Highly praised in perfumery, Osmanthus extract is among the high-class notes. Whether it’s for homemade perfumes or Aromatherapy, many people would like to at least give it a try. Those who have though have fallen in love with it. But is there really an Osmanthus essential oil?
This article is meant to shed light on the following:
- The characteristics and extraction of Osmanthus oil.
- Benefits and uses of Osmanthus flower extract.
- How to use this incredibly aromatic essence in your daily routine.
- Aromatherapy recipes with the fragrant extract of Osmanthus.
- Where to buy this highly prized aromatic essence.
- Top important facts about osmanthus fragrance oil, to better understand what you’re using.
Osmanthus Essential Oil or Absolute? Complete Profile, Benefits and Uses
Botanical name: Osmanthus fragrans (var. thunbergii)
Color: light green – yellow – orange – brown
Aroma: very complex (peach, apricot, pear-like, with leather/suede undertones and honey sweetness).
Viscosity: heavy texture (paste-like)
Shelf Life: at least 1 year; more if it’s stored in cool, dark places.
Flashpoint: 71.67 C (161 F)
Other names: Sweet Osmanthus, sweet olive, fragrant olive, tea olive.
Osmanthus is native to Asia. It is one of the top 10 Chinese traditional flowers, cultivated for its fragrance for 2000 years. It’s up there with lotus, camellia, plum blossoms and peony. Starting with the 18th century, osmanthus made its way into Europe too.
Much of its benefits and uses come from the Chinese. They used the osmanthus flowers to scent their beverages and mask bad food odors.
They also used them to scent green and black tea. Over the long years, they’ve perfected their technique of using the flowers in various extracts.
Osmanthus belongs to the Oleaceae plant family. It is a big plant family, with an estimated 700 plant species. Osmanthus is related to olives, jasmine and lilac.
Plants in this family make some very fragrant flowers. This is why people in Asia and not only, refer to osmanthus as sweet olive or tea olive. Osmanthus does make tiny fruits that look just like olives. Some people actually preserve them in brine.
The Osmanthus genus is made up of 27 species. 24 of them, including the fragrans type, are found in China.
How is Osmanthus Oil Extracted?
Regular and best quality pure essential oils are steam distilled. The steam extracts small volatile, lipid-soluble molecules, called essential oils.
You will never find water-soluble or fatty acids in essential oils. Maybe just faint traces, without much therapeutic value.
Those molecules are either too heavy to be extracted, like fatty acids. Or they won’t mix with the oils, like water-soluble vitamins (e.g.: C and A).
Flowers in general, can sometimes be too sensitive to withstand steam distillation. Plus, some of them have a very low oil yield, which means tons of material for a few liters of essence.
Osmanthus is one of those flowers, with a low yield. Because of it, a different extraction method must be used.
Sources say that it takes thousands of pounds (kilograms) of flowers for just a liter of aromatic extract. (More on this topic in the “Where to Buy” section).
The method used is called solvent extraction. Thus, after the aromatic flowers are handpicked, they are either stored in brine solution, or transformed into concrete. Stored like that they become transportable to other countries, for processing. For example, from China to France.
Solvents, hexane or alcohol, are used to get the concrete, directly from the flowers. In this stage, the oil yield is very little, some French sources say it’s about 1%.
The alcohol/hexane from the concrete is then left to evaporate, to prepare the product for its final extraction – the absolute. In this phase, the oil yield rises to about 25%.
Osmanthus is an absolute. Meaning it needs to be filtered from the concrete. Through this filtering process, the solvents evaporate and get removed. The resulting absolute will be a highly aromatic essence, very close to that of the plant.
Besides the volatile molecules, solvents can also extract other heavier substances. Waxes, pigments, fatty acids and resinous substances can be found in an absolute. That’s why it is very thick and paste-like.
These viscous substances keep the volatile molecules tightly bonded together. Osmanthus absolute evaporates a lot slowly than a steam distilled essential oil. Which is also why it’s a great ingredient in perfumes.
This extraction method is very popular and much appreciated in perfume-making. There are many Aromatherapists that don’t recommend using absolutes for therapeutic effects.
The reason? The second phase of extraction leaves some residue in the product. The percentage of alcohol or hexane is small (2 – 3%).
