Methods of Making Perfume: Effleurage

Making perfume is an art that’s been around for many centuries. To many, it’s much more than an art. It’s a creation of thought, inspiration and care, resulting in some of the most beautiful fragrances imaginable.

Although there have been different methods implemented through the years, the general principle and purpose of making perfume is the same: extracting a desired scent.  In an earlier lesson we covered the methods of extracting fragrances from various plant parts. There are actually two methods of scent extraction today: effleurage or distillation.

jasmine1Effleurage is a process where a glass plates are filled with highly purified and odorless animal or vegetable fat, where petals of your choice are placed. The petals of fresh flowers are pressed into the fat and will stay in the grease for a few days so the essence has a chance to disperse and leak into the compound.

After a few days, the petals are removed and replaced with freshly picked ones. This process continues until the greasy compound is saturated with the essence. This process is repeated several times. Once the saturation point has been reached, the petals are removed and the grease and fragrant oil mixture, also known as effleurage pomade, is washed with alcohol so that extract can separated from the grease.

The remaining grease is used to make soap and, once the alcohol evaporates, you have the essential oil you need for perfume. Effleurage is not only very time consuming but an expensive way of extraction as well. This process is often used for Jasmine and tuberoses.