- Can You Make Your Own Essential Oils At Home
- Watch How To Make A Gentle Face Scrub
- Here’s how to make essential oil spray in five easy steps.
- 1. Decide on the purpose of your essential spray
- 2. Research essential oil properties
- 3. Experiment with scents
- 4. Decide on essential oil ratios
- 5. Make your spray
- How To Make Your Own Essential Oils and Perfumes
- How to Make Your Own Essential Oil from Flowers in Your Garden
- How to Make Rose Oil
- How to Make Rose Geranium Oil
- How to Make Lavender Oil
- How to Use Your Homemade Essential Oil
- Magnolia Flower Essential Oil
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- Learn How to Make Essential Oils Like a True Homesteader
- What You Need to Know When Making Essential Oils
- Methods To Make Essential Oils
- What You Need to Make Homemade Essential Oils:
- Step 1. Prepare Your Choice of Plant
- Step 2. Prepare the Jar
- Step 3. Straining Vodka Solution
- Step 4. Repeat Soaking Process
- Step 5. Storing Vodka Solution
- Step 6. Freeze Solution
- Step 7. Strain Solution
- Step 8. Harvest Essential Oils
- The Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils
- Learn How To Make Your Own DIY Essential Oils
- DIY Essential Oils
- Easy DIY Essential Oil Extraction
- Guide to Making Essential Oils
- Essential Oils in the Plant
- Guide to Making Essential Oils
- Making Essential Oils at Home
- What You Need for Essential Oil Production
- Synthesizing Fragrance
- Fragrance in our Lives
Can You Make Your Own Essential Oils At Home
So DIY essential oil is quite a technical process as described in this beginners guide to making essential oils at home. Alternatively, the oil infusions below cost very little and give great results, and they are far easier than trying to make your own essential oil and I use it for my diy incense sticks all the time.
The Beginners Guide to Making Your Own Essential Oils: Complete Guide to Making Your Own Essential Oils from Scratch & To Improve Your Health and Well-Being
- P, Lindsey (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
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Last update on 2020-01-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Traditional Oil Infusion Process
Let’s face it a home still is not something that you want to invest in if you just want to have a little try at this. Distillation is also a fairly modern method for making essential oils.
So as a beginner we recommend that you start with an alternative and more traditional oil infusion process. An oil infusion will give you very nice fragrant results, and although not as strong as distilled essential oil you can vary the strength for your needs, and you will not need to dilute.
The key to making good oil infusions is choosing the right materials. You’ll need to use pale colored oil that has a mild scent that won’t overpower the flowers, herbs or spices you intend to use with it. Olive oil, jojoba oil, safflower oil, almond oil or canola oil can often work very well.
Choosing Herbs For An Oil Infusion
You can use almost any garden herb when you make your own essential oil. You should use the leaves and flowers, but avoid using any woody stems or branches. Always chop the leaves to release their scent before you add them to the oil. The most popular are lavender, rosemary, peppermint, thyme and lemon balm.
Perhaps the most common spices found in essential oils are the most aromatic. The most popular seem to be cinnamon, coriander, cumin, nutmeg and cloves.
You will need to crush the spices to release their aromas fully before adding them to your oils with a mortar and pestle.
Scented flowers are very popular additions into many homemade essential oils. You can decide to use one or a combination of flowers in your own oils. Be sure you use the petals only as these hold much of the fragrance you want.
Cut the flowers while they are still not completely opened and remove the petals for use in your oils. Most fragrant flowers are fine to use in essential oil, such as roses, carnations, frangipani, hyacinth, lavender, violets, marigolds and plenty of others.
Basic Rose Oil Infusion
You can make your own infusions from rose petals.
- For nice infusion make sure you pick from buds where the buds have only partially opened. You should only need 1/4 cup of petals.
- Place the petals in a plastic zip-lock bag and seal the bag. Use a wooden mallet to tap the petals gently. You only want to bruise the flowers a bit to release the oil and fragrance.
- Place the bruised flower petals into a glass jar and pour 1/2 cup of your chosen base oil over them. Seal the jar and shake it well to help the oil from the flowers blend with your base oil. Leave the jar aside overnight.
- When the flowers have been steeped in oil for 24 hours, strain the oil and discard the petals. Repeat the procedure again with another 1/4 cup of bruised petals and allow these to steep in the oil overnight.
- Test the aroma of your homemade essential oil after the second batch of petals has been discarded. If you prefer stronger smelling oil, repeat the procedure for a third time.
- When the fragrance has reached a point that is strong enough for your liking, strain the oil into a dark glass container. Seal it tightly and store it away from sunlight until you need it.
Sensual Massage Aromatherapy Oil Infusion
Some aromatherapy oils are excellent to use as a sensual massage oil to help heighten the senses. For this infusion you will need approximately 1/4 cup of mixed jasmine flowers, lavender flower and grated vanilla beans.
- Place 1/4 cup of jasmine flowers, lavender flowers and grated vanilla bean into a zip lock bag. Tap the flowers lightly with a wooden mallet to bruise them and release the fragrances.
- Place the flowers into a glass jar and pour 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil over them. Seal the jar and shake well.
- Leave the oil aside for 48 hours for the flowers to steep.
- After 48 hours, strain the oil and discard the flowers. Pour the oil into a dark glass container and store in cool, dark place until needed.
