Essential Oil Bazaar » Indian Attars
The history of natural attars is very much associated to the history of Kannauj. Kannauj has been known for natural attars from the Mugal period or even earlier when aroma bearing substances like Sandal, Musk, Camphor, Saffron were used as such (without isolation of odorous principles) and the range of such materials and essential oils were further enriched during the Mugal period, when new plants were brought by the Mugals from Central Asia to this country. This lead to the discovery and development of process for the preparation of attar from Roses by Noorjahan, the Mugal queen, This was the beginning of the natural attars in India, which developed and progressed in and around Kannauj and is quite strong even now. Floral Attars may be defined as the distillates obtained by the hydro distillation of flowers in Sandalwood Oil or other base materials like DOP, DEP, and Paraffin etc. The attars of Rose & Kewra are used as flavors in Indian sweets. The main users of attars are in the Pan Masala and Chewing tobacco industry. The two product also unique to India & consume nearly 80% of all the attars manufactured. All the attars are used as perfumes by themselves. In India and Middle East, attars are made as offerings to the God. There are evidences in the history and Hindu sacred books (Holy texts) that perfumery tradition dates back to over 5000 years at the time of Indus valley civilization as well when distillation practice was reported to be in existence. MANUFACTURING PROCESS The attars are manufactured traditionally ‘Degs & Bhapka system’, which is a hydro distillation process. The still is heated form below by lighting a fire with the help of wood or cow dung. The temperature and speed of the distillations controlled by regulating the fire. The distillation is managed by highly skilled/experience, workers called ‘Dighaa’. He knows when the correct quantities of vapors have condensed inside the receiver by feeling the round part of the receiver under water. The water in the tank is change continuously to prevent the temperature rising too high. Managing the still is highly skilled job, as the operator must keep the boiling in the still at a level that matches the condensation in the receiver, in order to keep the pressure under control. When the desire quantities of vapors have condensed, the Dighaa rubs a wet cloth around the body of the still for a temporary pause in distillation and the filled receiver is replaced by another receiver. If necessary, the second may be replaced by a third receiver. The receiver is then allowed to cool and may remain idle for one or two days depending on the pressure of work. The mixture of oil and water is then separated either directly from the receiver through a hole at the bottom or pouring the whole mixture in an open trough, After the oil and water have separated into two layers, the water is removed from an opening in the bottom, and the same is cohobated. The base material remains in the receiver. After desired concentration of the attar has been reached, then same is poured into leather bottles for sedimentation and removal of moisture. Sometimes liquid paraffin is used for the manufacture of cheaper attars. The mouth of the receiver is sealed by wrapping coarse cloth around the bamboo pipe and pushing it inside the condenser. The receiver may contain up to 5-10 kilos of base materials and is kept in a small water tank.