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Vanilla Oleoresin and Absolute

Want a natural vanilla fragrance? Unfortunately, there isn’t a cheap solution.  Extracts contain too much water and ground vanilla powder acts more like an exfoliant than a fragrance.  The two options are vanilla oleoresin and vanilla absolute.

Vanilla oleoresin is a semi-solid concentrate made by removing the solvent from vanilla extract. A solution of isopropanol is frequently used instead of ethanol for the preparation. Some flavor and aroma is lost during removal of the solvent, but the essential oils remain. Vanilla oleoresin is used in non-food products. Unfortunately, it isn’t always stable in candle and soap making, which is too bad, as it’s considerably less expensive than vanilla Absolute.

Vanilla absolute is the most concentrated form of vanilla. It is often used in perfumes and other aroma-based products. Because it’s so expensive, most candles, soaps, and other scented specialty merchandise, are made from synthetic vanillin. Vanilla Absolute is used in very high-end products in small quantities, often mixed with other fragrances in perfumes.  However, a little goes a long way.  If you are making perfumes, soaps or candles and you don’t want the cloying aroma of imitation vanilla, it’s worth investing in vanilla absolute.


Patricia Rain
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16 Responses

  1. Hi,
    I’m glad I came across your website.
    I would like to know if vanilla absolute contains alcohol just like vanilla extract.

    Thank you,

    1. Vanilla Absolute is an extract concentrate that is primarily used in the perfume industry. I’ve seen two types of absolute. The tincture for use as a fragrance was clear. The other absolute was a resinous, dark brown product. Both contain alcohol as alcohol is the most effective way to isolate the fragrance and flavor of the vanilla.

        1. Frances, we can special order vanilla oleoresin for use as a fragrance but it is extremely expensive. I also can’t guarantee that we can get it currently with the extreme shortage of vanilla in the market. If you are still interested, you can contact us through the contact form on our site.

        2. Hi Frances,

          You can purchase vanilla oleoresin absolute at http://www.edensgarden.com. If you want vanilla oleoresin /30, the dark brown thick oleoresin, you can get it at http://www.aromatics.com. Be prepared for the price to be high. Also if you want to know you are getting pure oleoresin be sure you only purchase from a company that provides you with a GC/MS. This is the only way to know that what you are buying is unadulterated. Hope this helps.

  2. I was wondering if you could enlighten me as to why the vanilla flowers are used in making an absolute instead of the beans. It would seem that one would get more scent out of the larger fragrant bean. Certainly extracts are made from the bean, but absolutes are not. What is the explanation?

    1. Tatiana, I have never heard that absolute is made from flowers. The vanilla orchids have such a subtle odor that they wouldn’t be of any use to press. Whoever told you that absolute is made from the flowers gave you the wrong information. Absolute is a very concentrated form of extract. It can be very thick and resin-like or it can be processed to be clear. You are absolutely correct that you need the cured, dried beans to make absolute.

  3. I have found that Vanilla CO2 extract has the most close to real vanilla bean scent, but you didn’t mention it here. Oh, and it cost often more than absolute.

  4. Hey there,

    I’m just starting to formulate different Organic and Natural ingredients. I wanted to use either vanilla absolute or Co2, but I wanted to know if I did ended up using the absolute in my products, what type of effect would the alcohol play in the feel of the product, when the customer uses it?? (Dry, irritating, etc.)

    Thank you,

    1. I have never received any complaints about the products that we special-order for customers, but because everyone’s bodies are so different, I’m sure some people may have problems. This is a highly concentrated product so there isn’t a lot of alcohol.

  5. Hi Patricia. Thank you for your informative post. I’d like to know which type of vanilla you think is best for use in an ultrasonic diffuser blend made with essential oils? Absolute or oleoresin?

  6. Hello Patricia, I’m just starting to use essential oils and I have a recipe for a body salve and it calls for vanilla absolute. I have had a hard time finding vanilla absolute. Would it be ok to use vanilla oeloresin instead?

    1. Maile, at one point we were selling vanilla oeloresin and I think it’s better than absolute. It’s difficult to find both right now I imagine as vanilla is so expensive that not a lot is being made. I’ve never worked with essential oils, so I’m not the best person to advise you, but the oleoresin we purchased was lovely and I think appropriate for using in salves.

  7. Hello Patricia, Thank you for this information. I just started candle making and found that the vanilla fragrance oils are not the best compared to actual vanilla. I was trying to do some research to see if Vanilla Oleoresin was safe to use in candles. Can you elaborate on the stability of Vanilla Oleoresin in candles or soaps?

    1. Tarren, I would only use oleoresin for candle making. The biggest issue is make sure it is pure. It may be difficult to find it, however, given vanilla prices have been so high. I honestly would not trust any other fragrances for candle making. Not worth taking chances as any imitation fragrances may be dangerous.

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