Orris oil

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An illustration of the Iris germanica

Orris oil (orris butter or Beurre d'Iris) is an essential oil derived from irises, particularly Iris germanica.[1] It is sometimes used as a flavoring agent and as an ingredient in perfume production. It can also have uses in body lotions.

Storage and use[edit]

The rhizomes (roots) must be stored in a cool, dry location for three years to develop the scent.[1] The fresh rhizomes are almost odorless.

The distilled oil solidifies in the receiver as a wax-like and cream-colored mass known as orris concrete. It is solid because of the high content of myristic acid (85%), a white sterin-like substance.[1]

Orris concrete melts when it reaches around body temperature. It has a woody, fatty-oily, yet distinctly violet-like odor: sweet floral, warm & tenacious with a fruity undertone. Orris concrete is used in perfumery (as such) when the presence of myristic acid is not prohibitive, e.g.: in soap perfumes where the weak acid only acts as a fixative. Also note, the methyl and ethyl esters of myristic acid are often used for blending in violet type perfume bases. Because of the high costs involved in producing orris concrete it limits its application to a certain degree. Yet even small amounts of this exquisite material lends to very fine effects in various perfume types other than the old fashioned violet.


  1. ^ a b c Harborne, Jeffrey B.; Baxter, Herbert (2001-08-30). Chemical Dictionary of Economic Plants. John Wiley & Sons. p. 85. ISBN 9780471492269. Retrieved 2014-09-22.