Enfleurage is an ancient technique used in perfume making to extract fragrant oils from delicate flower petals that cannot withstand the high heat and pressure of traditional distillation methods. The process involves saturating animal fats or vegetable oils with the fragrant oils of flowers, and then extracting the resulting fragrance from the fat or oil using alcohol.

The two primary methods of enfleurage are cold enfleurage and hot enfleurage. In cold enfleurage, flower petals are spread over a layer of purified fat or oil, which is then placed in a frame and allowed to sit for several days. The fat or oil is then replaced with fresh petals, and the process is repeated until the fat or oil is fully saturated with the fragrance. In hot enfleurage, the same process is used, but with the added step of gently heating the fat or oil to speed up the extraction process. Once the fat or oil has been fully saturated with the fragrance, it is removed from the frame and soaked in alcohol to extract the fragrance. The resulting mixture of alcohol and fragrance is then filtered and distilled to remove any impurities, leaving behind a pure and concentrated fragrance oil.

Enfleurage is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process, which is why it is not widely used in modern perfumery. However, it is still practiced by a select few perfumers who appreciate the unique and complex fragrances that can only be achieved through this ancient technique. Enfleurage is particularly well-suited to delicate and highly aromatic flowers, such as jasmine, tuberose, and narcissus, which cannot be easily distilled. The resulting fragrance is typically rich and complex, with a depth and nuance that cannot be replicated by other extraction methods.