You should find that the aroma is quite subtle, but will become more pronounced when the oil is heated slightly by the natural warmth of your skin during a sensual massage.
We hope you enjoyed this article on how to make your own essential oil and infusions. If you’ve tried to make your own essential oil or infusions at home or if you have alternative homemade essential oil recipes you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you.
For more information visit The SavvyHomemade Essential Oil Use Chart
Watch How To Make A Gentle Face Scrub
Have you always wanted to blend your own oils but not known where to start? Maybe you want to mix your own custom perfume or create a blend for cleaning your home?
One of the first things to consider is what you’re going to be using this blend for and how you’re going to be using it. Ask yourself:
- Who is this essential oil blend for?
- What purpose am I creating it for? What effect do I want this blend to have?
- How will I apply this blend?
Once you know what you want out of your essential oil blend, it’s time to do some research! What you’re looking for here is a list of pure essential oils that have the properties that you want in a blend. You won’t use all of these oils in your blend, but you want to create a list of 10-15 oils that could be included, and you will simplify this list later on.
If you’re purely making your blend around its scent as you want to use it for a perfume or to create a beautiful atmosphere in your home, you may wish to research oils by their herbal family. Based on what scent you like, you may research citrus, floral or woody oils.
If you’re blending your essential oils simply for aromatic purposes (blending for enjoyment of the scent rather than therapeutic benefit), you will want to make sure your oil combinations will actually smell nice once they are blended together. An easy way to do this is to break the oils down into their essential oil category. Some of the main essential oil categories are listed below:
Woody: Sandalwood, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cedarwood, Juniper, Black Pepper, Pine
Floral: Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Neroli, Rose, Jasmine, Palmarosa, Petitgrain
Citrus: Lemon, Grapefruit, Bergamot, Sweet Orange, Lime, Mandarin, May Chang, Tangerine, Melissa, Citronella
Once you know which categories your oils fit into, you can see which combinations are possible. There are no set rules when it comes to blending oils, ultimately it comes down to your preferences, but there are a few guidelines that will help you if you’re new to blending oils. Typically essential oils from the same category blend well together, as do essential oils from one category that are matched with oils from a complementary category.
- Woody oils blend well with other woody oils, floral, herbal and citrus oils
- Floral oils blend well with other floral oils, woody oils and citrus oils
- Herbal oils blend well with other herbal oils and woody oils
- Citrus oils blend well with other citrus oils, floral and woody oils
Once you’ve nailed your combination, it’s best to make a small batch first just to make sure you’re happy with the scent before making a large batch. This test batch should just be 10-15 drops of essential oils in total.
Once your blend is complete, it’s best to let the oils rest for 24-48 hours before using them, this allows the aromas to develop beautifully.
Remember, have fun with it! The options are endless when it comes to blending oils and the more you do it the more in tune with your preferences you will get and you’ll also get better at knowing which combinations work best.
To make this really simple, we have even put together a little cheat sheet on some of our favourite oil combinations for specific purposes, you can check it out below. If you love the idea of blends but don’t really have the time to make them yourself, we have our own range of blends already perfected for you, you can check them out here.
Essential oils are like the pocketknife of wellness tools helping with everything from stress and anxiety, PMS, and serving as a non-toxic cleaning product. Sure, it’s nice to have a few go-tos on hand in the form of a roll-on, but not every essential oil is safe to put on your skin (or ingest). One of the easiest and safest ways to use essential oils is by making a spray.
Even if your DIY abilities aren’t going to win any Pinterest board awards anytime soon, this is one project anyone can master. It’s super simple: All it takes is a little know-how, a bottle, water, and your essential oil (or oils if you want to get fancy) of choice. Keep reading for everything you need to know.
Here’s how to make essential oil spray in five easy steps.
Photo: Getty Images/Katarzyna Bialasiewicz
1. Decide on the purpose of your essential spray
When making an essential oil spray, the first step is to decide what is the spray for. Here are some ideas to get your inspiration flowing:
- Improving sleep
- Insect repellent
- Room and fabric freshener or deodorizer
- Relieving depression
- Cleaning solution or disinfectant
- Body oil or perfume
- Hair detangler
- Balance hormones
Once you’ve decided why you want to make your spray and how you plan on using it, it’s time to choose your oils.
2. Research essential oil properties
Now you know why you want to make an essential oil spray, but how do you know which oils to use for the best effectiveness? When you’re doing your research, make sure the sources you’re using link to scientific studies backing up their claims. For example, if you’re doing a deep dive into essential oils for anxiety, make sure the sites you’re reading link out to sound evidence that their recommendations have merit.
Or, if you really want to increase your knowledge, delve into a book written by a respected holistic healer, such as Eric Zielinski, DC’s The Healing Power of Essential Oils or Josh Axe, MD’s Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine.
3. Experiment with scents
Now that you’ve discovered which essential oils you can use as a remedy, it’s important to make sure the scents work for you. Scent is tied so much to memory that it’s very individualized. What’s soothing to you might not be for someone else. Your research provides a strong base, but experimenting is key.
Much like perfumes, essential oil scents can be grouped by type, such as floral, citrus, spicy, woody, and herbal. Oils of the same type tend to blend well together.
