Cananga odorata, or ylang ylang, is a flowering tree with a unique scent. The flowers of the Cananga tree are often used in perfumes and aromatherapy. The essential oil of ylang ylang is often adulterated due to its rarity.
The oil can be standardized with aroma chemicals such as prenyl acetate, linalyl acetate, benzyl acetate, p-cresyl methyl ether, geraniol, or geranyl acetate. Aroma chemicals are easy to come by and are an easy way to bring an oil up to ISO standards. Similar oils, like gurjun balsam, copaiba balsam, lavandin residue, and cedar wood terpenes, can be used to create a ylang ylang oil as well. The subspecies macrophylla is also used to adulterate Cananga odorata oil due to very similar chemistry.
Ylang Ylang is unique in that it is graded based on the duration of distillation. Ylang ylang extra superior is oil that is collected from the first half hour of distillation. This is the highest grade available. The next grade is ylang ylang extra, which is taken from the second hour of distillation. Ylang ylang 1st grade is the third grade and is taken during the third hour of distillation. The oil from the fourth to sixth hour of distillation is classified as ylang ylang 2nd grade. The lowest grade is collected after the sixth hour and is classified as ylang ylang 3rd grade. This is considered the lowest quality of ylang ylang. Ylang ylang complete oil is a blend of ylang ylang extra, 1st grade, and 2nd grade. Often, ylang ylang oil is adulterated by blending multiple grades while claiming to sell a pure grade. Lower grades can also have aroma chemicals added to mimic the chemistry of a higher grade.