The rose, Queen of flowers! Her fragrance captured in the essential oil, is the most precious of all heavenly scents. It refreshes the soul; its fragrant poetry brings joy to the heart.
Fischer-Rizzi’s quote perfectly describes the intense beauty and impact of rose. Rose oil is considered to be the most exquisite essential oil in the world!
There are more than 3,200 species with the genus Rosa.
However the most important commercial essential oil producers are rosa centifolia, rosa damascena and rosa gallica. Other species may be grown to produce an oil or rose extract.
Method of extraction
The term “absolute” refers to rose oil that has been solvent extracted, where Hexane is generally the solvent. This extraction process draws out all the aromatic compounds as well as other substances such as pigments and waxes.
The solvent is then removed by vacuum distillation. This remaining product, which is often a waxy mass, is referred to as a concrete. The concrete is then mixed with ethanol, which dissolves the aromatic constituents, leaving the waxy component behind. Then the alcohol is then low-pressure evaporated, leaving behind the finished absolute.
The benefit of solvent extraction is the low temperature at which the extraction takes place and the fact that this method removes all the aromatic compounds found in the flower.
Rose absolute vs rose otto
Many aromatherapy authors clearly explain that rose oil is available as an absolute or as a steam distilled oil, referred to as an ‘otto’. However these same authors, myself included, often do not clearly differentiate between the properties of the absolute and the otto. The reader is often left to assume that the two have similar properties.
While the absolute and otto do indeed share similar qualities, their chemistry is quite different and as such, there are some notable differences in the aromatherapy uses of rose absolute and rose otto.
Some aromatherapists argue that the absolute is devitalised, has no life force and is therefore a “dead chemical substance”. However we can also argue that the distillation process involves a much higher temperature, which is more likely to damage the life force of the plant.
Others are concerned about solvent residue in the oil. In the past it is well known that toxic solvents were used, however these solvents have now been banned. We can argue that many solvent extracted oils are now used in food flavouring as there are strict regulations controlling the type of solvents used.
Wabner, a world leading authority on rose oils, says rose absolute is a superior oil to rose otto. He points out that rose otto contains constituents such as rose oxide and damascenone that are not naturally found in the rose. These components are a by-product of the high temperature distillation process.
Schnaubelt also explains that absolutes are far more complex, hence the difference in the aroma between an absolute and otto is quite dramatic. Traditionally absolutes have been used for expensive perfumery purposes. Rose absolute is also far more tenacious than rose otto.
This monograph refers to the rose absolute oil. In a future essential oil monograph we will discuss rose otto.
Country of origin
Rose is adaptable to a wide range of environments, however for oil production, the most important rose growing areas are Bulgaria, Morocco and Turkey.
Temperature and humidity are the most important factors that influence flowering. A long spring season with a mean temperature of 5-15 ̊C is critical for a high flower yield with a high oil content.
Perfect Potion’s rose absolute is from Turkey and is extracted from Rosa centifolia.
Rose absolute is an orange-yellow to orange-brown viscous liquid with a rich, warm, sweet, spicy-floral and very deep rosy aroma.
It is often suggested that rose absolute has the following properties;
There are many reported aromatherapy uses for rose absolute such as;
- Nervous system – nervous tension, stress related conditions, depression, anxiety, irritability and mood swings.
- Female reproductive system – PMS, irritability and mood swings.
- Skin care – dry, sensitive and mature skin.
Using the Myers Briggs Personality types, I would describe rose absolute personality as an ENFP – Extrovert, Intuition, Feeling and Perceiving type personality.
Typical characteristics of a rose absolute personality therefore include the following:
They are outgoing, lively and spontaneous. They are very enthusiastic and their joy for life is contagious. They have a rich imagination and active mind. They can be inspiring and charismatic. They are always involved or in love with someone or something new. They love emotional intensity and enjoy expressing their feelings. They are generally overly enthusiastic, positive and optimistic. They prefer to work at their own pace with minimal structure or supervision.
