As you delve deeper into the world of essential oils, you are bound to come across products like Jasmine Absolute and Rose Absolute. Though the differentiation can be confusing, absolutes are not standard essential oils. As the name suggests, absolutes are more potent version of oils because they are extracted using different techniques. Despite their differences, absolutes can be just as valuable as essential oils in perfumery and aromatherapy.
Defining and Understanding Absolute Oils
To understand how absolute oils are created, you first need an introduction to the extraction of essential oils. When regular essential oils like Peppermint or Tea Tree are obtained, they are converted into a vapor that condenses back into a liquid. This process of distillation involves suspending the freshly picked plant parts over boiling water so that the steam can pull the plant’s oils right out. As the steam rises it is captured in a large vessel that pushes it along through tubing and catches the oil that separates out when the water cools.
However, a number of flowers are too delicate to endure the process of distillation. When fragile flowers like the lily and lotus are placed through distillation, the intense heat damages the petals and ultimately ruins the oils. In order to capture the full fragrance of the plant, the oils of these flowers must be extracted differently, and they have come to be known as absolute oils.
The Process of Extracting an Absolute Oil
Plants parts destined to become absolute oils, such as honeysuckle flowers, are placed into a cylindrical drum with an organic solvent like hexane or toluene. The solvent extracts the aromatic oil from the flower before being removed and leaving behind a waxy substance known as a concrete. Ethyl alcohol is then employed on the concrete to extract and separate the waxy residue from the aromatic oil. Like the original solvent material, the ethyl alcohol is removed, and only the absolute oil remains.
The Value of Absolute Oils
It’s important to note the differences between absolute oils and essential oils, since those differences dictate how absolute oils should be used. Absolute oils are likely to still contain trace amounts of wax, pigments, solvents, and ethyl alcohol, but they offer the most potent and concentrated form of natural fragrance. Essential oils, meanwhile, are completely pure without any of the extra constituents found in absolutes, but essential oils have a lighter aroma.
These differences make absolute oils most valuable in natural perfumery. In fact, most high-end perfumes contain different absolutes like Jasmine and Vanilla.
Despite the residues of solvents and alcohol remaining in absolutes, technology has progressed so much in past years that the residue levels are so diluted- down to parts per trillion!- that high quality absolutes can still be used therapeutically.
Applying Absolute Oils to Your Own Life and Wellbeing
Rose absolute oil is one of the most popular oils of all time, and it can be used in a number of ways for its fragrance and therapeutic purposes. Rose is a calming and uplifting oil that can also soothe inflammation, so it’s perfect for stress relief and menstrual and menopausal problems. Massaging a mixture of Rose oil and carrier oil into the skin has been found in multiple studies to significantly reduce menstrual and menopausal symptoms while also alleviating anxiety by decreasing breathing rate and blood pressure.
Other popular absolutes like Jasmine, Neroli, Lotus, Gardenia, Frangipani, Carnation, Vanilla, and Lavender each offer their own therapeutic purposes in addition to their incredible fragrances and aromas.