This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
[Footnote 1: A beautiful figure of this also is given in Blume's "Flora Javæ," iii., Magnoliaceæ, tab. I.]
[Footnote 2: Junghuhn, Java, Leipsic, 1852, 166.]
It is not known to me whether the oil of cananga was prepared in former times. It appears to have first reached Europe about 1864; in Paris and London its choice perfume found full recognition. The quantities, evidently only very small, that were first imported from the Indian Archipelago were followed immediately by somewhat larger consignments from Manila, where German pharmacists occupied themselves with the distillation of the oil.
[Footnote 1: Jahresbericht d. Pharmacie, by Wiggers and Husemann, 1867, 422.]
[Footnote 2: Jahresbericht, 1868, 166.]
Oscar Reymann and Adolf Ronsch, of Manila, exhibited the ilang-ilang oil in Paris in 1878; the former also showed the Cananga flowers. The oil of the flowers of the before-mentioned Michelia champaca, which stood next to it, competes with the cananga oil, or ilang-ilang oil, in respect to fragrance. How far the latter has found acceptance is difficult to determine; a lowering of the price which it has undergone indicates probably a somewhat larger demand. At present it may be obtained in Germany for about 600 marks (£30) the kilogramme. Since the Cananga tree can be so very easily cultivated in all warm countries, and probably everywhere bears flowers endowed with the same pleasant perfume, it must be possible for the oil to be produced far more cheaply, notwithstanding that the yield is always small. It may be questioned whether the tree might not, for instance, succeed in Algeria, where already so many exotic perfumery plants are found.
[Footnote 1: Archiv der Pharmacie, ccxiv. (1879), 18.]
[Footnote 2: According to information kindly supplied by Herr Reymann, in Paris, Nice, and Grasse, annually about 200 kilogrammes are used; in London about 50 kilogrammes, and equally as much in Germany (Leipsic, Berlin, Frankfort).]
[Footnote 3: 25 grammes of oil from 5 kilogrammes of flowers, according to Reymann.]
According to Guibourt, the "macassar oil," much prized in Europe for at least some decades as a hair oil, is a cocoa nut oil digested with the flowers of Cananga odorata and Michelia champaca, and colored yellow by means of turmeric. In India unguents of this kind have always been in use.
[Footnote 1: Histoire Naturelle des Drogues Simples, iii. (1850), 675.]
The name "Cananga" is met with in Germany as occurring in former times. An "Oleum destillatum Canangæ" is mentioned by the Leipsic apothecary, Joh. Heinr. Linck among "some new exotics" in the "Sammlung von Naturund Medicin- wie, auch hierzu gehorigen Kunst- und Literatur Geschichten, so sich Anno 1719 in Schlesien und andern Ländern begeben" (Leipsic und Budissin, 1719). As, however, the fruit of the same tree sent together with this cananga oil is described by Linck as uncommonly bitter, he cannot probably here refer to the present Cananga odorata, the fruit-pulp of which is expressly described by Humph and by Blume as sweetish. Further an "Oleum Canangæ, Camel-straw oil," occurs in 1765 in the tax of Bremen and Verden. It may remain undetermined whether this oil actually came from "camel-straw," the beautiful grass Andropogon laniger.
[Footnote 1: Compare Flückiger, "Pharmakognosic," 2d edit, 1881, p. 152.]
[Footnote 2: Flückiger, "Documente zur Geschichte der Pharmacie," Halle (1876), p 93.]
From a chemical point of view cananga oil has become interesting because of the information given by Gal, that it contains benzoic acid, no doubt in the form of a compound ether. So far as I, at the moment, remember the literature of the essential oils, this occurrence of benzoic acid in plants stands alone, although in itself it is not surprising, and probably the same compound will yet be frequently detected in the vegetable kingdom. As it was convenient to test the above statement by an examination I induced Herr Adolf Convert, a pharmaceutical student from Frankfort-On-Main, to undertake an investigation of ilang-ilang oil in that direction. The oil did not change litmus paper moistened with alcohol. A small portion distilled at 170° C.; but the thermometer rose gradually to 290°, and at a still higher temperature decomposition commenced. That the portions passing over below 290° had a strong acid reaction already indicated the presence of ethers. Herr Convert boiled 10 grammes of the oil with 20 grammes of alcohol and 1 gramme of potash during one day in a retort provided with a return condenser. Finally the alcohol was separated by distillation, the residue supersaturated with dilute sulphuric acid, and together with much water submitted to distillation until the distillate had scarcely an acid reaction. The liquid that had passed over was neutralized with barium carbonate, and the filtrate concentrated, when it yielded crystals, which were recognized as nearly pure acetate. The acid residue, which contained the potassium sulphate, was shaken with ether; after the evaporation of the ether there remained a crystalline mass having an acid reaction which was colored violet with ferric chloride. This reaction, which probably may be ascribed to the account of a phenol, was absent after the recrystallization of the crystalline mass from boiling water. The aqueous solution of the purified crystalline scales then gave with ferric chloride only a small flesh-colored precipitate. The crystals melted at 120° C. In order to demonstrate the presence of benzoic acid Herr Convert boiled the crystals with water and silver oxide and dried the scales that separated from the cooling filtrate over sulphuric acid. 0.0312 gramme gave upon combustion 0.0147 gramme of silver, or 47.1 per cent. The benzoate of silver contains 46.6 per cent, of metal; the crystals prepared from the acid of ilang-ilang oil were, therefore, benzoate of silver. For the separation of the alcoholic constituent, which is present in the form of an apparently not very considerable quantity of benzoic ether, far more ilang-ilang oil would be required than was at command.
[Footnote 1: Comptes Rendus, lxxvi. (1873), 1428, and abstracted in the Pharmaceutical Journal , iv., p. 28; also in Jahresbericht, 1873, p. 431.]
[Footnote 2: Overlooking Peru balsam and Tolu balsam.]
Besides the benzoic ether and, probably, a phenol, mentioned above, there may be recognized in ilang-ilang oil an aldehyde or ketone, inasmuch as upon shaking it with bisulphite of sodium I observed the formation of a very small quantity of crystals. That Gal did not obtain the like result must at present remain unexplained. Like the benzoic acid the acetic acid is, no doubt, present in cananga oil in the form of ether.