How to Enfleurage Fresh Lilac Flowers

Here’s a way to capture the delightful fragrance of fresh lilacs, so you can enjoy their scent long after the flowers have faded!

a layer of fresh lilac flowers

It’s difficult to preserve the elusive scent of flowers like lilacs and gardenias, so perfumers from years past came up with the wonderful method of enfleurage.

It sounds fancy and a little complicated, but basically an enfleurage is just a method of gently transferring the scent from a living, fragrant flower, into a solid fat or oil.

a canning jar and small pottery bowl with fresh lilac flowers in them

Traditionally, rendered and purified lard or tallow were used, but the method can also be used with solid-at-room-temperature vegetable fats such as babassu oil, unscented shea or mango butter, or unscented coconut oil.

Making a lilac enfleurage is a pretty straightforward process, but it is time consuming; you’ll need some patience for the wait time.

unbleached parchment paper covering a glass dish

Lilac Enfleurage Directions

  1. Gently melt your solid fat, then pour it into a glass dish, creating a shallow layer.
  2. Allow the fat to solidify, at room temperature, or you can speed it up a little by popping it in the fridge for a bit.
  3. Head outside and pick a few sprigs of fresh lilac flowers. There should be no dew or rain on the flowers.
  4. Bring the flowers in, then remove the blossoms from the stems. You don’t want leaves or twigs here, or any flowers with brown on them. An exception could be if you have a tiny flowering variety, it will be easier to keep them in small clusters with a little stem holding them together.
  5. Sprinkle a layer of flowers over the solid oil/fat, or arrange the flowers face down on the fat. (I vary between the methods, mainly depending on how busy the day is.)
  6. Cover the dish to keep the fragrance of the lilacs contained. Professionals use wooden chassis setups, while many DIY’ers use plastic wrap, but I challenge myself to go 6+ months at a time without using/buying any, so found that a wrap of unbleached parchment paper held in place with rubber bands worked well enough.
  7. After 24 hours, carefully pick off the spent flowers (this is the most tedious part, for me!), then replace with a new layer of freshly picked lilacs.
  8. Repeat this process every 24 hours, until you run out of fresh lilacs! Ideally, start early in the season and go a full month.

After the final batch, you’ll have a lovely softly scented solid – called a pommade, or pomade, depending on who you ask.

woman's hand holding fresh lilac flowers

Here are some tips on using the finished product:

Store your lilac pomade in a cool, dark area in a tightly sealed container.

If your butter/fat is soft enough, you can whip it and use like a body butter. You can also use it in a non-melting type of body butter recipe – like my Homemade Rose Body Butter.

It can be used as a moisturizer, dabbed on dry skin spots. And of course, it can be applied like a solid perfume! The scent is soft and subtle.

a finished batch of enfleurage surrounded by fresh flowers

Don’t have the time or enough fresh lilacs to make your own? You can buy professionally made lilac pomade. (<- Affiliate link to Etsy; some ad blockers may block that link – if so, just go to Etsy & type in: lilac pomade. Look for the shop EnfleurageLilac, or Cherry Valley Lilacs, for authentic enfleurage.)

Remember, it takes an enormous amount of time, labor, and love, plus hundreds to thousands of individual lilac blooms to produce an authentic enfleurage product. The higher cost will reflect that. <3




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