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DIY enfleurage: Make your own essential oils

Zeit für Self-Care 10.06.21 4 min. read

DIY enfleurage: Make your own essential oils

  1. Why make essential oils?
  2. How to extract essential oils?
  3. Do it yourself: A guide to enfleurage
  4. What you need for DIY enfleurage
  5. Getting started: From flower blossoms to fragrant fatty material
  6. From fragrant fatty material to essential oils
  7. What happens next?

Essential oils are often used in both the cosmetics industry and in alternative medicine, as the compounds in these oils might have some health effects on the human body [1].

But how are these oils actually made? How does the scent of a rose go from being a flower blossom to being infused into our perfume or body lotion? The oldest method of scent extraction is called enfleurage and it involves saturating fatty material with floral scents.

In the age of DIY or the ‘Do it Yourself’ trend, we want to pull the curtain back on the enfleurage tradition and show you how to make your own essential oils and personal care products.

Why make essential oils?

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts. They consist of terpenes , whose properties you might already be familiar with from our CBD products, and antioxidants [2] [3]. These components can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled via aromatherapy [4], and it is said that they might provide relief from conditions such as depression, indigestion, headaches, sleep problems and muscle aches [5]. 

In addition, The powerful scents of plants and flowers are captured by extracting their fragrant oils. From the sweet, honey-like notes in creams to the soothing smells of bath balls and massage oils, to beguiling fragrances of perfumes: Essential oils reflect the diversity of nature.

How to extract essential oils?

The two most common ways to produce essential oils are steam distillation and cold pressing [6]. Often enfleurage is not even mentioned as an option, as it’s a more time-consuming technique and more costly than other methods.

Nevertheless, enfleurage still has many advantages. For example, some flowers such as jasmine are too delicate for other methods and would get damaged in the high temperatures of steam distillation or the cold temperatures of the cold-pressing method, which is more suited for lemon and orange oils [7]. Thus, it is essential oils like jasmine, neroli, rose and ylang-ylang oil that tend to be extracted using the enfleurage technique [8].

Do it yourself: A guide to enfleurage

In the enfleurage technique, flowers are sprinkled onto an odorless fatty material such as lard or vegetable fat that gradually absorbs the flower’s fragrance. The resulting essential oils are then extracted from the fatty material using a solvent such as alcohol. What remains is the so-called ‘absolute’ essence: a highly concentrated form of the floral fragrance.

To make ‘absolute’, however, you don't need a large cosmetic production. With our guide to enfleurage, you can make your own essential oils.

What you need for DIY enfleurage

  • Butter knife
  • Fresh flower petals (e.g. rose or jasmine)
  • Two glass panes (e.g. from a picture frame) or a large glass jar with a lid
  • Four small pieces of wood
  • Lard or vegetable fat (e.g. shea butter or coconut oil)
  • Pure alcohol
  • Weck or canning jar
  • Tweezers
  • Coffee filter

Getting started: From flower blossoms to fragrant fatty material

  • First, coat one of the glass panes (or the bottom of the glass jar) with a layer of fatty material that is 1-2 centimeters thick, leaving a small border around the edges.
    Make sure that the glass is completely clean beforehand so that no bacteria form — bacteria that could potentially destroy your essential oil.
  • Place the fresh petals directly onto the fatty material and gently press into them. To avoid contamination, you might want to use tweezers for this step.
  • To prevent the second glass pane from resting directly on the flowers, surround the fatty material with small pieces of wood (around the border) and then stack the second glass plate on top. If you’re using a glass jar instead, put the lid on gently and make sure it’s not screwed on tight.
  • Store your creation in a cool, dark and dry place.
  • After 1-2 days, use your tweezers to remove the flowers and replace them with fresh ones and store again in a dark cool place.
  • Repeat this process every 1-2 days, continuing to replace the flowers with fresh ones until the fatty material itself smells floral — that means it’s been sufficiently saturated with the essential oil.
    Patience is required here, as this process can take up to 2 months total.

From fragrant fatty material to essential oils

  • The fragrance must now be separated from the fatty material in order to make pure essential oil. Do this by pouring the fatty material into your weck or canning jar and stirring in an amount of alcohol that’s equal to about twice as much as the fatty material. Seal the jar airtight and store it in a cool, dark and dry place.
  • Give the jar a good, vigorous shake every day for about 2-3 weeks.
  • Use a coffee filter to strain and remove the fatty material — and process the alcoholic mixture directly.

What happens next?

The potent oils obtained through this method are ideally suited for infusing into your own personal care products. However, be careful not to apply them directly to your skin because they are highly concentrated and can trigger allergic reactions [9]. For example, add only a drop or two to a carrier oil such as olive oil, jojoba oil or coconut oil to make massage oil for your body and skin, or mix them with soap flakes to create scented soaps.

If you want to make lotions or creams, you also have the option of recycling the fatty material you used initially during the enfleurage process. If that’s your goal, we recommend that you use vegetable fat from the start, such as shea butter or coconut fat.

With these instructions, you are well prepared to concoct your first essential oils using the enfleurage method. Whether you use them to create your own soaps, creams, oils or fragrances, or whether your final creation smells intense, subtle, beguiling or sweet — it’s entirely up to you. Unleash your creativity and let it run free

  1. Everything you need to know about essential oils More Info
  2. Essential Oils - an Overview More Info
  3. Everything you need to know about essential oils More Info
  4. Essential oils and their constituents as skin penetration enhancer for transdermal drug delivery: a review More Info
  5. Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review More Info
  6. Everything you need to know about essential oils More Info
  7. Comparative Efficacy of Various Essential Oil Extraction Techniques on Oil Yield and Quality of Jasminum sambac L. More Info
  8. Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review More Info
  9. Aromatherapy: Do Essential Oils Really Work? More Info