What is the Difference between Rose Absolute and Rose Essential Oil?

Our farmhouse in northern Wisconsin came with some beautiful fragrant roses out front. They are pink and the petals are very dense. When they bloom for two weeks the fragrance is marvelous and seductive.

I make rosewater by distilling the petals. But before I continue, I want to explain the difference between rose absolute and rose essential oil. Rose Absolute is the fragrances, vitamins and minerals of rose distilled in water.

All the water soluble elements of the flower are dissolved in water. The absolute smells heavenly, but has a rather short life expectancy of several months. Usually I keep my absolutes in the refrigerator to prolong their life expectancy.

Rose Essential Oil, on the other hand, will last longer, because the oil preserves the fragrance, vitamins and minerals in a concentrated and more durable oil base.

Essential oils are not water soluble and float on top of the absolute during the distillation process. But only a tiny quantity of essential oil can be distilled from the same amount of rose petals. The oil floats on top of the watery absolute and can be skimmed off. About 6 bales of rose petals will create 1/16 cup of Rose essential oil. That is one reason that rose essential oil is so expensive.

Making Rosewater

You can see these roses are beautiful, but they bloom for only two weeks in the summer. I have to be quick to catch them before they fade. Usually I pick them in the early morning, when they are freshest.

To make Rose Absolute I use a very primitive down-home still. I turn a glass saucepan lid upside down with the knob over a bowl inside the pan. Then I fill the saucepan with mixture of water and petals (as many petals as I can push into the water, keeping the level below the top of the inside bowl.) When the rose petals and water come to a boil, I place ice in the top of the inverted sauce pan lid. Thus the steam that is created by the boiling water rises to the lower surface of the inverted lid, and is condensed by the ice cold lid. It then becomes liquid and slides down the knob to the bowl in the center. To keep your absolute fragrant, be sure the bowl is higher than the level of the water and petals mixed together.

What ends up in the bowl becomes my Rosewater. I only have a few bushes, so sometimes I can hardly see any rose essential oil floating on the top of the absolute.

But the absolute creates beautiful, naturally fragrant rosewater, that I use on my face. The more fragrant the roses I use, the more fragrant the rosewater will be. Unfortunately, many modern roses are bred to bloom all summer and rarely have fragrance. It seems as if their energy is expended in blooming, not in creating wonderful fragrance.

Rose Absolute and Rose Essential Oil have Different Vitamins and
Minerals

Because some minerals and vitamins are absorbed in water and some are only soluble in oil, absolute and essential oil have slightly different advantages for the skin.

They both smell elegant and will help raise your spirits. Essential oil helps with acne and skin dermatitis and has emollient qualities. Rose water is also good for acne because of its antibacterial qualities. Try each one and see which one works the best for you.

Enhancing Beauty Using Rosewater

Our grandmothers knew that rosewater is wonderful for complexions and for skin rejuvenation. Sometimes rosewater was rubbed on hands after washing dishes, or doing laundry, to heal the skin and nourish it. What a great way to smell wonderful after a day of washing clothes and hanging laundry out on the line.

Rosewater is a glamour enhancing final touch to shampooing your hair. After the conditioner, and after you have lightly towel-dried your hair, add rosewater to enhance the smell of your clean hair. If you insist on blow drying your hair, you are better off adding the rosewater to dry hair, after you finish blow drying it. Then let it air dry naturally.

I often mix rosewater with pure witch hazel to make a wonderful Rosewater Skin Toner. The witch hazel helps to clean the skin without drying it, and the rosewater nourishes the skin cells and smooths the surface of the skin. Plus, it smells wonderful! A great addition to a before bed routine.