Just like essential oils, absolutes are highly concentrated, oily mixtures extracted from plants. These are aromatic liquids that, unlike essential oils (which are produced via steam distillation process), are extracted with the help of a complex process, called solvent extraction, which involves the use of a chemical solvent. This chemical solvent is later removed during the final stages of production. For instance, an organic solvent such as hexane is added to the plant material, to help extract the hydrophobic compounds. Absolutes are always more concentrated than essential oils. They last for a longer time, as compared to essential oils, since they are highly concentrated and even a little serves the purpose.
In case of absolutes, the efficiency and the low temperature of the extraction process prevents the probable damage to the fragrant compound. However, the solvent extraction method is, at times, considered to be an inferior method of extraction, as there are chances of the solvent being left out in the final product. This is termed as impurity and is undesirable, when absolute oils are used for aromatherapy and perfumes. In aromatherapy, it can cause allergies and affect the immune system adversely, while in perfumery, the impurity may cause off notes in the final fragrances. Nevertheless, absolutes are widely used for aromatherapy and perfumery applications.
Why Use Solvent Extraction Method
Solvent extraction method is a gentle process, in which volatile compounds like petroleum, benzene and ether are used to derive the aromatic compounds from the plant. There are certain botanicals, which are too fragile and their aroma cannot be distilled by the steam extraction method. Solvent extraction is the best method for dealing with such plants. Some of the plants that lie in this category are jasmine, mimosa and tuberose. It should be noted that absolutes should never be taken internally by anyone, as the solvent impurity may harm your system.
There are some popular varieties in absolutes as well, which we have listed below:
Lavender absolute is extracted with the help of alcohol and makes the perfect ingredient for creams, soaps and lipsticks. This absolute has a distinct floral and woody fragrance that is typical of a lavender scrub.
Rose absolute is made out of rose blossoms and chemical solvents. It has an intense feminine scent and is used widely for soaps, creams and lotions. Besides being aromatic, rose absolute is known to have anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities. It is an expensive product, as a huge quantity of rose blossoms go into its making.
As the name suggests, lotus absolute is extracted from the white or pink lotus. It is known for its healing properties, which account for its wide popularity.
Jasmine absolute is one of the oldest absolutes, used extensively in perfumes and therapy sessions. Besides having the aromatic property, it has effective aphrodisiac properties. It can also regulate the irregular menstrual cycle in women. The absolute has antiseptic and antidepressant properties as well & can effectively relieve headache.
Oakmoss absolute has an enchanting fragrance, which is both earthy as well as woody. This absolute has a refreshing effect and spreads fragrance throughout the atmosphere.