Not sure what an essential oil absolute is? If you’ve been around the aromatherapy world for any amount of time you’ve likely heard someone talking about absolutes.
Today, we’re going to be looking at what absolutes are, how they’re made, and how they relate to essential oils and aromatherapy.
What is an Essential Oil Absolute?
The term essential oil absolute is actually an incorrect term because absolutes and essential oils are two different things.
Absolutes are very similar to their essential oil cousins when it comes to being aromatic, sourced from plants, volatile, and able to be used for a variety of health and wellness concerns.
Where they differ is with how they’re created.
How Are Absolutes Made?
Absolutes are extracted using chemical solvents that are removed later in the extraction process, with a small amount of the solvent remaining in the finished product.
Solvent extraction, as in the case of absolutes, is used when the plant material is too delicate to fare well in other distillation practices, such as the commonly used steam distillation practices.
In many cases, steam distilling this delicate plant matter will not yield very much essential oil at all, whereas solvent extraction can yield much higher amounts.
Obtaining oil from chemical solvent extraction is a two-part process. In part one the plant matter is mixed with the solvent and the solvent acts as a magnet of sorts to pull the oil from the plant material. This leads to having a mixture of solvent and oil at the end of the process.
During the second stage, the solvent is removed from the oil leaving behind only trace amounts. In many cases the solvent can be recycled and reused in later solvent extractions.
Essential Oils vs Absolutes
Fragrantly speaking, absolutes are generally more potent in scent than are essential oils. I’m sure you’ve heard that a little bit of essential oil goes a long way, in the case of absolutes this is even more true.
Absolutes are also a heavier, thicker substance than most essential oils. Most aromatherapy experts say that absolutes actually contain much more beneficial plant material than essential oils simply due to the way the oil is extracted.
Absolutes haven’t always had a good reputation. In the past, many experts suggested that people stay away from absolutes because they were deemed not safe. Most of this went on back in the 50s before good manufacturing practices became a part of the aromatherapy industry.
Today, absolutes are just as safe as their essential oil cousins as long as you’re sourcing your absolutes from reputable companies.
How to Use Absolutes Safely
Where safety is concerned, the safety guidelines of absolutes are very much like those of essential oils.
- Keep them out of the reach of children and pets
- Keep them away from direct sunlight
- Perform a skin-patch test before using topically
- Follow proper dilution guidelines
Most Common Absolutes in Aromatherapy
Some of the most common absolutes on the market today are:
There are many other absolutes available on the market, but these are the ones most commonly sold and used. Just like essential oils, absolutes have their own health, wellness, and beauty benefits and these benefits depend upon the plant material used.
Of those listed above, they’re all great for emotional applications and can all safely be used in any aromatherapy application.
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