Rose was possibly the first flower from which an essential oil was ever distilled back in 10thC Persia. However, it is still extremely difficult to produce oils from rose petals.
Through extraction, we are able to make three different scents that vary in their likeness to fresh rose. From rose essence, with a sweet and fruity scent similar to jam and flavoured honey, to rose absolute, a spicier scent with a heavier rose note, to rose essential, an opulent scent with hints of each part of the rose coming through, rose petal and crisp green.
To produce essential oils, roses are harvested when the flower is in half-bloom. At this point the flower has a higher yield and creates a finer fragrance. Rose blooms are harvested at sunrise and processed the same day to prevent fermentation.
Rose petals are mixed with water in a large copper still and heated. The heat causes the water and petals to evaporate. This vapour is collected and condensed and for collection, as rose oil is lighter in density than water the two fluids form separate layers and the rose oil can be collected from the top. The remaining water is then redistilled; this releases extra fractions of the roses which are soluble in water. These final fractions are responsible for the majority of the scent of rose oils. Rose Essence is light yellow in colour and remains a liquid at room temperature.
Rose Absolute (Rose Concrete)
To create Rose Absolute, roses are placed in an extractor along with solvents. The flowers are washed with the solvent, to remove the aromatic components found in rose petals. The solvent is then removed from the floral solution. Finally, liquid is filtered; the product of this is a waxy liquid known as rose concrete.
Alcohol is added to the concrete to separate much of the wax from the olfactory elements. The alcohol is evaporated off, leaving behind a deep red viscous liquid, Rose absolute.
Containing all of the olfactory components of a rose in bloom, Rose Essential is created using a combination of rose oil extractions such as distillation and steam stripping. Steam stripping makes it easier to obtain the aroma of rose at a lower temperature. This ensures the blooms do not begin to decompose and the natural scent is not altered.
Combining this process with resin extraction and water distillation results in the scent closest to the natural scent of a rose. The fragrance consists of green, floral notes, sweet rose petals and the crisp scent of a fresh cut rose.