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Enfleurage process – cold or hot method to capture the fragrance 

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Master the Art of Enfleurage (hot and cold method) and Capture Fresh Flower Fragrances so you can enjoy their scent long after they have faded.

While ‘enfleurage’ might sound snobbish and evoke images of exclusive French perfumes, it’s a simple method accessible to anyone. 

Although it’s a time-consuming process requiring patience, you can easily master this traditional technique at home using fresh flowers and a bottle of coconut oil.

What is the Enfleurage technique, and How Does It Work?

What is the Enfleurage technique, and How Does It Work?

Enfleurage in perfumery is a traditional method of extracting scent from flowers using fats or oils. “Enfleurage” comes from the French word “fleur,” meaning flower. The process involves placing flower petals on a layer of fat or oil that is solid at room temperature to capture their essence. This absorption requires time.

Traditionally, they used in perfumery layers of animal fat, purified lard, or tallow. However, this method also works with solid-at-room-temperature vegetable fats such as babassu oil or unscented coconut oil.  

As the flowers release their scent, the fat or oil becomes saturated with their essence. 

I also made fragrant flower essences using spring water and alcohol to capture my garden’s blooms.

Use it as a perfume

History of Enfleurage method in perfumery

France is known as the perfume capital of the world. One of the oldest techniques was developed in Grasse, french city during the 18th century

Enfleurage was used with flowers such as jasmine and tuberose, sensitive to heat and other harsh extraction methods. Enfleurage allowed these fragile flowers to gently release their fragrance into fats or oils, thus preserving their true aroma.

In cold and hot enfleurage, when the fat becomes fully infused with the flower’s fragrance, it is called enfleurage pomade. This pomade can be used as is or further processed by soaking it in alcohol to draw the fragrant molecules into the alcohol. After separating the alcohol from the fat, it evaporates, leaving behind the highly concentrated absolute of the flowers.(1)

Nowadays, modern perfumery has moved to more efficient extraction methods, such as steam distillation and solvent extraction using alcohol or carbon dioxide.

Cold Enfleurage vs. Hot Enfleurage: Which Extraction Method to Choose?

Cold Enfleurage vs. Hot Enfleurage: Which Extraction Method to Choose?

Hot or cold enfleurage? Each method has its advantages.

  • Cold Enfleurage: Spread a layer of fat or oil, like coconut oil, on a flat surface and place fresh flower petals on top. Over several days, the flowers release their fragrance into the fat, which is then saturated by replacing the petals with fresh ones. This gentle process is perfect for delicate flowers like lilac, mimosa, jasmine, or orange blossom that may wilt or lose scent with heat.
  • Hot Enfleurage: Heat the fat or oil and immerse the flower petals. The warmth helps the flowers release their essential oils quickly, which the fat absorbs. This faster method suits sturdier flowers but can slightly alter the scent due to the heat.

Performing cold enfleurage at home is a rewarding way to capture the fragrance of fresh flowers. Follow these steps to create your own beautifully scented oils or pomades using the cold enfleurage process.

Tools

Fresh flower petals

 I used wild rose petals, so I started collecting them in mid-May and finished them by mid-June. Rose enfleurage is quite popular, as is lilac enfleurage. It is important to select fragrant blooms that you have access to for several weeks. They shouldn’t be treated with pesticides; thus, organic or foraged are the best.

Solid fat

I was using coconut oil, but unscented.  You can also use unscented shea or mango butter.

Ensure the fat is odorless to capture the fragrant oil from flowers. 

Enfleurage process – cold method to extract fragrance

First step: Collect fragrant flowers

Ensure you collect them on a sunny day so they are not wet. Don’t wash them. Just gently remove any bugs or debris. Also, remove leaves and stems, leaving just fragrant flowers or petals.  You want to keep the pollen as it is the carrier of fragrance. Also, the flowers should be chemical-free to create the most natural scent.

cold or hot method to capture the fragrance 

Second step: Melt solid fat

Melt the solid fat and spread a thin layer on a glass plate or flat surface. Let it solidify at room temperature, or place it in the fridge to speed up the process.