You can also look up commercial products that achieve the effect you’re after and see what oils the pros blended together. You can use existing products as your guide to create different essential oil blends for yourself. But of course, everyone’s nose is different. One scent combination could send someone into ecstasy while leaving someone else wrinkling their nose in disgust. So you will have to do some experimenting to find out what smells good to you.
4. Decide on essential oil ratios
If you’re an essential oil newbie, it’s probably best to start with just one or two oils for your first spray. As you gain more confidence, experience, and you grow your collection of oils, you can experiment with using a variety of oils in one mixture.
As you blend different oils to discover what scent profile you want to achieve, start with a 1:1 ratio of different oils. See how that smells, and then adjust the scent profile and ratios from there. Typically, when making an essential oil blend, there will be one or two oils you use more of as your main scent. Other oils added are complimentary and in lesser ratios, depending on your scent preferences and the properties you’re after.
5. Make your spray
When choosing your spray bottle, glass may be a little pricier than plastic, but since essential oils can degrade plastic, it’s worth the few extra bucks—especially if you’ll be using the spray on your skin; you don’t want any nasty chemicals from the plastic to make their way onto you.
To make a spray, mix your essential oils with purified or distilled water, which you can buy in the grocery store. The strength of the mixture is totally up to you. Depending on the size of your bottle, play with the number of drops of each essential oil and how much water you add. For a stronger scent, mix 2 oz. of water in your spray bottle with 15 to 25 drops of essential oils. For a milder scent, a good rule of thumb is 20 drops of essential oil in 4 oz. of water.
You can add more water or oil to adjust your ratios up or down. Record how much water and how much of each oil you’ve added to the bottle to keep track. That way once you’ve nailed your recipe, you’ll be able to recreate it.
To use your spray, remember that oil and water don’t mix—shake well before each use.
Essential oils have so many natural benefits. Once you get started making and using your own essential oil sprays, you’ll be hooked on how easy it is to concoct your own remedies at home.
You can also DIY your own laundry detergent and mood-boosting face mask.
How To Make Your Own Essential Oils and Perfumes
Making essential oils is done by extracting the natural oils from herbs and/or flowers. These extractions can be made with oils or alcohol.
Extracting Oils with Oil
Oil attracts oil, bringing it out of the leaves and flowers. Therefore, one relatively easy way of extracting essential oils is to soak them in oil.
- Use a non-metal container – a ceramic crock works well – and pour in enough pure olive oil or safflower oil to cover the botanicals.
- Set aside for 24 to 48 hours.
- Strain the mixture, gently pressing the leaves or flowers to release more oils.
- Add more fresh flowers or leaves to the already fragrant oil and repeat steps 2 and 3.
- Continue to repeat this process an additional six to eight times or until your essential oil is of the desired strength.
- Store tightly sealed bottles in a cool, dark place. You can add the oil to baths, lotions, potpourris, aromatic waters, soaps, or candles.
Extracting Oils with Alcohol
Another easy method of obtaining herbal fragrances is to soak botanicals in alcohol. You should use undenatured ethyl alcohol. If you can’t find this, using vodka is acceptable, but do not use rubbing alcohol.
The process is the same as extracting with oils. The fragrant alcohol you create can be used as is, or it can be diluted with some water. These extracts also make a great base for perfumes. Most perfumes contain a large amount of alcohol because it evaporates from the skin quickly, thus giving you a blast of fragrance.
To remove the oil from the alcohol, place the container in the freezer. The oil will congeal on top of the alcohol – which won’t freeze – and can be scraped off.
This method is very good for delicate flowers like jasmine, as it won’t burn the petals like steam distillation does.
Pure Essential Oils
This most useful of herbal oils can be added to perfumes, bath soaps, lotions, and used with other fragrant items. These are extracted by steam distillation. Using the right equipment, an incredible amount of botanicals, and much persistence, you can distill pure essential oils. However, it is much easier to buy them, and there are many reputable sources, both locally and online.
Perfumes, Colognes, and Toilet Water
For making simple perfumes, colognes, and toilet water, all you will need are essential oils, alcohol (undenatured or vodka), and a fixative (storax oil, sandalwood oil, or orris root).
Keep in mind the basic principles of blending. Create the perfume around a central scent, and then add complimentary or contrasting fragrances to build and enhance it. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
The following recipes are created by combining all ingredients in a glass bottle, shaking well, and setting in a cool dark place for several weeks to allow the fragrances to blend and fix.
Make Your Own Healing Medicines From Plants Found In Nature…
Scent of Roses (Let blend at least four weeks before using)
- 1 cup alcohol
- ¼ cup rose water
- 1 tablespoon rosemary oil
- 2 tablespoons rose oil
- 1 tablespoon storax oil
Herb Scent (Shake occasionally while setting to improve fragrance)
- 1 cup alcohol
- 1 teaspoon basil oil
- 1 teaspoon sage oil
- 1 teaspoon dill oil
- 1 tablespoon sandalwood oil
Lavender Cologne (Combine and enjoy after setting several weeks)
- 1 pint alcohol
- ½ cup lavender
- 2 tablespoons lavender oil
- 1 tablespoon storax oil
Lemon Perfume (Fragrance grows stronger with age)
- 1 cup alcohol
- 2 tablespoons lemon oil
- 1 tablespoon citronella oil
- 1 tablespoon sandalwood oil
Spicy Essence (Let set two months, then filter and store in a sterile glass bottle)
- 1 cup alcohol
- 1 tablespoon clove oil
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon oil
- ¼ cup orris root
Other Uses for Oils
Candle Scents – Add any of these scents these to wax for candle making.
