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"Essential Oil" vs. "Absolute" - what's the difference?

edited August 2017 in Botanical Distillation

Hi friends: kindly let me know what differences are between "essential oil" and "absolute"?


  • The Ayurvedic description of essential oil is fairly replete. Not sure what absolute is though
  • Absolutes are exotic oils that are perfect for Perfumery and skin care cosmetic formulation. Absolute oils are similar to Essential Oils, but because these essences are so minute in the plant part, they are much more difficult to extract. Their chemistry so fragile that the method of extracting them is much more complex. They are typically extracted using a food grade solvent which is subsequently removed by evaporation to obtain a pure product. For example, it requires over 14000 rose petals to produce 1 pound of Rose Absolute! Their fragrances are also much more concentrated, hence a very small amount will go a long way.Essential oils are the liquids that are isolated from plants when introduced to solvents – they are liquefied versions of the plants!

    Popular extraction methods include: Steam Distillation, Solvent Extraction, CO2 Extraction, Maceration, Enfleurage, Cold Press Extraction, and Water Distillation.

    The method of extraction affects essential oil quality by way of pressure and temperatures applied.

    Some extraction methods are best suited to particular plant types and parts; for example, Cold Press extraction is better than Enfleurage for obtaining oils from citrus fruit peels, because the peels need to be pierced and squeezed, which is not achievable through Enfleurage.

  • Absolutes are typically part of the world of perfume...highly concentrated. Lavender absolute (Lavandula angustifolia) is a dark-green liquid, and is both sweeter and less floral than the essential oil. It is a valued perfumery and aromatherapy material. (Note: It is amazing to see discussions move away from a focus on marijuana in particular toward the idea of marijuana as an essential oil. Major trend seen industry-wide, with topics on this at our Expo:

  • absolutes are not considered an excellent choice in aromatherapy as solvents are used. The Flavor and Fragrance industry uses them.

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