Monday, 12 April 2010
Shirley Price Rose essential oil
Its easy to become poetic when talking of the flower of the heart the Rose. Floral oils are associated with the reproductive system and rose oil is associated with love and romance.
By plane we travel to Sofia, Bulgaria. From here its an easy drive to Toundja and Struma the two "valleys of the roses". The soil here is ideal being underlain by gravel, limestone and sand. Sp's rose oil supplier is located in Zimnitsa near to Kazanlak. The oil comes from fields near Shipka. Keeping the rose fields is labour intensive and things reach a peak with the harvest around my birthday on June 16th. With filtration the rose oil becomes available in August.
The maths - from field to 3ml Sp bottle
At harvest 35 pickers descend on the 25 hectares of fields in early june to pick the roses. It takes 3 hours to fill a 15kg bag to yield 3ml bottle of Sp rose oil. Our purchase of 1kg (333 bottles of 3ml) requires a hectare of Roses.
I like to go personally to meet and get a feel for the harvest where I can. Depending on the seasons climatctic conditions it takes between 4000kg-7000kg of flowers to distill our 1kg of oil. The oil comes to us in a traditional 'concoum' with its government certification.
Of course the price varies and a buyer must be well informed! There is an English saying "the buyer must have 100 eyes, the seller needs only one!"
One of the buyers bibles is a monumental work published in the USA in 1949. The Essential Oils by Guenther is in the college library. Volume V pages 3 to 56 covers the oils of the Rosaceae plant family.
Passing steam through the Rose flowers would only result in a glutinous mass. In fact the flowers have always been boiled from early times and the steam from the twice boiled water yields the oil. Its not hard to imagine neanderthal man placing hot stones from the fire into a container of water with flower petals to yield a sweet smelling water. We go from these primitive beginnings to the impressive agriculture and industry that produces rose oil today.
Rosa Damascena or 'pink damask rose' is part of the Rosa Centifolia Group. True Rosa Centifolia L or 'light pink cabbage rose' is very hard to get hold of. Even our moroccan suppliers have gone over to the damascene rose. Most rose oil is extracted with volatile solvents which yield an absolute for perfumery. Rosa Alba 'white rose' is kept as hedging to protect the pink roses and can be found in coarser Rose oils.
The odour of the oil is powerful and characteristic. On cooling at 16-22 degrees a thin skin of crystals forms on the surface. On further cooling the oil congeals to a transparent soft mass.
Despite this distinguishing characteristic adulteration has been raised to such a science that the congealing can be fabricated (spermaceti to simulate a normal stearoptene content Guenther p25). This goes to show Rose Oil should only be purchased from a reputable source. There is no substitute for personal contacts. That cannot be adulterated.
With every 10ml Rose oil bottle RRP £220 we sell Sp also provide 10ml of our finest Lavender Fine Wild Lavender RRP £19.
On this blog we share something of our daily experiences in the Hinckley Factory as we tend our range of aromatherapy products.