Techniques for extracting perfume material
The art of creating unique and one-of-a-kind fragrances relies on a myriad of materials from nature. Perfumery techniques have been used for centuries to extract these natural materials and blend them together to create a unique scent. There are a variety of techniques used in perfumery to gather material from nature, each with its own special properties.
Enfleurage is the oldest, and arguably most romantic method of extraction. It dates back to ancient Egypt and involves layering flowers on a bed of odorless fat to absorb the aroma compounds. The fatty material absorbs the fragrance compounds while still intact. The flowers are replaced several times throughout the process, which usually takes place over a few weeks or even months, until the fat is richly scented. The resulting fat is then combined with ethyl alcohol, which is used to extract essence from the fat.
Expression is a mechanical process used to extract essential oils from certain plant materials. In expression, the plant material is squeezed between plates or rollers, and the fragrant oil is mechanically expelled, as if wrung from a dry towel. Expression is most commonly used to extract citrus oils, such as orange, lemon and grapefruit.
Steam distillation is the most commonly used method of extraction. It involves heating the plant material and passing steam through the material. As the steam passes through the plant material, volatile molecules are released and captured in the vapor. The vapor condenses, releasing a liquid saturated with essential oils. This liquid, called the distillate, is then separated from the plant material and further processed to remove any remaining water.
Solvent extraction is a process in which a hydrophobic solvent is used to extract essential oils from fragile plant materials, such as flowers. The extraction is done at low temperatures, which help to preserve the fragile aromatic compounds. This method is mainly used to extract the heavier aromatic compounds, minyak kasturi such as jasmine and rose.
Tinctures and Resinoids
Tinctures and resinoids are extracts that are obtained by using a solvent to combine the essential oils with other plant materials. Tinctures are extracted using alcohol and are typically used to produce woody, herbal and spice extracts. Resinoids are extracted using hydrocarbons and are typically used to produce aromatic notes such as balsam and labdanum.
Carbon dioxide extraction is a contemporary extraction process which utilizes carbon dioxide in its liquid form. This method is used to extract essential oils from delicate plant materials, such as flowers, which could be damaged by other extraction methods. In the CO2 extraction process, the liquid carbon dioxide behaves like a solvent, extracting volatile compounds and lipids from the plant material. It is then cooled and recondensed which results in essential oils of high quality.
Headspace technology is a modern form of extraction which utilizes sensory technology to detect and isolate scent molecules from a plant material. The headspace analyzer captures a sample of the air surrounding the plant material and is then used to detect and isolate the volatile compounds contained within. This method is used to capture the most delicate aromatic compounds that are difficult to extract with other methods.
Perfumery techniques have evolved over the centuries to include a variety of extraction techniques used to gather material from nature. Each of these techniques provides a unique way of extracting essential oils and other aromatic compounds from plants and flowers, allowing perfumers to create unique and captivating fragrances.