Attar perfume is the natural, undiluted form of a perfume created using a process of distillation. In these perfumes, no alcohol or any other man-made additive is used in combination with the natural elements that make up the perfume. The oils that are used to make this type of perfume typically come from flower petals, but the leaves of a flowering plant may also be used.
The word "attar" comes from the word `atir, which in the Persian language means "sweet or fragrant." This type of perfume may also be called "otto" or "ottar" perfume. These words can be used interchangeably; all three derive from the same Persian word.
An attar perfume is often confused with an essential oil. Attar perfumes and essential oils can each be made from a single scent, but attars are generally composed of a combination of flowers to create a unique and original fragrance. In general, these two types of fragrant oils are made through different distillation processes, although that is not always the case. Most often, though, essential oils are obtained through steam distillation while attars are procured through water distillation.
Traditionally, manufacturing an attar perfume involves placing many flower petals into a still, or what is also known as a deg, covering them with water, and then heating the water. This creates steam, which eventually condenses and runs through a pipe attached to the still down into a container that holds a base oil for the attar. The heat from the still extracts the oil from the petals. The water in the still is separated from the oil every morning and new flower petals are added to the water. This process may continue for more than two weeks until the attar perfume is completely finished.
The water left over after the perfume is made is called a "hydrosol," and is often sold as flower-scented water. This type of water has to be kept in the refrigerator to prevent it from going bad. Hydrosols and other natural ingredients are often used by individuals to create a unique attar perfume in the comfort of their own home.
Although many people purchase attar perfume for its fragrance, others use attars for home remedies. When certain flowers are used to make these perfumes, they are thought to treat depression, asthma, coughing, cramps, and sexual problems. Many are also used to care for nausea, burns, skin problems, and cuts.