How to make perfume from plants

Did you know that for only one gram of concentrated rose oil it takes around 8,000 roses?

Many people would not be able to guess how much work and effort goes into making perfume. Perfume is made by extracting the essential oils from the flower or plant and mixing the essential oils with some sort of liquid (mainly alcohol) in order to make the final outcome, your perfume. Essential oils are extracted from plants in several different ways. The way perfume makers extract the oils depends on the way they want the quality of the oils to be, the cost, and how much time and flowers go into the process. Did you know that for only one gram of concentrated rose oil it takes around 8,000 roses? No wonder we have so much flora being destroyed. Although this is the typical method of extracting the essential oils, there are also other ways: steam distillation, cold pressing, enfluerage, solvent extraction, turbo distillation extraction, hydro fusion extraction, and carbon dioxide extraction. Perfume also comes from animal extractions. You would be surprised to know that almost 90% of perfume is made with animal extractions; that heavy musky smell that is in many perfumes comes from an animal.

Science has discovered a new way to extract essential oils without killing the plant. With the new process the plant is enclosed within a jar and a sort of vacuuming device is used which sucks up the odor and is then analyzed by molecular size. The scientists then can figure out what exact molecules make up that smell, and then it is synthesized and the smell is produced. This is a great way to reap benefits from the environment without actually hurting it.

Other ways to extract essential oils are as follows:
1) Steam distillation: This method is said to be the best and most common. Many think that this is the best way to reap a finer quality of oil than the other methods. With steam distillation the process is done in a still. They put the flowers in either dried or fresh, and then steam is generated in a separate chamber and then circulated through the plant material. By doing this, this opens the oil packets in the flowers and allows the oil to escape. The oil and steam concentrate and go to the still’s condensation chamber. Then this fills up and the oil condenses on the top allowing the workers to just scrape off the top and therefore separating the essential oils from the water.

2) Cold Pressing: This method is mostly used for citrus fruits. The fruits are squeezed and the skin of the fruit is penetrated with sharp projections. Then all of the fruit including the juices and everything is condensed and the oil again rises to the top and can be skimmed off.

[hidepost] 3)Enfleurage: This method is used on extremely delicate plants that can not be heated to high temperatures. The plants or flowers are placed on trays of odorless vegetable or animal fat. The fat soaks up the oils from the flowers and once the fat is soaked with essential oil it is placed in alcohol to separate the substances and then once the alcohol evaporates the oil is left. This method takes days even weeks and is more expensive.
4) Solvent extraction: This method is a very economical way to extract essential oils. A solute like hexane for example is soaked in the petals allowing the aromic compounds to escape. Then it is placed in alcohol to separate the substances, then once the alcohol evaporates there is only the essential oils left over.

5) Turbo distillation extraction: This method is used for hard to extract plants, like bark or roots or sometimes seeds. The plants are put into water to soak and steam is run through the material. The same water and steam is used to extract the oils resulting in a much quicker way to extract the oils from hard substances.

7)Hydro fusion extraction: This is a more delicate way to extract than just regular stem distillation. The steam at atmospheric pressure is run through the plants from the top of the plant chamber resulting in quicker and more accurate smells.
8) Carbon dioxide extraction: Plants are put in a stainless steel tank, then the carbon dioxide is put into the tank thus allowing the pressure to build up and the carbon dioxide then changes to a liquid because of the intense pressure and is used to extract the essential oils. The pressure is then decreased and the carbon dioxide returns to a gaseous state leaving behind only the essential oils.

Perfumes take a lot of work and a lot of preparation in order to make. We all love a good perfume but the key is to try to save as much of our flora as we possibly can.
Fun Facts: 1) Perfume contains 20-25% perfume compound 2) Eau de parfum contains 10-15 % perfume compound

3) Eau de Toilette contains 3-8 % and is made with an alcohol water base 4) Some main flowers and animals that are used for essential oils are: roses, jasmine, violets, orange flower, ylang-ylang, civet cats, beavers, and male musk deer.

Amy Robutz[/hidepost]

  • Puziah Hashim

    Is it true the perfume use some fixative or additive from animal fat or lard in order to make the odor or smell stay longer?

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