Origin: a Latin derivative
meaning "Gift of the Earth."
Enfleurage is one of the most traditional methods used for collecting aromatic compounds from plants. It actually produces crude absolutes, which contain both aromatic and non-aromatic compounds. It was widely used before the emergence of more modern distillation technologies. This technique paved the way for solvent processing that is still commonly used in the industry today. Because enfluerage produces impure products, it is not considered an acceptable method for producing therapeutic grade compounds.
When using enfluerage, plant material is placed onto a layer of fat (such as beef fat, pork lard, or even vegetable oil) that has been spread on a glass plate. The lipid soluble compounds from the plant material are absorbed into the fat. Additional plant material is added until the fat has become completely saturated with the lipid soluble compounds. Pomade is the correct term for the product at this stage of the enfluerage process. Pomades can be used as they are or further processed to isolate just an absolute. This involves washing the fat with a solvent (usually hexane) to dissolve the absolute without dissolving any of the fat, oil, or lard. The product is then washed with a second solvent (usually ethanol) that is then evaporated off to produce an isolated absolute.