Wishing you the best of luck Mumsy...the idea of creating your own absolute of Lilac sounds truly wonderful.
Those who know me know that this lilac enfleurage is a personal vendetta of mine every year and ends in failure every time.
I wasn't going to do it ever again . but the tree is blossoming and I cannot help myself ..
I have restricted the size of the jars because the gathering and sorting was just too huge a task for the huge jar I used last time.
I'm using Shea butter which does have a bit of its own smell. A bit nutty and I hope it isn't too strong for the flower. I didn't like the slightly sour smell of the ordinary fat I used previously.
I heated a tablespoon or two of the shea butter in the base of a jam jar gently on the aga, then put the jam jar under the cold tap and turned it until the sides were evenly coated with fat. This went into the fridge to harden up. Then I filled each of four jars with the blossoms = day 1.
Slight trouble is I haven't begun this on day 1 of blossoms, so may run out of time/blossoms again. it has been very wet so the blossoms were too wet to begin. These weren't best dry but I needed to start and I dabbed them dry with a paper towel out of impatience.
We will see. I did quite well the first year with only seven charges but I hope to do more with smaller jars. Also the first time I ran out of blossoms and decided to add lilies which made the fat go mouldy and ruined all the hard work.
This time we will see.
Wishing you the best of luck Mumsy...the idea of creating your own absolute of Lilac sounds truly wonderful.
Wow your lilacs are out? This sounds like it would be great, if it worked. But I'm fearful of such things. I'll say no more so as not to jinx it! Good luck!
Mumsy, Can you post some more pics? I've only seen Lilacs once in my life...
I've been working on my pics for the Perfumers Supply House website this week, and of course don't have a Lilac pic to even remember what they look like... :-) And the PSH owner wanted a Lilac pic, so I had to tell her to buy one online. :-)
What a coincidence! I just happened to be at a neighbor's garden today, smelling lilacs and thinking I'd like to make some "lilac water". Reading this thread is FATE, ha ha.
It is a really beautiful, unique floral smell. The one absoute I smelled didn't come close to capturing it.
Lilac water was the thing that worked the very best and I have much experience with my lovely tree in every which way now. I got some pure sparkling spring water and hand selected the best blossoms to put in. I left these for 24 hours, sieved and chilled. The most fantastic and fresh summer drink.
PK, yes will take some better pics. It's raining again though today so will wait for the sun (if it decides to grace us with its presence).
WOW! would love to tast this lilac water, sounds great...!
I've done some pics PK. Will send them tomorrow. It's late here.
Did the second charge today but it is a race against the blossom time. They begin at the base and slowly open their blossoms untill only the very tip has any left. I was bit late to start as it was so wet.
Mumsy, your shot just needed a bit of OOOMPH! :-)
Last edited by pkiler; 29th April 2014 at 05:45 PM.
Nice work, Paul
Mumsy, I'm anxiously waiting for word on the outcome of your Lilac experiments. Hoping all is going well with that one. The residence where I grew up as a pre teen youngster, in the Northeast part of the U.S., had a wonderful lilac bush in the back yard and it delighted me each year at springtime. I don't believe it does well in my current sub-topical location. At least, I've never seen it here, though I suppose it is possible that maybe it might possibly manage to survive in some micro-climate here (or, my wishful thinking would like to assume that to be possible). Maybe it actually does occur somewhere near here and I have just missed it here during the blooming period as I wouldn't recognize the plant when it is not in flower.
I've done this for a number of years now. Originally I used a huge container and it took so many blossoms that the recharging was a great effort to sort all the blossoms out and harvest them each day. The fat started to have a light and very beautiful lilac smell after about seven charges from memory. Then the flowers ran out so it couldn't continue.
The bush only flowers for so long, so this process must begin from when the very, very first flower opens. Then it's a race to see how many charges can be obtained with a once a day change until the flowering is over. Enfleurage needs about 24 to 30 charges with a good oily flower but lilac has no extractable substances. That is why there aren't any absolutes of it. It is pure headspace.
Blossoms for enfleurage are to be picked when the dew has dried off and the sun is on them. Any moisture will make mould. The lilac flowering period does not generally last that long and here in England it is usually raining. It is arguable with Lilac that the evening is the time when they smell best so one day I may do a comparative timing version, evening and morning gathering.
This time my jars are a modest size and my fat is a wearable cream already. The Shea butter already has a smell so the lilac may not be able to win it over, or it may not smell nice with a nutty nuance. That is the fun of it. There is always next year. It is a very obliging bush considering what I subject it to each year! One year I made wine with it and that was pretty foul. I don't know what Elkie Brooks was drinking!
BTW it is is still very misty here and I haven't got charge three in yet. Don't hold your hopes up too high.
Last edited by mumsy; 30th April 2014 at 07:20 AM.
The Shea Butter sounds like a very good idea to me - it’s only slightly nutty - if it works to capture the flower scent it should be really nice. Fingers crossed!
My lilacs are not in flower yet and in any case they are too small to produce enough for this process (even if I had the patience for it, which honestly I don’t).
One thing I do remember from by gardening time is that lilacs flower best if the blooms are cut off after flowering - so I imagine you’re doing wonders by cutting them fresh every day and every year throughout the flowering period. They look magnificent I must say!
Last edited by Chris Bartlett; 30th April 2014 at 09:09 AM. Reason: minor corrections
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The sun is shining and I have been gathering the blossoms. It is intoxicating, sweet and heady.
