ROSE Oil

The ancient Rose, first among the flowers, has been the most treasured throughout history. It is used today for both skincare and medicine; the oil in perfumery, and all parts of the herb in products.

a scattering of beautiful pink Roses, ready for distillation, Rosa damascena.
1. The Bulgarian Rose, Rosa damascena

ROSE – Absolute and Uses

By Jeanne Rose

Can I say, I love the  species Rose that produce blooms only once a year, the most beautiful and treasured of buds, so highly sought after for scent, for medicine, for skincare, and for love.

Rose COMMON NAME/LATIN BINOMIAL ~. The Rosa centifolia or R. damascena is the traditional rose used for blending and perfumery while the Rosa gallica or Apothecary Rose is the traditional rose used for medicine and for therapy. There are dozens of iterations of the common name for Rose.  These include the beach rose, the French or Apothecary rose (Rosa gallica), the dogrose (Rosa canina), tea rose, moss rose (Rosa moschata), and many more. Roses are used for blending, perfumery and in medicine.

_______Other Names and background ~ Queen of the Flowers and the name Rose was probably taken from the Greeks. Some other important roses are Rosa alba (Rosa damascena alba) – White Rose;  Bourbon Rose, R. x bourboniana (Edouard Rose); Rosa x centifolia – Cabbage Provence rose or Rose de Mai (confused with the Kazanlik); and Rosa damascena (Rosa damascena forma trigintipetala or Kazanlik Rose. Rose essential oil is called rose otto or attar of rose.

_______Family ~ Rosaceae

COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN FOR ROSE ABSOLUTE ~ Bulgaria, India, Syria, Morocco, Iran, and more.

ENDANGERED ~ Some Rose varieties, types and cultivars are endangered. Some are extinct. However, the genus itself is not endangered and some species are not endangered. Species Roses are grown for scent and often hard to find, while the 35,000 or more varieties are grown as ornamentals and for their looks.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF Rose PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH ~ Human breeders of rose varieties  have tampered and toyed with the Roses to make them bigger, have more colors, and bloom more often. However, this reduces the number of  odor molecules, and thus newer varieties have less to no fragrance.

Do not be confused by pictures of Roses that any company uses when they discuss Rose oil; they are mostly showing you pictures of recent varietals rather than the ancient and true essential oil species Roses.

Rose is a woody perennial flowering plant with a need of sun to produce its lovely odor.

Marianne Griffeth of PrimaFleur.com in a field of Roses, 2009. Photo by Jeanne Rose
M. Griffeth of Prima Fleur in a Rose field, 2009 • photo by JeanneRose

Rose – PORTION OF PLANT USED IN EXTRACTION AND YIELDS ~ The only Roses that are grown for perfumery and medicinal uses are the species Roses. These include Rosa centifolia, R. damascena, R. borboniana and some R. alba. Whole Roses and/or petals only are the only parts used in the hydro/steam-distilation and solvent extraction. Flowers can also be treated by maceration with hot fat (not oil) and will give the Pomades and Extraits de Rose. The essential oil content of the rose petals collected in cool season is higher than that of the petals collected in warmer season. Distillation is better and more productive in the morning, at 5 am than it is 12 hours later at 5 pm.3

            Yield of Rose absolute via solvent extraction Rose absolute yields 20-25% essential oil. But its essential oil composition is different from rose oil and also from concrete.3

Yield of Rose oil via hydro/steam distillation – varies: 0.12% +. Some 3000 parts of flowers yields only one part of oil. 1 kg rose oil can be obtained from 3000-4000 kg of rose petals. So, the rose oil yield is up to about 0.03-0.04%.

Two samples of Rose absolute showing color and sitting on tope of Nadim A. Shaath lovely book, Healing Civilizations.
Prima Fleur Botanicals, Rose absolute on the lovely book, Nadim A. Shaath lovely book Healing Civilizations.

ORGANOLEPTICS OF SOME ROSE samples

 Rose absolute #302Rose absolute #355Rose steam-distilled
ColorDeep redDeep redVery pale yellow
ClaritySemi-clearSemi-clearclear
ViscositySemi-viscousSemi-viscousViscous-crystalline when cool
Intensity of OdorDepends on terroir, 3-4Depends on terroir, 43-4
TasteBitter/sourBitter/sourbitter
Tenacity in a BlendAlways adds the unexpectedAlways adds the unexpectedUse personally, not for perfume
Description of sensory aspects of 3 Rose samples

ROSE ABSOLUTE SCENT DESCRIPTIONS ~ Rose scent is best experienced in true Species roses and in the essential oil and absolutes made from them. Scent is also dependent upon terroir, how the Rose is grown. The business of breeding flowers with a long shelf life has often meant that there is a “steep decline in floral scents: in part because volatile and pigment molecules share biochemical resources, so that more color means less scent, in part because some scent volatiles are also plant hormones that shorten vase life.”1

                  Rose oil and absolute is very complex because it has dozens of components.  It can be described as being very floral, with a green and woody subsidiary note and spicey and sometimes fruity back note.

