Absolute: An absolute is a highly-concentrated fragrance oil similar to an essential oil, but produced via solvent extraction or enfleurage and therefore generally even more concentrated. Absolutes are key ingredients in perfumery, and the low-temperature methods used to produce them are often the only effective way to capture the natural fragrant compounds of fragile materials (like jasmine or tuberose, for example) that can’t hold up to steam distillation.
Absolutes are usually more concentrated than essential oils. Also, the efficiency and low temperature of the extraction process helps prevent damage to the fragrant compounds. With a good understanding of the solvent they are using, extractors can produce absolutes with aromas closer to the original plant product than is possible with essential oils produced through distillation. Examples of this are rose otto (steam-distilled rose oil), as opposed to rose absolute, and neroli (steam-distilled oil from the blossom of the bitter orange tree), as opposed to orange blossom absolute. Also, some raw materials are either too delicate or too inert to be steam-distilled and can only yield their aroma through other methods, such as solvent extraction or lipid absorption. Examples of these are jasmine, tuberose, mimosa, and beeswax.
This production method may leave trace amounts of solvents in the absolutes. Therefore, some absolutes are considered undesirable for aromatherapy. However, absolutes are used extensively in perfumery because the aromatic compounds in absolutes have not undergone processes involving high temperatures. This makes them often smell fresher. Although the solvent traces could produce off notes in the final product, this is usually not a problem if the absolute is of a decent quality.