I couldn't resist having another go at a wine. This time it will get fermented using only the fresh lilac spring water and not on the blossom.
What I've found to date is that the best and most fresh smell of the lilac is the one that carries at night. The older a cut bloom gets, the more an indolic wet green smell creeps in. The smell of decay I suppose.
If the smell cannot be stolen, then copying it is the way forward. Pen, paper and nose out there next.
Last edited by mumsy; 30th April 2014 at 10:54 AM.
Mumsy, what a lovely project. We had lilacs at our old house, and I can NEVER walk past a lilac without stopping to smell it. Yes, the fragrance changes significantly over the life of the blossoms. Lilac water sounds wonderful. Do keep the thread updated to let us know how you get on.
Q: What happens if you get beasties in it? The lilacs always seemed to attract a lot of beasties.
Beasties…. yummy, crunchy protein….
They tend to be lily beetles and if I leave the blossoms for a while they fly out on their own. The rest get sieved for the lilac water.
For the enfleurage, then they get added to the jar and trapped for a day. Any produce during these 24 hours adds a civetty base…. Lol.
All good then...
Mumsy I have been wanting to do this for years but have not managed for various reasons, usually being my not being near my lilac when it is blooming (as is the case this year, plus it's alwasy WET in this season). I have had a thought though about how to do it on this artisinal scale: I wonder if one could cut a branch of flower clusters, and put them in water in a small jar, then put an inverse larger jug, smeared with whatever grease you are using over the whole thing. This would allow the flowers to live longer and off-gas for 24 hours or more I imagine. It still wouldn't solve the short blooming season issue, but maybe yield would be a bit higher this way?
Absolutely agree but ON the tree outside. It was something I thought of last year but couldn't think how to stop the fat sliding when the sun shone on it.
I've been scouring the house this morning for the two plastic inserts from the kids easter eggs to that very end. I was thinking i could coat the underneath one and clamp it over the whole flower onto the stem with elastic bands. As you know, I am very high tech around here.
The other thing I am finding out in a quest for a GC analysis of the headspace (which I haven't found specific amounts for yet, but do have a few clue leads), is that there is a huge difference in the headspace between a white, a purple, a dark purple and a french lilac (double blossomed I think).
Benzyl methyl ether is the characteristic of the full bloom (@1.5% - 7%). A note apparently not dissimilar to the top notes of Ylang Ylang. I shall have to go and stand by the bush with my EO bottle to check that comparison. According the the GSC, it also apparently occurs in champaca @ trace, ketaki flower @ 0.4% and bulgarian rose oil (% not stated).
The other major player seems to be Ocimene from 26% to 52% (trans). I have that recorded as a trans and a cis from two different accounts.
According the the ever wonderful GSC this ingredient is available for research purposes only but appears naturally in many essential oils at a trace or small %, the largest of which appears to be an eschweilera coriacea (mori flower) @ 23.4%, egyptian tagetes oil @ 21.1%, Lallemantia peltata (Lions heart @ 20.10%), jambu flower oil @ 17.3%, artimesia flower oil @ 5.4%. Narcissus abs @ 4.62%, Neroli CO2 @ 4.54%, Ylang @ about 0.14%.
(please bear in mind anything I write or link to here is only the result of internet research and could be erroneous as a result)
Last edited by mumsy; 30th April 2014 at 03:30 PM.
Mumsy, no one told you that it is not possible for you to be in error, this being the internet (though, I could be in error in this regard, as it appears that someone lied to me about this being the internet).
Please excuse my poor attempts at a bit of levity, I don't think I succeeded in this regard, but did want to ask you if you checked the site that Paul provided, GC's for the headspace (but not abs) for Purple and White Lilacs are given at
You do need to register here, but it is quick and worth the while.
Maybe some further digging around the essentialoils database portion of that site might come up with the other Lilacs under some other identification (maybe).
As to Lilac wine (with addition of protein content) is something I had no idea even existed. I learned something today just now...good thing as it is said that as one gets older, it is yet more important to use the cognitive facilities, since, if you don't use them, you lose them (or some such similar corny cliche).
As an addendum to my last post...I note Methyl Anthranilate is listed in the GC for the headspace of "Lilac" (as a general plant category), but not listed in any of the headspace GC's for the lilacs identified by color. Wondering if that was some sort of anomaly with the GC equipment, or particular flower, or whatever.
Seeing Indole surprises me as I always considered that to be exclusive to the constitution of the white tropical flowers. I suppose with botanical materials, suggesting any property to be exclusive to only some single entity will in most cases be found at some point to be in error.
When I did in the past use a limited selection of aromatic chemicals, I had a pound of Methyl Anthranilate (from Berje Co.), which back then, the cost was so cheap, about 15 or 20 dollars or so I think for the pound. It was roughly a slight bit less than a pound more than I needed for my purpose but was one of the few individual aroma chemicals that had an odor that I appreciated all by itself, solo.
Can't suggest I have a great appreciation for the scent of indole as an individual note, I don't imagine too many people do. But, there is a text file for download in the NaturalPerfumery site, an interview with the musician/producer, Brian Eno, where he mentions a perfume that is based on the aroma of Indole. It sounds like one perfume that I will never regret to have never had the opportunity to have an acquaintance with. I would assume, as is often suggested, that Indole evolved in plant flowers for the sake of attracting those insects which are attracted to.....
The thanks must go to Paul. I only credit for spilling the beans at this site.
Last edited by islearom; 30th April 2014 at 07:32 PM.