Absolutes are regarded as the purest and most aromatic form of fragrance from natural plant sources. These highly concentrated products are more fragrant than essential oils, and often portray the truest scent to the natural source. A number of different methods are used to extract fragrance that result in beautifully crafted essential oils, concretes and absolutes.
Expression is a form of fragrance extraction used mainly to produce citrus essential oils due to the high amount of oil found in citrus peels. The peels of citrus fruit are cold-pressed, squeezing out all oil found in the rind, producing the essential oil.
Distillation and steam distillation are most commonly used for the production of eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender and other natural sources that are not damaged through the use of heat.
Distillation occurs when raw materials are heated and the fragrant compounds are released through condensation. Steam distillation is essentially the same, where the heat from steam is passed through the raw materials and the condensation forms a top layer of fragrant oils and a layer of water beneath which can be easily separated.
Absolutes are produced from a complex solvent extraction process that involves no heat which is ideal for delicate raw materials such as rose, jasmine and tuberose that can otherwise damage fragrant compounds through heat and steam distillation. First, the raw materials are submerged and agitated in a solvent that dissolves the organic matter, separating the desired fragrant compound from other plant materials. This produces a thick, resinous and waxy substance called concrete. After this initial solvent extraction method, the concrete is further distilled using ethanol, removing all other organic residues leaving behind the pure fragrance oil. The result is the highly fragrant Absolute that is renowned for longevity, silage, strength and similarity in scent to the original product.
While the Absolute trend is not entirely new, more and more perfumes are being released as an Absolute formulation. Since Absolutes are the purest form of natural fragrance sources, these costly ingredients are establishing a new sense of luxury, quality and longevity among perfumes. Some of the most notable Absolutes fragrances are Tom Ford’s Champaca Absolute, Amber Absolute, and Patchouli Absolu, as well as Hermes Jour D’hermes Absolu. Other perfumers are re-inventing existing formulations to a stronger, Absolute or Absolu version; rekindling interest in the perfumes with a more intense, deeper, and more fragrant version.