Françoise Rapp

Have you ever thought that natural fragrances are only made of essential oils? Think again! There are different ways to extract natural essences, and each offers distinct olfactory qualities, even if they come from the same plant.

Let’s take a closer look at the various types of extraction methods used to create a sophisticated natural fragrance:

1. Steam Distillation: Essential Oils

Steam distillation is the most common method of extracting essential oils. It involves isolating an essential oil by lowering its decomposition point. By reducing the degree to which the oil’s organic compounds boil, damage to the heat-sensitive components is minimized.

Extracting essential oils from plants is a complex and delicate process that requires expertise and precision. The aim is to capture a plant’s most subtle and fragile byproducts without altering their quality. There are several methods for extracting essential oils, but most oils are obtained through low-pressure steam distillation.

Distillation is a delicate process that requires experience and constant supervision. To obtain high-quality essential oils, distillers must comply with rigorous specifications to extract the plant’s essence in its pure and unadulterated form.

The low-pressure steam distillation process involves passing steam through a vat filled with aromatic plants, flowers, seeds, wood, or other plant materials. As it passes through the plant material, the steam becomes pressurized and enriched with essential oil. The steam then passes through a coil and condenses—an “essencier” or Florentine separator collects the water and essential oil. The difference in density between the two liquids makes it easy to separate the essential oil.

Low-Pressure Steam Distillation

Distillation is a delicate process that requires experience and constant supervision. To obtain high-quality essential oils, distillers must comply with rigorous specifications to extract the plant’s essence in its pure and unadulterated form.

The low-pressure steam distillation process involves passing steam through a vat filled with aromatic plants, flowers, seeds, wood, or other plant materials. The steam becomes pressurized and enriched with essential oil as it passes through the plant material. The steam then passes through a coil and condenses. An “essencier” or Florentine separator collecte the water and essential oil. The difference in density between the two liquids makes it easy to separate the essential oil.

Distillation Tips

Distillation is a delicate process that requires skilled craftsmanship. Here are some tips to ensure the highest-quality essential oil:

  • Alembic: The distillation apparatus must be made of stainless steel, as copper and iron can oxidize and affect the quality of the oil.
  • Low Pressure: Distillation must be done at low pressure (between 0.05 and 0.10 bars) to prevent overoxidation.
  • Distillation Duration: The distillation process must be extended to collect the most essential aromatic molecules, known as the “head,” the “heart,” and the “tail.”
  • Water: Choose spring water with few or no minerals to avoid using a chemical descaler.
  • Storage and Conservation: Once the distillation is complete, the essential oil should be filtered and stored in an airtight container in a cool basement. Essential oils should only be stored in opaque brown or blue glass bottles to protect them from oxygen and light.

By following these tips and using the proper equipment, distillers can produce high-quality essential oils that capture the subtle and delicate essence of plants.

2. Enfleurage

If you’re a fragrance enthusiast, you may have heard about enfleurage, a traditional method of extracting plant essences. While it’s less commonly used than other extraction methods, such as steam distillation or solvent extraction, enfleurage is still highly regarded for its ability to capture the delicate scent of certain flowers.

Enfleurage is usually reserved for flowers with low concentrations of essences, such as jasmine, mimosa, and tuberose. The process involves soaking the flowers in absorbent fats, such as lard or tallow, gradually becoming saturated with the essence. The fat is then scraped off and replaced with fresh flowers, continuing until the fat is fully saturated with fragrance.

Once the fragrance has been captured in the fat, the resulting pomades can be used as is or dissolved by alcohol to obtain aromatic plant extracts called “absolutes.” These absolutes are highly concentrated and are often used in high-end perfumes and skincare products.

One of the main benefits of enfleurage is that it can capture the scent of delicate flowers that other extraction methods may damage. Enfleurage also allows for the extraction of a broader range of compounds, resulting in a more complex fragrance profile.

Enfleurage is time-consuming and labor-intensive, so it’s less commonly used than other extraction methods. However, enfleurage can be a valuable tool for those who appreciate the art of perfumery and want to create unique and complex fragrances.

  • Captures delicate scents
  • Allows for extraction of a broader range of compounds
  • Creates unique and complex fragrances

3. Cold-Pressed: Extracting Citrus Essences

The cold-pressed method involves crushing or grinding the plant parts and pressing them to extract the essential oil. The pressure used in this method ruptures the oil glands in the plant material, releasing the essential oils.

4. Green Solvent Extraction

The extraction of fragrant compounds has been used since the 19th century. This method involves immersing flowers or plants in a large vat containing an extractor. The plants are placed on plates stacked on different levels and pierced with small holes to prevent crushing.

Once the plants are in the extractor, a solvent such as ethanol, hexane, benzene, or another highly volatile solvent is added to the vat. The solvent carries away the plant molecules extracted from the flowers or plants. Three washes are typically necessary to capture as many olfactory compounds as possible.

The temperature at which the solvent is used depends on the fragility of the raw material. For fresh raw materials such as flowers like orange blossom, rose, jasmine, and mimosa, hexane is preferred. Ethanol is typically used for dry raw materials, gums, resinoids, or beeswax.

If the raw material is fragile, the solvent can be used coldly. However, if the raw material is less fragile, the solvent can be heated to a higher temperature. Once the extraction process is complete, the compartments containing the flowers and plants are dewatered and removed from the extractor.

After extraction, the solvent is recovered and heated under a vacuum. This helps to remove any remaining solvent from the extracted compounds. The solvent is then recycled at the end of the process.

5. Biotechnology

Biotechnology utilizes sustainable sugar fermentation, bio-conversion techniques, and advanced distillation to create high-quality ingredients from renewable carbon. All of them are affordable, readily available, and sustainable.

