Rose essential oil is an exquisite but expensive essential oil. When you see the price tag you might wonder if it is worth the high price just to smell the roses. Add to that the confusion surrounding rose oil and you might well opt for geranium essential oil instead. Geranium essential oils has many of the same constituents as rose essential oil at a much lower price tag. But there is no oil that can compare with pure rose oil for strength or for benefits. Geranium has its own signature and in fact some rose oil distributors cut their rose oil with geranium essential oil to lessen the cost.
Always look at the laboratory report before you buy rose oil to ensure that the product you are buying has not been adulterated. Only pure rose essential oil will offer these health benefits.
There are 4 different old garden roses that are used to make rose oil. Rosa gallica, Rosa damascena, Rosa alba, and Rosa centifolia are the main rose varieties that are used for distillation of rose oil and rose essential oil. Steam distillation of rose essential oil began in the Middle East, most likely in Turkey, during the Ottoman Empire. It moved to Bulgaria in 1655 using Rosa damascena roses and to France under Napoleon, using Rosa centifolia roses. Today rose essential oil is distilled in Iran, Turkey, France, Bulgaria, China, and India.
2 rose oils, one rose
When you are looking at the essential oil catalog you might get a bit confused. There are two products that are called rose oil or rose essential oil, but there are differences in the products and in the product safety. It’s important to understand these differences.
First of all both kinds of rose essential oil begin with hand picked fragrant roses. Oil roses bloom only once, during a 6 week period that begins at the end of May and ends the beginning of July. Picking begins early in the day before the sun rises. Time is of the essence. The roses lose 30% of their essential oil to evaporation, once the sun rises and touches the blossoms.
But once the roses move to the distillation phase the way the roses are handled differs.
Rose absolute is rose oil that is distilled with the use of chemical solvents. By using chemical solvents less roses are needed for a set amount of rose oil. However, rose absolute always retains a small amount of the chemicals used to extract the rose oil, so it should never be used internally or for flavoring food. It takes 6 fragrant roses to make 1 drop of rose absolute. The ratio of roses to rose oil with rose absolute is 600:1. It takes 600 kilograms of roses to make 1 kilogram of rose absolute. Or another way to look at it, it takes 600 hand-picked roses to make one 5 ml bottle of rose absolute. (A 5 ml bottles contains 100 drops of essential oil.)
So as you can imagine, a 5 ml bottle of rose absolute is going to be a little bit pricey.
Rose absolute is less expensive than Attar of Roses or Rose Otto, the steam distilled rose essential oil, mostly because it takes less hand-picked roses to distill it. When rose absolute is distilled, rose wax is a by-product, a soft botanical wax that smells strongly of roses. Rose wax is used in skin care products and in perfumery.
Rose absolute is useful in perfume, skin care, and aromatherapy. You might think that this has limited use, however, many of the benefits of rose essential oil come from just smelling the roses. Rose absolute is commonly called “rose oil” to distinguish it from Rose otto or attar of roses.
Rose otto or attar of roses
Rose otto is the same product as attar of roses, the difference in names comes from different languages used to describe the same product. Rose otto is the steam distilled essential oil from Damask roses (Rosa damascena). Only steam is used to distill the essential oil. The final product is safe for internal use. Although it is very expensive, a single drop goes a long way.
Rose otto is the real essential oil of roses. It takes 30 fragrant roses to make a single drop of rose otto. The ratio of roses to rose essential oil with rose otto is 3000:1. It takes 3000 kilograms of roses to make 1 kilogram of rose otto. Or another way to look at it, it takes 3000 hand-picked roses to make one 5 ml bottle of rose otto. That’s a lot of hand-picked fragrant roses.
When rose otto is distilled, a by-product is rose water, or rose hydrosol. Rose hydrosol is useful for skin care and for cooking. I keep a spray bottle of rose hydrosol in the fridge and spritz my face with it when I am feeling sleepy in the middle of the afternoon. It is cooling, astringent, and fabulous for tired eyes or clouded thinking.
Stop and smell the roses
Many of the benefits of rose essential oil comes from smelling the roses. Rose essential oil is made up of more than 300 constituents. It isn’t possible to create the fragrance of roses in a lab, it is too complex.
This complex combination of natural aromatic oils has several health benefits only found in rose essential oil.
Benefits of rose essential oil
Rose essential oil is beneficial for:
- Brain health
- Heart health
- Lung congestion
- Eyes, nose, and throat
- Women’s health
- Anti-aging skin care
- Cold and flu support
- Lung support
- Reduction of rosacea
It is used for:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Stopping headaches
- Heart tonic
- Support in breast, lung, ovarian, and cervical cancers
- Improving metabolism
- Stimulates the growth of beneficial microbiome while inhibiting bad bacteria in the gut
- Allergy relief
- Cold and flu relief
- Liver support
- Pain relief
- Skin care
- Beauty products
- Anti-aging products
- Menstrual pain
Rose essential oil is:
- Neuro protective
- Bronchial dilator
- Heart tonic
How to use rose essential oil or rose oil
Rose absolute and attar of roses are very strong essential oils and should only be used diluted. The scent can be over powering if used at too high a concentration. Dilute it at .6%. That’s just 2 drops of rose essential oil per 3 to 4 teaspoons of carrier oil. If you are using a diluted rose absolute you’ll need to adjust the amount to account for the dilution. For instance a 10% blend of rose absolute should be diluted at 2%, or 2 drops of 10% rose oil to 1 teaspoon(5 ml) of carrier oil.
Rose absolute should not be used internally. But it can be used safely in a diffuser. Try 1 drop of rose and 5 drops of lavender essential oil as a calming, relaxing, anti-anxiety diffuser blend. Create a massage oil by using 1 drop of rose oil to 4 teaspoons of carrier oil. It doesn’t seem like much, but that single drop represents 300 roses. It will have a powerful effect.
Rose can be pain relieving, relaxing, and tonic. It’s especially useful for “women’s complaints,” brain health and memory, and emotional well being.
Cautions with rose essential oil
- Rose oil increases skin permeability – only add rose oil to skin care products with top quality organic ingredients.
- Do not use if you are allergic to roses
- Avoid internal use of rose essential oil if pregnant — rose essential oil is bioactive
- Rose oil is not considered child-safe.
- Because of the high cost of rose oil, use rose water, rose petals, and rose buds for tea and cooking.
What to look for when purchasing Rose Otto or Rose Absolute?
Because some companies cut rose oil with lesser quality geranium essential oil, only buy rose oil from an essential oil company that offers batch chemical analysis of the specific rose oil you are purchasing. Because rose essential oil is a natural product the chemical constituents can vary year by year. Each batch will be different. But the essential oil company should offer a batch analysis.
Rocky Mountain Oils offers an analysis of each batch of their rose otto essential oil. They don’t carry rose absolute.
Plant Therapy offers an analysis of each batch of their rose absolute. They do not carry rose otto.
Find out more about the safe use of essential oils here.
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