making scents with ylang ylang III


If you feel you’re getting K.O’d by Ylang Ylang Extra and are looking for a tamer more gentile version of this sultry beauty, then check out these musings on making scents with Ylang Ylang III essential oil. The III (third) fraction is collected from the last hours of the distillation process. Find out more about the profiles of the Complete and the Extra fractions. The complete fraction profile is seriously on the skimpy side and I’ve put it on my list of things to revisit and beef up when time permits but at least it gives you something to go on for now.

Common name: Ylang Ylang III (pronouced eee-lang eee-lang); sometimes called the poor man’s Jasmine.

Genus name: Cananga odorata

Supplier: PAS (part of our school kit)

Note: Heart

Family: Floral

Diffusion: 5

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: Bergamot, chamomile, coriander, geranium, helichrysum, jasmine, lavender, lemon, lime, may chang (litsea cubeba), neroli, orange, rose, rosewood, sandalwood, vetiver

Chemical components: The III fraction has the following chemical characteristics:  Class: Sesquiterpene. Farasene high %, methyl benzoate, methyl salicylate, eugenol, geraniol, pinene (Gritman Oils)

Germacrene D, (E) (E) farnesene, beta-caryophyllene, benzyl benzoate (Albertvieille)

Ylang Ylang is high in sesquiterpenes. Ylang Ylang III essential oil, the last fraction collected during the last hours of distillation, is a slightly thicker, more earthy and less sweet oil, and is composed almost entirely of sesquiterpenes. Sesquiterpenes are a class of chemicals common in higher plants that are naturally occurring alcohols. Sesquiterpenes rarely exist in volatile aromatic oils.(Health Mastery Systems)

Interesting bits: The fruits of the Cananga odorata are inedible. When flowers are picked at night they are the most fragrant and the resultant essential oil is known as the “Queen of Perfumes”. It is a little-known fact that it is used in confectionery, enhancing fruit flavors such as peach and apricot, for candy, icings and baked goods, as well as in soft drinks and chewing gum. (Aromatic Plant Project)

Cananga odorata originated in South East Asia, discovered around 1740 in Malaysia by the French botanist Pierre Poivre, and it was introduced to the Comoros Islandes in 1909. It naturalized as far as Papua New Guinea, the  Pacific Islands and the Philipines; basically climates of humid warmth. It has also been introduced into tropical countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and even the Americas, specifically as an essential oil plant.

For all its atrributes, ylang ylang is a very frequent floral essence in fine fragrance perfumery …

It naturally encompasses salicylates and eugenol (a spicy ingredient); the former in the form of benzyl salicylate is the basic ingredient in the Ambre Solaire suntan lotion, with its white flowers tinge, which is synonymous with summer vacations to many Europeans (The ingredient first entered the composition for its sunscreening properties and later overstayed thanks to the fond reactions of users to its smell).This is why many ylang ylang dominant fragrances produce the association with suntan lotions: so many people have used a suntan lotion aromatized with salicylates/ylang ylang in their lives!

It is notably a signature trademark of most Guerlain fragrances, including many of the revered classics, such as Mitsouko and L’Heure Bleue. Guerlain indeed value so much the production of ylang-ylang in Mayotte that they bought 20% of the plantation of Combani. Jean Paul Guerlain personally inspected the hectares with ylang-ylang there in the years from 1995 to 2002. (Perfume Shrine)

The Ylang Ylang tree requires care from human hands for its warm, sweet fragrance to develop. Left wild in nature the blossoms of the Ylang Ylang tree have little or no scent. Ylang Ylang trees must be given constant attention and require trimming every two months. The Ylang Ylang blossoms must be picked each fall. As with Jasmine and Rose the blossoms must be harvested early in the morning and immediately prepared for steam distillation.  As with all oils the quality of distillation varies among distillers, as well as crop conditions for that season, as well as the moment chosen for harvesting and distillation. The distiller’s art for the production of exquisite oils is rare and reflected in the price of an oil.  (Health Mastery Systems)

Their nose:  Exquisite, heady, tropically sweet scent that is close to that of jasmine (Perfume Shrine)

Softly sweet and warm the scent of Ylang Ylang III (pronounced “eelang”) is more earthy than the other “fractions” of this aromatic plant. Ylang Ylang has an unforgettable intoxicating aroma with sensual overtones (Health Mastery Systems)

The Comoros ylang-ylang third essential oil is obtained after six to 20 hours of distillation. Its olfactory notes differ from those of other qualities, because the odorant molecules are not as numerous. In addition to its floral and jasmine notes, this essential oil also has dry smoky and woody facets. (Albertvieille)

My nose: The top note of Ylang Ylang III essential oil is much less creamy, much more delicate than the Extra fraction! It’s lush, golden, elegant, more refined, sweet yes, but not right away. After 15min one is greeted with the soft warmth of an embrace, it’s understated and I must close my eyes to get a hint of the herbaceous-ness. It’s like the membrane of Ylang Ylang Extra, muffled and inviting. 30min into the top note and now this is everything that the Extra fraction isn’t! Much more innocent, softly sensual, understated, it’s also less tenacious with a hint of something peppery hiding in the background. 45min on and it still is a mix of spicy softness, it’s a lot more linear, sleek, delicate, and there’s a sign of retreat. Already?! Or is it just teasing? 1hr had to skip this evaluation. 2hrs later and it’s thinner, still a hint of the spice although which I’m not sure, if I had to pick I’d say a soft pepper. This has good projection, and it seems that now it’s flexing its muscles; sharper, bolder, more intent. Yes, this layer is intentional. 3hrs now and Ylang Ylang III is soft, feminine, feathery and light.  The 7th hour reveals a layer of warmth, but with an edge. It shimmers and shines, like a glint of floral sunshine. It’s all ruffles so there is a powdery side here too, it’s radiant where the Extra fraction is sexy. The 12th hour comes up still shimmering and elegant and refined. I see brushed metal surfaces, radiance, luxury and it’s lasting quite well because even though it’s less diffusive Ylang Ylang III still remains whole and integral!  24hrs later and it’s now much more subdued than the extra of course, it’s weightless, yet curiously tenacious – what an intriguing combination. Wow. Still noticeably a floral with a wonderful dry down. Incredible! This is Femme where the Extra fraction is Femmena.

12/24 comparison: Now, what does the side by side comparison reveal? The 12hr scent strip is odd, I pick up spices, just a hint, but that pungency is there. Warm, much brighter than the other, a hint of vanilla, that’s the sweetness, ah, okay. But it’s much more noticeable side by side. The 24hr scent strip on the other hand reveals a blanched quality in the dry down that I didn’t notice before. Yet, it’s still capable of eliciting emotion; still provocative but you must get up very close if you want the effect and then not for too long. It’s a gentle, warm caress. In this layer the sweetness is gone.

Now if you’re thinking that of course I have to complete the quartet and source a proper Ylang Ylang I and II you’d be right —  they’re already on the list :).

Have a beautiful weekend!