For a very long time now, Ambrette seed oil is known as vegetable musk. It is a luxurious fragrance with therapeutic effects and very pleasant perfume notes. Ambrette is somewhere between Amber and Musk aromas. If you want to know all about it, then this article will be your guide.
You’ll be reading about:
- The characteristics of Ambrette oil, with its chemical profile, explained. That will help you understand its effects better and know what it can do to your mood and health. Plus details about how this oil is extracted, its price, uses, etc.
- The use of Ambrette seed oil as a perfume fixative and enhancer.
- Perfume and beauty recipes with Ambrette oil.
Aromatherapy Ambrette Seed Oil Profile (Extraction, Benefits, and Uses)
Botanical name: Abelmoschus moschatus or Hibiscus abelmoschus.
Aroma: strong fresh musk-like and amber-like scent, with floral, powdery and weedy notes.
Color: pale yellow.
Viscosity: medium thickness.
Shelf life: 1 year (at least).
Flash point: 43 C (110 F).
Other names: Muskdana, musk seeds, musk okra, musk mallow, Khasturi bhendi (Hindi), annual hibiscus, vegetable musk.
The botanical name of this plant, like all other botanical names, is Latin (abelmoschus). This Latin name came from Arabic (Ab al-musk) and means “father of musk”.
What is Ambrette seed oil, right? It is a plant extract that comes from Ambrette seeds. These seeds come from an evergreen shrub (abelmoschus moschatus), native to India. Even so, the plant grows in pretty much any tropical climate. Thus, it is grown in countries like China, Indonesia, and the West Indies too.
Abelmoschus moschatus is the species and it belongs to the abelmoschus genus. This genus is part of a very large plant family called Malvaceae (mallows).
Other very well-known species in this family are okra and cotton, and also cacao. Ambrette seed oil is also known as Hibiscus oil. Musk seed oil is another term given to the same ambrette.
The seeds of the plant grow in pods and are very aromatic. Their scent is even stronger when crushed. When they’re harvested, the process is done manually. The seeds are left to dry really well.
They need to be ripe to yield high-quality aromatic oils. Crops of ambrette, along with cotton, cacao and okra play a very important role in the agriculture of the cultivating countries.
The ambrette seeds don’t yield a lot of essential oil (0.2 – 0.6%). Thus, the essential oils and other fatty acids are extracted mostly by hypercritical CO2 extraction.
At hypercritical temperature, carbon dioxide can extract all the oil from the seeds. It’s non-toxic and doesn’t affect the extracted essence. Heat is not used during this extraction process. Thus the oil molecules are preserved intact.
This makes it possible to extract substances that steam vapors would have not been able to do. A good example is fatty acids.
CO2 extraction uses less plant material than steam distillation. But it makes the fragrance more expensive. That’s why vegetable musk is a luxurious essence, highly prized and expensive.
The CO2 method is a very good way of extracting Ambrette essential oil. But in the end, for this particular case, the resulting oil is more than an essential oil. It’s like a blend of oils.
Pure essential oils are totally volatile, meaning they evaporate/disperse through the air. Ambrette seed CO2 oil (extract) contains both volatile molecules and fatty acids.
In Aromatherapy, mixing essential oils with carrier oils gives us a blend. We could say that Ambrette is a blend, but with beneficial ingredients from the same plant.
The aromatic oils of Ambrette seeds can also be extracted with solvents. This gives us an Ambrette absolute, which is a lot thicker than the CO2 extract. In terms of thickness, Ambrette steam-distilled essential oil is the lightest, being suited for aroma diffusion.
The CO2 Ambrette seed oil must first be mixed with lighter essential oils (citruses). This will make it good to be used in a nebulizer or an ultrasonic diffuser.
Thus, there are many types of Ambrette essences. They can be essential oils, CO2 extracts, absolutes and even concretes.
Absolutes may contain very little traces of solvent, while concretes contain more. For that, aromatherapists don’t recommend the use of Ambrette seed absolute in skin care or internally.
Chemical Composition of Hibiscus (Ambrette) Oil
Also known as Musk seed oil, Ambrette was found to contain 35 different active molecules. This oil is 90% acetates and aldehydes.
Theoretically, its composition would make it safe for pet use too. But you’ll need to talk to the vet before trying Ambrette on a cat or a dog.
- It contains acetic acid, which can also be found in almond oil and real musk. Acetic acid is the main active substance in vinegar. It can also be found (in traces) in essential oils like Lemongrass and Citronella.
- Musk seed oil (Ambrette) also contains farnesol acetate, responsible for its specific scent.
- It also contains lauryl acetate (highly antibacterial).
- Another important component of Ambrette is ambrettolide. It too contributes to a rich fragrance.
All these give the oil of Ambrette strong antibacterial effects.
As you can see, Ambrette seed CO2 oil is made of essential oil (20 – 30%) and fatty acids. Only a CO2 extract (and absolute) can contain these substances.
An essential oil can’t contain fatty acids because the steam vapors can’t extract heavy molecules. Some oils can contain traces of fatty acids though, but exceptions don’t make the rules.
