Rose Oil – Esssentially the Queen of Oils

Posted on Saturday 29 March 2008

One of the oldest and finest ingredients used in perfumes and cosmetic products is Rose Oil. With over 5,000 varieties of Roses, there are only a select few that produce the desired fragrance for essential oils. The pink flower of Rosa damascena produces the finest oil and is grown and manufactured in Bulgaria and Turkey.

Even after centuries of cultivation, Bulgarian Roses are still picked by hand at dawn – before the Rose loses its fragrance to the sun. The Roses flourish around the foot of the Balkan Mountains and in other pockets of Bulgaria, blooming in May-June it dictates the oil production season. The oil must be produced within 24 hours of harvesting, while the flowers are fresh. After 24 hours the flowers are considered unusable. Rose Otto Bulgarian is produced by water distillation.

Mild and humid weather prior to May produces a better oil yield and finer fragrance. If the weather is too hot the flowers mature too quickly. So that the mature flowers are not wasted, picking may need to continue late in the day. Afternoon picking produces a lower quality oil and yield. An average yield would be 1 kg of essential oil produced from 4,000 kg of Rose flowers.

The aroma of Rose Otto is immensely rich with a warm, deep floral odour reminiscent of freshly cut roses. At temperatures below 20 degrees Celsius it is generally a solid product. It has a strong fixative nature.

Rose Otto Moroccan (Rosa centifolia), also known as the Light Pink Cabbage Rose, has been unavailable for some time as the Otto – water distilled oil. There is a limited supply of the Absolute, as this is a less costly and time consuming process to manufacture. Morocco experienced drought for several years, which jeopardised all crops that lacked irrigation. The market for the Moroccan flowers is mostly for the dried flower producers, only limited flowers remain for the distillers and extractors.

In the analysis of Rose oil it is as important to identify what should be there, as it is to identify what should not be there. As one of the most expensive essential oils, Rose has been a subject of adulteration. Traditionally, essential oils such as Palmarosa were used, today with better analysis techniques adulterants have become more sophisticated. Careful examination by experts of the GC and MS readings will bring these adulterants to light, however, the examination needs to be thorough, not just the major peaks.

As a contributor to the world’s finest perfumery and cosmetic products, Rose oil is an ingredient recognised as a valuable, if not essential, component.

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