making scents with ylang ylang extra


Today’s musings on making scents with Ylang Ylang Extra have to do with choices, choices and more choices for building a floral accord — but also with luxury and s*x. When you want to think beyond the classical Rose or Jasmine consider Ylang Ylang in all the various fractions as an open field of possibilities for expanding your olfactive palette.

Common name: Ylang Ylang (pronounced “eelang-eelang”)

Genus name: Cananga odorata

Supplier: Perfumery Art School (part of our kit)

Note: Heart

Family: Floral

Diffusion: 7

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with:  Peru balsam, bergamot, carnation, cassie, citronella, grapefuit, jasmine, labdanum, lavender, lemon, melissa, neroli, orange, oakmoss, patchouli, rose, sandalwood, tuberose, verbena, vetiver.  Or why not try blending the various types together to create your own ylang ylang accord, suggests Eden Botanicals.

Chemical components: Linalol, farnesol, geraniol, geranial, benzyl acetate,benzyl benzoate, geranyl acetate, eugenol, methyl chavicol, b-caryophyllene, farnesene, p-cresyl methyl ether and other sesquiterpenes. 

Interesting bits:  Tropical tree native to the Philippines was later adopted in countries like Comoros, Madagascar, Reunion and Indonesia.  Although derived from the same tree, ylang from Comoros and Madagascar have distinctly different compositions and odors. (Biolandes)

The Extra … contains the highest amounts of esters and therefore has the sweetest odor, while the later pressings have a less-sweet odour. The ‘extra’ is not used in aromatherapy, but used in the perfume industry…(Esoteric Oils)

The Extra fraction of Ylang Ylang is the oil that is collected from the first hour of distillation; this fraction of Ylang Ylang is generally the most desirable grade of all the ylang ylang oils and usually comprises about a third to nearly half of the total distillate. It is used mainly in high-end perfumery. The I (first) fraction is from the next 2-1/2 hours, the II (second) fraction from the next 3-4 hours of distillation, and the III (third) fraction is collected from the last hours of the distillation process. Ylang Ylang Complete is a continuous distillation of 6-7 hours, rendering a full-spectrum, non-fractionated (complete) oil. (Eden Botanicals)

Products known as “ylang complete” are available which can be either a blend of the three grades of ylang or the complete oil that results from the full, uninterrupted distillation of the flowers. No uniform standard exists as to when the distillation is suspended and each grade of ylang drawn off. This results in a notorious inconsistency of aroma across the three grades; an experienced nose is required for accurate evaluation. If ylang extra is taken too soon, for instance, many of its outstanding aroma characteristics could show up in the secondary ylang II oil — thereby creating an outstanding ylang II but a weak ylang extra. If the secondary ylang II distillation is allowed to go too long, some of the less fine aroma characteristics of ylang III might show up in the ylang II.

Ylang tends to predominate, so it should be used in small amounts on its own or when blending with other oils. Too much of a good thing might evoke negative effects; restraint is the key to working successfully with ylang. When creating blends, start with amounts that seem too small. Let the blend age for several days before evaluating the aroma, so the power and radiance of the ylang can expand through the blend and reach its ultimate presence. You may find that a blend comprised of as little as 5 to 10% (in aromatherapy) ylang smells like 20 to 30%.


Their nose: Fresh, sweet, floral, slightly fruity, fragrant yet delicate.

Our organic Ylang Ylang Extra is intensely sweet, highly floral, and ethereal, with watery undertones. The intoxicating aroma of Ylang Ylang conjures palpable images of the flowers’ paradisial origins: palm trees swaying over sun-drenched beaches, exotic spices, peaceful island breezes, gossamer rays of moonlight, and the rhythm of the ocean’s song. Such is the power of Ylang Ylang’s amazing aroma for easing the mind, as well as for its effect in the composition of perfumes. It is one of the finest aromatic materials in the perfume industry. (Eden Botanicals)

The standard bearer of all ylang grades is ylang extra, which has a creamy, delicate aroma, never overpowering or too densely sweet. Aroma-sensitive individuals sometimes experience headaches when inhaling the potent ylang III, but usually don’t when inhaling the subtle sweetness of ylang extra. (Auracacia)

An elegant intensely sweet floral odor with a refined vanillic, fruity, spicy undertone. (White Lotus Aromatics)

