Steam Distillation of Essential Oils

Apr 04, 2019


Various methods for obtaining the essential oils or absolutes are needed depending on the nature of the plant material and the different solubility behaviors of the individual plants. To achieve the best quality, the production must be as gentle as possible. In particular, oxygen, light, and heat factors can adversely affect the quality of the essential oil when oxidation occurs. 

Steam distillation of Essential Oils

By far, the most popular method for centuries is steam distillation, which causes complete extraction. Steam gets generated in a boiler, and the plant releases the oils with the help of steam.

The steam can transport all substances that are light enough, up. The water vapor with the essential oils accumulates in the cooling coils and will now condense.

Since essential oils do not mix with water and are lighter than water (except for cinnamon), the oils float on top of the water. This amount of oil is also very recognizable in the bottleneck of a liter bottle.

The yield is usually meager. 1kg of Lavender yields approximately 10-15ml. Before the essential oil is withdrawn, the essential oil with the hydrolate should sit for about 1-2 weeks to collect all oils, which might still be swimming in the hydrolate. You can remove the oil with a disposable syringe from the pharmacy. 

The newly distilled essential oil can now be stored in small dark bottles.


How much plant material/ resin do we need for 1kg Essential Oil?

Frankincense 20 kg Resin

Orange 300 kg Skin

Patchouli 35 kg Leaves

Neroli 1,500 kg Flowers

Clove 50 kg Bud

Rose 5,000 kg Flowers

Tea tree 50 kg Leaves

Melissa 10,000 kg Leaves

Lemon 200 kg Skin

Lavender 125 kg Flowers

I hope this explanation and image helped to understand how steam distillation of essential oils works. 

 As always, thank you for reading!

Oily hugs


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