Rose Essential Oil Damascena – Rosa damascena – is distilled from valuable bushes growing in plantation on the gentle slopes of the central Bulgarian countryside. The roses are individually selected and hand picked by the local gypsies, contracted to harvest the roses. They walk through the rows and select the ripe blooms, critical to the quality of Rose Essential Oil Damascena.
The distillation of rose petals to extract the oil is a complex and delicate process. Because the petals contain very little essential oil (about 0.02%), extracting large amounts of oil is difficult. It takes an average of 60,000 roses to produce one ounce of oil and ten thousand kilograms of rose blossoms to produce one kilogram of oil. With such a delicate, valuable oil, maintaining highly-controlled conditions for distillation is crucial. Additionally, while the essential oil of most plants can be steam-distilled through passing steam over the plant material, rose petals tend to stick together under steam to form a compact mass. Consequently, the best distillation method for rose essential oil extraction is hydro distillation (Tucker, source, 2014).
Distilled Rose Essential Oil Damascena is composed of both direct oil and water oil. Initially, the fresh rose petals are hydrodistilled and the rose oil and water are collected together. The oil separates and floats to the surface of the water where it is removed and separated from any water. The remaining rosewater, known as rose hydrosol or hydrolat, is then redistilled. The additional oil obtained from this second distillation is rose water oil. The rose essential oil from the first distillation and the rose water oil are then combined to produce the final rose essential oil. The rose oil is then placed into clear glass containers and exposed to sunlight for a short period of time. The sunlight acts to raise any impurities to the surface, which are skimmed from the top, leaving behind only the high-quality rose otto.
Typically, this final oil is composed of approximately 75% water oil and 25% direct oil (Guenther, E. (1952) The Essential Oils. London: Macmillan).