As I mentioned in a previous blog post – January always finds both Luke and myself in Manila to host a fragrance seminar alongside our agents for the Philippines, Proessences, Inc.
The event is held in one of the Edsa Shangri-La conference rooms, and is always well attended by both new and existing customers, R&D staff and company directors. As well as the topic that I touched on for the main fragrance trends over the coming 12 months, we also did some research into one of the most widely used flowers in perfumery – Jasmine.
It is sometimes quite difficult to come up with a topic that will engage people on all levels and language barriers, but this little flower, also known as the Sampaguita, just happens to be the national flower for the Philippines so therefore, a perfect choice.
It seems that this ancient shrub has been highly prized since antiquity. The origin of all Jasmine is said to be Kashmir, a disputed area between Iran and India.
In perfumery we tend to use just 2 main types of Jasmine – Jasminum Sambac and Jasminum Grandiflorum. As anyone in the fragrance industry knows, the price of Jasmine is extremely expensive with 1 kg of oil costing anything between £1300 and £2000 per kg depending on the success of that seasons harvest. the reason for this is the lengthy process required to actually obtain 1kg of this precious oil.
An agile flower gatherer can pick 3-5 kilograms of flowers in a morning session. 1kg of flowers equates to 8,000 to 10,000 flower heads. In order to create 1kg of essence, an estimated 7 million flowers are required!
The best method for the extraction of the oil from the blossom is a process called enfleurage. This can be done in two ways. Cold enfleurage – whereby a large glass frame is smeared with animal fat onto which a single layer of flower heads are placed. Their scent is allowed to diffuse into the fat over a period of 2-3 days. Ths process is repeated until the desired degree of saturation is reached. For hot enfleurage, the fats are heated and the flower heads stirred in. Spent flowers are repeatedly strained off and replaced with new ones until the fat is saturated with fragrance.
In both instances, this fragrance saturated fat is now known as the ‘enfleurage pomade’. This pomade is now soaked with ethyl alcohol which draws the fragant molecules out from the fat and into the alcohol. The alcohol is now separated from the fat and allowed to evaporate, leaving behind the essential oil.
The spent fat isn’t wasted – it is usually used to make soaps since it is still relatively fragrant.
Today, synthetic Jasmine is easily produced and is often preferred due to the high cost involved in the enfleurage production, with Hedione being the most usual substitution. It’s aroma is of the fresh, greener part of the Jasmine – however, in high end products some actual absolute is also added to remove some of the residual harshness.
Jasmine is a middle note in perfumery meaning that it evolves in the heart stages of development on the skin. Heart notes impart warmth and fullness to fragrance blends and embody the passion of a fragrance.
In conclusion, despite all the economic challenges, the use of the Jasmine flower in perfume production remains one of the most essential elements in the structure of some of the worlds greatest perfumes.
We have a collection of stand alone Jasmine fragrances suitable for a wide variety of products, and also some gentler blends including Green tea & Jasmine, Freesia & Jasmine, Jasmine & Sandalwood and Jasmine & Peach Blossom.
If you would like any samples or any further information, then please do not hesitate to get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.