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Elf's Compendium #8- Ylang ylang, the Essential Flower

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Cananga odorata is one of the great floral staples of perfumery. The name ylang-ylang comes from Tagalog, and probably derives from ďilang-ilanĒ, meaning "rareĒ. Ylang ylang hails from the Philippines and Indonesia, and is also grown extensively in Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia. In the Philippines, its flowers, together with the flowers of the sampaquita, or jasmine sambac, are strung into necklaces. It was the primary scent of macassar oil, which gentlemen of the Victorian period used to slick their locks into place. Today, ylang essential oil and absolute are approximately a third of the Comoros Islands annual exports!
Buttery, honeyed, thick, and amberlike, ylang essential oil comes in several grades, Extra, #1, #2, #3, and Complete. The Extra and #1 come from the first part of the steam distillation, and are lighter and sweeter. #2 is an intermediate, and #3 is the earthiest,and least sweet. At first Iíd use only the lighter and clearer #1. The #3 was just too earthy and rubbery for me. But then I discovered the Complete, and itís heaven; I find itís a good balance between the lighter, fruitier aspects and the down ní dirty bits. It blends gorgeously with practically any other floral, and brings richness and fullness to any floral blend. But can it stand alone?? How do you feel about Estee Lauderís Ylang scent in her Private Collection? I use it in a soliflore, with sampaquita and nutmeg absolute as well as other eos, to accent the tropical decadence of ylang. I think itís particularly yummy with nutmeg or mace, but ylang can go in so many directions, there really are no limits. And itís just about the least expensive floral extract out there, which is an added bonus. So have fun with your ylang ylang!
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