i’ve been dabbling in perfumery lately. a few months ago, i had several conversations with someone through etsy who was looking for natural lilac lotion which led to several discussions on alternatives for scenting the lotion. she took a liking to lilac scents (and who wouldn’t, it’s so intoxicating?!). lilac essential oil is very rare and expensive.
so, i’ve been trying two different methods…
the first is through distillation, same as making rose water. i did this a few years back with roses and it turned out nice. the lilac water has a nice scent but it is not the wonderful heady aroma that you get when you stick your nose in a bunch of lilac flowers.
to make the lilac water, i used a water bath canner, a fire brick and a pyrex bowl. i placed the brick in the bottom of the water bath canner and filled up the bottom with lilac blossoms, up to the top of the brick. i then added water to cover the lilacs completely. this went over the fire brick, barely covering it. then i placed the bowl on top of the fire brick and put the canner lid on upside down.
i turned the heat on and got the water boiling then poured ice onto the top of the lid and turned the heat down to simmer. every 10 minutes or so, i had jaden hold the lid while i poured off the water in the bowl. i did this for about 35 minutes or so and then the lilacs looked spent so i stopped. i probably ended up with about 4 oz. of the lilac water. the water has a scent, but not the luxurious scent of lilac blossoms. i definitely think it will make a nice face splash after cleansing.
the second method is making a more concentrated version.
for this method, you harvest the flowers, and remove the stems. place a piece of cheesecloth in a bowl and put the lilacs on top of the cheesecloth. pour 2 cups of distilled water over the blossoms, cover with a plate and let sit overnight.
the next day, bunch up the cheesecloth and tie it with a rubber band and set aside. bring the water to a simmer and add the cheesecloth to the pot. let the water simmer for an hour or until the water is reduced by half. (i actually ended up letting this sit for over a day because of time restraints. it didn’t seem to hurt it a bit, the flowers were still very vibrant when i went about tying it up to simmer the water.
strain off the water and pour into a bottle. add 4 drops of glycerin (to hold the scent).
this method proves a lot closer to the real scent. the water is a bit thicker than with the lilac water. it is dark brown in color, tinted from the actual flowers being present, the same as with the waste water strained off from the previous version. the scent however, is much closer to the true lilac scent.
to use as a perfume, i think i’d definitely go with the second method of extraction, purely based on scents after the procedures. however, i’d be happy to use the lilac water (the first method) as a facial splash after washing, etc. also, i think it would be excellent to use as a freshener for underarms as needed (if one doesn’t use commercial deodorant).
this could be a fun experiment to try with numerous flowers…rose obviously, but also perhaps, calendula, echinacea and much more. if time allows, i plan on experimenting with several more floral essences!