Lilac enfleurage technique (part 2)
Lilac enfleurage technique: keeping the panicles in cool water during the process helps the blossoms stay firm while laying them on the pommade. When they wilt they not only begin to lose their signature lilac fragrance, but they become more susceptible to being crushed while you remove their stems and calyxes. Crushing the blossoms breaks the cellulose walls responsible for composition of the plant, bursts the internal membranes, and by hastening decomposition, introduces the unwanted smell of rot to your enfleurage.
Lilac bloom annually for a mere 14-18 days, so getting a saturated pommade is a challenge both practically and in terms of sustained attention. If enfleurage is an endurance practice, then lilac enfleurage is like doing a marathon every day for two weeks. In order to get about 32-48 ounces of scented pommade, I pick and lay blossoms as shown on numerous plates coated in wax and fat for about 14-16 hours a day, every day, for the length of the bloom season. Each plate takes about 3 hours to cover because I lay the blossoms as thick as possible in a single layer, as shown in some of the photos of the lilac enfleurage. This is so that the flowers don't decompose in the interval between charges, but so that I maximize the hours in the day during the season. I also remove all of the stems, calyxes, leaves, and other green parts prior to setting the chassis. This further ensures no green notes are captured, nor any decomposition notes from watery aspects of the plant that start to rot sooner than the flower petals. Typically we hear that the pommade is laid 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, suitable for roughly 36 daily charges. For lilac, since it can only be charged a maximum of 18 times per season (and any more would be a waste of plant material since the flowers do not spend themselves within a 24 hour period), I coat the plates in a barely visible film. This increases the flowers-to-surface area ratio, accelerating the infusion rate. The process of removing the green parts, diligently cleaning the pommade between daily charges, thinning the pommade, and thickening the floral lay; allows for a cleaner product, a purer lilac scent, and a more concentrated scent. Even so, people may be disappointed at the strength of enfleurage, and the price. It is what nature offers in terms of headspace, and I continue to offer it because for some, including myself, there is nothing comparable.
© 2022, Abby Hinsman for Wild Veil Perfume.