The Lilac (Syringa vulgaris), Order Oleaceae, is a loved flower, but does little to further its reputation in the field of aromatherapy as its elusive scent is difficult to capture in a bottle. It does not yield its fragrance to distillation — and enfleurage is no longer much employed as a means of extracting this delicious odor. It is said that in the early part of this century, Lilacs were extracted by enfleurage and only Lilacs that had been picked in the early morning hours that were very warm were selected. These They were then rushed to the still-room where they were treated by enfleurage to produce a thick odorous perfume that was then diluted with refined alcohol. (pure Potato Vodka, no doubt).
Neither the little produced Lilac flower perfume at $100,000 per kilohas yet found a use in aromatherapy. It is just too expensive. So if you go to a store and find Lilac perfume or Lilac-scented soap, please note that it is a fake and synthesized version of this most fabulous of odors. Do you have a garden? Only with a garden and the knowledge of the ancient alchemists can you extract scent from this purple beauty to make a sweet scent.
Just now the lilac is in bloom
All before my little room;
And in my flower beds I think,
Smile the carnation and the pink;
And from the borders, well I know,
The poppy and the pansy blow.
TO EXTRACT THE ODOR: You will need patience and lots of flowers but the end result will be pleasing and therapeutic for your soul and psyche. Fill a small jar with the flowers and then cover the flowers with pure* 95% alcohol. [150? vodka will not work]. The alcohol will extract both the color and the odor of the flowers. When no more color is in the flowers, strain out the flowers and add new flowers to the alcohol or you may just pour the alcohol onto a new batch of flowers in another jar. You will have to repeat this procedure over and over again using the same alcohol and new flowers until the alcohol is a deep violet color and has the odor of the flowers. This will take an entire season. At this time store the alcohol in the refrigerator so it will retain the odor and the color.
TO USE THE LILAC PERFUME: Dilute your cologne with a bit of water or oil and apply to your body. Another use is to put 1 oz in a 4 oz spray bottle, add 3 oz of spring water and let your husband use this to heal his skin of nicks after shaving.
LILAC USES: Jeanne Rose's Herbal Body Book, page 94 describes how to use the flowers . . . Lilacs steeped in warm spring water for 30 minutes, strained, bottled and refrigerated) is used on the face as a tonic and healing spritz for some facial afflictions. * * * In The Secrets of Flowers as revealed by A. Stoddard Kull, the Lilac is a symbol of the first emotions of Love. To find a Lilac blossom with five instead of four corolla lobes means good luck. Some say the purple color denotes sadness and mourning.
LILAC MEDICINE. The leaves and the fruit is used and the properties are as an anti-periodic, febrifuge and tonic. Hilda Leyel in Compassionate Herbs says . . . “The Lilac tree appears in an inventory made by Cromwell at Norwich and was probably introduced in Henry VIII's reign. It has been grown as a flowering shrub for many centuries. In medicine it has been used successfully in the treatment of malaria and in American is given as a vermifuge.”
SOURCES*: For professionally-made Lilac absolute or perfume alcohol you will have to make it yourself.
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Rose, Jeanne Herbs & Things
Kull, A. Stoddard, The Secrets of Flowers
Leyel, Hilda. Compassionate Herbs. Faber & Faber
Limited, London, 1946.