Spring is quickly becoming summer, and you know what that means. Yup, some of the most beautiful smelling flowers are in full bloom. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to make as much use of them as you can before they wilt. So I thought I’d show you Enfleurage which is a very old method of perfuming that is perfect for using up your lovely flowers.
This is an old french method of extracting scents from flowers into solid or liquid fats. It dates back to the 18th century and traditionally used animal fat.
You don’t need to spend much money on specialist equipment to have a go at enfleurage, but it does take time and patience.
This process became really popular in the 19th century, but there are not many producers that use enfleurage these days. This is because it is quite laborious and costly due to the amount of flower petals that are needed to make it worthwhile.
This begs the question, though. Is enfleurage actually worth it? Lets take a look at it in more detail.
Enfleurage Oils, Fats & Butters
In the 19th century when enfleurage was at its most popular, it was common practice to use pork, lard and beef fat. However these days, the few producers that use this method, tend to use vegetable fats instead.
I find that fats that are just solid at room temperature such as coconut oil are the easiest to work with, and they are quite cost effective which is always a good thing when you are first starting out.
Although unrefined coconut oil is better for the skin, the smell of coconut can be too strong for the flowers so the refined works much better when doing an enfleurage.
Use The Best Flowers
Always choose flowers that hold a strong fragrance, there’s no point in wasting good time and money on supermarket flowers that have been modified and grown for their look rather than their scent.
I’ve had some great results with Lilacs, Lilys, Roses and Daffodils all of which i’ve grown and picked from my own garden. It’s important to harvest the flowers on a moisture-free day so no morning dew or rain.
As the flowers may still contain a certain amount of water it’s best to lay them out onto a tea towel and let them wilt slightly for around half an hour before you start the enfleurage process.
Even though I’ve taken all the necessary precautions to make sure our petals are moister free, there have still been times when I have found a layer of water at the bottom of my oil.
If this happens you will need to remove the oil from the pot and drain the water. The pot will then need to be dried and the oil will also need to be patted dry, to the best of your ability. Failing to do this will result in your lovely fragrant oil that you have taken so long to make, going moldy.
Using A Preservative
This brings me onto the question that I am regularly asked, which is, can I use a preservative? The simple answer is yes you can, but you will need to melt the oil down to add it, and always make sure it’s oil soluble.
There are two methods that can be used in enfleurage, one using a cold process and the other a hot process. Both are made over several days and the end results are very much the same.
I am going to go through both the hot and cold process steps in the recipes below, so feel free to choose the method that you prefer.
Watch Enfleurage Cold Method
Enfleurage Cold Method
- x2 Baking Trays
- Plastic Wrap
- Gently heat the coconut oil in a microwave until melted.
- Pour the coconut oil onto a baking tray, ensuring that the whole tray is covered.
- Leave to cool and solidify, this shouldn't take long but be sure to keep an eye on it so that it remains soft enough to press your petals into it.
- Place the rose petals all over the tray and press them firmly into the oil.
- Place a second baking tray on top of the first one, and push down firmly.
- Wrapping the trays tightly with plastic wrap, will help to trap the fragrance within. Then set aside.
- After approximately 24hrs remove the cling film, open the trays, and remove the petals. Replace the petals with some nice fresh smelling ones, place the baking tray back on, and re-wrap with the cling film. Repeating this process 3-4 times over several days.
- Now it's time to remove your final petals. By now your oil should be smelling really good.
- Scrape your oil off of the tray and into a container. It is now ready to use.
Watch Enfleurage Hot Method
Next is what we call the hot method. It’s a very similar process to macerating oils, the difference being that with enfleurage only the petals from the flowers are used, whereas a maceration is often used with liquid oils and can be produced using flowers, leaves and stems.
Enfleurage Hot Method
- Spoon the coconut oil into a heatproof glass bowl or container.
- Gently heat the coconut oil in a microwave until melted.
- Submerge the flower petals into the oil, then set them aside to solidify.
- After approximately 24hrs, melt the oil again and remove the petals.
- Replace with fresh petals, repeating the above process. You will need to do this 3-4 times over several days.
- Melt the oil and remove your final petals. The oil should be smelling wonderful by now.
- Pour your oil into a container and leave to cool and solidify. It is now ready to use.
When enfleurage is done properly, you can produce some lovely scented oils that can be added to perfumes and skincare products to make them unique. Also, you don’t need to spend much money on specialist equipment to have a go at enfleurage, but it does take time and patience.
On the downside, unless you have a good flower supplier it can only be made when the flowers are in season. Also, if you are buying flowers for this method, be sure to find a good supplier of nice smelling flowers.
Most of the flowers you’ll find in your local grocery store are bred to look good, not necessarily smell good. So if you want good quality enfleurage, be sure to pick smelly flowers, so to speak.
But if you want my personal opinion of this method, then I’ll share it. I’m not in love with this. I’m glad I learned about it, as well as tried my hand at making it. But it’s doubtful I will spend much time making enfleurage.
I think I’ll just enjoy my beautiful flowers, for now. But I’m definitely not done with perfuming. Take a look at some of my other perfume recipes, if you liked this you’ll love them.
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