Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rose Essential Oil - Rose Otto versus Rose Absolute

Hello, Everyone! I hope July was a great month for you, and I hope August has been and is a month full of wonderful blessings for you! Today, I sharing information about rose oil.

I love roses! They are one of the most beautiful flowers in the world, and their fragrance is sublime. I definitely 'smell the roses along my way', even in grocery stores that have flowers for sale. As you know, pleasant aromas create a sense of bliss making us feel better, less stressful. The heavenly aroma of roses enduces such bliss and stress relief, quite well.

Also, you may know that the quality of essential oils vary due to the way they are extracted. Below, are helpful details to know in order to select the more 'organically-produced' rose oil of the choices available.

"Rose oil, meaning either rose otto (attar of rose, attar of roses) or rose absolute, is the essential oil extracted from the petals of various types of rose. Rose ottos are extracted through steam distillation, while rose absolutes are obtained through solvent extraction or supercritical carbon dioxide extraction, with the absolute being used more commonly in perfumery. Even with their high price and the advent of organic synthesis, rose oils are still perhaps the most widely used essential oil in perfumery.

Two major species of rose are cultivated for the production of rose oil:

  • Rosa damascena, the damask rose, which is widely grown in Bulgaria, Turkey, Russia, India, Uzbekistan, Iran and China

  • Rosa centifolia, the cabbage rose, which is more commonly grown in Morocco, France and Egypt

Most rose oil is produced in Bulgaria, Morocco, Iran and Turkey. Recently, China has begun producing rose oil as well.

More than 300 compounds have been identified in rose oil. The most common are: citronellol, geraniol, nerol, linalool, phenyl ethyl alcohol, farnesol, stearoptene, α-pinene, β-pinene, α-terpinene, limonene, p-cymene, camphene, β-caryophyllene, neral, citronellyl acetate, geranyl acetate, neryl acetate, eugenol, methyl eugenol, rose oxide, α-damascenone, β-damascenone, benzaldehyde, benzyl alcohol, rhodinyl acetate, phenyl ethyl formate

The key flavor compounds that contribute to the distinctive scent of rose oil, however, are beta-damascenone, beta-damascone, beta-ionone, and rose oxide. Beta-damascenone presence and quantity is considered as the marker for the quality of rose oil. Even though these compounds exist in less than 1% quantity of rose oil, they make up for slightly more than 90% of the odor content due to their low odor detection thresholds.

ProductionDue to the labor-intensive production process and the low content of oil in the rose blooms, rose oil commands a very high price. Harvesting of flowers is done by hand in the morning before sunrise and material is distilled the same day.

There are three main methods of extracting the oil from the plant material:
  • Steam distillation, which produces an oil called rose otto or attar of roses.

  • Solvent extraction, which results in an oil called rose absolute.

  • Supercritical carbon dioxide extraction, yielding an essential oil that may be marketed as either an absolute or as a CO2 extract.

Steam Distillation
In the process of distillation, large stills, traditionally of copper, are filled with roses and water. The still is fired for 60–105 minutes. The vaporized water and rose oil exit the still and enter a condensing apparatus and are then collected in a flask. This distillation yields a very concentrated oil, direct oil, which makes up about 20% of the final product. The water which condenses along with the oil is drained off and redistilled, cohobation, in order to obtain the water-soluble fractions of the rose oil such as phenyl ethyl alcohol which are a vital component of the aroma and which make up the large bulk, 80%, of the oil. The two oils are combined and make the final rose otto.

Rose otto is usually dark olive-green in color and will form white crystals at normal room temperature which disappear when the oil is gently warmed. It will tend to become more viscous at lower temperatures due to this crystallization of some of its components.

The essence has a very strong odor, but is pleasant when diluted and used for perfume. Attar of roses was once made in India, Persia, Syria, and the Ottoman Empire. The Rose Valley in Bulgaria, near the town of Kazanlak, is among the major producers of attar of roses in the world.

Due to the heat required for distillation, some of the compounds extracted from the rose undergo denaturing or chemical breakdown. As such, rose otto does not smell very similar to "fresh" roses.

The hydrosol portion of the distillate is known as rosewater. This inexpensive by-product is used widely as a food flavoring as well as in skin care." ~ Wikipedia.

Carbon Dioxide Extraction - read about at

Read the complete article: Rose Oil.

For addtional information about rose oil, you may enjoy the book, 'Rose Oil' by Julia Lawless, available via Also, the Doctor's Health entry 'Endometriosis and Essential Oil--Rose Otto' and Rose contain helpful information about rose oil.

Some sources of the rose otto/attar of rose essential oil (specifying o-i-l, rather than other forms offered such as perfume, concrete, & etc.) are:

Videos about Rose Oil Production

Distillation Extraction - Rose Otto a.k.a Attar of Rose

Solvent Extraction - Rose Absolute & Rose Concrete

When I acquire some of the precious, distilled rose oil I will utilize it like perfume and dab a drop on my wrists, behind my ear lobes, and add a few drops to my organic home-made hair butter. I think the price of the distilled rose oil is well worth its quality, chemical-less extraction process and therapeutic qualities.

Take care, and enjoy the rose!


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