Biotechnology has gained immense popularity in recent years. It involves using living organisms or enzymes to produce desirable ingredients that are beneficial to human life. The concept is simple—just like in nature, where living organisms work together to create a harmonious environment.

Understanding the Natural Processes in Biotechnology

Biotechnology relies on natural processes such as fermentation or biocatalysis, enabling us to recreate and build on nature’s extraordinary scents. Using natural resources is done responsibly, ensuring that we are not disrupting the ecosystem’s delicate balance.

Living organisms such as bacteria and fungi are used in biotechnology to produce desirable ingredients used in various products. These products can be anything from food and beverages to skincare and cleaning products.

The Benefits of Biotechnology

Biotechnology has many benefits, making it a preferred choice for creating sustainable products. Here are a few:

  • Environmentally friendly production processes
  • Reduced use of natural resources
  • Elimination of hazardous substances from products and processes
  • Increased efficiency in production processes

Furthermore, biotechnology can potentially revolutionize how we live our lives. Its use in medicine has already resulted in developing life-saving drugs and therapies. It can also be used to create new and innovative materials, such as biodegradable plastics, to help reduce the environmental burden.

The Role of Green Chemistry in Biotechnology

Alongside biotechnology, the latest green chemistry techniques reduce or eliminate hazardous substances from products and processes. This ensures that the products created through biotechnology are safe for human use and do not harm the environment.

Green chemistry involves using chemical processes designed to minimize the use and generation of hazardous substances. It focuses on creating sustainable products with a minimal impact on the environment.

6. Supercritical Extraction: CO2 Extract

Supercritical extraction involves converting natural and recycled carbon dioxide into a supercritical fluid to diffuse through natural materials gently. It delicately captures the olfactive compounds from treasure flower petals to tea leaves and precious spices to groundnuts.

Supercritical CO2 extraction is a popular method of extracting essential oils, flavors, and fragrances from plant material. Although it takes longer to complete than other methods, it is highly efficient and produces high-quality extracts. Here’s a closer look at the process:

Step 1: Preparation

Before the extraction can begin, the plant material must be ground and placed into an extraction vessel. The vessel is then sealed to prevent any gas from escaping.

Step 2: Extraction

CO2 gas is heated and pressurized until it becomes a supercritical fluid. The fluid is then pumped into the extraction vessel, which comes into contact with the plant material. The supercritical CO2 breaks open the trichomes, allowing it to dissolve part of the plant material. This process can take several hours, depending on the amount of extracted material.

Step 3: Separation

Once the extraction is complete, a pressure release valve allows the material to flow into a separate vessel. This vessel contains an internal compressor and heater, which adjust the fluid’s pressure and temperature. By changing these variables, specific molecules bond to the CO2, allowing it to be separated from the plant material.

Step 4: Recycling

Many systems will reroute the CO2 into the tank for use during the next batch. This makes the process more environmentally friendly and cost-effective.

Step 5: Collection

Finally, the extract is moved to a collection jar, such as a beaker. The resulting extract is pure and highly concentrated, making it ideal for use in various applications.

7. Headspace

Headspace involves analyzing the natural fragrance from ‘mute’ flowers or any other materials that only surrender their scents into the ‘headspace’ around them. Advanced technology is then used to recreate nature while not damaging it. is a technique developed in the 1980s to elucidate the odor compounds in the air surrounding various objects. Usually, the objects of interest are odoriferous objects such as plants, flowers, and foods. Similar techniques are also used to analyze the interesting scents of locations and environments, such as tea shops and saw mills. After the data is analyzed, a perfumer can recreate the scents.

8. Infusions

Infusions involve macerating natural materials in alcohol at warm or cold temperatures to produce infusions or tinctures that add an authentic natural patina and provide a simple natural addition to any composition.

9. Molecular Distillation

Molecular distillation is a long-established way of refining a refined substance, such as a precious essential oil or rare absolute, to create colorless ingredients with elegant, pure, yet potent profiles in precise and delicate concentrations.

10. FIRA Technology

Highly concentrated in odorant molecules, this extract is used mainly for roses. The natural rose extract is made from a cold concentration of the water-soluble volatile fractions present in Bulgarian rose water.

11. Pyrogenation

Pyrogenation involves heating oils and resinoids at high temperatures until’ a perfectly monitored transformation’ occurs, producing smoky, leathery effects that raise the temperature of the perfume.

As you can see, many different methods are used to extract natural essences, each offering unique olfactory qualities. By understanding these methods, perfumers can create complex and sophisticated fragrances.

12. Jungle EssenceTM

Extraction mode using supercritical fluids combining the advantages of a gas and a liquid. MANE has acquired unique expertise in this field over several years, which has enabled it to create new raw materials, thus enriching and renewing the perfumer’s creative palette. Ex: Ginger Pure Jungle EssenceTM.

13. Firgood Extracts

The process involves exposing fresh biomass to electromagnetic frequencies. Under these effects, the vibration of the O-H bonds causes friction, which induces a temperature rise. The constituent water begins to heat up until the cells burst and carry the odorous principles.

Three types of products, baptized Firgood, thus enriching the palette of perfumers and flavorists of the house. First, a mother solution, or hydrosol, contains the product’s polar aromatic fraction (composed of the tiniest lipophilic molecules) in the water-soluble phase. From this solution, a second product is produced by physical methods of cold concentration of the aromatic fractions. The water is replaced there by another solvent, for example, alcohol, for use in perfumery. Finally, obtaining an essential oil, recovered by decantation from the stock solution is also possible if the latter is rich enough. This is the case, among others, for spices.


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