- Bayberry oil
- Clove oil
- Mint oil
- Rose oil
- Lavender oil
- Lemon oil
- Other aromatic herb oils
Scented Soaps – Just before pouring soaps into molds, add any of these for a sweet aroma while bathing.
- Lavender oil
- Citronella oil
- Rose oil
- Rose Geranium oil
- Rosemary oil
- Clove oil
- Cinnamon oil
- Sassafras oil
- Lemongrass oil
- Lemon oil
Perfumed Ink – Add a little flair to your calligraphy by adding a bit of perfume to it. Two to three teaspoons of a strong infusion added to a bottle of ink should do the trick. A piney scent would be great for Christmas, the sweet essence of roses for ideal Valentine’s Day, or the essence of violets for perfect for Mother’s Day.
©2012 Off the Grid News
How to Make Your Own Essential Oil from Flowers in Your Garden
If you’re like most, you love the smell and appearance of flowers blooming in your garden. But flowers aren’t just pretty to look at. They also offer medicinal benefits that can help improve your skin and overall health. One of the most effective ways to reap the health benefits of flowers is through the use of essential oil.
Essential oils are volatile oils extracted from herbs, flowers, and other plants. They are potent and highly concentrated. Essential oils have been used for centuries to treat a number of different ailments and conditions. They are an age-old remedy that have become popular in recent years.
Making your own essential oils is easier than you think. In fact, you could even make your own essential oil from flowers and herbs in your garden. We’re going to talk about how to make rose, rose geranium, and lavender essential oil.
How to Make Rose Oil
Stop and smell the roses. Rose essential oil contains several therapeutic components that can help you fight acne, slow down the aging process, and improve mood. Rose essential oil consists of the concentrated essences of rose hips and petals. It is a highly sought-after oil because of its timeless, floral scent. Cleopatra was said to have used rose and jasmine scents to seduce the Roman politician Mark Antony.
To make your own rose oil, spread four cups of fresh rose petals and hips out on a 12-inch by 12-inch muslin cloth. Avoid using rose petals that are wilted or bruised. Wrap the muslin cloth up like a sack around the rose petals and hips and secure it with a rubber band. Place the sack into a 16-ounce jar containing organic carrier oil. For the best results, use rose hip carrier oil. If you can’t find that, coconut carrier oil is a good alternative.
Use a potato masher to apply pressure to the sack, bruise the contents, and help draw out the essential oils. Secure the lid of the jar and place it in a cool, dark place for two weeks. After two weeks, open the jar and smash the sack again with the potato masher to extract more of the rose essences. Remove the sack from the jar and squeeze it to extract as much oil as you can.
Replace the contents of the muslin sack with another four cups of fresh rose petals and hips and repeat the same process. Discard the used rose petals and hips. Do this a total of four to five times, leaving the sack in the same carrier oil solution for two weeks at a time. The final result will be a rich, rose-infused essential oil.
How to Make Rose Geranium Oil
Not to be confused with rose essential oil, rose geranium essential oil has a rose-like aroma and is often used as a substitute for rose oil but it comes from a different plant. Rose geranium isn’t actually a rose at all. It is a perennial shrub. The leaves of the shrub are used to make essential oil.
Rose geranium is commonly used to treat poor circulation, PMS, and stress. It is also known for minimizing the appearance of wrinkles, tightening facial skin, and slowing down the effects of aging.
To make your own rose geranium oil, you first need to collect five handfuls of rose geranium leaves. The best time to harvest the leaves is just before the plants flower, up until the time the flowers are partially open. Harvest the leaves before the sun is up and just after the dew has dried. Rinse the leaves to remove dirt and bugs and leave them out to dry.
Place the leaves into a wide-mouth 500 ml. glass jar and add about two cups of an unscented carrier oil like sunflower or jojoba, until the leaves are covered. Use a wooden spoon to press down the leaves and ensure that they are submerged. Close the jar and shake it to mix the ingredients. Leave the jar in a warm place for a week, avoiding direct sunlight.
After a week, place a funnel into a clean glass jar and line it with four layers of cheesecloth. Pour the leaves and oil into the cheesecloth-lined funnel. Make sure that no plant matter stays in the oil because it can cause the oil to sour.
How to Make Lavender Oil
Lavender essential oil is the most used essential oil today. It is a versatile oil with powerful antioxidant, antimicrobial, sedative, and anti-depressive qualities. Gentle enough for most people to apply directly to the skin, lavender oil can be used to help prevent and treat breakouts. Lavender is also anti-inflammatory, so it can be used to reduce redness, blotching, and dark age spots. Because it is rich in antioxidants, lavender protects the skin from damaging free radicals and prevents aging.
To make your own lavender oil from fresh lavender, put two to four cups of fresh lavender flowers into a large glass jar. You can also include cut up lavender leaves and stems but fresh lavender flowers are more fragrant. Fill the container with your chosen carrier oil, such as jojoba or sunflower oil, completely covering the plant material and leaving about a half an inch of free space.
