Dear EG, What's the Difference Between Absolutes and Essential Oils?
If you’ve been apart of the aromatherapy world, you have likely seen the term absolute circulating, and perhaps already have a firm understanding of what this term means. However, for those of you who are unsure about what an absolute is or how they differ from an essential oil, Edens Garden hopes to increase your comprehension on the subject and help you along on your aromatherapy journey.
The difference between absolutes and essential oils is the method of obtaining the oil. Absolutes are obtained through solvent extraction. A solvent can be a chemical or alcohol. In solvent extraction, a solvent is combined with plant material. The solvent attracts the oil from the plant material, and the solvent and oil are then separated.
Solvent extraction is used on plant material that is more delicate and not easily distilled. An example being Jasmine. When Jasmine is steam distilled, very little oil is produced and the oil does not have as nice of an aroma as solvent extracted Jasmine.
Another example is Rose. Steam distilled Rose essential oil (also known as Rose Otto) has a very different aroma than Rose absolute, and is not as desirable in perfumery as Rose absolute is. Rose absolute is very high in a constituent called phenylethyl alcohol (PEA) which separates from the oil when steam distilled. PEA contributes in large part to Rose’s classic flowery aroma.
The method in which an oil is obtained can greatly affect the outcome of an oil, and this is how absolutes and essential oils differ.
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