Monday, March 10, 2008

What are ABSOLUTES?

Hmm... in the non-essential oil world, 'absolutes' are statements of purported authority, true-isms... but in the world of essential oils, Absolutes are aromatic oils extracted from plants, but are not considered true essential oils because they are not obtained by distillation but by chemical solvents. This is NOT the most desirable way to extract the oil of a plant because there are always residues of of the solvents left behind which adulterate the oil and may be toxic.

Unfortunately, the aromatic essences of some plants cannot survive the heat and hydration of distillation. Extracting them as absolutes is the only practical way to obtain them at this time. The solvents are usually ethanol, methanol, benzene, or hexane. All but the first of these are toxic chemicals. Absolutes are sometimes called "essences". Absolutes usually contain a wider range of molecular sizes than essential oils, including some fatty oils such as lauric acid.

Among the most popular absolutes are Jasmine and Neroli, extracted from jasmine flowers and orange blossoms respectively. Onycha oil is another absolute oil, popular since the Old Testament days of Moses (Exodus 30:34). It has powerful anti-microbial properties and has been used as an antiseptic (called tincture of benzoin) in hospitals for more than 200 years, to the present.

(The foregoing information was extracted from Margarete de Gaston's Scent Pro newsletter, February -08 issue.)
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