Essential Oil Production - Part 1

7:00 AM Posted by jo

There are different methods used when extracting essential oils from the plant material. It is important to use the right method since the plants have different properties and react differently to heat. They could be damaged in the process if not treated properly. The main method is distillation, and and there are different methods of distillation performed depending on the plant materials. The different methods are water and steam, water and direct steam. They all follow the main principles of distillation. Solvent extraction process is another method often used when the raw materials contain a low amount of essential oils.

Water distillation is applied to oils that are not sensitive to long contact with boiling water. Dried plant material, powdered material, and heat sensitive oils such as neroli and rose are used in water distillation. In water distillation the plant material comes in direct contact with the boiling water. The plant material is put in the distilling chamber along with water and brought to a boil. The oil molecules of the plant are transferred with the steam to the condensing chamber in order for it to cool. When the steam cools it liquefies and the oil will float on the water.  If its specific gravity is higher than water it will sink to the bottom. A separatory funnel is used to separate out the essential oil. This method uses reduced pressure and low heat. It is a slow procedure, and therefore, it is not suitable for oils containing high amount of esters since they can break down carboxylic acids and alcohols.

Stay tuned for the next post about the solvent extraction process.

Thanks for visiting!


Johanna is an aromatherapist he is passionate about educating people about health, essential oils, real food, natural remedies, and nutrition so they make healthier choices in their lives. 
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