Many orchids flowers have fragrances (or should it be ‘smells’!) that range from heavenly to obnoxious. The floral scents of some orchids can sometimes be so weak that it is detectable only within a very small range, while some orchid fragrances that can be smelt in a wide area. These fragrances are also used for aromatherapy purposes. They soothe our senses and make our homes as well as toiletries, heavenly.
There is only one orchid fragrance sold commercially, that is Vanilla.
Extracting fragrance from the flowers is not difficult, though it might be time consuming. You can do it at your home too.
There are numerous ways to extract fragrance. I will describe two methods by which we can remove the scents. One method uses water and the other uses oil as a base. Both methods are quite simple. The oil method I learnt from the net, whereas water method was known to me even before I grew orchids. I have used the water method more often, for making Gulab Jal or rosewater from the rose petals.
• Distilled water (you can use tap water also)
• Glass container
• Fresh flowers
• Storage bottles or spray bottles
Fill the glass container with water, the amount of water to be taken depends upon the number of flowers you want to use for extraction. Remove fresh flowers from the plant. Separate the petals. Add these to the water container. Keep this container in strong sun for about a day, and then discard the petals. Repeat the procedure using same water but with new petals.
Keep repeating the procedure till the desired concentration of fragrance is obtained. You can boil the petals in the water also. I have tried the boiling method with roses, but not with orchids. You can give it a shot, but keep the boiling vessel covered, to retain the fragrance.
Materials that you will require:
• Fresh flowers
• Food bags
• Carrier Oil
• Glass containers
Collect the petals from fresh flowers and crush them lightly inside a food bag. You need an oil which does not have fragrance of its own. Add the crushed petals to the oil and keep in sun for a day. Discard these petals and add fresh petals to the same oil. Repeat the process till the fragrance in the oil has reached a desired level.
Note: Fragrances are stronger at nearly opened floral buds. Flowers have more fragrance in early mornings, as the heat from the sun adversely affects the amount fragrant oils in the flowers.
Note: Use glass containers, as they do not react with most things, so your fragrance will be safe. Plastic containers can change the content as well as quality of the scent; more-so if it is kept in a sun exposed place.
You can use the extracted fragrance in a variety of ways, just let your imagination run wild:-)