Pick up a bottle of Ardently Botanicals Genderless Fragrance and you’ll notice a short ingredients list – Ethanol (grain alcohol), Fragrance*, and Distilled Water (aqua). That asterisk points you to a note about the source of all our fragrances here at Ardently Botanicals – real plant goodness. Our plant-derived fragrances are crafted from proprietary blends of plant extracts – essential oils, enfleurage, and absolutes.
You’ll notice we specify PLANT-DERIVED fragrances and not just “natural fragrances”. That’s because “natural” is a tricky thing to define, and doesn’t actually have to mean anything at all by FDA labeling standards.
So we’ve set our own standard. Every ingredient has to meet all of these criteria before it can make it into one of our products:
- Derived from plant material or from minerals (such as salt or magnesium)
- Eco-friendly and sustainably produced
- Non-toxic (we use sources like EGW and ECOcert to verify the safety and sustainability of potential ingredients)
When it comes to our plant-based fragrances, that means they are directly extracted from plants in the form of an essential oil, enfleurage, or absolute. Let’s break down what those terms mean.
The majority of our fragrance components come from essential oils, which are made through steam distillation or pressing to release the natural oils of the plant. Most essential oils are created using steam distillation, where plant materials are placed over vats of steaming water. The steam passes through the plants releasing the volatile compounds, and then the vapors flow through a coil condensing back into liquid. Other plants (most often citrus peels) are extracted through pressing rather than steam distillation, mechanically or through cold-pressing.
Considered the oldest known procedure for preserving plant fragrances, hot enfleurage is a process where solid fats are heated and the plant product is stirred into the fat. Spent botanicals are repeatedly strained from the fat and replaced with fresh material until the fat is saturated with fragrance. Cold enfleurage was developed in the 18th century in southern France to create high-grade flower concentrates. In this method, animal fat is spread on framed glass plates and allowed to set before being layered with the botanical material. The scent is allowed to diffuse into the fat over the course of 1–3 days, and the process is then repeated by replacing the spent botanicals with fresh ones until the fat has reached a desired degree of fragrance saturation. In both methods, once the fat is saturated with fragrance, it is called the “enfleurage pomade” and can be further washed and soaked in alcohol to draw the scent molecules out of the fat and remain in the alcohol. The alcohol is then separated from the fat and allowed to evaporate, leaving behind the concentrated absolute.
Because some flowers are so delicate in nature, high temperatures (such as the steam distillation used in extracting essential oils) would destroy the flower and prevent an extraction from taking place without a negative impact on the natural aroma of the plant. For these flowers, absolutes are created through the enfleurage process described above, or for plant fragrances that are most inert – through solvent extraction. An organic solvent is used to extract the aromatic oil from the solid plant material to create a product called the “concrete”. That concrete is then extracted with alcohol, and the alcohol evaporated off to leave the concentrated absolute.
Note: If you are looking for a more detailed breakdown of the specific plant extracts that form a particular fragrance because of allergies or sensitivities, you can always view that list on the product’s website listing. We understand the importance of allergies and will always prioritize safety over “trade secrets” when it comes to the components of our fragrance formulations.