However small though, the absolute is not 100% pure. Because of that, it may cause some skin reactions when used in cosmetics. If the solvent used was alcohol, once it evaporates, it is less dangerous.
Inhaling a large amount of hexane over a short period of time, may cause nausea, dizziness and headaches. However, that is not the case with absolutes.
There are some manufacturers who produce Osmanthus absolute without hexane. This is usually the best quality you’ll need for Aromatherapy purposes.
So, is Osmanthus an essential oil? No, it’s not. Osmanthus is not an essential oil because it can’t be steam distilled.
Osmanthus is a highly aromatic absolute oil. Thus, there is no Tea Olive essential oil either. They all refer to the same Osmanthus fragrance oil.
Benefits and Uses of Osmanthus Oil Extract
Osmanthus absolute oil is very rich in phenylethanoid glycosides. This compound is a rich source for drug discovery. It has a complex biological activity. Phenylethanoid glycosides can act as:
- Antibacterials and antivirals.
- Anti-inflammatory agents.
- Protectors of the liver.
- Immune system boosters.
- Antitumor agents.
- Skin whitening agents (tyrosinase inhibitors).
- Great source of anti-aging.
In total, researchers found 32 different compounds in the chemistry of Osmanthus fragrans. Only 13 of them were previously known. As you can see, there is more about this incredibly rich absolute than meets the eye.
One study even revealed that Osmanthus (in combination with Grapefruit) has anti-anxiety effects. These two oils were inhaled by 361 patients who underwent colonoscopy.
Osmanthus Oil Benefits:
The purest form of Osmanthus absolute oil (hexane-free ideally) can have the following effects on your mind and body:
- Boost libido.
- Help with concentration.
- Uplift the mood.
- Purify the air.
- Prevent viral infections.
- Prevent skin infections (S. aureus, E. coli, etc.)
- Strengthen the immune system.
- Protect the liver.
- Soothe inflammation (in the body or on the skin).
- Prevent free radicals damage and delay premature aging.
Osmanthus Oil Uses in Aromatherapy:
With all these beneficial effects it may have on us, Osmanthus can be used to:
- Enhance beauty and anti-aging creams, lotions or serums.
- Help with oily skin.
- Disinfect the skin through topical applications, and disinfect the air through diffusion.
- Relieve stress, anxiety and depression by inhalation.
- Soothe mild pain because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Increase pleasure during intimate moments.
- Create beautiful signature perfumes.
Speaking of perfumes, Osmanthus absolute can be used in homemade perfumes. Or it can be used as a perfume in itself. It has such an interesting aroma profile! As time goes by, it reveals various notes, just like other more complex perfumes.
The aroma of Osmanthus fragrance oil is described differently by each person. However, there are still similar notes that most people smell in this essence. This is how you’ll find Osmanthus fragrance described as:
- Very rich.
- Sweet (sugary).
- Light green fruit.
- Medium intensity, yet persistent.
- Raisin- like.
- Light spicy.
- Smoky undertones.
Its top notes (the first you’ll smell) are peach, apricot and pear. Its base notes are more towards leather and/or suede, and amber.
The best types of perfumes in which Osmanthus absolute works really well are:
- Sensual, warm and oriental, for a wild edge of leather.
- Tonic, light and fresh, for exotic, sweet, light and fruity notes
- Floral and fruity, for Asian notes of rare flowers, citruses and sweet fruits like lychee.
When a perfume ingredient smells so complex, it’s hard to find a substitute for. Thus, there is no substitute for Osmanthus oil that I know of.
It might work okay if you go for flower extracts from the same family (Oleaceae), like Jasmine or Lilac. But it will not be the same as using Osmanthus.
Osmanthus absolute is used in lots of high-class, fine perfumes. Among the more high-end perfumes that contain Osmanthus absolute are:
- Kenzo (Jungle Le Tigre) and
- Paco Rabanne Ultraviolet.
There are many others of course. Some use it as middle note, others as top note, etc. When you make your own homemade perfume, you can use it as you like.
You have total freedom to mix and match whatever essential oil or absolute you like. Check out the following link to learn how to make your own signature perfume.