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ROSE History ~ Rosa x centifolia is a descendent of the Rosa damascena which in itself was a natural hybridization of several species native to the Middle East and Europe and it and Rosa centifolia are the main roses used for blending and perfumery.  Harold McGee in his wonderful book, Nose Dive, states that the damask rose is a combination of the Gallic Rose (Rosa gallica), the musk rose (Rosa moschata) and another, an Asian species.1

Rose was distilled in Morocco and by the Berbers 1300 years ago.The Rosewater was regenerative in skincare and used in food – both to perfume and for taste.

One open bloom of Rosa centifolia
Rosa centifolia – JeanneRose photo

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Rose absolute CHEMISTRY AND COMPONENTS ~ The components in the solvent extracts, concretes, and essential oil are somewhat different.  Here we speak of the solvent extracted absolutes.  The main components are as follows2:

75% phenyl ethanol – a floral odor that attracts bees and repels ants
5% citronellol – rosy scented
3% geraniol – rosy scented
3 + % linalool – a floral odor that attracts bees and repels ants
2.5% nerol – rosy scented

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GENERAL PROPERTIES of the Rose oil and herb

The general properties of the Rose oil and extracts are analgesic, antibacterial, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antitussive, slightly astringent, hypnotic, tonic, and the herb tea is a mild laxative.

Applications in Skincare ~ Rose oil and absolute are used for all skin, particularly dry skin or aged skin. Any blend that you make and use on the face will reduce tension and stress in the skin and relax and smooth out wrinkles.

ROSE ANTI-AGING SKIN FORMULA
Creamy Rose Lotion for all types of skin.
Step 1. 1-ounce rose hydrosol (or distilled water if you have no hydrosol)
1-ounce Sunflower oil or Jojoba oil or a combination
½ ounce Shea butter 
¼ teaspoon Rose wax or another flower wax
Warm, and melt gently all together in a very small pot.
Step 2. Make your synergy of oils and absolutes and success the mixture
Rose Geranium oil – 6 drops
Rose absolute oil –8 drops
2 drops – Vetivert
Step 3. Add the synergy to the warm oil, wax, and butter, stir gently until integrated.
Step 4. Pour into container, shake or stir until cool
Step 5. Apply twice a day after cleansing.

BLENDING Rose FOR PURPOSE AND PERFUMERY ~ Rose oil and absolute has a unique ability to blend well with anything. It works well with woods, citrus, florals, spices, resins and the Mediterranean herbal blends and in most perfumes. Add it you’re your synergy, drop-by-drop until you achieve the scent you like.  Try a Millefeuille Perfume of all florals, such as, tuberose, jasmine, rose geranium, lavender, with the green Violet leaf and with especially Atlas Cedar and Sandalwood.

Rose INHALATION AND DIFFUSION ~ Are you feeling very stressed and overcome with the events of the day? Take out that bottle of Rose absolute and inhale away.  It is soothing to the heart and relaxing to the body.  After a few seconds you will be smiling and relaxed.  Rose has many purposes; both old and new. The absolute, and concrete is best for perfumery while the attar or otto is best for internal uses.

RITUAL USE ~ Rose oil either inhaled or applied to the forehead relieves headache and stress, and it makes you feel better soothing any shock or grief. Rose oil has a history of positive use in rituals for pain and a source of spiritual love and of joy and happiness. There are many ways to use the ancient Rose scent.

HERBAL Rose ~ There is almost nothing more relaxing than a rose petal bath.  Just pick the petals and strew in the hot water. The heat extracts the fragrance and the smoothing emollient quality of the petals to cleanse and soothe the skin. 

Rose petal tea with honey  is a slight laxative especially useful to give to children as it is tasty. And Rosehips are loaded with vitamin C and are a tasty tea when they are available or dried and saved.

Rosehips on a bush, the fruiting part after flowering, used in tea. Photo by JeanneRose 2011
Rosehips • 8/31/11 JeanneRose photo

INGESTION/CULINARY USE OF THE HERB Rose. First of all, do not take the absolute internally as it is solvent-extracted.  You can take a drop of the otto for emotional care –  is good for the mind and heart. Remember it is the species Roses you want to become familiar with and not the low-scented varietals.

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HYDROSOL OF ROSE ~ ROSEWATER ~ Rosewater has unlimited potential to improve any skincare product –  add to any cream, lotion, tonic, moisturizer, bath, and more. Add it to foodstuff, beverage, cocktail. It is always soothing. It can be used with Seaweed extract and Rosemary herb for a true AntiAging elixir. it is anti-aging and actually good for your skin and in foods it is tasty. Try it. Read any of my (Jeanne Rose) books for many more uses.

Key Use ~ Perfumery & skin care. Oil of the Heart©.

Safety Precautions ~ None known. Non-toxic. Non-irritant.


This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

Art nouveau vase with two bottles of Rose absolute in front.
Vase with PrimaFleur Rose Absolutes

References

1.McGee, Harold. Nose Dive – A Field Guide to the World’s Smells. Penguin Press. 2020

2.Shaath PhD, Nadim A. Healing Civilizations, The search for Therapeutic Essential Oils & Nutrients. Cameron + Company, Petaluma, CA. 2017

3. OIL-BEARING ROSE (Rosa damascena Mill.) CULTIVATION AND ROSE OIL INDUSTRY IN TURKEY* (*published in Euro Cosmetics 14 (6):13-17, 2006)

Bibliography

Rose, Jeanne. The Aromatherapy Book, Applications & Inhalations. Available jeannerose.net/books.html

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Cautions to remember
Safety Precautions

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