Rose oil has also been used as a companion for the dying, since it reduces fear and provides wisdom for people who journey to the other side. Rose's comforts suggest that everything is as it should be - small earthly events serve something higher.
Even in highly diluted concentrations, rose oil has a very strong, psychological effect - 1 to 2 drops in an aroma lamp will change a room's whole atmosphere.
This is not surprising, since many petals surrender their fragrance for just one drop of oil. To produce a pound of essential rose oil, 5000 pounds of fresh petals are needed. A good collector will be able to harvest about 10 pounds of petals a day. As with jasmine and tuberose, rose petals must be picked before sunrise, because their oil content is diminished later in the day. The essential oil is extracted primarily by steam distillation.
India has been considered the place where the method of producing the oil was discovered. At the wedding of Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal and Ahalimar Gardens for his wife, the area surrounding the castle was filled with rosewater and covered with rose petals. Arriving guests were carried by boat through these fragrant waters. The heat of the midday sun began the process of natural distillation. Rose oil separated and began to float on top of the water. Since then, the story goes, India has used steam distillation to produce rose essential oil.
Only a few rose species are cultivated on a large scale and used for distillation. Rosa damascena, the damask rose, is primarily grown in Bulgaria, which has the largest rose-growing plantation in the world. This hardy rose is similar in appearance to dog rose (rosa canian) or bush rose. Since Tunisia and Morocco began to grow this rose, they have undercut the high price of Bulgarian rose oil. But the oil produced in Bulgaria is far superior.
Rosa centifolia, the cabbage rose, which originated in Persia and had been grown primarily in Esfahan, is now cultivated primarily in Algeria and Egypt. Rosa gallica, originally from the Caucasus, is the main source today of rose oil from Turkey. Oil from the damask rose and cabbage rose is preferred for aromatherapy. The oil from Turkey is too heavy and passionate for most people.
As with all other expensive essential oils, many fake rose oils are on the market. A layperson may distinguish between real and synthetic oils with difficulty. Also, these so-called rose oils may be produced from cheaper plants. Therefore, the buyer must beware when purchasing rose oil. Demand oil made from "real" rose plants - Rosa damascena, Rosa centifolia, or Rosa gallica.
Found in: Complete Aromatherapy Handbook