My nose: Ylang Ylang Extra literally explodes as a thick, floral big-petaled bomb! It’s like the word in Italian “femmena” (really it’s “femmina”, meaning female, but said with a southern Italian accent it comes out as this beautiful, heavy, important word.) There is nothing discrete about Ylang Ylang Extra. It’s evocative, cloying, creamy and dominating.  Ylang Ylang Extra is all that and then some! 15min and now it’s juicy, heady, intoxicating, opening up seriously now, over blown, like a storm of floral power blasting you. 30min and to me this is now like s*x. So far no other floral or material for that matter has made such an impression upon my mind. It’s total sexual abandon. (I had other words to describe it but had to keep this post G-rated ;). S*x without fear, sweet thick, succulent, satisfying, sultry, carnal and of course floral. 45min into the top notes and any hint of submission is only a deception. She’s cheating because later Ylang Ylang Extra comes back! She remains carnal, still s*xually disruptive, but now there’s a hint of green, a bit of shine, but the projection remains powerful. 1hr now but I had a phone call and didn’t evaluate. 2hrs and it’s warm, sweet, still gutsy, a bit more aged but there’s a roundness to the shape, thick, still loaded with this warm sensuality. 3hrs into the heart now and it’s round, bold, extravagant, exotic and voluminous. After 7hrs now Ylang Ylang Extra is wonderfully soft, plumy, warm, floral, like late summer languishing over a beautiful glass of wine at the golden hour. I can’t believe how bold this layer still is!!! 12hrs later and this is so pleasing. The first inhale brought a smile to my lips. It’s more ethereal now, I can smell commonalities with Rose, but still she remains generous and a sheer delight. The final 24hrs evaluation is WOW! Ylang Ylang Extra is intensely floral, even after a whole day on the scent strip! It remains thick and commanding. But, now it’s expression is much more classically floral and approachable, still a voluptuous, Botticelli beauty! If anyone just a few months ago would have told me that I would have been this overcome by a floral I would have laughed. And not ha-ha-hehe. But ha-ha-WHATEVER! But this just shows me that I am making progress in my olfactory training as I develop an ability to smell beyond my olfactive boundaries set only by my past opinions, culture and a whole host of assumptions!

12/24 comparison: The 12/24 comparison yielded some interesting insights: the 12hr strip was pungent, arresting, consuming; this layer was still powerfully floral! But at this stage I prefer it’s carnal suggestions more. In a straight comparison it’s much more exciting. Which leads me to believe that interacting with other materials this facet of excitement could become highlighted. The brightness is still there. Whereas on the 24hr strip comparing the two, this one is simply beautiful, it’s pure poetry now. There is a fuller appreciation that emerges when you do the comparison that you just don’t pick up on its own! I can appreciate this so much more for how it suggests sensuality during the comparison. The brightness is gone but what remains is a glow, the embers of a wild night that coax you into a warm slumber with a smile on your face.

The gift of this floral is that Ylang Ylang Extra reminds me to luxuriate in all that life is and to take pleasure in the simple things.

Enjoy your mid-week!



aromatic profile: ylang ylang complete

ylang ylang complete essential oil

a.k.a. Cananga Odorata.  The one I have is a complete and is 100% organic, and I got it from John Steele via Perfumer’s Apprentice in USA and of course I’ve already diluted it to 10%.

First impression (between 10:20 – 11:07): drawing from my list of the language of odours – that I posted here which you can download – to my nose it’s soft, warm, generous and definitely sweet.  But there’s also something very sophisticated, elegant and languid about this note, like being on holidays somewhere warm, thick and heavy.

1 hour: it’s grown much softer, more pliable and elastic not as sweet and a bit like…paper?

3 hours: the smell is almost undetectable to my still untrained nose, but what I do detect smells almost powdery, very gentle, softer still, I can almost smell citrus in there??? It is literally magical after 3 hours!

1 Day: it’s still present on the smelling strip but very, very faint, it smells now like a light breeze with hints of lemon in the air

2 Days: the note is wonderfully powdery and sweet, no longer sticking in the throat but floating

White Lotus Aromatics describes it this way: “The absolute is a light green or light golden liquid with a fresh, sweet, delicate balsamic-floral bouquet with an elegant vanilla-floral-balsamic undertone which remains uniform deep into the dryout.”

What are your impressions of ylang ylang?