Essential Oil Extraction at Home - Difficult but Doable
Pure essential oils can be quite expensive and the oils you typically see in stores are those that have already by mixed with carrier oil or some other medium for use. There are many aromatherapy and natural cure aficionados that wish they could do essential oil extraction at home. It is possible to accomplish with the right tools, equipment and most of all, patience.
Essential oils are present in all plants and herbs and are what give them fragrance or even taste. Because pure essential oils are expensive, many people seek various methods of essential oil extraction at home. To understand what could be accomplished at home, you should be aware of the different types of extraction first.
Different Types of Extraction
Distillation is by far the most popular means of essential oil extraction at home and especially in manufacturing arenas. There are several types of distillation and all involve water and its steam counterpart. Because everyone at home has access to water, distillation is the most viable method for essential oil extraction at home.
Maceration is another extraction process of essential oils but is not really viable for amateur home hobbyists. It involves hot oil in which the flowers or herbs are soaked in to release the fragrant essence. From there, the hot oil is purified and the essential oil is extracted from that medium.
Enfleurage and pressing are two similar extraction methods for essential oils and involves crushing or squeezing flowers, citrus rinds and herbs until the oils are released. While pressing is sometimes a practiced essential oil extraction at home, it is not often done because the expended effort is too much. With enfleurage, the smeared essential oil left over from the pulverized flowers and herbs are mixed with an animal fat until the fat soaks up the oils and is then processed.
Essential Oil Extraction at Home Using Distillation
The easiest way to accomplish essential oil extraction at home is to purchase a home distillation kit which could be used with a few simple household items like the use of your stovetop. With these kits, you would get several professional lab grade flasks with one for distillation and one for receiving the essential oil, a distillation head and condenser, cooling hoses and more.
Of course, you can assemble your own equipment from what you have at home, but a kit will have all the items you need. The use of steam distillation often provides the most efficient process for the home hobbyist. You would place the herbs, flowers or plant in the main flask dry. The, steam is injected into the flask so that the essential oil can sweat out of the plant or flower material.
This steam method provides the best results and little oil is wasted when trying to collect it and separate it from the plant material. When you use steam for essential oil extraction at home, you have to be careful and not burn yourself. There are other distillation methods which involve water and steam however they are not as efficient as straight steam for gathering essential oil.