Making Essential Oils

My sister and I took a class the past summer to learn how to make hydrosols and essential oils.  We learned what equipment you need to make it properly and the kitchen stove “hack” method.

I had been told this (over and over), but to actually have my hands in the pot really made me appreciate the amount of herb (and work) that goes into making a jar of essential oil and a bottle of hydrosol.

The following is a simple version from the kitchen ‘hack’ job.  This is simply an idea of how essential oils are extracted and not a ‘recipe’; although feel free to explore and experiment on your own.

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First a LARGE Empty Stock Pot, with a colander, and ‘catch’ bowl

The bottom of the pot is filled with water and a raised colander so the boiling water does not touch the herbs.

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Find a garden herb you have TONS of: Thyme

The colander is filled with as much  herb as you can pack in.  A small bowl is placed in the middle of the herbs.

An inverted domed lid (or bowl) is placed on top of the pot.  This is for the steam to roll down and drip into the collection bowl that you placed in the center of the herbs.

To make: Boil the water in the bottom of the pot and allow the steam to rise and draw out the essence and oils of the herbs.  Steam, and oil, collects on the inverted lid (or bowl) covering the pot.  Ice is added to the lid to facilitate this condensation process.  The condensation drips and collects into the bowl at the center of the herbs.

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Hydrosol and a few DROPS of essential oil

What is caught in the bowl is your hydrosol and layered on top of that is the essential oil of the herb.  There is so little EO that you really need proper equipment to separate the oil efficiently.

For our giant stock-pot-ful of herbs, we got a mere few barely-worth-mentioning drops of oil on top of what ended up being not even a fill 1 ounce dropper of hydrosol.  That’s a lot of thyme for a few drops of oil.  We shook the oil into the hydrosol, which was incredibly lovely!!

Learning Points: use essential oils wisely, for yourself and the Earth.
–Always use sustainable herbs
–The potential reaction to something more potent is going to be…more potent
–It’s potent: more is not better
–It’s potent: don’t use an essential oil when a mug of tea, or a whole food, will do the trick
–It’s potent: always use them with carrier oils (EOs are capable of burning the skin)
–It’s potent: use them with a diffuser (Tip: if you’re using in a bath, or as a steam, put EO on a cotton ball to soften the intensity)
–Don’t ingest essential oils (they are not a food); EOs can accumulate in the liver and cause issues in the short or long term
–hydrosols are so lovely (and less potent)

Aside: never, ever use essential oils on cats.  Cats do not have the proper liver enzymes to break down EOs and it accumulates in their livers.  Cats should have free access to leave any room where an EO is being diffused.  Know your EOs well before using on any other pets or livestock and when in doubt, don’t.  Be safe.

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