The rose is the enduring symbol of love and romance. We give red roses to our loved one on Valentine’s Day, and, despite changing fashions, roses remain one of the most popular flowers in a wedding bouquet. Cultivated in a wide range of shapes and colors, whether you love the traditional rich, velvety red rose, the Old English damask rose or the bright blue of the Waltz Time, there is a rose for everyone.
The name ‘Rosa’ comes from the Greek ‘roden’ meaning ‘red’, as the ancient rose was thought to have been crimson. It is believed that Anicenna, the 10th century Persian physician, used the rose as his first plant to distill and a rose distillery existed in 1612 in Shiraz, Persia.
In many cultures the rose is used at weddings. Often in the West rose petals are scattered by flower girls at weddings to ensure a happy marriage and are still a symbol of love and purity. In the East the flowers are also used to aid meditation and prayer.
Did you know it takes about 60,000 roses (about 180 lb) to make one ounce of pure rose essential oil – that’s a LOT of rose petals.
Pure rose essential oil is extracted from the fresh flowers of the Damascus Rose (Rosa Damascena), by steam distillation. The heat used in the distillation process is carefully controlled, as the aroma can be damaged if the heat is too high. The resulting oil is composed of hundreds of components, out of which the major contributors are citronellol, citral, carvone, citronellyl acetate, eugenol, ethanol, farnesol, stearpoten, methyl eugenol, nerol, nonanol, nonanal, phenylacetaldehyde, phenylmethyl acetate, and phenyl geraniol. Damascus Roses are the preferred variety because they are the most fragrant species and are believed to be the original red roses with the strongest aroma and highest oil content.
Rose essential oil is believed to have numerous health benefits including anti-depressant, antiseptic, anti-viral, aphrodisiac, astringent, and anti-bacterial. It can even be added to bath water and used to help with menstrual cramps.
Even so, needing so many flowers to obtain such a small amount of oil means the cost of pure oil is extremely high. Often pure rose essential oil is sold in a dilute version, which means the product usually contains 5% rose oil blended with a carrier oil. This retains the scent and beneficial properties of the essential oil but at a much more affordable price tag.
Another way to keep the cost down is to use a synthetic fragrance oil. This is especially useful if you are making candles and don’t need to worry about the benefits of the pure oil.
Rose oil (both essential oil and fragrance oil) blends well with other fragrances, in particular vetiver, sandalwood and patchouli for a complex, spicy note. To keep it light and floral, blend the rose oil with any other light, fresh florals such as bergamot, jasmine, lavendar, orange blossom and ylang-ylang.
We will be featuring the rose fragrance in our May box, especially for Mothers’ Day. Why not gift your Mom this beautiful floral treat?