Put the lid back on and place the jar in a warm place, avoiding direct sunlight. Allow the jar to sit at least 48 hours. Shake the jar up periodically to mix the contents.
Use a cheesecloth to strain out the plant material into another jar. Repeat this process two to three times, until you achieve the desired potency. Store the finished oil in a dark, glass bottle in a cool, dark place.
To make the oil stronger, repeat this process of infusing a fresh batch of leaves in the oil several times.
How to Use Your Homemade Essential Oil
Your homemade essential oil infused with flower essences can be used in a multitude of ways. You can use it as massage oil, add it to your bath or foot bath, use it to scent potpourri or a sachet, or even add it to your own homemade beauty products, such as soap or lotion. Apply the oil directly to the skin to treat various ailments, like rashes, bug bites, and sunburnt skin.
The above article was sponsored by RenewAlliance. The information contained in this article may contain ads or advertorial opinions.
Magnolia Flower Essential Oil
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Learn how to make essential oils at home and discover more amazing benefits you can get from these natural wonders. We will give you a thorough guide to making essential oils at home, plus the best tips and tricks in making essential oils from dried herbs and other plants. We will be extracting the essence of your favorite herbs and flowers right in the comfort of your kitchen!
Learn How to Make Essential Oils Like a True Homesteader
What You Need to Know When Making Essential Oils
- Essential oils are not oils which contain fatty acids. Instead, they are the concentrated plant essence.
- What is good in a plant reflects in its essential oil, so you can use it for personal care, disinfection, or healing.
- Essential oil examples are peppermint, tea tree, and roses. They are known for their antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
- Essential oils are distinct from fragrance oils. They only mimic the scents of plants and do not have the essential oil benefits.
- Essential oils are hard to find in localities, that is why they are expensive. This is a good reason why it’s good to learn how to make essential oils from dried herbs yourself.
Methods To Make Essential Oils
Methods To Make Essential Oils Photo by lambrechtsgifts.net
There are three methods to get essential oils. These are extraction, distillation, and expression. The distillation process is the most complicated. It requires specialized equipment and careful monitoring. As for the expression method, the product is not usually classified as an essential oil. This leaves us with the extraction method. In this tutorial, we will try rose essential oil-making, so let’s get started!
What You Need to Make Homemade Essential Oils:
What You Need to Make Homemade Essential Oils Photo by plusarquitectura.info
- Flowers or plant parts to extract (in this case rose petals)
- 120-proof vodka
- Clear quart glass jar with a lid
- Small dark-colored bottle
- Porcelain-coated strainer
- Small glass bowl
- Tight-weave cheesecloth
- A spoon and medicine dropper
RELATED: 21 Essential Oil Recipes for Pain Relief
Step 1. Prepare Your Choice of Plant
Prepare Your Choice of Plant Photo by The Font Of Randomness
You can use any kind of plants, from herbs, scented flowers, to fruits. It all depends on the plant essence you want to be extracted. In this tutorial, we will be using roses. The more homegrown roses you have, the better. You’ll need pounds and pounds of plant material to make a small amount of essence.
Prepare the roses by using a dehydrator to evaporate its natural water content. The roses will be ready when they start to wilt.
Step 2. Prepare the Jar
Prepare the Jar Photo by Tara Vaughan-Hughes
Prepare jars and fill them with rose petals. Pour vodka into the jar until the petals are submerged. Place the jar in a dark corner of the kitchen cupboard where it can sit undisturbed at room temperature.
About three times a day, take the jar out and give it a good shake for several minutes. Repeat daily until you see the roses losing color, which could take up to a week.
Step 3. Straining Vodka Solution
Straining Vodka Solution Photo by Herban Lifestyle
Wearing protective gloves, take out the jar and prepare to strain. Strain out the plant material from the vodka by using a porcelain-coated strainer. Be careful not to spill any amount of liquid.
Shake the roses into the cheesecloth and squeeze it out by hand to get every last bit of vodka out. By this time, the vodka will smell terrible but don’t worry, that’s normal.
Step 4. Repeat Soaking Process
Repeat Soaking Process Photo by Learning Herbs
Using the same vodka, repeat the rose soaking method several more times with a new batch of rose petals. Make sure not to waste vodka when straining. If needed, you can add a little more vodka to make sure the rose petals are submerged. The more you do this, you will be able to extract more of the essential oils.
Step 5. Storing Vodka Solution
Storing Vodka Solution Photo by Cooking With Flowers
Once you’re done with the rose soaking, strain as usual. But this time, return the vodka into the quart glass and seal it. Put it in the dark corner of the cupboard again, leaving it undisturbed for a day or two. By this time, you will see some separation starting to occur. The vodka will separate from the essential oils and other plant matter.
Step 6. Freeze Solution
Freeze Solution Photo by Quick And Dirty Tips
Place the jar in the freezer. This is the cool part–vodka does not freeze. So, only the essential oils and other plant materials will solidify.
Step 7. Strain Solution
Strain Solution Photo by Tips For Chicks
Now, you will have to move fast with extra caution before the essential oil melts. You will need a piece of cheesecloth laid inside a glass bowl. Use another piece of cheesecloth secured around a clear canning jar so it dips inside the neck. You will also need another small glass bowl and a small dark bottle which will hold the essential oil. Have a spoon and dropper ready as well.
