ENFLEURAGE: ANCIENT TECHNIQUE TO EXTRACT ESSENCES FROM FLOWER PETALSdo-it-yourselfessential oil extractionessential oilsflowerflower essencesherbal traditionhome extraction
Enfleurage is one of the most ancient extraction methods, born at the time of Egyptians, used to obtain fragrances from flower petals.
Flowers are the most delicate part of the plant and they do not tolerate treatments at high temperatures such as, for example, distillation in steam current which would denature the product.
The Enfleurage is an extractive technique, which allows the cold treatment of delicate flowers such as roses, jasmine, tuberoses, violets, orange blossoms and many others.
This technique is based on the extraction through a solvent capable of absorbing the essential oils.
The Enfleurage uses the principle, now fully confirmed, dating back to the time of the medieval alchemists, that similar dissolves the similar: this being that essential oils of lipophilic substances, the solvent that is used for Enfleurage is a solid fat.
In the past, animal fats were used such as from pork or oxen; today they use vegetable fats or, for a more “homemade” procedure, Shea butter can also be used.
The fat is spread on two frames formed by a glass plate inserted in a wooden frame.
The petals of the flowers, harvested by hand, better if the same morning, are then positioned in a thin layer on top of the fat. The frames are then placed one on top of the other and left to rest for several days. Then the petals are scrupulously removed and replaced with new ones just harvested.
This operation is repeated several times (about 30) until the solvent is completely saturated.
At the end of the Enfleurage, the fat is scraped from the frames and what is obtained is the so-called “pommade“, that is a perfumed pomade rich in floral essence.
This product will be as valuable as the number of times the treatment has been repeated, in order to make the fat used completely saturated.
Pommade can be used as a solid essence or it can be “washed” with specific solvents (such as ethyl alcohol) obtaining a perfumed oil from which, after proper filtration, is obtained the “Absolute“, that is the pure floral essence.
Enfleurage was the first technique used to obtain perfumes.
Today, it has been almost completely abandoned because of the high costs and the long processing times.
Moreover, essences obtained through Enfleurage are much more expensive than those obtained by distillation, as the yield of flowers is minimal.
Just to show an example, 8,000 jasmine flowers are needed to make one gram of essence.
This does not diminish the charm of this ancient artisanal method… and why not experiment with it with your own hands? At the beginning of spring, when the meadows begin to fill with beautiful colorful flowers, it could be one more opportunity to be surrounded by the delicate fragrance of flowers in your own home!
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