Aroma Quality of Lavender Water: a Comparative Study

Lavender is mostly known as a fragrance for its oil and flowers. The oil, containing mostly esters, alcohols, terpenes and ketones, is obtained by steam distillation of the flowers. Lavender oil is used in perfumery and aromatherapy. Folk medicine attributes lavender antispasmodic, expectorant and calming properties. Lavender oil is recommended as a relaxant and against headaches and migraines. It may be used topically on cold sores, eczema, sunburns, scalds and insect bites. Lavender flowers may be used in infusions as expectorant or sedative. Aromatherapists also traditionally use lavender water, the water condensate obtained by separation from the oil after distillation. Like the oil, it is praised for its healing and calming properties. With increasing popularity for natural products, lavender and other floral waters are now marketed as nebulization sprays or spritz for personal or space odorant. Cosmetic companies are developing new products using floral waters in shampoos and lotions. In the food area, some dessert or beverage recipes may call for floral water, including lavender. However, to our knowledge, there is no published data on the analytical composition of lavender water. It most likely contains hydrosoluble compounds and the soluble fraction of the oil compounds.

The objective of this study was to compare the aroma of lavender waters of different species and from different geographic regions by gas chromatography and by sensory analysis. Aromatic compounds were extracted from the waters by solid phase microextraction (SPME). In the method we compared headspace versus immersed sampling.

Free-choice profiling (FCP) was used as the descriptive sensory method. FCP takes into consideration panelists’ different perceptions and use of language. Panelists are allowed to use their own words to describe products. The minimization of training can speed up the whole of the process. Data are analyzed with the multivariate statistical analysis generalized Procrustes analysis (GPA). The analysis takes into account different uses of the scale, including the use of different words among panelists. GPA provides individual and consensus configuration, revealing the relationships between the samples based on descriptors given to each sample by each panelist.

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