How to: Enfleurage with Fresh Lilac

How to capture and retain the fragrance of lilacs? Enfleurage is probably your best option.
This was my very first try at enfleurage, and because it turned out successfully, I thought you might like to take a peek at the process I used and maybe even try it too.

It's French

Enfleurage is a very old method of capturing extremely delicate and almost uncapture-able fragrances from plants. The traditional medium is purified fat, but any neutral-smelling fat that is solid at room temperature will do (so say experts). For this exercise, I used neutrally-scented coconut oil simply because I happened to have some at hand.

While there are several methods of enfleurage (most of which including frames, nets, glass plates, and other equipment), this method seemed most suitable for my situation – also because this was a very small batch.

The batch size was about 100 gr and involved a single flower for each new infusion.

What Enfleurage Experts Say

To capture as much of the fragrance as possible, it is important to pick blossoms in the morning (as soon as the dew is gone).

Carefully pluck petals/blossoms from the stem and place in a bowl. Use only petals/blossoms and avoid green bits (I did remove the visible green bits from this bowl before I continued).

We were having a bit of a warm spell when I made this batch so my coconut oil was in a liquid state.

100 grams of oil was spooned over the blossoms.

Cover the bowl with something that will allow for evaporation of any moisture from the blossoms but keep little buggy visitors out.

I used a piece of muslin and 2 clips: like this

Let the mixture sit for a max of 48 hours (preferably only 24) at room temperature (where the oil will solidify).

Every 24-48 hours, strain the oil and replace with fresh flowers until you are happy with the intensity of the fragrance.

I used the muslin cloth to strain the oil and replaced with a fresh cloth each day.

I like a scent that is not too pungent, and find lilac can become cloying for my taste if it is too strong. Five infusions was enough to give a lovely light whiff of fresh lilac.

After the final filtering, there may let some liquid from the blossoms present. As liquid is heavier than oil, it will gather at the bottom. There wasn't much in mine – you can see it in this picture - the darker shade at the bottom of the jar.

I used a syringe to draw the liquid up from the bottom and discarded it.

Cap the jar and store cool.

Result: pictured at the top.

Trying it Out

Initial test of lilac 'balm' directly on skin: beautiful scent. I plan to use this in a simple skin balm with neutural-smelling vegan waxes so the lilac can be the star fragrance.

Do Tell

Have you ever tried enfleurage? What did you make? Please share in a comment below!


Unknown said…
Hi Lisa, I love this! I've often wondered if I could capture some of the glorious flower scents I come across. Thank you so much and I will definitely try this when I find some suitable flowers. You are a wonderful inspiration. Heather xx
Jade Forest Co. said…
Hi lisa, I've been using the technique of enfleurage on my garden flowers for many years. I use palm fat.I have experimented with many fats and flowers over the years, and palm fat has worked best for me. It doesn't have a scent, It stays solid , which makes it much easier to lay the flowers on the fat. Coconut oil has a very coconut scent, which tends to overpower the delicate fragrance of enfleurage flowers.
LisaLise said…
@Heather - Thanks for your kind comment! Please feel free to share your experiences in a comment when you have given this a try - and have fun!

@Jade Violet - Thanks for sharing Jade! I would have used another oil if I had had it at hand, but then again I was surprised at how well this worked with the coconut oil I had. It was a deodorized version of coconut oil, so, no scent at all except the lilacs! My future versions will be with palm oil. Do hyou work with glass ålates and nets and such? I'd love to hear more about your process!
ByOly Cosmetics said…
Wonderful idea Lise! I have studied this method but as you said all these nets and stuff made it look difficult. I was wondering how you remove flowers when the oil is solid, do you warm it up a bit? Or are they all on the surface and easy to remove? I have many roses at this point, but they dont seem to perfume the oil very well!! Yours must be wonderful!
Cristina said…
Thank you so much for this post Lisa! I’ve even been looking at Lilac EO co2 extracts in the past, but they are soooo expensive, this is definitely a great alternative to it! Although the thing is, I live in the tropics so there’s no way I could find Lilacs here, however on the positive side we have plenty of other beautiful smelling flowers like frangipani :) definitely going to try it with the VCO that my neighbor’s family made from their village :) next year I’m heading back to Europe and hope my uncle still has his lilacs trees, I’m gonna bring some VCO over and make some over there :) oh and the amazing smelling roses along the streets of my old hometown can’t wait to try it with those too :D
LisaLise said…
HI Cristina - Oh your frangipani idea sounds lovely! Do let me know how it turns out !
Unknown said…
I've wanted to try this for years, and today was the perfect time to try. We had a big storm yesterday, but most of the lilacs seem to have survived. Going to change for the flowers out a few times, until the lilac scent is clear. Thank you!
LisaLise said…
Hi Christiane -Oooh have fun! My plan for my lilacs this year is a glycerine infusion. :D
Unknown said…
I've never heard of this before. I had to google the word when you mentioned it on IG. :D Oh, interesting! Picking flowers and botanicals for internal use/ consumption I'm familiar with (my major hobby during summer) so I could try small test batch if I get enough roses and lilacs. Just thinking, lily of the valley would be awesom to infuse in alcohol/ glycerin/ something, but sounds way too dangerous because of the toxic nature and skin reactions?
LisaLise said…
HI unknown - enfleurage is a very old art and one I find fascinating. My 'enfluerage' is not quite authentic as I literally soaked blossoms in coconut oil and this is not how it's really done.As you so correctly mention, lily of the valley should be handled with caution. I generally use plants that are edible. :)
Anonymous said…
Hi! Thanks so much for all the helpful info! How do you strain the lilacs from the solid oil- do you warm it up first, if so what is the best way to do that? Looking to do this this spring!
LisaLise said…
Hi Anon--- very gentle heat and straining via cheesecloth (do not squeeze - allow to drain out all by itself -. the flowers have a moisture content you do not want in the oil)