Popular, Hard to Come By and Fabulous!
We’ve recently received a lot of requests for and inquiries about Ylang Ylang oil, one of the most complex and exquisitely fragrance essential oils of all. This is another oil which has conspicuously shot up in price over the last year. The Comoros Islands are the most prolific producers of Ylang Ylang oil, exporting approximately 80% of the world’s Ylang Ylang oil. As with the Comoros Islands’ other two biggest export commodities, vanilla beans and cloves, production and availability of Ylang Ylang oil fluctuates dramatically in response to both demand and supply, which is often determined by natural disasters such as powerful cyclones.
Today, the Comoros Islands are producing approximately half the volume of Ylang Ylang oil they produced five years ago, and with powerhouse consumers like Chanel buying up the oil to manufacture perfumes, competition between buyers is intense!
tComplicating matter is that the Comoros has been in a state of terrible political upheaval. On March 25th, African Union Forces, including troops from Sudan, Tanzania, Senegal, supported by France and Libya Launched an invasion of Anjouan, one of the three autonomous islands making up the Comoros. The primary objective was to topple Mohamed Bacar’s allegedly illegal Presidency, after local elections in defiance of the federal government and the African Union. Bacar fled the Comoros and is being held in custody at the French Reunion air base. We hope that life in the Comoros will soon return to normal and that people can get back to persuing prosperous enterpises such as distilling more Ylang Ylang!
If you find a bargain on Ylang Ylang oil which seems too good to be true, it’s probably untrue…Ylang Ylang oil, also known as Canaga odorata variety genuina, is frequently cut with or simply substituted with plain old Canaga oil, also know as Canaga odorata variety macrophylla. The two oils have much in common, but genuine Ylang Ylang oil has a creamy mellow floral note which you’re not likely to find even in the best Canaga oil. Nevertheless, buyer beware.
While most of the Ylang Ylang inquiries I’ve received lately are about price, it’s more common to be asked about the significance of the numerals “I”, “II” and “III” which one finds attached to the name Ylang Ylang. I think I’ve heard a hundred different explanations of what these numbers mean. I’m not going to claim to be an authority on the matter, but I’ve had the good fortune to speak to several distillers who all agree with one another on the correct interpretation of these figures.
The distillation of Ylang Ylang oil is generally done in stages, during which the producer interrupts the distillation process and separates portions of the total yield of oil. For example, The producer distills a quantity of Ylang Ylang flowers for a number of hours and then stops, removing the collected oil. This oil is described as “Ylang Ylang extra”. The producer then resumes distillation, which goes on for a slightly longer interval than the first and then stops again, removing the collected oil. This oil is described as “Ylang Ylang I”. The process continues at increasingly longer intervals, the final interval lasting 24 hours or more, and Ylang Ylang II and Ylang Ylang III are collected.
Each Fraction of Ylang Ylang oil possesses it’s own aroma, which an educated nose would have little difficulty distinguishing between. Ylang Ylang Extra is the most sought after for fine perfumery and Ylang Ylang III is most commonly used for scenting candles and cold process soaps. Ylang Ylang I and Ylang Ylang II are in between grades, and are the most popular for cosmetic and aromatheraputic applications. There is also a Ylang Ylang Complete, which is distilled with interruptions, and is made up of the full yield of a single Ylang Ylang oil distillation.