Definitions of Attar

#1
I would like to share my understanding of the definitions for the terms below, I welcome your views.:) Thank you
  • Attars - Essence of the material being extracted, usually means essential oils but not limited to just plants.
  • Attar Oils - Attars mixed with carrier oils, mostly sandalwood which is the final product, a perfume
  • Essential Oils - Oils extracted from plants though hydro-distillation
  • Absolutes - Oils extracted from plants though other means (not hydro-distillation)
  • Otto - Essential oils of flower petals (i need some clarification on this)
 

Rasoul S

Well-Known Member
#2
great post. i would love to be super clear on these terms too.

re essential oil, i believe steam distillation is also permitted. so not just hydro.
re absolutes, i wonder if enfleurage and butane, co2 extract methods also apply, or only alcohol washed.
re otto: i have only ever seen the term used for rose.

@Ensar Oud when you have a moment pls.

thnx
 

Ensar Oud

Well-Known Member
#3
I would like to share my understanding of the definitions for the terms below, I welcome your views.:) Thank you
  • Attars - Essence of the material being extracted, usually means essential oils but not limited to just plants.
  • Attar Oils - Attars mixed with carrier oils, mostly sandalwood which is the final product, a perfume
  • Essential Oils - Oils extracted from plants though hydro-distillation
  • Absolutes - Oils extracted from plants though other means (not hydro-distillation)
  • Otto - Essential oils of flower petals (i need some clarification on this)
A traditional attar doesn't actually mean essential oil; rather, an infusion of a botanical's aromatic qualities into a carrier (traditionally Mysore sandalwood oil). The jar that normally contains just hydrosol and the essential oil would be filled with sandalwood. The volume of the sandal typically remains the same, as the botanicals used to make attars normally give extremely low yields (tuberose, champaca etc) when hydrodistilled.

Attar "oils" is a blanket term that applies to anything comprised of various essential oils & absolutes & other type extracts, blended together in any fashion, whether by yours truly, Sultan Pasha or Elixir Efendi.....

Essential oils are normally steam distilled. Hydro-distilled essential oils are called "ruhs" in India which is one of very few places where botanicals are hydro-distilled.

Absolutes are botanicals extracted via a solvent (commonly hexane), which results in a solid "concrete". The concrete is then ethanol bathed and purified into the final product, which is called an "absolute".

Otto only refers to rose essential oil obtained via steam distillation. Hydrodistilled rose is called rose ruh, or ruh gulab.

It is interesting to note that similar misconceptions have surrounded oud for the longest time, where anything under the sun coming from an agarwood tree is referred to as 'oud oil', be it an essential oil, CO2 extract or absolute. Oud oil is strictly the essential oil of agarwood – obtained either by hydro or steam distillation. Anything else is NOT oud oil. Rather, a CO2 extract is "agarwood CO2"; a solvent extract is "agarwood absolute" etc.
 
#4
Alhamdulillah. Thanks @Rasoul S @Ensar Oud for this.
Let me try this again, please do correct and change the words if need be. I am going to put this into a blog post.
  • Attar concrete noun; noun: attar; plural noun: attars;
PHILOSOPHY​
  1. essence of a naturally occurring material/creature living and non-living
    "I was told that the attar of man, is his soul!"
PERFUMERY​
  1. infusion of a botanical's aromatic qualities into a carrier oil such as sandalwood oil, commonly used as a perfume
    "A dab of Rose Attar is perfect for a dinner date "
  • Attar Oil collective noun; noun: attar oil; plural noun: attar oils;
PERFUMERY​
  1. blanket term that applies to oils comprised of various essential oils & absolutes & other extract types, blended together in any fashion
    "this particular attar oil has rose and agarwood essential oil blended in"
  • Essential Oil concrete noun; noun: essential oil; plural noun: essential oils;
PERFUMERY​
  1. natural oil obtained through steam distillation and having the characteristic odour of the botanical material
    "the essential oil of vetiver was used in the making of this soap"
  • Ruh concrete noun; noun: ruh; plural noun: ruhs;
PERFUMERY​
  1. natural oil obtained through hydro distillation and having the characteristic odour of the botanical material
    "rose ruh was used in the making of this candle wax"
  • Absolute concrete noun; noun: absolute; plural noun: absolutes;
PERFUMERY​
  1. natural oil obtained through solvent extraction and having the characteristic odour of the botanical material
    "jasmine absolute seems much stronger than the other counterparts"
  • Otto concrete noun; noun: otto; plural noun: ottos;
PERFUMERY​
  1. rose oil obtained through steam distillation and having the characteristic odour of the botanical material - rose
    "rose otto is another term for rose essential oil, however it is not the same as rose ruh"
now i do have some personal views, although i said essential oil of X is steam distilled, sometime it also means that it is extracted by other methods like cold pressed? I like the term Otto and like that to be used on final products that are steam distilled only, but that is not for me to decide :)
 