Step 8. Harvest Essential Oils
Remove the jar from the freezer. Skim the gunky plant material off the vodka and place it on top of the cheesecloth laid inside the bowl. Pour the vodka into the other glass jar with the loose cheesecloth. Move quickly to pick out any frozen bits using a dropper and place them inside the small dark bottle. The frozen bits are the essential oils.
Now you’ve got a pretty good idea about how to make essential oils on your own. You also now know how to make essential oils from herbs at home with all your greens from the garden. With time, you will be able to master your way into making essential oils. Who knows how you will be able to make more out of this new and amazing homesteading skill!
Did you find these ideas and tips on how to make essential oils helpful? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.
Up Next: Freezing Herbs with Olive Oil for Long Lasting Flavor | How to Freeze Basil
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 16, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
The Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils
I am often asked from readers, friends and family where they should start with essential oils. Essential oils are powerful and serve an amazing purpose. There are so many choices and a lot to learn about essential oils that it’s easy to get overwhelmed with where to begin. I hope this beginner’s guide to essential oils helps you enjoy their therapeutic benefits.
I have been making my own homemade cleaning supplies with essential oils for a few years now. Initially, it was to save money. However, I could see the benefits it was having on my kids and husband’s skin so I have been eager to reduce the amount of chemicals I use around the home, replacing commercial products with homemade versions. I have used essential oils for cleaning and in diffusers to help my kids sleep better when anxious or have a cough and blocked nose.
Even if you’ve never picked up a bottle of essential oil, you’ve already experienced essential oils. You know how particular foods you eat have nutritional benefits? Some are better for you than others? As an example, oranges are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C. The lavender plant, which produces glorious purple flowers with a stunning aroma, is well known for its calming and relaxing qualities. Similar for the leaves of a Eucalyptus tree, known to boost respiratory health, strengthen the immune system, and ease tension.
Essential oils are the natural oils from an orange, lavender plant and eucalyptus leaf that has been harvested and distilled down into a pure, aromatic compound. It is the essence of that plant, root, bark, seed, flower or stem. More than just something that smells good, essential oils contain beneficial organic compounds that we can use for our health and wellbeing.
WHY I USE ESSENTIAL OILS WHEN CLEANING?
- Powerful cleansing properties
- Safe for family and pets
- Highly effective
- Reduces the use of chemicals in the home
Join my Facebook Group: The Organised Housewife – Essential Oils where I will share all my DIY ideas and information I learn. Plus the fabulous community has started sharing some of their uses too.
DIFFERENT WAYS TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS
As well as making homemade body and cleaning products. Essential oils can be used for a wide range of emotional and physical wellness applications. They can be used a single oil at a time or in complex blends depending on user experience and desired benefit. Essential oils are usually administered by one of three methods: diffused aromatically, applied topically, or taken internally to have the following benefits:
- Supporting and balancing hormones
- Easing feelings of depression and anxiety
- Supporting your children’s health and wellness
- Boosting metabolism and managing hunger
- Helping with weight loss and appetite
- Frugal, chemical free homemade body and cleaning products
MY MOST USED ESSENTIAL OILS
One of my very favourite Essential Oils is Grapefruit, with a fresh, sweet and citrus scent, this essential oil is refreshing, uplifting, and a great mood enhancer. Whilst it is not an essential ingredient in homemade cleaners, it is one of my most favourite smells which I like to add.
My list of most used, for now (as there are sooo many out there):
- GRAPEFRUIT – my favourite as it’s a delightful scent but it also improves the appearance of blemishes, support healthy metabolism and uplift moods.
- TEA TREE ESSENTIAL OIL – great for general skin health, helps with seasonal or environmental threats, and is wonderful in DIY cleaning products.
- LEMON ESSENTIAL OIL – cleansing, helps with temperature, circulation, supports digestive system, and more.
- PEPPERMINT ESSENTIAL OIL – is not only renowned for its fresh flavour, but it can also help alleviate headaches, stomach upset, promotes healthy respiratory function and helps sooth burnt areas by providing a cooling sensation.
- LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL – helps with sleep, head and neck tension, stomach issues or motion sickness, is calming, supports skin health and more.
You may not notice a dramatic and immediate effect. Sometimes an oil won’t work for a particular person for a particular issue, but you won’t really know that unless you use it correctly and consistently.
Always be sure you check the label on your essential oil to make sure the manner in which you want to use it is safe.
USING PURE ORGANICALLY CERTIFIED ESSENTIAL OILS
Essential oils are becoming very popular. There are many different brands and varieties available, ranging in price and quality. If you’ve been using a “bargain brand” and haven’t been getting results, there’s probably a reason why. Many do not use pure essential oils and often use fragrant synthetic chemical substitutes to dilute or replace more expensive essential oil extracts.
HOW TO BUY ESSENTIAL OILS
When purchasing essential oils, it is recommended you obtain them through a trusted source that has strict quality and testing standards. Our comprehensive collection of essential oils and blends are 100% Pure & Certified Organic which are reliable, safe and pure, due to the fact that what’s on the label is what’s in the bottle.
A little bit of oil goes a very long way, most of these oils will last awhile. It’s a good thing the shelf life of oils is around 1-2 years.
