The essential oil of ylang-ylang is extracted by steam distillation of fresh flowers of the ylang-ylang tree, which bears the scientific name Cananga Odorata and is commonly found in the rain forests of certain Asian and South Pacific Islands like Indonesia, Philippines, Java, Sumatra, Comoro and Polynesia. There are several grades of Ylang-ylang essential oil which are extracted at different times during the flower's lengthy distillation. These grades are referred to as extra, I, II, & III. This is the first distillation of the oil. Color: Pale to golden yellow clear liquid. Consistency: Thin Note: Base Strength of Aroma: Medium Aromatic Scent: Ylang-ylang Essential Oil has a sweet, exotic, floral scent that is one of the most sought after aromas.
Cautions: Ylang-ylang Essential Oil can cause sensitivity on some people and excessive use of it may lead to headaches and nausea.
Basically Ylang Ylang is one of the few essential oils which is distilled and collected in what is called “fractions” which simply means that the raw plant material is continually distilled but the oil is collected off at varying stages throughout the process. This is achieved by stopping the distilling process after for example one hour has passed, collecting that portion of the oil and then beginning again. Normally this process is carried out four times giving:
Ylang Ylang Extra and then grades 1,2 & 3 (although some people sell superior as a differing grade to the extra in practice we have never found much difference between these grades). Just to confuse things further it is also possible to get Ylang Ylang Complete which is a full distillation of the oil with no pauses or is sometimes “manufactured” by mixing the various grades.
First Hour of Distilling Ylang Ylang Extra – this is a high quality perfume grade oil which is usually reserved for fine fragrance use. Its scent is almost Jasmine like with sweet and slightly spicy overtones.
Hours 2-3 Ylang Ylang 1- Cosmetic grade suitable for skin care products and therapeutic use as it will still contain the whole spectrum of compounds.
Hours 3-5 Ylang Ylang 2 – still a high grade oil but slightly higher in sesquiterpenes and usually used in wash off products such as shampoos and shower gels. Still retains a good bouquet but not as heady as the Extra or 1.
Hours 6- 20 Ylang Ylang 3 – comprising mainly sesquiterpenes and lacking that heady aroma, this grade tends to be used for blending and is normally used in toiletries and soap production. It still retains its therapeutic properties though which include sebum balancing and bactericidal properties.
Ylang Ylang Complete - grades 1, 2, and 3 mixed