01.What is distillation?
02. A brief history of distillation
03. How does perfume distillation work?
04. What types of essential oils can distillation produce?
It’s not possible to make an eau de toilette yourself. Making a perfume involves specific techniques to produce essential oils with which to create high-quality raw materials. The distillation process is required to create the essential oils of some plants.
What is distillation?
Distillation is a very distinctive technique used in perfumery with a long history. Still widely used today, the process produces the essential oils that are used to make perfumes.
A brief history of distillation
We know that perfume distillation has been around since ancient times: it was the Greeks who first discovered the process. They used a large vat with a bent pipe and applied the same principles as we do today.
How does perfume distillation work?
In perfume distilleries, perfumers use stills. These are large steel tanks which sit underneath coiled pipes. To create an essential oil, plants must be placed in the tank, along with between 5 and 10 times the volume of water. Quantities can vary, depending on the flowers, plants, barks and roots that are distilled. The mixture is heated, the steam traps the scent of the plants and then rises in the coiled pipe. When it cools, it forms condensation which is collected: this is the floral water. This is decanted to separate it from the essential oil which is then collected.
What types of essential oils can distillation produce?
Distillation makes it possible to capture the fragrance of many plants, barks, seeds and even some roots.
Distillation is just one of the techniques for recovering fragrant molecules from plants. Other techniques are also used, including enfleurage, expression and extraction, and each one involves a slightly different process. Processes like headspace technology and carbon dioxide extraction are two other techniques for capturing odorant molecules: they are different from the other techniques and make it possible to create original notes that were previously unobtainable.