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Flowers and Perfume

Perfume is the mixture of essential oils and aroma compounds,  fixatives and solvents used to give the human body,  living spaces,  animals and objects a pleasant scent.  The aroma compounds that make up a perfume can be artificially manufactured or taken from plant or animal sources.  Perfumes have existed since early human civilisation. 

Flowers and blossoms have long been used in the making of perfumes - as a source of essential oils and aroma compounds.  Flowers and blossoms are the largest source of fragrant compounds or aromatics used in perfumery.  These include the flowers of several species of roses, jasmine and freesia as well as narcissus and scented geranium (to name but a few). 

A common technique for obtaining aromatic compounds from plants,  flowers and blossoms is the process of distillation - Where the raw material is heated and the fragrant compounds are re-collected through condensation of the distilled vapour.

Once extracted the various pieces of the 'perfume puzzle' are put together.  The person who makes up a perfume is called a perfumer. The perfumer will blend all of the essential components to assemble a perfume, this is anything from ten to hundreds of different ingredients.  

The proper preservation of perfumes involves keeping them away from sources of heat and storing them where they will not be exposed to light.

Perfume bottle How to make perfume from flower petals: 

You will need...

  • Fresh flower petals - rose or lavender are a traditional choice
  • salt
  • large bowl
  • metal pot or saucepan
  • distilled water
  • muslin cloth
  • funnel
  • glass bottle for keeping the finished perfume in

Four simple steps to make you own perfume...

1)    Remove the moisture and fragrance from the flower petals - Place the petals into the large bowl and sprinkle some salt over them. Give this a good mix with a spoon (it doesn't matter if the petals get damaged as this can actually assist in the process). Leave to rest for about an hour.

2)    Boil the petals - Put the rested petals into the metal pot or saucepan and add a couple of cups of distilled water to them. Bring this mixture to the boil on a stove or cooker, once boiling, reduce the heat and partially cover with the pan lid and leave to simmer for 2-3 hours. Then remove from the heat and allow the petal mixture to cool.

3)    Strain the petal mixture - Place the muslin cloth inside the funnel and pour the petal mixture through into the bowl. Give the left over petal mixture retained in the muslin cloth a good squeeze so to get all of the petal essence.

4)    Transfer the perfume into a suitable bottle - Use a funnel to pour the extracted petal fragrance (perfume) into a suitable bottle.  Enjoy!

This perfume will last for only a few weeks as it contains no preservative.  If the perfume begins to look funny or mouldy, do not use and throw it away.


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