What’s the Difference Between Attar & Essential Oil?

Understanding Attars:

Attar is a persian/Arabic word meaning fragrance, scent or essence. When the aroma of flowers, herbs and spices are collected by hydro-distillation on a base material, like sandalwood oil, the attar is made.

Traditional Attars or Itra are majorly used as perfumes and are produced by distilling natural ingredients like flower petals, spices, wood, etc over sandalwood oil.
Since pure Sandalwood oil is very costly, some manufacturers use chemicals or other natural oils such as Vetiver (Khas) for distillation of Attars. However these chemically processed fragrances do not qualify as attars and are considered as scents.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils, also known as natural oils or volatile oils, are extracted from plants using steam and water distillation methods. Essential oils are volatile and liquid aroma compounds from natural sources, usually plants.

Historically, essential oils have been used in medicine, beautycare products, perfumes and in aromatherapy nowadays. Essential oils are “essential” because they contain the “essence” of the plant, meaning the taste or odor.

How They are Different? – Top Differences Between Attars & Essential Oils

Attar & Essential Oil - What's the Difference?
Difference – Attar vs Essential Oils

Difference in Method of Production
Natural attars are traditionally hydro-distilled in Sandalwood, while essential oils are generally steam distilled.

Natural Ingredients: Moreover, in attars the there can be used some additional natural ingredients as raw materials during production such as herbs and spices for perfumery purposes, while essentials oils are pure extracts of plants.

Difference in Way of Applying: Attars are generally as perfumes and can be applied directly on skin. However, this is true in case of natural attars. Synthetic attars might cause some irritation various skin types, specially to those with allergy. Besides, people can also apply natural attars on clothes.

When it comes to applying essential oil, it is important to note that most of the essential oils are considered too volatile to be applied directly to your skin without being diluted first.  Essential oils can be applied to the skin using a variety of techniques.

Difference in Usage: Attars are used for fragrance related purposes and serve as perfumes. This is why in they are widely used in perfumery. Some attars are also used in aromatherapy.

Unlike Attars, Essential oils are majorly used by people because of their therapeutic features. In spas, pharmaceuticals and aromatherapy, a range of essential oils are used globally.