Ambrette Seed Oil Uses
As you can see, Hibiscus oil does not lack in the department of benefits. Research shows us that the oil can destroy certain bacteria, which makes it a good remedy.
What is Musk oil used for? Since there are many benefits to this vegetable Musk oil, it can be used as:
- Anti-aging ingredient (can improve the aspect of wrinkles and protect against free radicals).
- Skin and scalp emollient (soothe dry and itchy skin or scalp and give it a natural glow/luster).
- Digestive oil (to increase bile production and improve digestion).
- Expectorant (help relieve mucus and improve breathing).
- Tonic (gives all the organs a boost and helps you feel energized).
- Relaxing and soothing (calm down the heart rate and nervous system and relieve tension).
- Anti-stress and anxiety (induce a good mood and grounding feelings).
Thus, Ambrette oil can be used as a beauty ingredient and perfume base note:
- Skin and hair care – Mix up to 12 drops in an Oz carrier oil for your skin type, for antioxidant and antibacterial effects. You can also add some vegetable Musk oil to your night and/or day creams and lotions.
- SPA baths – Mix 10 – 20 drops of Ambrette oil per cup of salt (Epsom, Himalayan, etc.). Add it to hot bath water and let it work its magic on your nervous system, muscles, breathing, etc.
- Massage lotions – You can either use a store-bought lotion or you can make one yourself, with some carrier oil. Add up to 20 drops of Ambrette essential oil or CO2 extract to Almond oil. Use it to relieve tension or create a romantic mood. Ambrette is said to have aphrodisiac effects. It’s not really a surprise since it has a rich, warm and floral scent.
- Diffusion – If the oil is too thick, you can warm it a bit on steam vapors. Then, mix it with some citrus essential oils like Sweet Orange, Grapefruit, Lemon, etc. Add a few drops to a diffuser and let it diffuse for up to 30 minutes. The diffusion of essential oils continues even after stopping the device. Studies show that 60+ minutes of active inhalation can stress and agitate the body and mind. All that instead of working as they’re supposed to. If the oil is still thick after dilution, you should avoid electronic diffusers. It can clog the device and shorten its shelf life. Instead, add a few drops to a cotton pad, use it in reed diffusers, lava rock bracelets, etc.
- Perfume fixative and note – Being a strong essence, Ambrette can add interesting notes and personality to homemade perfumes. It has a very useful ability, and that is to enhance the other notes and fixate the blend better. You’ll discover more about this aspect pretty soon.
- Kitchen – One of the less known uses of Hibiscus seed oil is in pastries and drinks. You can add a few drops of Hibiscus (Ambrette) oil in cocktails, smoothies, and homemade pastries.
How to Use the Oil of Ambrette Safely (Tips)
If used in large quantities or undiluted, Musk seed oil can cause problems. To avoid any potential problems, here are a few simple tips to take into account:
- Before topical application, you should always dilute Ambrette oil. Use a carrier oil or lotion to do so.
- Do not take the oil internally, especially not without medical approval. It can be toxic, especially if it’s not 100% pure.
- Avoid using it if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, avoid using it on babies and toddlers or elderly people without medical consent.
- Test the oil for skin allergies on a small skin patch.
- Consult a doctor before using Ambrette essential oil, CO2 extract or absolute. If you have asthma or you’re prone to seizures, it’s especially important to do so.
Ambrette Seed Oil Price and Manufacturers
Now you know what Ambrette seed oil is, but you must also know it’s not that easy to find it pure. It’s a luxurious natural fragrance, sold for a lot of money.
The extraction method is also expensive, which adds to the high price. The demand for musky amber-like natural fragrances is very high. This matters when it comes to the final price of the Hibiscus seed oil.
I took a look at what the export data of Ambrette oil from India was in 2015 and 2016. It says that the price of a kilogram (2.20 pounds) of Ambrette seed oil, exported to the U.S, in November 2015 was $1.384.
One year later, in October 2016, Ambrette was exported to the U.K and sold for $234 per kilo. It looks like a serious drop in value. But even so, Ambrette oil is still among the most expensive essential oils.
Before buying, pay close attention to its extraction method. Also, it’s important to see a GC-MS report, to validate the oil’s authenticity and better trust the seller. This report should be free of charge and available to the client, upon request or not.
As for Ambrette seed oil manufacturers, the best ones are those who grow their own plants. They will then distill them carefully and specialize in its extraction.
Hibiscus or Musk seed oil can be bought online, directly from producers or importers. Make sure to search for the background of the company first, to diminish the risk of getting a fake essence.
You could try to buy this variety of Ambrette and make an idea before going for larger and more expensive quantities.
Ambrette Seed Oil Perfume (Notes and Recipes)
Nowadays, there aren’t a lot of essences left that can’t be synthesized. Unfortunately, Amber and Musk oils can be synthesized. They’re often used in perfumes or even sold as essential oils. This is why I told you to review the GC-MS report of the Ambrette oil you choose to buy.