#5
Brothers, I got few more terms that needs defining. Let me try this and please correct me :)
  • fragrance oil - chemically engineered oils, understood as synthetic fragrance oils. sometimes it has synthetic and natural oils mixed in?
  • mukhalats - almost the same as attar oils, except that carrier oil is not used? example oud + jasmine only (i cannot find anything on this so just my assumption)
  • colognes - diluted perfumes that has alcohol content >80%
  • toilet water - ... i honestly don't know the difference between this and colognes
 
#6
Alright, I managed to find a site that had a table of sort. That broke down the differences of some of the terms, the link to the article is here.
-- I can't put in codes to format a table, so i just did like below --
Name Fragrant oil (%) Alcohol & water (%)
  • Perfume or parfum 15–30 70–85
  • Eau de parfum 8–30 70–92
  • Eau de toilette 4–8 92–96
  • Eau de cologne 2–5 95–98
  • Splash cologne 1–3 97–99
 
Last edited:

Thomas S.

Active Member
#8
Can somebody please post the name(s) of reliable vendor(s) of attars, i.e. the real stuff that is hydrodistilled from plants, with sandallwood oil as carrier - instead of synthetic (pharmaceutic) products?
I am lookiing to buy Gulab, Nagarmotha, Heena and Shamama attars.
 

~A Coburn

Well-Known Member
#9
Alright, I managed to find a site that had a table of sort. That broke down the differences of some of the terms, the link to the article is here.
-- I can't put in codes to format a table, so i just did like below --
Name Fragrant oil (%) Alcohol & water (%)
  • Perfume or parfum 15–30 70–85
  • Eau de parfum 8–30 70–92
  • Eau de toilette 4–8 92–96
  • Eau de cologne 2–5 95–98
  • Splash cologne 1–3 97–99
I'm sure you'll quickly find this out as you continue your research. However, one thing to note, and to be aware of, is that these terms are not so clearly defined, and vary from house to house.
It is a good basis, but as you'll see, other articles will categorize the concentration range differently.
The safest approach would be to ask the house or perfumer you are interested in, what their definition of the terms are, or better yet what concentration specifically is "X" fragrance.
Further still, ask the perfumer, or the house what percentage of the compound contains actual aromatics. Some have a very loose definition of a compound and will include their additions of iso-e-super or PWx in that concentration labelled above as "fragrant oil %" a.k.a a 'compound' when in fact the actual aromatics are far less.

Brothers, I got few more terms that needs defining. Let me try this and please correct me :)
  • fragrance oil - chemically engineered oils, understood as synthetic fragrance oils. sometimes it has synthetic and natural oils mixed in?
  • mukhalats - almost the same as attar oils, except that carrier oil is not used? example oud + jasmine only (i cannot find anything on this so just my assumption)
  • colognes - diluted perfumes that has alcohol content >80%
  • toilet water - ... i honestly don't know the difference between this and colognes
As for my understanding of 'attars' and 'mukhalats' as they are used today, they are synonymous in most cases.