Want to learn how to make essential oils at home? Then this post is for you! You will get the information about the methods and equipment needed for the extraction, distillation, and cultivation of your own aromatherapy essential oils.
Essential oils are becoming increasingly well known for their healing and well being properties. When used for Aromatherapy they benefit our health due to the positive impact on our emotions, they can relieve fatigue, lower anxiety and stress, and can assist with pain associated with physical injury.
Lavender essential oil, for example, is used by Aromatherapists to assist in the treatment of all of the conditions listed in the paragraph above.
For us to use the methods within aromatherapy wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could learn how to make essential oils. Well now we can! In fact many people now choose to make their own.
There is nothing mystical or overtly difficult about producing essential oils. They are simply products extracted from certain medicinal herbs, plants and fruits through distillation and then stored in airtight, and light-resistant containers.
One of the huge benefits to producing your own essential oils is the fact you are in charge of the entire process. So therefore you know you are producing high-quality oils that are pure, concentrated and potent. By distilling your own, you know exactly what you are getting!
How To Make Essential Oils At Home.
The essential piece of equipment needed to make aromatherapy oils is a distiller. But where to start? There are hundreds out there to choose from. And once you start looking you’ll also notice that distillation equipment can cost you anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.
Don’t let that stop you! It is absolutely possible to get a distiller that is priced reasonably, has all of the essential features required and are good quality, durable and heat resistant.
Later in this post, I have included a full review for an excellent distiller that produces high quality oils, has everything you need included and is economical. Learning how to make essential oils at home does not need to break the bank!
What Is Required To Distil Essential Oils?
When you are deciding on your Distillation kit there are a few important requirements you need to keep in mind.
1. Heat Is Required For Distillation.
Heat is very important. It is the application of heat that enables the production of steam.
This is achieved by applying heat to the distillation chamber holding water and the plant products. The steam allows us to extract the oils.
Therefore most important is that any product you purchase must be resistant to high levels of heat and must also be tolerant to rapid changes in temperature.
2. Consider the Size of the Distillation Chamber.
The second consideration is the size of your distillation chamber. The chamber is your holding tank and needs to be big enough to contain the plant material you wish to extract oils from as well as allowing steam to circulate. You should base the size of the chamber you choose in relation to how much oil you want to extract each time, as well as the type of oil you are producing.
If you are producing essential oils derived from flowers, petals, seeds or berries then a smaller chamber will be fine.
For essential oils produced from larger or denser plants, such as barks, foliage and twigs, you will need a much larger chamber because of the increase in the mass of raw materials.
Once you decide on the type of oil you wish to produce you need to consider the quantity of oil you hope to extract. Your chamber needs to have enough space for the plant material and to allows room for steam circulation.
The amount of steam needed will depend on the plant material. The addition of steam is used to extract oil, and prevents the application of direct heat destroying the quality of your oils.
3. A Condenser To Cool The Steam.
The next item of equipment you will require is the condenser. A condenser is the item that collects the steam being produced and is where it cools.
Your condenser needs to be high quality, and preferably made from heat resistant glassware or copper. It must have a high tolerance to heat.
4. A Separator to extract the Essential Oils.
The final piece of kit required is your separator. The separator does exactly as its name suggests. It houses the collected and cooled steam, which has now become hydrosol, and then separates the essential oils from this hydrosol. Your separator is the item that enables you to collect your newly extracted essential oil.
Recommended Distillation Kit For Making Essential Oils At Home.
A Fantastic Do It Yourself Essential Oil Distillation Kit. Make high quality essential oil at home. This distillation equipment is great for producing pure essential oil and enables the hydrosol to be preserved and used at home or in your business. This distillation equipment is suitable for producing smaller quantity oils such as rose, geranium, and mint. It is equally suitable for producing larger quantities of oil and oils produced from large mass plants such as rosemary, lavender, and lemon etc.
The Copper Pro Essential Oil Distiller is made from the best quality copper M1. This distillation kit contains all you need to produce quality, concentrated essential oils and from all plant material. It is one of the best priced Copper distillation kits available and features one of the most robust essential oil extraction systems available. The Copper Pro team have honed and refined every piece of this kit to ensure your satisfaction.
The PREMIUM KIT includes everything you need to distill any essential oil. You get the boiler, the chamber (or column), condenser, separator, clamp, sieve, and gasket. You also receive some premium addons(*) tap adapter*, water hose*, pipette*, 2 pc glass tube*, 3 pc oil storage bottles*, glass funnel* and a thermometer*.
The distillation unit can produce around 6 ml of essential oil and 200-300 ml of hydrosol every 20 minutes.
ASSEMBLY – Copper Pro apparatus are very for the distillation of essential oils. The kit includes everything you need for distillation and we will provide you with manual, video, and e-book with more than 150 recipes on how to make essential oils.
+ The Copper Pro distiller produces a high yield of quality essential oil.
+ Easy to separate and preserve both essential oil and hydrosol.
+ It is easy to install and easy to use.
+ Includes all required items as well as premium addons (*)
+ Made from M1 copper
+ Industry standard at affordable price.
– Assembly instructions could be more comprehensive.