Third step: Place the petals

Arrange the flower petals or flowers face down on the fat surface. Leave the petals on the oil for 24 hours, allowing them to release their fragrance. You can cover it with a clean cloth or parchment paper. 

Fresh flower petals

Fourth step: Replace the petals

Remove the spent petals and replace them with freshly picked flowers. This method is time-consuming but rewarding. I picked them off by hand, but you can also use tweezers. 

Fifth step: Repeat for several days

Repeat this process until the fat is saturated with the flower’s scent, which may take several rounds depending on the desired intensity. Ideally, you will get the desired fragrance if you carry on for several weeks. 

cover it with a clean cloth or parchment paper. 

Hot enfleurage in perfumery

To make hot enfleurage, gently heat a fat until it melts. Submerge fresh flower petals in the melted fat and maintain a low, consistent heat to help the petals release their essential oils. After a few hours, strain out the used petals and replace them with fresh ones, repeating this process until the fat is richly infused with the fragrance.

Finally, allow the scented fat to cool and solidify, and find out how to use it below!

How to use scented fat made by hot and cold enfleurage

Use it as a perfume

Apply the scented fat directly to your skin as a solid perfume. Alternatively, melt it and gently mix it with a carrier oil (such as jojoba or almond oil) to create a liquid perfume. You can adjust the concentration to your preference for a lighter or stronger scent.

How to use scented fat made by hot and cold enfleurage

Body Butter

Use it as a fragrant body butter.

Lip Balm

Mix the scented fat with beeswax and coconut oil to create a homemade lip balm. This will nourish your lips and leave them with a subtle floral scent.

Soap Making

Incorporate the scented fat into homemade soap recipes. The fat will add a natural fragrance to the soap, making it a soothing and aromatic addition to your bath routine.

Candles

Blend the scented fat with wax to make beautifully scented candles. 

Create an Absolute

To make a more concentrated perfume extract, wash the scented fat with ethyl alcohol. The alcohol will absorb the fragrance molecules from the fat. After separating the alcohol from the fat, allow it to evaporate, leaving behind a highly concentrated absolute that can be used as a perfume.

enfleurage method
Yield: 1 cup

Enfleurage process - cold or hot method to capture the fragrance

History of Enfleurage method in perfumery

Master the Art of Enfleurage (hot and cold method) and Capture Fresh Flower Fragrances so you can enjoy their scent long after they have faded.

Active Time 1 hour
Additional Time 1 month
Total Time 1 month 1 hour
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost 3$

Materials

  • 1 cup (240 ml) unscented solid fat
  • fresh and scented flowers

Tools

  • cosmetic jar

Instructions

  1. Ensure you collect them on a sunny day so they are not wet. Don't wash them. Just gently remove any bugs or debris. Also, remove leaves and stems, leaving just fragrant flowers or petals.  You want to keep the pollen as it is the carrier of fragrance. Also, the flowers should be chemical-free to create the most natural scent.
  2. Melt the solid fat and spread a thin layer on a glass plate or flat surface. Let it solidify at room temperature, or place it in the fridge to speed up the process.
  3. Arrange the flower petals or flowers face down on the fat surface. Leave the petals on the oil for 24 hours, allowing them to release their fragrance. You can cover it with a clean cloth or parchment paper. 
  4. Remove the spent petals and replace them with freshly picked flowers. This method is time-consuming but rewarding. I picked them off by hand, but you can also use tweezers. 
  5. Repeat this process until the fat is saturated with the flower’s scent, which may take several rounds depending on the desired intensity. Ideally, you will get the desired fragrance if you carry on for several weeks. 

Notes

Use heat to speed up the process

  1. To make hot enfleurage, gently heat a fat until it melts. Submerge fresh flower petals in the melted fat and maintain a low, consistent heat to help the petals release their essential oils. After a few hours, strain out the used petals and replace them with fresh ones, repeating this process until the fat is richly infused with the fragrance.
  2. Finally, allow the scented fat to cool and solidify, and find out how to use it below!

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Vladka Merva on June 11th, 2024

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