HOW I USE ESSENTIAL OILS
- Homemade Reusable Antibacterial Wipes
- Homemade All Purpose Cleaner
- Homemade Fridge Cleaner
- Diffuse 4 drops lavender in diffuser to improve child sleeping
- To help disinfect linen (towels and sheets). Add 1 cup of vinegar with 2-3 drops of tea tree oil to the washing machine as it’s filling with water.
- Clean toothbrush after being sick – 10 drops of tea tree oil with a cup of water.
- 6 drops of tea tree in hair detangler to help deter nits.
- And so much more which I will add as blog posts soon.
Sure, it may be easier to simply stock up on essential oils at your local health store, but where’s the sense of achievement? We love a good DIY tutorial, especially when the focus is on all natural, ‘wellness’ inspired creations.
Essential oils fit the bill perfectly. While you can easily pick up chemical based ‘fragrance’ oils for a few dollars or so, pure essential oils rely on 100% pure plant extracts. The oils are typically sourced through steam distillation, and while most commercial manufacturers rely on sophisticated equipment you can DIY with just a handful of basic kitchen staples.
Step 1: Choose your plant material
This is the fun part as it gives you the freedom to create essential oils from whatever bountiful produce you may have on hand. For example, if you have a thriving lavender bush in your garden that’s gone a little wild why not give it a good trim and use the flowers to make your own lavender essential oil? The same goes for if you have a fruitful orange tree, or simply see a great sale on a bag of lemons at your local farmers market. Remember, with things like citrus you’ll be using the peel, not the actual fruit itself. Mint is another fantastic plant as it grows like a weed which makes it easy to harvest. You’ll need around three to four cups of fresh plant material which should yield around a teaspoon or so of essential oil. It’s best to use fresh plant material as opposed to dried as this will maximise volume and scent.
Step 2: Start the distillation process
Fill a crock pot with distilled water and add plant material. It’s usually best to dice your plant material as this will increase surface volume and help extract as much natural oil as possible. Add a lid and cook on low for 24 hours. A great idea is to put the lid on upside down to create a concave shape that will allow steam to condense and drip back into the pot. This way you don’t waste any precious oils. If you don’t want to leave the pot on overnight simply switch off before you go to bed then fire up again in the morning.
Step 3: Let it brew
After slow cooking the plant material leave the crock pot open and allow the concoction to sit for a week. Oil should start to rise to the surface, which you can then collect. We love this step as while your oil blend is sitting your kitchen will smell amazing. Once you’ve harvested your oil transfer it into a dark glass container (this will help the oil to maintain its properties and scent.) Cover with a piece of thin cloth and allow it to sit for a week to evaporate any excess water.
Step 4: Enjoy!
It’s a bit of a lengthy process, but after the final evaporation step you’ll have made your own, 100% natural hand harvested essential oil. Transfer into a small glass bottle (again look for darker shades), label and enjoy. With a little creativity and a handmade label homemade essential oils make amazing Christmas gifts, so if you start now you could have plenty on hand by December 25.
Do you have any experience making your own essential oils? We’d love to hear your tips and recipes so go ahead and share with the GrownUps community.
Learn How To Make Your Own DIY Essential Oils
Making DIY essential oils are easier than you think. You can go the route of buying a copper still, but that is expensive, so we did it with a crockpot!
Essential oils can be expensive. And sometimes it can be difficult to find the ones you want.
Did you know you can make your own?
Essential oils are the volatile oils you can extract from plants (or other sources). The typical method of extraction is steam distillation. You can actually purchase or make your own still for this purpose. I found a nice copper 2 -quart still for around $400; still too much money for me. So I set out to find out how I can make my own oils without the expensive still.
DIY Essential Oils
While you can make your own, beware that most “essential oil” recipes on the internet are really infused oils. It helps to know the difference.
Essential Oils vs. Infused Oils
Infused oils are made by soaking herbs in a particular oil to extract the active compounds. Some botanicals, such as calendula, infuse very well and create a very healing oil. But some, like lavender, is never quite as good as the actual essential oil.
Many essential oils are steam distilled, which involves simmering the plant material to produce steam, which travels through a tube, which is then run through cold water. The liquid that forms from condensation will be in two parts, a water compound, and an oil compound. The water compound is where floral waters, such as lavender and rose water, come from. The oils that rise to the top are DIY essential oils.
Easy DIY Essential Oil Extraction
Using this method, you can extract essential oils from plants you might not normally find oils from. I love mint, chocolate mint being my favorite. But finding chocolate mint essential oil usually left me with flavored oils, not the real thing. I was able to make a small amount of chocolate mint essential oil that was amazing, although it took a lot of plant material for a small amount. Grapefruit mint will be my next experiment.
You can also make blends that aren’t found in nature. I made DIY essential oil from oakmoss, lavender, and patchouli. I was able to get a small patchouli plant from my local hydroponics store. The scent was amazing! But like the chocolate mint, the amount of oil yielded was small.
Ingredients & Supplies for DIY Essential Oils
- a crockpot with a lid
- distilled water
- enough fresh plant material to fill the crockpot about half full (at least 3-4 cups, chopped)
- Place the plant material in the crockpot and cover with water. The water shouldn’t fill more than ¾ of the volume of the crockpot. Put the lid on upside down. (The concave structure will allow any steam that forms to condense and fall back into the pot. If you don’t have a lid, you can use a plate.)
