Origin and History
The plant known as lavender or lavandula is a genus of 39 different species that have been identified so far. Native to the old world, these species of flowering plants that belong to the mint family have been used for centuries for a wide variety of purposes.
Since it is successfully grown in many places, from Northern Africa to Europe, the Mediterranean and India, it is definitely one of the most popular plants among the ones that can be used for culinary, health or cosmetic purposes.
The species which has been most commonly cultivated is the Lavandula angustifolia whose color is typically associated with the general use of the word “lavender”.
A large percentage of the plant’s popularity resides in its simplicity. Cultivators worldwide agree that this plant is fairly simple to grow and possesses few requirements.
Cultivated in hundreds of gardens over the globe, the English lavender or Lavandula Angustifolia develops well in sandy or graveled, well-drained soil. Sunny patches are the best places where to place these gardens. However, it must be said that this species is known to grow easily outside its location, eventually becoming a weed.
Lavender in Perfumery
For centuries, lavender oil was used to treat numerous ailments mainly because of the substance’s balsamic properties. Possessing anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, the oil soon became known for its soothing capacity.
Lavender oil is widely sought-after in the world of aromatherapy and alternative therapies. However, this is not the only substance that can be obtained from any of the many lavender variants. Moreover, lavender oil is just the beginning of the whole lavender perfume industry.
The Process of Making Perfume
Several methods can be used to make absolutes. When it comes to lavender, distilling the oil is the preferred method for lavender oil extraction.
In this method, quantities of plant material are placed in a large water container where the whole concoction is brought to a boil. Once the steam is produced, the essential lavender oils are carried by the steam through a cooler where they condense.
The oils remain on top of the watery substance from where they are separated and eventually collected.
Once lavender oil has been made, it is ready for further uses, such as aromatherapy. When it comes to perfumery though, the lavender absolute, made from the essential oil, is necessary, mainly because of its intense and fresh concentration of lavender scent.
Lavender in Perfumes
Belonging to the family of the fougerès, lavender perfumes contain sweet, yet fresh reminiscent overtones that combined with stronger scents, such as mint or camphor provide the cool feeling typically associated with summery colognes.
There is a variant of lavender hybrids known as lavandula intermedia that yields an essential oil that is less fragrant than the one stemming from the English lavender type. However, there is a strong commercial production of this type, even when the perfume is less sweet.
Exotic lavender combinations can be found, such as lavender and liquorice to produce a “salty” summery fragrance or lavender and orange blossom, which not only enhances the natural scent dramatically, but also blends perfectly.