Osmanthus Absolute Toxicity and Safety Tips:
Animal studies reveal no toxicity or danger after use. Thus, Osmanthus oil is considered non-toxic for health. There were no side effects registered so far, but the tests haven’t been conducted on humans yet.
This means that some people, in contact with Osmanthus, they may get some irritation or rashes. This is especially true for those with extra sensitive skin or allergies.
Here are a few general precautions to take into account before using Osmanthus:
- Always test it for allergic reactions. Simply mix a drop with some carrier and apply it on the inside of the forearm. That area is almost as sensitive as the face. If no reaction occurs, you’re good to use Osmanthus. Keep in mind that geographical location, harvest time and method, processing and storage can all change the chemical profile of the extract. Thus, you need to test for allergies every new bottle you get.
- Make sure you talk to a doctor before using Osmanthus if you have asthma or are seizure-prone. People with epilepsy, diabetes and other diseases should do so too.
- Avoid using it on children without medical advice.
- Avoid using it in the first trimester of pregnancy or if breastfeeding. Seek medical counsel afterward if you want to use Osmanthus absolute. Volatile molecules are thought to enter the placenta. They can also be expelled through milk.
How to Use Osmanthus Fragrance Oil
It’s ok to inhale an absolute extracted with hexane, but only in small amounts and not for a long time. If you do find a hexane-free extract, it can be used for therapeutic effects.
Osmanthus is a very thick essence. Because of it, you should take it out drop by drop, with a pipette. You can also warm the absolute on a double boiler. Be careful not to get water inside, or it may grow bacteria.
This thick oil extract is completely soluble in pure alcohol and quite soluble in vegetable (carrier) oils. I say “quite” because it’s not 100% soluble, and you’ll probably see a bit of cloudiness.
Once you’ve made it more fluid, you can mix a very small amount of Osmanthus with carriers, lotions or creams. Use it in:
- Massage blends.
- SPA blends.
- Steam baths.
- Topical applications on the affected skin area.
You can also mix it with other lighter essential oils (also a small amount) and diffuse it. You can use any type of diffuser you have.
For ultrasonic diffusers and nebulizers though, make sure that Osmanthus is completely dissolved and mixed. Otherwise, it may clog the device.
Use it to:
- Relieve tension, stress and anxiety.
- Feel good and uplift your mood.
- Create a romantic atmosphere.
- Purify the air.
If desired, Osmanthus can be an effective complementary treatment. For any type of internal use, you should talk to a doctor first. One might be tempted because of a few encouraging studies that show its potential health benefits.
However, the wrong dose and a long time use, can do more harm than good. And you don’t want to risk such thing, considering its price.
You can also use Osmanthus absolute oil in homemade candles. Its flashpoint makes it a good fragrance for soy candles. Here’s more about what this means.
Osmanthus may not be an essential oil, but it can still be used for therapeutic effects. That as long as it’s hexane-free.
Osmanthus Absolute Recipes, Where to Buy & Top Facts about the Extract
This absolute is quite something. There is a lot of research done so far and no wonder, since it’s such a rich source for drug discovery. All the better for Aromatherapy fans.
Now you know what it can do and how to use it. I say we put that knowledge to the test and start blending Osmanthus absolute. To do that properly, we must first see what other essences blend well with it.
Aromatherapy Osmanthus absolute oil fragrance blends well with:
- Sweet Orange
- Tonka Bean
- Ambrette Seed
- Ylang Ylang
- Blue Lotus
- Clary Sage
So basically… you can mix Osmanthus absolute with any other natural fragrance you like. That complex scent makes it easy to blend with so many others out there.
You can try a few of the following recipes, but remember this ratio: 20:30:50% (base:top:middle notes). It will help you to start blending your fragrances.
You can then go from then on and add as much as you like till you get the scent you’re looking for.
Osmanthus Fresh and Oriental Perfume Recipe
- Sweet Almond oil: 10 ml (0.33 fl. Oz)
- Lime essential oil: 3 drops
- Bergamot essential oil: 3 drops
- Frankincense essential oil: 2 drops
- Osmanthus absolute: 5 drops
Mix these essences in the carrier and store it in a small roll-on bottle. Leave the scent to maturate for 2 – 4 weeks. The scent will keep changing within this time, which is why it’s better to leave it be. Add more fragrance afterward. Apply a small amount on pulse point.
