Jasmine absolute is made from the flowers of any of the different plants in the jasmine family. They are native to tropical and subtropical areas in Asia, Africa and Australasia, and many types are also cultivated in warmer regions of southern Europe and the Mediterranean. The shrubs and vines are cultivated for their flowers, which are often used for both scent and flavoring.
Like some other flowers used in perfumery, jasmine petals are too delicate to hold up to the steam distillation process used to make essential oils. Instead, the concentrated form is made most often by chemical extraction, using a solvent such as hexane (a component of gasoline). The solvent is then evaporated away, leaving behind the oil.
Jasmine is widely used as a warm floral note in perfumes and other fragrances. Most commercial scents including jasmine only use small amounts, since it’s a highly concentrated ingredient and can easily have an impact, and because the amount of flowers needed to produce the absolute is so high. However, jasmine blends well with a number of other oils and is used to build a variety of scents for both men and women.
Absolutes are less commonly used in aromatherapy than steam-distilled essences because of the potential for lingering traces of solvent. However, when blended with a carrier (or base) oil, jasmine absolute is sometimes used as an aromatherapy treatment to help combat stress and depression. Current medical research is investigating potential sedative properties.
When used in lotions and moisturizers, jasmine is often considered helpful in treating dry or irritated skin. It is also sometimes included for scent.
In many parts of China and elsewhere, jasmine is brewed with either green or white tea as a flavoring ingredient. It is also used to create syrups. Jasmine flowers are used as a symbol by cities and states throughout Asia and Oceania, and as far-reaching as Damascus in Syria. It is the national flower of Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Philippines, and commonly works as a hair ornament or in garlands, such as Hawaiian leis.