Rose Oil (Bulgaria) Absolute
- Distillation Method: Solvent
- Country of Origin: Bulgaria
- Plant Part: Leaves and Flowers
- Latin Name: Rosa damascena
- Cultivation: Naturally Grown
About the Oil: Rich, intoxicating and elevating, this complex, full–bodied Rose Absolute is reminiscent of a field of blooming roses direct from the ‘Valley of the Roses’ in Bulgaria.
This is our favorite Rose absolute of all time bringing out subtle depth and fresh, classic floral notes we have not experienced before– organically grown roses may make the difference.
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About The Plant
The damask rose is a hardy, deciduous, bushy shrub with a height and spread of up to two meters (six feet). It has grey-green foliage and fragrant double flowers, pink in bud and fading to almost white. Also called Summer Damask, Turkish and Bulgarian rose, it requires a very specific soil and climate.
The birthplace of the cultivated rose R. damascena was probably northern Persia. It then spread across Mesopotamia, Palestine and across to Asia Minor and Greece. The European name for the Damascus rose dates from the Crusades and is now incorporated into its botanical name.; Most Rosa damascena is cultivated in the Balkan mountains of southern Bulgaria, in the Valley of the Roses. Because Roses are such an important part of Bulgarian culture, the government regulates their production to ensure the purity of its Rose essential oils.
About The Oil
Three main products are obtained from roses: an essential oil, a concrete, and an absolute. The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the whole flowers, the concrete by solvent extraction of the leaves and flowers, and an absolute by further extracting the concrete. Not considered a main product, but rather a by-product, rosewater is the aqueous portion of steam distillation after the Rose oil is removed. While there are thousands of rose varieties, the 'Damask' rose, cultivated since the 16th, century is considered to produce the finest quality essence. The aroma of this oil is full and rich, intoxicating and aphrodisiac.
Rose absolute is extracted using a delicate and laborious method similar to 'enfleurage' (the pressing of petals in fat to produce an extract). The Rose essence is slowly extracted using pure alcohol, eventually producing a wax-like 'concrete'. A second extraction of the concrete produces the absolute. This method is more efficient than steam distillation, producing nearly seven pounds of oil per 10,000 pounds of roses (distillation yields only one pound of oil per 10,000 pounds of roses) and has a correspondingly lower cost than the steam distilled oils. Absolutes have a more 'complete' aroma, i.e. more true to the flower.
Rose oil has an extraordinarily complex chemistry, with over 300 known constituents, which make up about 86% of the whole. The remaining 14% comprises a large number of different compounds, each in minuscule amounts, but they are vital to the whole oil, both from the point of view of its aroma and its therapeutic properties.
Absolutes are obtained by solvent extraction. Solvent extraction produces a more complete plant extract than steam distillation. However, some minute traces of solvent may remain in the the final absolute. For some aromatherapists this is a deterrent to the use of Rose absolute. Others believe that Rose absolute is preferable to Rose Otto essential oil because the chemical constituents of Rose absolute are identical to the live rose, whereas in Rose Otto essential oil there are constituents present that are by-products of the steam distillation and not found in the rose itself.
Exalted in literature and mythology, the rose has been sacred since ancient times–it's blossom is a symbol of beauty, love, youth, perfection and immortality. In Greek mythology the rose is said to have sprung from Adonis, the Turks believe it sprang from the blood of Venus and the Mohammedans believe it sprang from the sweat of Mohamed.
The rose was probably the first flower from which an essential oil was ever distilled. In 10th century Persia the great Arab physician Avicenna prepared the first Rosewater and is credited with having distilled the first Rose oil, possibly by chance during the course of alchemical experiments. The rose has considerable significance in the theoretical and metaphysical aspects of alchemy, with red and white roses each being thought appropriate to different stages of the alchemist's work. For this reason they were placed in retorts and heated with a variety of different materials in the attempt to transmute base metals into gold, producing rosewater and essential oil accidentally in the process. Avicenna wrote an entire book on the many healing properties of the rose, and by the end of that century rosewater and Rose oil were well-known in Arab speaking countries.
Although Avicenna is commonly credited with the first distillation of Rose oil, it is believed that the oil was not distilled until the early 1600's. Maud Grieve tells the story of how rose oil was first dis-covered in her book A modern herbal, published in 1931. According to Grieve, there was a feast for the Princess Nour Dijhan to the Grand Mogul Djihanguyr. A canal circling the garden was dug and filled with rose water. They noticed later that a scum had formed on the water and was floating on the surface. The scum turned out to be Rose oil that the heat of the sun had caused to separate from the water.
The rose has been deemed the ‘Queen of Flowers', and in aromatherapy Rose oil is often referred to as the Queen of Essential Oils. This Queen of Essential oils has been revered through-out the centuries for it's exquisitely sweet aroma and therapeutic value.