Using Absolutes

Absolutes are an exciting, natural ingredient often used by perfume crafters.  Absolutes are like essential oils in that they come from the volatile, organic fluids extracted from flowers such as rose, jasmine and orange blossom.  They differ from essential oils, however, in that they are solvent extracted, and may retain a minute amount of the original solvent, which disqualifies them from therapeutic use.  They contain a high density of waxes and other aromatic constituents from the original botanical which give them a highly concentrated, true to nature fragrance.

Because of the high density of the material in the absolute, many absolutes are thick and can be rather solid, especially at lower temperatures.  The best way to work with them is to gently heat the absolute by placing the oil in its container in a warm water bath over heat.  Make sure there is enough warm water to go above the fluid line in the absolute container, and slightly loosen the cap on the container, while taking care to make sure no water enters the container.  Remember that the absolute will slightly expand as it heats, and make sure there is enough space in its container to accommodate this!

Allow the absolute to warm for about 15 to 20 minutes, periodically lightly stirring the absolute, until it gets to a texture you can work with.  (The amount of time this will take varies by absolute).  Gently preheat any container you will be moving the absolute to (especially if it is glass!) and any implement you will use to move the absolute (such as a glass eye dropper!), to minimize thickening and residue.

When your absolute is heated and liquid enough to work with, you might want to dilute it in a carrier oil and remove any non-soluble particles by pouring it through a fine mesh strainer or unbleached coffee filter.  The degree to which you will want to dilute it is largely a matter of personal preference.  For a heavily scented absolute, you might find that a 10% dilution (1 part absolute to 9 parts carrier oil) will work well.

Your diluted absolute will now make an excellent natural perfume, crafting ingredient (think lotion bars or body butters!), or component in a blended natural perfume.  Enjoy it!