Rose is the symbol of love and is often compared to the soul. The subtle qualities of rose absolute are revealed in its ability to heal the heart and emotional wounds.
Fischer-Rizzi beautifully describes the subtle qualities of rose absolute;
Rose comforts in times of sorrow, dissolves psychological pain, refreshes a sad heart, and opens the doors to love, friendship and empathy.
Worwood associates rose absolute with the desires of the heart. She goes on to say that aroma awakens the acknowledgement of the divine mysteries of the universe.
Heart chakra and Sacral chakra.
Rose is often referred to as cooling however, this refers to rose otto. I believe that the energetics of rose absolute are warming and gently tonifing on the body’s Qi energy; therefore, I prefer to use rose otto in skincare and nervous tension-related conditions and rose absolute for healing emotional wounds.
How to use
Bath Typically for a full body bath in a tub, use up to 5 drops of essential oils in the tub of warm water.
Foot or hand baths may be prepared by adding 2-3 drops of essential oil to a bowl of warm water.
Massage Use a 2.5% dilution of the appropriate blend of essential oils to a chosen carrier oil. However, if just using rose absolute, use no more than 1% as the absolute is far more concentrated than a normal essential oil.
Note: 20 drops approximately equals 1 mL, therefore, a 2.5% dilution equates to 5 drops of essential oil to 10mL of carrier oil. A 1% dilution equates to 2 drops of essential oil or absolute to 10ml of carrier oil.
Inhalation Generally I would not use rose absolute on its own in an essential oil diffuser as its aroma is so rich. I would blend it with other essential oils. I would advise keeping rose absolute to less than 20% of the total blend in your diffuser.
When using essential oils in a diffuser, please follow the instructions of the specific diffuser that you are using.
Rose absolute arouses passion and sensuality in a perfume. It contributes to the exquisite middle (heart) note of a perfume.
In perfumery, rose absolute blends well with;
- rich warm resins such as benzoin, peru balsam or frankincense
- sweet citrus oils such as bergamot, sweet orange or mandarin
- floral, fresh, herbaceous oils such as lavender, geranium and palmarosa
- warm and subtle woody and earthy oils such as sandalwood and patchouli
- rich floral oils such as jasmine and ylang ylang
You can enhance the depth and intensity of rose absolute by blending it with patchouli or geranium.
In aromatherapy, rose absolute may be blended as follows:
- healing emotional wounds – blend with oils such as bergamot, lavender, frankincense, geranium, jasmine absolute, sweet orange, mandarin and sandalwood
- Female reproductive system – blends will with bergamot, roman chamomile, clary sage and geranium.
- The heart chakra – blends well with bergamot, lavender, neroli and ylang ylang.
Perfect Potion products with rose absolute
I love using rose absolute to create passion and sensuality; therefore, you will find it in Perfect Potion products such as Lust pulse point or Perfect Passion massage oil.
Rose absolute nurtures the heart chakra and as such, you will find it in our heart chakra blend – Compassion.
In perfumes it adds a rich, warm, sensual, floral note that makes Turkish Moon and our peace perfumes Shalom and Salam so popular.
Other products with rose absolute include the green goddess range, pure rose body oil and celebration essential oil blend.
Rose absolute is considered non-toxic, non- irritant and non-sensitising. No contraindications known.
Battaglia S. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy. 2nd ed, Brisbane, 2003.
Fischer-Rizzi S. Complete Aromatherapy Handbook. Stirling Publishing Co., Inc. New York, 1989.
Lis-Balchin M. Aromatherapy Science – A guide for healthcare professionals. Pharmaceutical press, London, 2006.
Mojay G. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. Healing Art press, Rochester, Vermont, USA, 1999.
Schnaubelt K. The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils. Healing art press, Rochester Vermont, 2011.
Tisserand R, Young R, Essential Oil Safety. Churchill Livingstone, 2nd ed, UK, 2014.