The Many Scents of Ylang Ylang

ylang ylang

ylang ylang

In a previous blog post I discussed the uses of Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) essential oil, but I only hinted at its scent. It can be quite difficult to describe an odor because the sense of smell has a language all its own. For those who have never smelled the oil, I offer you these insights excerpted from a post written by the Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy.

Ylang Ylang “is distilled in fractions. A single distillation will produce several different versions of Ylang that all smell different. This is why the oils are labeled as Extra Superior, Extra, First, Second, Third, and Complete.

Ylang Oil Extra
Odour is heady, sweet, radiant heavy floral odour with somewhat medicinal character, and with spicy notes of clove in the background. There is a very slight fruitiness (probably from prenyl acetate) and a very slight greenness. The dry-down is round and full-bodied, sweet, warm and with a slightly spicy-carnation-powdery character. The sweetness in some samples almost takes on a honeysuckle aspect.

Ylang I
Top odour note is similar to II. It is a slightly less heady and more ­rounded than Extra. Dry-down is very similar to Extra; but not so strong, with hay-like nuances.

Ylang II
Odour has a little (but not much!) of the heady floral quality of Extra; radiant but not to the extent that the extra shows; not particularly ­medicinal. It is also without the fruity lift of the extra quality, which is, by comparison, more rounded floral-medicinal. It is not as clean and pure. Dry-down is full-bodied, floral, rounded and glowing, but not to the extent of the Extra’s dry-down. It is also cruder more medicinal and more powdery-carnation as opposed to warm-carnation.

Ylang III
The top note odour profile has none of the floral radiance of extra with spicy notes more to the fore, and a somewhat woody-hay character is revealed after a few moments. Dry-down is thinner and less powerful than extra with some suggestion of carnation character but rather oily and generally floral.

Ylang Oil Complete
The overall odour impression by comparison with Ylang II is that it is dirtier in a phenolic sense and has minimal radiance. It has a rich floral character, however, but is interwoven with phenolic and woody notes. Many commercially complete oils are fairly disappointing. Dry-down is sweet floral carnation.”

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