The difference between absolutes and essential oils is the method of obtaining the oil.
ADVANTAGES OF ABSOLUTE OILS
Absolutes are obtained through solvent extraction. A solvent can be a chemical or alcohol. In solvent extraction, a solvent is combined with plant material. The solvent attracts the oil from the plant material, and the solvent and oil are then separated. Solvent extraction is used on plant material that is more delicate and not easily distilled. An example being Jasmine. When Jasmine is steam distilled, very little oil is produced and the oil does not have as nice of an aroma as solvent extracted Jasmine.
Another example is Rose. Steam distilled Rose essential oil (also known as Rose Otto) has a very different aroma than Rose absolute, and is not as desirable in perfumery as Rose absolute is. Rose absolute is very high in a constituent called phenylethyl alcohol (PEA) which separates from the oil when steam distilled.
Certain forms of organic matter are not suited to the intense heat associated with steam distillation and will not produce any essential oil when used in either a cold press or a hot press. So instead, the organic matter (such as lotus, jasmine, carnation, geranium, narcissus and mimosa) as subjected to a series of chemical solvent baths which help to extract the essential oils and phytochemicals contained within.
CONS OF ABSOLUTES
During the solvent-based extraction method, a variety of toxic and hazardous hydrocarbon solvents are used (such as toluene) as well as industrial grade isopropyl alcohol or ethanol. The main problem is that a large amount of these tend to remain in the final product and can ultimately have drastically negative effects on the quality of skin as well as health in general when they’re used consistently over a long period of time – especially if you suffer from any allergens or have a particularly sensitive skin type.
Even good quality and trustworthy brands of absolute oil generally tend to contain around 5-10% leftover chemicals in their final form and some can be as high as 40%!
ESSENTIAL OIL PROS
In terms of their benefits, essential oils can work wonders on our body’s by helping to boost general immunity, treat digestive issues, get rid of free radicals and toxins as well as aiding in wound recovery, treating scars, nourishing the skin, treating general pain and inflammation and helping to cure viral and fungal infections – to name but a few of the ways essential oils can be incorporated into your lifestyle.
Essential Oils are all natural, too – so you don’t have to worry about any of the more common side-effects that generally tend to come with conventional pharmaceutical products or medicines.
While they can be used to effectively treat and relieve the symptoms of general illness and health ailments, they also work to help treat the root cause of the issue, therefore eliminating the problem altogether – so no more recurring illness or infection
ESSENTIAL OIL CONS
Generally speaking, essential oils are quite costly. This is largely because a lot goes into making a good quality essential oil and that process doesn’t come cheap – and as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Essential oils also come in small doses, so you’re bound to run out quite quickly and this can ramp up the costs even more.
Additionally, essential oils aren’t necessarily suited to everyone and some people may suffer from allergic reactions or general irritation when using them.
ABSOLUTE OILS VS ESSENTIAL OILS: WHICH SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?
While I would love to say that you should always choose an essential oil simply because they are cleaner and more effective than absolute oils, the truth of the matter is that the choice is entirely up to you and your specific needs.
With regards to absolute oils – it’s best to save them for the oil diffuser or for use in DIY projects such as candle making or cleaning detergents. Because of the fact that they tend to contain a large-amount of various chemicals in their final form, ingesting them is completely out of the question and using them topically is best done when they’re heavily diluted in a suitable carrier oil (which is usually an essential oil anyway).
So, in short – if you’re looking for a natural product as an alternative medicinal treatment, essential oils are definitely the way to go while as they are better suited for internal and topical use whilst absolute oils are really more of a novelty item for general home use in my honest opinion. Better to be safe rather than sorry though, and stick to essential oils – as avoiding harmful chemicals and toxins is the whole reason we use natural products.