is, therefore, conducted cold, thus:–Square frames, about three inches deep, with a glass bottom, say two feet wide and three feet long, are procured; over the glass a layer of fat is spread, about half an inch thick, with a kind of plaster knife or spatula; into this the flower buds are stuck, cup downwards, and ranged completely over it, and there left from twelve to seventy-two hours.

Some houses, such as that of Messrs. Pilar and Sons; Pascal Brothers; H. Herman, and a few others, have 3000 such frames at work during the season; as they are filled, they are piled one over the other, the flowers are changed so long as the plants continue to bloom, which now and then exceeds two or three months.

For oils of the same plants, coarse linen cloths are imbued with the finest olive oil or oil of ben, and stretched upon a frame made of iron; on these the flowers are laid and suffered to remain a few days. This operation is repeated several times, after which the cloths are subjected to great pressure, to remove the now perfumed oil.

Botanical Perfume project put on ice

;)  Catchy huh?

Magnolia blooms in snow - Esscentual Alchemy natural perfume

Magnolia blooms in snow

So much for that enfleurage project.  I have no idea what the effect of snow on magnolia blossoms is, so this might have to wait another year.

As I’ve heard it said around the internet – Go Home Winter, You’re Drunk!!!

First Magnolia of the year

I have been gifted the first magnolia of the season by my children :D

jonquil magnolia scilia


You can see all of my victims here in the picture.  ;)


Now I have been thinking about enfleurage for the magnolia blossoms.  Though I don’t have a whole lot of access to beef tallow, nor am I that interested in beef tallow.  That leaves me with plant options.  The tricky part about enfleurage, so I have read is making sure you don’t get mold starting.

Here I am girding my loins to climb this ladder. See?

I’m also going to need a good ladder, so I dont’ have to climb trees.  I’m not crazy about heights mostly.  Ahh, the things we do for art.  I won’t clean the gutters, but I will scale a tree.

They’re not quite ready to pick, which gives me some time to get my solid fat/oil/medium.

The Beauty of the Internet

The Internet

Odd title?  How does this relate to Synthetic Free Perfumery, you might be asking yourself?

On the left: Ancient perfumes of the Hebrews (Cinnamon, Balm of Judea being collected from cut bark, (extinct) Nard, and Valerian. On the right: An Egyptian with his incense burner

Photo Credit:  http://www.lotuspress.com/lotusbrands/tiferetonline/key.html

I think one of the most fabulous things about the time of history that I live in, is the fact that I have access to botanical materials from all over the world!  This amazes me, especially when I think about in the past, when perfumers, who were mainstream, keep in mind, had only access to the things that grew locally, and were seasonal.

Sketch based on Egyptian tomb painting from 3rd millennium BCE about perfume production

Photo Credit:  http://www.wysinfo.com/Perfume/Perfume_history.htm

I don’t have to take the time to make any oils, concretes, or absolutes, unless I want to.  I, of course, am working on learning how to do this as well, because it intrigues me.  I attempted tincturing the old varietal lilacs in the neighborhood this year, and put them in the fridge until next year.  I think I will give them at least two seasons before I use any of it, just because it’s a tricky one to do.

Greek Perfume Vessals

Photo Credit:  http://www.greeceathensaegeaninfo.com/h-ancient-greek-ceramics.htm

I felt very connected to perfumers of old, while I collected blooms, and removed the leaf material and then submerged them so they would release their fragrance.



Oldest Perfumes Found on "Aphrodite's Island"

Photo Credit:  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/bigphotos/4419999.html

Have a glorious day!

The Basics of Perfuming

It occurred to me that not everyone who stops by, might know this subject, so I thought I’d talk a little about the nuts and bolts of perfuming.

Perfume materials come from different groups:

  • Flowers
  • Herbs
  • Leaves/Grasses
  • Spices
  • Roots
  • Gums/Balsams
  • Wood
  • Citrus
  • Animal Sources – ambergris, musk, castoreum, civet, hyraceum, honeycomb

Some of the animal sources, are now being discontinued in usage by some perfumers, due to consideration for our fellow animal creatures;  these perfumers re-create the smell they are wanting, via botanicals.

Perfume Classification

Perfume comes from two Latin words – per fumus meaning through smoke.  Perhaps the earliest perfumes were thrown onto fires =) and communally used by humans.

Per Fumum

There are some basic rules to follow when learning how to craft a perfume.   Perfume is composed of 3 types of notes, or chords:   (See how my music is coming into play?)

  1. Top/Head notes are the most volatile, and evaporate quickly, lasting some minutes.  This gives the first impression.
  2. Middle/Heart notes should last for a couple of hours.
  3. Base notes are the least volatile, and should last a few hours after the middle leaves your nose.

Many base notes act as fixatives and help the heart and head notes last even longer.  The head and heart notes can help give lift to the base notes.

Plant materials used in natural perfumery are found in 3 forms; concretes, absolutes, and essential oils. The point of natural perfuming is to get as close as possible to the whole plant.

You obtain these forms by extracting the essence from the plant material.  There are several ways to do this:

  1. Maceration – The material is submerged into a solvent which will then allow the fragrance to emerge into the solvent.  This process can take hours or months depending on the type of materials used.  Woody and fibrous plant materials, and animal aromatics are obtained in this manner.
  2. Distillation – Plant material is heated and the fragrance then is re-collected through condensation of the distilled vapour.
  3. Expression – Material, usually citrus, is squeezed or pressed, and the oil is collected.
  4. Enfleurage – Absorption of aroma materials into solid fat or wax and then extracting the odorous oil with spirits.

After composing your chords, the oils are then blended with a carrier.  Carrier’s can either be alcohol or oil, depending on your personal preference, and then ( This is where the alchemy happens!) aged for a month, at least, however, some magic takes longer…after time passes, then bottle and voila!  You can stink up the place *LOL*

There you have it.  Your bare bones how to make a perfume, in perhaps some disjointed manner, due to the interruptions of my toddler.  Please feel free to comment, and correct if need be.