• Ward al-Taifi: A Rose Amongst the Elite

    When you think about roses what tends to come to mind? Possibly the red rose you give to that special someone to show your love or the yellow rose to signify the importance of a particular friendship. Does the 30 petal pink rose, which makes its home atop the hills of Taif, come to mind?
    What’s this pink rose I mention? Never heard of it you say. You’re not alone. The recondite information on this precious rose, which has been used for essential oils, tracing back early as the 14th century, unveils her elegance and grandeur.
    Ward al-Taifi has quite a colorful birth, history and what many oil enthusiasts are saying, future. This rose, which calls home atop the slopes of Sarawat Mountains, has truly flourished in the cooler climate conditions of Taif.
    There’s much that can be discussed, in regards the gathering, the legend surrounding its arrival into Taif and many other subjects surrounding the rose, however; today, I want to cover two interesting areas: The Distillation Processes and some of the benefits that have been derived from this rose.
    The Distillation Process
    When it comes to the distillation of plants there are 4 different processes that can be used to extract the essential oils. Each process utilizes its own extraction methods. Different processing methods are required to extract essential oils from different plant types
    Type 1: Steam Distillation
    We begin our journey into the extraction process with, Steam Distillation. This method is the most widely used extraction process. During the steam distillation, the plant material is pervaded with steam in which the plant tissues break down, the essential oils and water vapor are released, collected, and cooled. During this phase, the essential oil condenses, separates and then can be easily isolated.
    During the process the steam is prepared in a separate chamber and piped into the tank. Although this method is generally more expensive, it is especially good for plant materials with high boiling point oils and the temperature and pressure can be increased for certain oils. The distillation and oil yield are high and the oil quality is good during steam distillation. 
    Type 2: Water Distillation
    We move to the second form of distillation, which happens to be the method currently being used at al-Gadhi plant in Taif. The water distillation is viewed as being the simplest and cheapest method in which the plant material is immersed in water and boiled. The steam and oil vapor is condensed and the oil is separated from the water. This method is generally suitable for flower blossoms and finely powdered plant materials.
    During the process, a word of caution is exercised; care needs to be taken to prevent the plant material from being damaged by contacting the overheated steel walls.The distillation time depends on the plant material being processed. In the case of the Taif Rose, 10,000 rose petals simmer for six hours. From here, the steam that is collected goes through a tube, which passes down through a pool of cold water and ultimately reaches a larger glass jar, where the rose water is then collected. 
    At this point, the droplets of attar (or fragrance) are still dispersed in the rose water. A second distillation must take place in order for the rose oil to be collected. From 10,000 rose petals, 11.7 ounces of attar is produced. 
    Type 3: Solvent Distillation
    As we move to the third method of distillation we begin to gain a better understanding of the amazing process these roses- just a day before blanketed the hills of Taif with their hidden scents- take in order for us to enjoy the exceptional aroma they harbor. 
    The third method, in which essential oils can be extracted, yet not suitable for various products like delicately odorous oils, is Solvent Distillation. This method can be executed by using one of three main ways. 
    Solvent distillation is used when the odorous properties of a delicate flower and plant material would be altered or destroyed by steam or water or even perhaps when there is very little oil, making these other methods impractical. 
    Solvent extraction produces a concrete which in turn is refined into an absolute. To produce the concrete, the plant material is gradually saturated with a hydrocarbon solvent. This solvent dissolves the plants constituents including essential oils, fatty acids and waxes. Once the solvent is distilled off, the remaining constituents make up the concrete. The essential oil is then extracted with alcohol. A secondary distillation then removes the alcohol, leaving the absolute oil behind. 
    Type 4: Supercritical Co2 Extraction
    During our last method, supercritical carbon dioxide extraction uses carbon dioxide under extremely high pressures to extract essential oils, fragrance products, herbal extracts, and spice extracts.
     Carbon dioxide is relatively inert, making it a contamination free process. Many carbon dioxide extractions have fresher, cleaner and crisper aromas than steam distilled essential oils and they often smell closer to the actual living plants.
    Since this method uses lower temperatures than steam distillation, it makes it gentler on the plants. Some scientific studies have shown that carbon dioxide extraction produces essential oils that are very potent and have great therapeutic benefits.
    Many essential oils that cannot be extracted by steam distillation are obtainable with this method.
    The Benefits of Such a Rose
    When going through the different methods of extracting the fragrance of this rose, Ward al-Taifi, you may wonder why anyone would bother. Well if not for the scent alone, in which you can’t find anywhere else in the world, maybe because of one of the following reasons:
    ·        The Taif Rose is considered to produce one of the most precious essential oils in aroma therapy, as it helps in depression treatment, as well as reduces nervous tension and stress.
    ·        It helps with headaches, insomnia and when used as a powerful sexual tonic, it helps in treatment of frigidity and impotence.
    ·        It reduces psychological problems of women in menopause.
    ·        When applied on skin locally, it has mild antiseptic, antiflogistic and astringent effects.
    But above all, Ward al-Taifi towers above the rest in the fact it awakens positive emotions with the lasting beauty of its aroma.


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