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What Is Attar Perfume?

By Sarah Sullins
Updated May 21, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments

By fify — On Mar 26, 2012

@ddljohn-- I would recommend sweet musk, amber, coconut and maybe sandalwood to you. Attar scents are usually different from producer to producer, so there is no guarantee that you would like an attar with the same name from different stores. But most online stores who specialize in attar can send you small attar perfume samples to try.

I personally love all four of these recommendations. How much to use depends on you, but I prefer to keep it light, so I definitely don't drown myself in it. Sometimes I use attar for aromatherapy. Lavender attar is great for this. Whenever I use this before I go to bed, I have a great night's sleep.

By ddljohn — On Mar 25, 2012

I'm trying to stay away from cosmetics with chemicals and additives in them. I'm interested in switching to attar because it's natural perfume and I think it will be a lot healthier for me in the long run.

The only place I could find attar is online shops. The problem is that I can't try any of them this way and will have to directly order it. Can anyone recommend me any attar scents? I generally like fruity scents and sometimes woody scents too.

Also, what the best way to apply attar? And how much should I use? I don't want it to be overwhelming, just right.

By ysmina — On Mar 25, 2012

When I was in Egypt, attar was sold as the Arabian perfume in many shops and it was used by many of the Egyptians I met. An Egyptian friend was telling me about attar and he said that attar was the kind of perfume Prophet Muhammad wore. In Islam, being clean and fresh and smelling good is important. So I think, in that sense attar is important for Islam and many Muslims choose to use it for that reason.

I did do some attar shopping when I was in Egypt. Some of them smelled really nice and light, but a great many of them were too strong and heavy for my taste. Now I don't know if they were 100% attar or not. It might be that I was looking attar perfumes that were combined with other things.

I did brink back some jasmine scented attar back with me though. This is my favorite attar scent. It's delightful and smells of mainly jasmine and a little bit of rose too. I apply a drop or two on my neck and it stays with me all day. I love it.

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