Natural vegetable Musk oils are expensive and the demand is high. As a consequence, perfumers use synthetic musky fragrances. Also, the oil was found to have phototoxic effects on skin, so perfumers use it even less.
Phototoxicity is something normal in some essential oils. Those that contain furocoumarins cause skin reactions when it is exposed to UV rays. Citrus oils fall into this category and can burn or sensitize the skin.
As a consequence, a natural perfume containing Ambrette seed oil should be better used in the colder season. Rich and warm aromas are more appropriate for cold weather. Fresh, floral and citrusy fragrances are better used in summer perfumes.
Real musk comes from the glands of male Musk deer. Today, the animal is protected. Other animals that give us musk are musk oxen.
The musk they produce is among the most expensive animal product in the world. Today, musk is a term that refers to a very wide collection of aromatic essences. These essences smell the same as the original musk. This collection contains animal and plant-based substances.
I’ve seen people describe the fragrance of Ambrette seed oil in many similar ways. The adjectives used to describe how Ambrette smells like are:
- Fruity (between pear and plum brandy).
- Slightly floral, iris-like.
- Reminiscent of lily of the valley too, because of the farnesol content.
- Very persistent.
- Slightly animal.
Ambrette seed smells like something truly natural and unique. Natural fragrances are complex in their nature and continue to mature with time. Ambrette is one of the few essences that become better with age. The other essence that I know of is Patchouli essential oil.
Ambrette seed oil blends well with:
- Sweet Orange
- Ylang Ylang
And of course, Musk seed oil always works great with Amber essential oil. Ambrette is like a perfume blend on its own already. Mixing it with Amber and other essences will create even lovelier fragrances.
Ambrette is a great substitute for synthetic musk fragrances. It smells a lot stronger and more interesting than the synthetic ones; a thing that the human nose recognizes instantly.
Many agree that the scent of Ambrette is between musk and amber. Thus, it is often used to create Amber and musk-like perfume notes.
Ambrette has a strong and persistent fragrance. Because of it, the ratio used should be between 5 and 10%. Some French sources recommend a dosage of 0.5 – 2%.
It would be best if you’d add a drop at a time until you get the fragrance you like. Make sure to write down everything about the perfume, so, later on, you’ll be able to recreate it.
Here are most of the oil’s characteristics for perfume use:
- Base note.
- Strong scent intensity.
- More of a luxury product.
- Soluble in pure alcohol and carrier oils (or vegetable butters).
- Insoluble in water (they don’t mix).
- Thick, so it should be taken out with a pipette.
- Best added in the last phase of your perfume, especially if it involves heating. As you’ve seen, Ambrette oil can catch fire at low temperatures (43 C (110 F)).
Ambrette Seed Oil Uses in Perfumes
There are lots of blends in which you can use this Hibiscus/Ambrette oil. You could add a few drops to create and/or enhance:
- Christmas blends.
- Chypre perfumes.
- DIY colognes.
- Loose incense.
- Floral bouquets.
- Oriental perfumes.
- Unisex perfumes.
There are quite a few more things to know about making your own perfume. So, I invite you to read the following article too:
Ambrette Seed Oil Recipes
We’ve reached the final and the most fun part of the article. Take a look at the following essential oil blends with Ambrette. Then, pick your favorite and try it when you get the chance.
Soft, Feminine Ambrette Oil Perfume Recipe
- Grapefruit essential oil: 15 drops
- Neroli essential oil: 8 drops
- Ambrette seed oil: 3 drops
- Sandalwood essential oil: 3 drops
- Jojoba oil: ½ – 1 Oz (15 – 30ml)
Add the essential oils over the carrier (Jojoba) and shake well. Leave the blend for a few weeks or a month to mature. Or leave it until you decide whether you like the fragrance or not.
Essential oil fragrances take time to mature and so the perfume may smell differently in the first days.
Sweet, Oriental Ambrette Perfume Recipe
- Ylang Ylang essential oil: 10 drops
- Ambrette seed oil: 4 drops
- Rose essential oil: 5 drops
- Amber essential oil: 4 drops
- Myrrh essential oil: 5 drops
- Coconut oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Melt the Coconut on steam and then add the essential oils. Give it a good stir and let it harden. Un-fractionated Coconut oil becomes solid at room temperature. You’ll then have a solid perfume, which you can apply with your fingers on all pulse points.
Anti-Aging Ambrette Seed Oil Recipe
- Ambrette seed/Musk seed/Hibiscus oil: 6 drops
- Frankincense essential oil: 6 drops
- Argan Oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Give the blend a good shake before each use. Apply on a clean, damp skin (face and neckline) with circular and upward motions. This face serum can be used at night or in the morning.
Essential oils are great as natural remedies and aromatherapy. But they’re also useful in perfumery. It’s because they are so fragrant and volatile that we can create our own signature perfumes. Plus, essential oils and CO2 extracts like Ambrette also have beneficial effects on our health and mood.
Ambrette seed oil is a very strong and complex fragrance. It can make all other blends rich and more interesting, and make them last longer too. Is Ambrette something you’ll consider for your next perfume recipe? Or have you already had the chance to get your hands on some?