What are Enfleurage Essential Oils?

The Therapeutic Quality Enfleurage Essential Oils below are very select Artisan Essential Oils™, produced by small grower/distillers in limited quantities. Shop Enfleurage Oils

Enfleurage is an ancient technique used for extracting essential oils from the most delicate flowers and this includes some of the oils that we sell here at Artisan Aromatics like Frangipani, Gardenia, Jasmine, Lily, Rose and Tuberose. Enfleurage Essential Oils are extremely rare. In fact, our production facility in South America is the only one in the world that uses the old traditional method of enfleurage. But, of course, we also sell essential oils that have been extracted by other means, like steam distillation and expression. Steam Distillation is the most common method used to extract essential oils from plants like Lavender, Tea Tree, Geranium and hundreds more. Expression is most commonly used for extracting essential oils from citrus fruit (orange, lemon, grapefruit, etc.)

Enfleurage trays

Enfleurage is a technique of extracting the aromatic oils from flowers that goes back thousands of years to the days of the pharaohs in Egypt. Enfleurage Essential Oil production works on the simple principle that fats dissolve essential oils and thereby absorb their aromas. Petals and other fragrant plant parts are soaked in fat or non-evaporating oil which absorbs the fragrance. In the 19th century and early parts of the 20th, pork, lard and beef fat were used though now some producers use vegetable fats like palm oil. In the early days, the animal fat was smeared on glass plates in a wooden frame called a chassis and then the flowers were placed on the fat and left to release their oils for several days. The process was repeated several more times with fresh flowers being added to the plates until the fat on the plates was completely saturated with the aromatic oils of the flowers. The oil saturated fat, called a pomade, was then dissolved by alcohol. The aromatic oils migrate to the alcohol which is then separated from the fat and then the alcohol is evaporated to leave the pure aromatic oil of the flower. The resultant essential oil is technically called an “absolute”. Our supplier of absolutes extracted by enfleurage uses only Organic Palm Oil and Organic Sugar Cane Alcohol in the extraction process.

To purchase our Enfleurage Essential Oils, click: Frangipani Oil, Jasmine Oil, Gardenia Oil, Lily Oil, Rose Oil, or Tuberose Oil. Or, to see all, click: Enfleurage Oils

Enfleurage tray with tuberose flowers

Enfleurage tray with tuberose flowers

Enfleurage is used on certain flowers because some fragrant compounds denature when heat is applied and almost all fragrance is lost if steam distillation is attempted. Today most essential oils that are extracted from flowers that are too delicate for steam distillation are done so by solvent (chemical) extraction. These oils, extracted by solvents, are called absolutes. The production of absolutes using harsh chemicals, while still quite expensive, is cheaper than the old method of enfleurage of essential oils but, of course, the resultant oil can no longer be considered organic and there is always a hint of “chemical” smell to the aroma of the oil. The flowers that cannot withstand steam distillation for the extraction of their oils but for which enfleurage is appropriate include: Gardenia, Lily, Rose, Tuberose, jasmine, narcissus (daffodil/jonquil), mignonette (birthday flower), neroli, cassie, violet and carnation. Rose and neroli (orange blossom) are also available both as fine distilled oils and as absolutes.

Today only a few producers use the ancient technique of enfleurage because it is quite labor intensive and therefore quite costly but the exquisite results are truly worth it. The aroma of the oils extracted by enfleurage with an aroma much like the flower. If you close your eyes and inhale the aroma of the oil, you’ll find that the the smell to be quite similar to that of the actual flower. Just one drop of Frangipani Absolute, Jasmine Absolute, Gardenia Absolute, Lily Absolute, Rose Absolute, or Tuberose Absolute oil makes a wonderful perfume. In addition to the extraction process being labor intensive, a lot of plant material is needed to produce the oil. In one study, 1000 kilos of Tuberose blossoms yielded only 801 grams of oil.

Here at Artisan Aromatics, we have found one small producer in South America that uses a modern version of the ancient technique of enfleurage to produce completely organic oils of Frangipani Essential Oil, Jasmine Essential Oil, Gardenia Essential Oil, Lily Essential Oil, Rose Essential Oil, or Tuberose Essential Oil. On his small farm (and surrounding farms), he grows the Frangipani, Jasmines,Gardenias, Lilies, Roses, and Tuberoses and then processes them using palm oil as the fat and pure alcohol derived from local sugar cane. By using all local products, he helps to support the local economy and small farmers and gives employment to those who have been devastated by warfare in the area.


Comments (6)

  1. alfredo dupetit September 6, 2016 at 3:09 am Reply

    Dear Charle-Pan,
    I believe the proces of enfleurage in the frames is the most important one. After the mix wit h purest raffined alcohol (rice alcohol should be the best cause odorless) and decantation or centrifugal separation you should use vacum distillation at room temperature to extract the alcohol from the lilac fatless tincture and this should bring the expected results

    1. Joie Power, Ph.D. September 7, 2016 at 5:03 pm Reply

      Thank you for your helpful reply. Your kindness in sharing this information is appreciated and I encourage our customers to visit your website and learn about your natural perfumes … they sound wonderful! (To go to Afredo Dupetit’s website, click on the name in the above reply).

  2. Joie Power, Ph.D. August 8, 2016 at 4:47 pm Reply

    Thank you for the comment; I am thrilled that you were inspired by the article. We would also like to learn more about the method but producers guard their secrets closely. Ivan did find some useful information by searching 18th and 19th century perfumery texts at our university library (some in the rare books section) and since enfleurage reached its highest development in the Grasse region of France, I suspect that a trip there and a visit to some French libraries would also be worthwhile. Good luck – I’ll keep you in mind if I run across any further resources.

    1. Ans November 26, 2016 at 11:00 am Reply

      Respected Madam,
      in this article u have also given an idea about the use of palm oil . similarly i came to know about the use of cocnut oil .. I want to know is there any technique by which at the end we can prevent the mixing of fragrances of essential oil and our absorbent oil . and be able to get pure perfume

      1. Joie Power, Ph.D. November 28, 2016 at 3:03 pm Reply

        Dear Ans: Thank you for your question. There is no way to completely remove all traces of the absorbent oil from an enfleurage extraction. When palm oil is used as an extracting agent, the traces that are left in the final product add a subtle earthy note to the essential oils, although to my nose this note diminishes when the product is applied to the skin as a perfume and begins to interact with the natural oils found in the skin. When coconut oil is used, there are also traces left but the initial aroma seems very slightly closer to the aroma of the natural flowers than it does when palm oil is used. Since most of the flowers that are extracted by enfleurage will not stand up to distillation this is not an option for getting a pure essential oil but some of these flowers may be available as CO2 extractions, which are sometimes even closer to a plant’s natural aroma than are essential oils. I hope this helps. Best Wishes.

  3. Charle-Pan August 5, 2016 at 2:52 pm Reply

    Thank you for this lovely article on Enfleurage. It was one that inspired me to transform my lilac farm into becoming the only producer of Enfleurage in large scale proportions in the US. This year we produced 40 pounds of a 30 day enfleurage of lilac pomade. We sent 5 pounds of our pomade to a processor in Columbia South America, who processed it into the essential oil or absolute of lilac. It is a magnificent, exquisite scent. I would like to learn this step and be able to make the absolute from the pomade that we produce. Our chemist in Columbia will not share his methods, even though I have offered to pay to learn. Can you help me find a school or apprenticeship where I may learn this technique of processing pomade to absolute by hand-artisan methods? Thank you.

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