First and foremost, absolutes are not essential oils and should never be labeled as such. If you find a company labeling absolutes as essential oils, do yourself a favor and don’t buy from them.
Like essential oils, absolutes are highly aromatic extracts but they differ in how they’re made. Essential oils must be created either by steam distillation (most plants) or by expression (for citrus oils only), which means they grate or press the rinds and collect the oil that is released.
Some plants are either too delicate to withstand the process (like Jasmine) or have constituents that are too heavy to be distilled effectively. When that’s the case, they go through a complex process which includes solvent extraction. The solvent is then removed, but a trace amount of it can remain.
Absolutes tend to be even more aromatic and concentrated than essential oils. So while it’s true that with essential oils a little goes a long way, you need even less when using an absolute.
If you want more information, here’s a great article on absolutes from Aromaweb.
Some people become sensitive to Jasmine absolute after it’s been repeatedly applied topically. For this reason, it’s always best to dilute it in an unscented oil or lotion if you’re going to wear it as a perfume. Some companies sell it pre-diluted which means it costs less and you don’t have to dilute it yourself. Safety that costs less? Sign me up!
Jasmine has many uses, below are some of the more common:
Blending note: Which oil(s) you blend with the Jasmine will depend on what effect you’re trying to achieve… But, If you’re feeling down may I suggest blending the antidepressant jasmine with one of the uplifting citrus oils listed above. You won’t be sorry, they really do smell wonderful together. If you want to ramp it up from wonderful to divine, add some neroli. It’s truly heavenly.
Before absolutes were created via solvent extraction, they were made by a time consuming extraction into fat via a process called enfleurage. If you’re interested in learning more about the process, you can read two articles on Cold and Hot Enfleurage here.
You can still occasionally find a jasmine absolute that was created via enfleurage, but it’s going to be much more expensive than the already pricey solvent-extracted one. Still, the enfleurage extracted one will have quite a different aroma than the solvent extracted one, so if you’ve got some extra cash it might be worth trying once.
There are 3 species of Jasmine that are made into absolutes: Jasmine officinalis (often referred to as Jasmine Sambac or Jasmine officinalis var Sambac), Jasmine grandiflorum (generally labeled as Jasmine Grandiflora), and Jasmine auriculatum.
The main differences between the species are their smell and where they’re cultivated. And if you read the second Eucalyptus profile, you’ll know that where they’re grown has a large impact on their chemical makeup and therefore smell.
Jasmine officinalis (Sambac) – is night-blooming jasmine. It has a very heady, exotic aroma. It is grown in Europe, Northern Africa, and the U.S.
Jasmine grandiflorum – is dawn-blooming jasmine. It has a much lighter fragrance than it’s nighttime counterpart. It’s widely cultivated and is reportedly naturalized in Guinea, the Maldives, Mauritius, Reunion Island, Java, the Cook Islands, Chiapas, Latin America, and much of the Caribbean.”
Jasmine auriculatum – is a much rarer oil than the other two. It’s described as being a more rounded fragrance; still intensely floral but with a fruity aroma underlying the flowery notes. It is cultivated commercially in India and Thailand. I came across this species when I was researching this article and I’m going to order some as soon as my wallet recovers from my trip to the pain conference in California that I just completed.
Because there are 3 species of Jasmine that are made into absolutes, you want to make sure that any absolute you buy is labeled with the species that was used. Of course any essential oil or absolute you buy should give you the latin binomial (2 name – i.e Genus species) of the plant that was used to make the oil… even if only one species is typically used. If it’s not labeled appropriately it’s not far-fetched to assume that the company is either hiding something or sloppy with their labeling (and if they’re sloppy with labeling, what else are they sloppy about?).