Lilacs are one of my favorite spring flowering shrubs. I love the scent of lilacs – delicate yet powerful enough to fill my entire yard with fragrance.
Sadly the old-fashion lilacs – which I think are the most fragrant – quit blooming long before I get tired of the scent. While it is possible to dry lilacs, the scent is lost in my experience.
The best method I have found to preserve the scent so I can use it throughout the year is enfleurage.
I’m all about finding ways to do it yourself because I like to be as self sufficient as possible. (I actually created a beginner’s Homesteading eCourse because I love it so much!)
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The oldest-known method for fragrance extraction and preservation of flower essences is known as enfleurage.
This method, which involves pressing the flowers into some type of lard or oil, is used for delicate flowers whose scent cannot be preserved well using typical methods such as tincturing or distillation.
It is ideal for homesteaders or anyone who wishes to preserve the scent of the flowers they grow. (Be sure to sign up for my beginner’s Homesteading eCourse and email list if you love these types of projects!)
Delicate flowers such as lilac work well using this method. This is easy to do at home and the resulting product can be used in a variety of ways.
Lard is the typical fat used for this process, but a variety of oils can be used including the one I chose, organic cocoa butter. Cocoa butter can be added to a variety of homemade body products. Lilac infused cocoa butter will be the perfect addition to my goat milk soap I will be making soon.Print
- Fresh lilac flowers
- Organic cocoa butter
- The first step is to pick the lilac flowers early in the morning right after the dew has dried. Remove as much of the stem as possible.
- Set up the double boiler, which is two pans, one set inside of the other, that is used to melt chocolate, oil, candle and a variety of other products that could burn or catch on fire easily if they were set directly on a stove burner. The pan on the bottom should be filled about half-full of water. The smaller pan which will set inside the larger one should contain the oil. I chose organic cocoa butter.
- Bring the pan with the water to a rolling boil. Set the second pan containing the oil of choice inside the first pan. Keep an eye on it so it does not get too hot. As soon as the oil begins to melt, lower the heat and keep the oil stirred.
- When the oil is melted, pour it into the pan you will be putting the flowers into. Begin filling the pan with the flowers.
- You want the flowers completely submerged in the oil. To make sure they do not float on the oil when you are done, set a smaller glass pan inside the larger pan that contains the oil and flowers.
- Be sure to remove the pan before the oil begins to dry or you may have a problem seperating the two. You can cover the pan with a lid or plastic wrap to keep debris out while the oil finishes hardening.
- Allow this to sit for a few days to absorb the scent of the flowers. This process can take up to two weeks or longer. Keep removing the spent flowers and adding new ones as necessary until the oil takes on a strong enough scent to suit you.
- Gently heat the oil back up if it has hardened, using the double boiler method. Stain the flowers using cheesecloth. Be sure to squeeze all the oil from the cheesecloth so you do not lose any scent.
- Lilac scented cocoa butter (dried and hardened)
- Ethyl alcohol
- To make an absolute of essence, soak the drained and scented hard oil in ethyl alcohol, which is pure wood or grain spirits. Allow the fat to soak for several days, then remove it.
- The fat will be slightly scented and able to be used in bath and body products such as soap.
- Do not cover the absolute. The alcohol will evaporate over time and the only thing left will be the absolute which can be used in aromatherapy, natural medicine or natural perfume making.
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