bsolutes have been made since the time of the pharaohs, although they were known as attars. Absolutes are the most expensive perfumery ingredient. Their scent is longer lasting than essential oils and is the most concentrated floral essence. Absolutes are the result of extracting the essence from extremely delicate flowers and petals, and the truth and fineness of their scent is unequaled. The allure of capturing the beauty of these treasured essences will continue to entice perfumers.
Different techniques of separating the essence from the flower/petal are used. The traditional method of extracting the essence from flowers too delicate for steam distillation is enfleurage. This method is very laborious, as each blossom or petal is placed by hand, one by one, on a tray of tallow, and allowed to rest for several days. The scent of the blossoms or petals is diffused into the tallow. The spent flowers or petals are replaced with fresh ones until the desired level of scent is reached. Next, alcohol is added to the tallow. The fragrance molecules move from the tallow to the alcohol, and the alcohol is allowed to evaporate. You are then left with an absolute. The time consuming, expensive practice of enfleurage is limited in use today and is highly sought after by perfume alchemists.
With the onset of the 20th century, the demand and desire to make perfume affordable for the masses meant production had to move from the atelier to the chemist’s laboratory. This led to creating a less expensive, synthetic production of fragrances. Because of their low cost and stability, synthetics soon replaced natural essences in the manufacturing of perfume, with the exception of the precious florals. By the mid-20th century, the need and demand for a cheaper floral essence had grown and not been met; thus, solvent extraction was developed. Synthetically formulated and solvent extracted essences are the most common and widely used extraction methods today. Although cost-efficient, they leave behind harmful chemicals such as hexane. The concern and desire to produce these precious absolutes without the use of toxic chemicals led to the new CO2 extraction method. CO2 extraction is cost-effective and leaves no harmful chemicals behind. Conscious Choice uses only USDA Certified Organic Compliant CO2 extracted absolutes.
This is just a condensed overview of the various methods.