Relaxing and Uplifting Osmanthus Diffuser Recipe
- Osmanthus oil extract: 2 drops
- Grapefruit essential oil: 3 drops
- Ylang Ylang essential oil: 3 drops
Mix the oils separately first, so the absolute can mix and dissolve into the other oils. Add this blend into the water tank of your diffuser or into the nebulizer. Diffuse for 20 minutes, every 2 hours (if needed).
Keep the room well ventilated and avoid continuous diffusion. It can saturate the air and cause nausea or headaches.
Where to buy Osmanthus Absolute Oil
Finding a good source to buy Osmanthus may be a bit difficult. However, it is not hard as there are a few good suppliers out there. The most important thing to remember is that Osmanthus is quite expensive.
The reason for being so pricey is the amount of raw material that goes into the essence. It may take anywhere between 1.000 and 3.000 kilos (2.204 – 6.600 pounds) of osmanthus flowers to get 1 liter of concrete.
This variation may be due to the harvest time, osmanthus species, geographical area, etc. For example, it’s been noted that very ripe citrus fruits give a higher yield than unripen fruits. So the harvest season plays an important role in oil yield.
The price of Osmanthus seems justifiable now, doesn’t it? Even so, it might still not be enough for all the hard work that goes into its harvest and growth. Not to mention the huge amounts of flowers needed.
Osmanthus absolute fragrance can be found in various forms. It can be sold diluted with a carrier oil like Coconut, or an unscented oil. You can also find it in pure form and solvent extracted.
If you’re looking for a wider list of Osmanthus oil suppliers, you can check out this place.
One of the most popular Aroma blends that contain Osmanthus is Deep Blue from doTERRA. This blend was made to soothe muscle and joint aches and relieve tension.
The addition of Osmanthus oil in doTERRA Deep Blue makes the blend more fragrant and pleasant for the nervous system. You can check out this in-depth review about the product.
The fastest way to find Osmanthus fragrance for sale is on Amazon. Once you’ve ordered it, it will arrive to your place as fast as possible. The wait will depend on where you live, of course. But it might be faster than you think 🙂
Knowing where to buy Osmanthus oil absolute makes it easier to prepare your own blends. Regardless of their purpose, the best quality oil can do wonders for your psyche.
Just remember that there is no Osmanthus essential oil as of yet. It’s just not worth the effort of steam distilling precious and sensitive flowers, with a low oil yield.
Top Most Important Facts about Osmanthus Absolute
This is more like trivia or fun facts that I thought you’d be happy to read about. I always like to find out new things that others don’t usually talk about. Take it as a small recap of this post as well.
- Osmanthus flowers in China bloom in the spring, autumn and even winter. There are 27 different species of osmanthus, so it’s normal to bloom almost all year long.
- Being part of the same family as olives, osmanthus flowers and fruits are also called sweet olives.
- The osmanthus flower teas are still very popular in East Asia.
- Chinese people used osmanthus powder for generations.
- The osmanthus fruits can be preserved in brine, like olives.
- The flowers vary in color, from golden orange, green-yellow and red to silvery-white. Osmanthus absolute will also vary in color. Pigments are also extracted via solvent.
- Osmanthus is an evergreen shrub.
- In China, osmanthus holds cultural and aesthetic significance.
- With many of the osmanthus species growing in China, in 2004, the country bought the ICRA status for Osmanthus fragrans. ICRA stands for International Cultivar Registration Authority. It is an organization that makes sure that the names of plant cultivars are not duplicated. Through the ICRA status, plant cultivars can only be defined. It does not protect from legal matters over the plant name or the plant itself.
- Osmanthus maintenance or reproduction is made through cuttage/cuttings.
It’s a sad thing that there is no substitute for Osmanthus oil absolute. It’s only sad, if the price is too high, but this high price is easily justifiable. Osmanthus has such a complex aromatic profile! If you choose it to be an ingredient in your blends, it is usually well worth the investment.
Now you know that there’s no Osmanthus essential oil and that the correct term is absolute. The extraction method makes them different products.
What do you think about Osmanthus absolute? I must admit, I was totally hooked with it after doing the research for this post 🙂