Rose CO2 Extract is derived from the stunningly beautiful rose known as Rosa x damascena (Damask Rose). The most adored aroma of all time, roses fill our senses and soothe our soul. Coaxing the aroma from these flower petals is a process that requires hand picking the petals at dawn (can you imagine?), then processing them quickly. It takes many pounds of flower petals to yield just a few ounces of this cherished aromatic. This labor intensive process yields an aromatic extract precious in both aroma and price.
What is Rose CO2 Extract?
In getting to know Rose CO2 Supercritical Extract, most often called simply Rose CO2, it is helpful to compare it to the essential oil of the same plant (Rose Otto).
First, we must remember that while CO2 extracts and essential oils are both aromatics, they are not the same. Essential oils are the product of water and heat in the process of steam distillation, whereas the CO2 extraction process uses carbon dioxide and pressure instead. The result is an aromatic which contains more of the plant components than those transferred in steam (such as with essential oils), and is free of solvent residue (unlike absolutes).
If you’ve ever buried your nose in the soft petals of a rose, this is the experience you’ll have when you close your eyes and inhale genuine Rose CO2 extract. The heart-expanding fresh-rose aroma is one you don’t want to miss!
Rose CO2 has a consistency ranging from semi-liquid to a semi-solid gel-like paste and is deep golden to amber in color. Due to the almost solid nature of this CO2, you will find it sold by weight (gms) rather than volume (mls).
It is different both aromatically and chemically from the mostly clear and thinner textured essential oil . The most notable chemical difference is the presence, in the CO2 extract, of over 40% phenylethyl alcohol vs. around just 10% of this constituent in the essential oil.
Thick and waxy – the CO2 requires gently warming prior to using (try placing the bottle in some warm water, or microwaved rice). Filtering may be necessary to remove the insoluble material particularly when using in dilutions over 5%.
Where does the extract come from?
Rosa x damascena is also known as Damask Rose. It is grown primarily in Bulgaria and Turkey and sourced only from the flower petals. The “x” in this rose’s Latin name means that it is a hybrid, or a cross between two or more different roses. You may also be able to find a CO2 Supercritical extract from Rosa alba (White Rose). There are just so many varieties of roses, but as of now, only a couple of them are being extracted using CO2.
Because rose aromatics are so highly prized and valuable for perfumery and aromatherapy (be they essential oil, absolutes or CO2 extracts), adulteration is common. The oil is most frequently adulterated with fractions of geranium or even additions of isolated phenylethanol. So, know your supplier and use your nose!
Rose CO2 is considered to be very safe, but of course proper dilution to avoid any potential irritation is always recommended. It’s good to be aware that the CO2 extract (and oil) may contain trace amounts of methyleugenol, which in isolation, has significant cautions. In the sample I had, this chemical was present at less than 1%. But again – be aware, and dilute your extract.
What makes Rose CO2 Extract so special?
While there is no doubt that the essential oil of rose (Rose Otto) is beautiful, an exquisite aroma closer to fresh roses can be experienced in the CO2. Inhaling slowly, one experiences the sweet, sultry, heady and erotic floral landscape, inspiring the heart to open with a smile.
The presence of over 40 percent phenylethyl alcohol provides anti-inflammatory properties as well as antioxidant and antibacterial actions. According to Jennifer Peace Rhind, phenylethyl alcohol “can prevent histamine-induced bronchoconstriction (in vitro) – hence its value as an anti-asthmatic agent.” What a lovely way to encourage gentle breathing.
The chemical complexity of Rose CO2 hints at its depth as an ally and healing agent for our minds and spirits as well as our bodies. Energetically considered to be cooling, rose is wonderful for hot or stagnant conditions be they physical or emotional. Gabriel Mojay suggests that rose is “indicated for inflamed, toxic and infectious conditions, and for anxiety and depression”. Known as the flower of love, rose extract provides deep support for our hearts and emotions, bringing calm and soothing our innermost selves, particularly in times of high anxiety, overwhelm or grief.
Rose CO2 blends well with essential oils or CO2 extracts of geranium, frankincense, lavender, melissa, neroli, patchouli, ylang ylang and sandalwood. Remember that you will need to warm the extract to coax it into a blendable liquid state.
Here are a few of the over 50 chemical constituents of Rose Co2 Hypercritical Extract:
- Phenylethyl alcohol (also known as phenylethanol) – At over 40%, phenylethanol is the only molecule to carry a notable percentage of this extract, and is responsible for the characteristic odor of rose.
- Heptacosane – 7-8%
- Citronellol – 3-4%
- Eugenol – less than 1%
Overall, the chemical profile of Rose CO2 extract is closer to that of the absolute than of the essential oil. The complexity of rose’s chemistry hints at the deep significance of this beloved plant and its ability to encourage balance in hearts and minds.
Now that you know a little more about what Rose CO2 Supercritical Extract is and what it is made up of,
Here are the top 5 reasons why you will want to incorporate it into your aromatic life:
- Encourages calm breathing in times of stress or for those living with asthma.
- A sublime ingredient in facial skin care for Rosacea to calm inflammation when this condition is flared up or anytime to nurture sensitive skin, as well as nourish the heart and mind.
- Soothes dry or mature skin, and is a beautiful addition to facial serums or creams. You might try using rose hydrosol as a toner, then applying your serum or cream. Check out the lotion bar and anti-aging facial serum recipes in the book: Plant Powered Beauty (and create your own rose-centered synergy to add to your product).
- As a simple therapeutic perfume, the aroma of fresh roses in this CO2 extract encourages love, beauty and passion. Try the traditional combination of rose and sandalwood for a deeply spiritually supportive blend diluted in jojoba oil in a roll on bottle.
- Comforting and restorative in times of grief, be it from loss of a loved one, or the challenges of daily life.
As more and more CO2 extracts become available, you will want to explore them and begin to incorporate them into your aromatherapy practice and aromatic life. You’ll find that their aromas often reflect a closer remembrance of the plant itself – which in the case of rose, is a delight. Enjoy!
Rhind, Jennifer, (2020), Essential OIls: A Comprehensive Handbook for Aromatic Therapy, 3rd Edition, Singing Dragon Press, London and Philadelphia
Mojay, Gabriel, (1997), Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont
Tisserand, R., Young, R., (2014), Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals, 2nd Ed., Churchill Livingston