Natural Materials: Ylang ylang Essential Oil

Many people ask about ylang-ylang. This tropical flower makes an essential oil that is a sensual and exotic floral.

Canaga odorata, ylang ylang flowers
Canaga odorata, ylang ylang flowers


  • Source – Canaga Odorata from Indonesia, Philippines and Polynesia
  • Plant parts used – flowers
  • Aromatic extract– Steam distilled essential oil

Ylang has a very unusual scent. Unlike many other florals that are light and delicate, ylang-ylang is deep, heady, and heavy.  It is sweet and sometimes sharp with floral, butter, carmel and even rubbery notes. The aroma is sultry and sensuous, and is even considered an aphrodesiac. In Indonesia, the fragrant ylang-ylang flowers are strewn across the beds of newlywed couples.

Ylang-ylang is one of the few flowers that is commonly available as an essential oil. Many florals must be extracted with a solvent because regular steam distillation does not yield much, if any, essential oil. There are several grades of Ylang-ylang indicating what fraction of the distillation the oil comes from. The essential oils from the first few hours of distillation are called Extra and First, then hours later come 2nd and finally 3rd.  When the distiller combines oils from all the fractions, this oil is called Ylang ylang Complete. Often the Extra and 1st fractions are considered the finest essential oils, while others prefer the more rounded Complete oil.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *