Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose
Pages ages page ages page ages.
- Sacred Emily,
written in 1913 by Gertrude Stein
Two famous poems stand out when we think of roses. This one by the American turned Frenchwoman Gertrude Stein and there is also the passage from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet where Juliet laments the importance of a name and states that "...a rose, but by any other title would smell as sweet...".
Roses are perhaps the most common garden flower producing perhaps the most known fragrance. But despite the prevalence of roses, the essential oil of the flowers is heralded as the most luxurious and effective ways to nourish body and soul. The history of rose oil distillation dates to the 8th Century and the oil was praised by Persian culture. Rose essential oil contains numerous compounds used since ancient times to heal, smooth and refine skin in addition to its aromatherapeutic properties to uplift mood and relieve depression and anxiety.
But when we discuss Rose essential oil, the literary assumptions of the rose need to be discarded. Because in the world of oils, a rose is not always a rose.
There are two common ways to produce rose essential oil, one produces Rose otto essential oil. The other produces Rose absolute essential oil. This post will discuss these two processes and explain why for Nourish Botanicals, Rose otto is the only rose essential oil we use.
Rose otto essential oil
Rose otto essential oil is produced using water as the distillation medium. Steam is passed over the rose petals taking with it the oil in the flowers that are released into the steam. This steam is collected into a reservoir and this liquid contains a film of oil on top of the water distillate. The oil is collected from the top and the water distillate which still contains some oil is then re-distilled to release even more oil which is again taken from the distillate and added to the original rose oil layer. Because there is only 0.02% oil present in rose petals, it takes 10,000 kg of rose petals to produce 1kg of oil. The remaining rose distillate water is termed hydrosol and is a useful ingredient in skin care products as it retains different, water-soluble compounds of great benefit to the skin.
Rose absolute essential oil
Rose absolute is produced by passing hexane (yes the petrochemical-derived neurotoxin) through rose petals, thereby extracting and carrying with it a distillate termed rose concrete. It takes 350kg of rose petals to produce 1kg of rose concrete which comprises about 166 compounds including the aromatic oils and other compounds including plant waxes which are stripped from the petals by the hexane. About 30 of these compounds are residual hydrocarbons (from the hexane). This rose concrete is then subjected to a series of washings with ethanol that washes out the aromatic oils. This ethanol/rose oil mixture is then evaporated leaving behind the oil and any ethanol/hexane that may remain.
Because of the residual chemical contamination in Rose absolute and because for our products we prefer not to encourage distillers to rely on environmentally damaging (not to mention high risk for the workers carrying out the distillation) chemical processes, we always choose to use Rose otto essential oil produced from organically grown roses.
Fortunately, it is possible to treat ourselves with beautiful products containing Rose otto oil. One of the most luxurious things is the application of a serum containing Rose otto oil before bed to relax and uplift our spirits and nourish our skin with the unique and numerous nutritious compounds. Just be sure that you choose products containing Rose otto rather than Rose absolute.
Our Renew Night Serum
contains a generous pairing of Rose otto oil and Frankincense essential oil, distilled from the resin of the Boswellia carterii tree, and also beneficial to the complexion as well as aromatically. This serum has been handcrafted, bringing these precious essential oils together with some of the most luxurious carrier oils available to deliver deep restoration and relaxation.