There are two different types of Rose oil; Rose Otto and rose absolute.
The essential oil is extracted from the petals of various types of rose. Rose ottos are extracted through steam distillation, while rose absolutes are obtained through solvent 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.
There are two major species of rose which are cultivated for the production of rose oil:
- Rosa damascena, the damask rose, which is widely grown in Bulgeria, Turkey, Russia, Parkistan, India, Uzbekistan, Iran & China
- Rosa centifolia, the cabbage rose, which is more commonly grown in Morocco, France and Egypt.
Due to the labour-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.
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, in order to obtain the water-soluble fractions of the rose oil 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 colour and will form white crystals at normal room temperature which disappear when the oil is gently warmed.
The essence has a very strong odour, but is pleasant when diluted and used for perfume. 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 food flavouring as well as in skin care.
In the solvent extraction method, the flowers are agitated in a vat with a solvent , which draws out the aromatic compounds as well as other soluble substances such as wax and pigments. The extract is subjected to vacuum processing which removes the solvent for re-use. The remaining waxy mass is known as a concrete. The concrete is then mixed with alcohol which dissolves the aromatic constituents, leaving behind the wax and other substances. The alcohol is low-pressure evaporated, leaving behind the finished absolute. The absolute may be further processed to remove any impurities that are still present from the solvent extraction.
Rose absolute is a deep reddish brown with no crystals. Due to the low temperatures in this process, the absolute may be more faithful to the scent of the fresh rose than the otto.
According to aromatherapy practitioners, inhaling essential oil molecules (or absorbing essential oils through the skin) transmits messages to the limbic system (a brain region responsible for controlling emotions and influencing the nervous system). These messages are believed to affect biological factors such as heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, and immune function.
Benefits and Uses of Rose Oil
The health benefits of Rose Essential Oil can be attributed to its properties as an antidepressant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, aphrodisiac, astringent & bactericidal.
Rose Otto essential oil has a beautifully feminine aroma and it is unsurpassed when used in skin care to balance combination skin, and nourish dry or ageing skin.
There is no finer essential oil than Rose Otto oil for mature or dry skin in need of deep moisturisation. This divine smelling essential oil soothes, softens and hydrates the skin whilst bringing a gentle toning action that helps to strengthen the collagen-elastin network. This network is what keeps your skin soft, supple, radiant and young-looking.
How to Use Rose Oil
When combined with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, sweet almond, or avocado), rose oil can be applied directly to the skin or added to baths.
Rose oil also can be inhaled after sprinkling a few drops of the oil onto a cloth or tissue (or by using an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer).
Rose oil should not be taken internally without the supervision of a health professional.