Perfume Secrets: DIY Enfleurage
Enfleurage or How the scent of flowers and scented leaves is captured in fat and transferred to alcohol
Last summer I took a short online Facebook course, given by Dabney Rose, on how to do your own enfleurage. Dabney Rose promotes real fragrance from real flowers and makes her life growing a perfume garden, employing gentle methods of extraction and teaching about this to others.
The enfleurage course was one which you could easily do at your own pace and ask for help if you needed to through a special Facebook group. My aim was to learn more about this ancient and gentile way of extraction in perfumery.
As I did not have any scented flowers I used scented tomato leaves, as I had a few tomato plants. My idea was inspired by Hilde Soliani Stecca, a fragrance which to me smells exactly like tomato leaves. Others from the course did use scented flowers like roses, tuberoses, violets or jonquils.
The course was very inspiring. We had to put scented flowers or leaves into a Pyrex tray of coconut fat and change them every x hours depending on the flowers or leaves. The coconut fat remained the same so it could absorb the fragrance of the leaves during a longer period of time.
I learned enfleurage takes a lot of patience, although I did not change the leaves as much as I should have. At times it was too warm so the fat melted and sometimes small parts of the leaves remained in the fat as you can see on one photograph.
Another thing I learned was that every kind of tomato plant smells differently and thus I connected on a deeper level to plants as well. I had three different kinds of tomato plants to use. It was quite meditative in a way to do this and magical, slowly at your own pace, leaf by leaf.
After the process of changing the leaves or flowers for a period of time you had to scrape the coconut fat, put it in a jar and add some alcohol. Then you had to leave it and shake it from time to time. After a while the alcohol absorbs the scent from the fat.
My tomato leaf coconut fat is still in a jar, waiting to be used. I made it more for the experience than for its fragrance but we shall see how it turns out and what I will use it for.
I asked Dabney Rose if she wanted to explain more about enfleurage in a short interview. This interview will be published very soon on this website. Dabney Rose will be offering her online course in a few months.
If you want to experience the process of enfleurage I could recommend this course to you. It was fun, magical and interesting to do.
Special thanks go to Shelley Waddington for helping with finding more information about enfleurage and Dabney Rose for all her help with the process of enfleurage as well.
Disclaimer: the course was paid by me, I did not get any compensation to write about this course
All photographs: made by me
January 22, 2016 @ 01:05
This is so interesting, and I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes with your tomato leaf extract. I read up on this a lot method, and watched endless vidoes etc, but in the end I had to realise that I don’t have the space to do it in my flat, and also the fresh flowers/ leaves would be a problem. I did tinctures instead, which has been great fun and quite succesful I think. At least in as much as one learns so much on the way; the oak moss tincture for example is almost a perfume on its own… I’m looking forward to reading the interview.
January 22, 2016 @ 18:56
Your oakmoss tincture sounds very interesting, Asali. Have you used it to layer? Or do you use it as a perfume on iTS own? Thank you, you do not need much room to do enfleurage, but you would need flowers or leaves. That might be more of an issue than space itself. You could contact Dabney and discuss it with her. She is very creative in other ways of enfleurage.
January 23, 2016 @ 00:11
So far I’ve only used it on its own, the idea was to experiement a little further, perhaps using it as the base alcohol for a little creation. Not that I’m aspiring to do perfumes, but like you, I love the way you get to know the materials better by handling them.
January 23, 2016 @ 16:53
It would be interesting to create a fragrance with it or use it for layering as Well.
February 16, 2016 @ 09:10
I don’t like natural perfumes. I’ve never dreamt of creating my own perfumes. But still, after reading your post I’ve got an urge to try to do something like that 🙂
How many days do you need to keep leaves or flowers in the coconut… is coconut fat and coconut butter one and the same or are those different substances?
February 19, 2016 @ 10:16
It is really interesting and joyful to do this, Undina. Lovely to read you were inspired by my post:-) I left the leaves about 12 hours but it depends on your leaves and flowers. Dabney was really helpfull in coaching us about the timeframe to leave the flowers or leaves.
Coconut fat and butter are different things. For enfleurage you need coconut fat if you can organic. Coconut butter has little bits of coconut in it. Coconut fat would be like peanut oil and coconut butter like peanut butter.