Ylang Ylang 1
Much has happened since my last small newsletter. I have become more active in directly sourcing essential oils/absolutes from distillers/extractors in parts of the world outside of India(although India remains a main focus) It has been a wonderful experience and if all goes well I will be visiting Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and Bulgaria in the not to distant future to do some first hand photographic documentation of the different distillations going on in those countries. In this connection I would like to say that there is ample opportunity for people to do direct sourcing of pure oils if one feels so inclined. It takes a bit of perserverance, committing to buying in larger quantities than one might normally think of doing, interacting with distillers in a responsible way, etc. It is a journey that one must truly make for themselves as success in this area is dependent upon ones personal imput and creating a bond of trust with people involved in distilling the oils that one wishes to carry. Many many small things need to be attended too to make the this type of enterprise work but I would like to say that many good and beautiful opportunities (and some disappointments also) await a person who wishes to enter in this line.
In this newsletter I will just focus on one oil, because if I try to introduce you to all the oils that have come in during the last two months if will be to huge of a document. Over the next two weeks I will be sending out a series of smaller newsletters so that you can read about the oils that you are interested in and zap the ones that you are not. I will also include a number of valuable website links that can help you find out more information about the oils.
The oil of today is Ylang Ylang with special reference to what is known as Ylang Ylang Superior Extra. As you are most likely aware Ylang Ylang is generally offered in what is known as fractions: Extra, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Another oil is offered which is known as a complete. Generally companies involved in preparing the different fractions of Ylang Ylang add the fractions together in specific proportions to form the Complete. There is one more grade that is rarely offered which is called the Ylang Ylang Superior Extra Grade. It is considered by many to represent the most lovely notes of Ylang Ylang. The Superior Extra Grade cannot be prepared in all locations where the tree grows. One of the most superior climates for growing Ylang Ylang is on the island of Mayotte off the coast of Madagascar and it is here that a truly divine Extra Superior Grade of Ylang Ylang is prepared from organcially grown flowers(ECO CERT certified)
The oil produced here is done in copper vessels via hydrodistillation technique. Regarding fractions in general the subject is very nicely summed up in the wonderful book entitled L'Ylang Yalng un Parfum Subtil by Christian Brule and William Pecout who both possess a true passion for Ylang Ylang. "The pioneering distillers of the essence were able to observe or smell the richness of the very first pale yellow liquied obtained in the Florentine receiver. Their surprise must have been great, after some hours of distillation, on discovering that the precious substance was no longer the same. From this finding arose Fractionation: contrast to all logic, the heaviest portions of the essence in density are distilled first: as if to confuse us further, they are the finest owing to high ester content(and therefore the most soluble in alcohol).
Very soon the benefit of theis special feature was defined, the technique discovered: it was sufficient to draw off the essence obtained at regular intervals to follow the development of its physical and olfactory characteristics; regrouping them in fractions became child's play. Very well then! But... what criterion should be followed. Observation of the relative density of the essence, as distillation progressed, and its very rapid drop after six to eight hour's time, allowed a first important distinction to be made: there were "high densitiy" frades, and other "low density" ones. There were also very great olfactory differences. Patiently, more often drawing off the essencee obtained throughout distillation, our distiller was able to separate the portions of the distillate which seemed to him the most fragrant, the heaviers, thus defining the four "grades" or "fractions" which the whole world talks about for Ylang Ylang.
The emperical method is still in force nowadays, and it has become customary to define these fractions with an ordinal numbermber corresponding to the progress of the distillation and the quality of the essential oil: -Extra or essence obtained from 1-2 hours of distillation -First or essence obtained in the 2-3 hour -Second or essence obtained up to 6th hour -Third or essence obtained up to the end of boiling
This is a greatly simplified version of a very complex subject because many enviromental factors also determine if a particular fraction can be drawn or if it can be drawn off what percentage of the entire oil it will be. The purity of each fraction is also very much a matter of the individual distillers skill. A "feel" for the different fractions is very much a part of the equation and there are certain distillers in Madagascar and the islands off its coast that possess the most advance knowledge of this oil after working with the distillation processes for many years. Only the most skilled distillers are able to capture the Extra Superior fraction.