Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Ask the Perfumer" - a Feature of Anya's Garden Perfumes - Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hi Everyone:

I'll be here for questions about perfumery until 9PM EST USA tonight. I've had to put the blog on moderated comment status because of Chinese spam, so there may be a delay between your posting your question and me OKing it for the blog.


  1. Hi Anya,

    Can you explain cold extraction and why is it would be used (as opposed to steam distillation, solvent extraction, enfleurage, etc.)?


  2. Lisa, I'm not sure I understand your question. All of the processes you list are very different from each other, and all are carried out for different reasons. There is sometimes no one answer that fits all.

    Some flowers can't be distilled ( and there are several types of distillation), enfleurage doesn't work for wood and seeds, solvent extraction creates a concrete and/or absolute, and so on.

    By cold extraction do you simply mean placing a botanical in a cold (actually room temperature) 190 proof alcohol?

    What specific plant are you asking about?

  3. Hi Anya,

    I was reading on a site that sells blue lotus absolute. They offer 2 grades; 1 which solvent extraction is used and 1, termed Premium Grade, which cold extraction is used. I'd never heard of the cold extraction method before and wondered how it is actually performed.

  4. Ah! That helps a lot ;-)

    I'll bet the solvent extracted aromatic is cheaper than the cold extracted aromatic. The cold extraction process they're probably talking about is CO2 extraction, which is used for rare, expensive, delicate flowers like the blue lotus. I'd go for the CO2 extracted stuff, or just get samples of each and see what is to your liking.

    CO2 is covered in depth in the latest module my students are studying. It's a very expensive process that requires a lot of pricey equipment and a professional to work it. Not something you could do at home.

  5. Hi Anya,

    This is a repeat from a question I posted on the NBP yahoo list, I hope that's okay.

    I tried making a tincture of ambrette seeds, using 2 Tbsps in 30 ml of vodka. The seeds were from a reputable vendor, smelled gorgeous and the tincture smelled wonderful for the first 2 or 3 days. After about 5 days, though, it had really gone off: it now smells like wet leaves, barely like ambrette at all.

    Why do you think this might be? Should I just filter it after a couple of days?


  6. Hi Felicia:

    I can see your problem.

    First, the typical percentage for an ambrette seed tincture is 25%. That means you use, for instance, 25 grams of seeds in 75 grams of alcohol.

    Your method of using tablespoons and fluid ounces doesn't give you any true idea of what your percentage is, but it seems like it might be too little. A scale is necessary in perfumery.

    Second, realize that often botanicals need to be replaced in the alcohol several times to build up a decent scent. Remember that when they did enfleurage in France, they changed the flowers 36 times! You won't have to change your seeds that many times, but remember that you get scent strength thru replacing the spent seeds. I'd let each batch go about three days. Save the old seeds, and at the end, heck, do one last attempt to extract them some more.

    Also, be aware that by crushing the seeds you're releasing fatty acids inside that both give a different scent (I prefer the uncrushed) and can go "off" over time, although in alcohol that is just a maybe, not a certainty.


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