Make Your Own Floral Perfume

All you need are fresh flowers along with some simple supplies to blend your own signature fragrance.

| July/August 1976

Click on the Image Gallery for referenced figures.

Far from being an arcane art, enfleurage—a centuries-old method of making perfume—is something that nearly anyone can do at home right now! It's easy, it's inexpensive, and (as folks who've tried it know) it's "just plain fun"! Maxine McClain tells you how.

Believe it or not, I know a technique by which you can make an infinite variety of exotic, sweet-smelling perfumes using little more than [1] fresh flowers from the garden, [2] ordinary rubbing alcohol, and [3] a hunk of beef suet The technique—which has been known to French perfume houses for centuries-is called enfleurage.  

You've no doubt noticed how animal fats (butter, lard, suet, etc.) tend to absorb odors from any and all nearby strong-smelling substances. Well, it's this very property which makes enfleurage possible ... and which perfume houses use to advantage in the manufacture of their sweet-scented goods.

This is how enfleurage is carried out in the fields of southern France: Freshly plucked flower petals are layered onto large panes of fat-coated glass, and the sheets are loaded into wooden frames called chassis. Each chassis full of fat, glass, and flower petals is next scaled airtight for several days . . . during which time the lard "soaks up" fragrances from the heavily scented flowers. The old petals are then taken out of the chassis and replaced by fresh blossoms, the frames are resealed, and the process is allowed to continue for a few more days. This procedure is repeated again and again, until finally the fats have absorbed all the fragrance they can hold.

At this point, the aromatic fat—which is called pomade—is scraped from the glass, collected, and put through various solvent extraction steps designed to remove the fragrance and bottle it. The deodorized fats are then recycled and used again in the enfleurage process.

12/3/2017 11:49:47 PM

I want a Gardenia perfume

4/3/2016 5:53:19 PM

I read somewhere that Vitamin E oil can be used as a scentless fixative. Can you confirm this to be true?

Fun Chiat Chan
3/22/2013 6:11:14 AM

The other two ways to derive floral absolute is hexane+ethanol and the modern CO2 extraction.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!