– Length of water pipe (but it is an addon and works fine)
What Plants Should I use? – Your Essential Oil Plant Guide.
Now that you have a quality distillation kit you need to choose the plant materials to use.
Below is a handy infographic about the types of plants you can use, and more importantly, the part of the plant used for extracting the oils.
How Can I Use Essential Oils? – Your Guide.
Now that you know the range of plants that you can extract essential oils from, it is important to understand how to use them for health and well being.
Some of the essential oils that you read about may sound very exotic, however the majority of them can be found in your garden, or purchased from a grocery or gardening store locally.
If you intend using essential oils for health and well being it is important that, before you begin distilling, you do your due diligence and research. If you are taking any medications always check with your doctor first and then research the essential oil most useful for treating any pre-existing condition.
Make notes about which plants are used and then the part of the plant needed to extract the essential oil.
Below I have attached a quick reference guide of essential oils and their uses in aromatherapy and for health.
If you would like your own copy of “how to make essential oils” click the following link to get a quick reference PDF version that you can save, download or print.
How To Make Essential Oils From Flowers, Herbs and Other Plants – The Process.
Now that you have decided on the essential oil you wish to extract it is time to start the process.
1) How to extract Essential Oils From Fresh Plants.
If you are using freshly picked or cut plants material the first step is to remove any excess moisture. This is easily done and ensures a higher quality of oil.
Often people worry that the drying process will also lose the oil in the plant. It doesn’t, the procedure simply evaporates water from the plant and once done means a higher yield of quality oil extracted.
The drying process should be gentle and slow. If dealing with foliage and flowers you should hang them to dry. Tie the stems gently with string and hang them with the flowers and tips facing downward. If you are using other plant material, that cannot easily be tied, place it inside an old pillowcase and hang the pillowcase in a spot that allows air to circulate on all sides.
If you don’t have an old pillowcase you can use any natural fabric for hanging the plants as long as it allows the moisture to escape. Don’t use anything that would trap the moisture or make the plants sweat e.g. plastic bags.
Hang the plant material in a dry warm environment, a linen cupboard, a kitchen, or outside under the eaves of a warm porch. Most important is that it is warm, dry and not in direct sunlight. Sunlight causes damage to natural oils and will render the plant product useless.
Leave the plants hanging until they have wilted and feel dry, but not crumbling. A quick test is to take a small bunch of the leaves or stems and squeeze or twist them. When ready they will be flexible but there should be no sap or liquid.
Then its simply a matter of time! A general rule is 1 week for leaves, flowers and green stems and 2 weeks for twigs, roots, and barks.
Once this drying process is complete you are ready to start extracting the oils.
2) How To Make Essential Oils From Your Dried Plant Material.
First add your dried plant material to the distillation chamber. There is no need to cut the plant materials into small pieces. They only need to be of a size that will fit easily into the chamber.
Note: Make sure you read the instructions of your kit. Some manufacturers use different names and terminology. All distillation kits follow the same process, so just make sure you know which part of your kit is the chamber.
You can pack as much of the dried plant materials into the distillation chamber as possible. It can be packed quite tightly. Now add water to your boiler.
Now it’s time to apply the heat. Your distillation kit requires heat to be applied to the base of the boiler (in some kits this may be the bottom part of the chamber). Once you have added water to the boiler keep the heat as low as you can ensuring that it maintains the water at a gentle boil.
The boiling water forms steam. This steam passes from the boiler into the holding chamber. The steam then moves through the plant material and releases the plants aromatic molecules turning them into vapor. You will need to pay attention to the equipment at this stage to make sure the water doesn’t overflow and that the boiler doesn’t run dry.
As this is happening the vaporized plant compounds travel to the condensation flask or the Condenser. Here, two separate pipes make it possible for the hot water to exit and for cold water to enter the Condenser. This makes the steam vapor cool back into a liquid form.
The cooled liquids will drop from the Condenser and collect inside the Separator. Because water and oil do not mix, your essential oil will float on top of the water. Now you need to siphon it off.
Note: Some essential oils, such as Clove, are heavier than water so they are found at the bottom of the Separator. You will be able too visually see the 2 different liquids.
Once you have separated the oil from the hydrosol you may wish to pass the essential oil through a filter. Many separators contain an inbuilt filter. If yours doesn’t you can pass the oil through a coffee filter. This will remove any remaining plant solids or contaminants helping to purify your essential oil.
3) How To Store Your Essential Oils.
To preserve the potency and quality of your oil store it in a lightproof, airtight bottle with a lid. Preferably they should be dark brown or blue glass or stainless steel.
The colored glass helps avoid light damage. Clear glass allows light to reach the oils and this makes it spoil.
If stored in good containers and kept in a cool dark place your essential oils will last and maintain quality for around 2 years.
Note: Once you have extracted the oil don’t throw away the water mixture that is produced in the separation process. This product is known as hydrosol.
It is a watery mix that will still contain some of the plant oils and their fragrance. This mixture also has therapeutic effects. Use it in a bath, or place in an oil diffuser.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and learning how to make essential oils at home. If you do produce your own I would love to hear of your results. If you have any questions or thoughts please leave them in the comments section below, or if you prefer you can contact me directly by clicking here.