- Turn the crockpot on high to heat the water. Once the water is hot, turn down to low. Simmer on low for 3-4 hours.
- After the plant material is cooked down, turn off and let cool. When it is cool, place it inside of the crockpot into the refrigerator. If your crockpot doesn’t come apart, you can place the whole unit in there, or transfer the liquid into another container. Leave it in overnight.
- The next day, pull the crockpot out of the refrigerator. A thin film of oil will form on the top and will be hard after cooling. (These are your DIY essential oils!) Carefully lift the oil off of the water. Work fast – it will start to melt quickly!
- Place this into a bottle and cap. Label contents well. There may be a small amount of water-based liquid on the bottom. You can gently heat the oil to turn the liquid to steam and release it from the oil. Don’t heat the oil for too long as it can lose its potency.
- Store in a colored glass container (like these bottles) away from light and heat.
You can use these DIY essential oils just like the ones you purchase, but they may not be quite as strong as what you are used to. Be prepared to use more than you normally would.
Important DIY Essential Oil Tips
- It’s best to use fresh plant material rather than dried. Dried herbs will still yield some oil, but fresh will result in more volume. Harvest plant material in the morning after the dew has dried. Discard any dead, diseased, or bug-infested herbs.
- You’ll need at least 3-4 cups of plant material. This will result in a few teaspoons of DIY essential oils. (Now I understand why the oils are so expensive!)
- Chop your plant material to increase the surface volume and allow more of the oils to escape.
- Distilled water is important since tap water can have bacteria or other contaminants that may spoil your mix.
Don’t want to learn how to make essential oils?
If you don’t think DIY essential oils are for you, don’t worry. DIY Natural uses and recommends the pure, therapeutic grade oils from Mountain Rose Herbs. We love their selection, prices, and quality, and think you will too!
Guide to Making Essential Oils
Essential Oils in the Plant
Essential oils are secreted and stored in specialized structures. Members of the mint family—sage, basil, thyme, rosemary—have two types of epidermal oil glands. The first is a two- or three-celled glandular hair, the second, a larger, ten-celled glandular scale. The latter can be seen with the aid of a hand lens, particularly on the calyx (the tube from which the flower emerges). The scanning electron microscope reveals a surrealistic landscape of pincushionlike glandular scales and teatlike glandular hairs.
Members of the laurel family, such as cinnamon and cassia, store aromatic substances in specialized oil cells. The fruits of caraway, dill, and other members of the parsley family hold the oil in intercellular canals or ducts; fruits of plants in the rue family, notably citrus, have oil reservoirs that are formed as the walls of secretory cells gradually disintegrate.
I have always been fascinated with the diverse fragrances of herbs and spices. I have come to understand something of their complex chemical nature and the anatomical parts where the oil is produced, yet I still don’t know why some plants make essential oils while others do not. I have trouble accepting the old belief that the oils represent metabolic waste products; this seems a rather elegant approach to disposal, akin to gift-wrapping garbage. More recent evidence indicates that essential oil constituents are made and then broken down again, which suggests that they may play some other role (as yet unknown) in plant metabolism. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of some essential oils could act as a defense mechanism against plant pathogens, or even deter insects or foraging animals.
Guide to Making Essential Oils
Regardless of the function they serve in the plant, essential oils must be removed if we wish to use them, and the methods of removal depend on the plant material, the type of product to be removed, and the availability of equipment. The three basic methods of essential oil production are steam distillation, expression, and extraction; steam distillation is the most common and most economical.
In steam distillation, plant material is exposed to steam, whose heat causes the essential oil to evaporate. Subsequent cooling of the hot vapors causes condensation of both water vapor and oil. Because the oil and water will not mix, they are easy to separate at that stage.
Large-scale commercial distillation is a little more complex, and the first problem is growing the plants. For example, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company became interested in clary sage (Salvia sclarea) in the early 1960s as a source of a tobacco flavorant called sclareol. Years of in-house research and thousands of dollars were required to develop efficient ways of cultivating this plant on a large scale because, unlike corn or wheat, clary sage (and most other essential oil plants) is not a major agricultural crop. You can’t just go out and buy several thousand pounds of clary sage seed as you can seed corn, and there’s no army of researchers at the agricultural schools of major universities to inform you about optimal seed rate, row spacing, fertilizer rate, pest control measures, or high-yielding varieties.
Clary sage is considered a biennial, but it can be treated as a winter annual. In eastern North Carolina, where Reynolds has several thousand acres, if seeds are sown in the fall, the plants flower and are ready to harvest in June. If you’ve seen clary sage, you know that even a single plant is eye-catching—imagine the effect of more than 2000 acres of plants in full bloom!
To make the most of the plant material, the company steam-distills clary sage to extract its essential oil. Flowering plants are harvested with a forage chopper, which cuts and grinds the plant tops. In a feat of agricultural choreography, the chopped material is blown into a tub on a truck that drives alongside the harvester. These tubs are specially designed with perforated pipes in the bottom for the introduction of steam, and they form the body of the still. A loaded tub, containing perhaps three tons of chopped clary sage, is driven to the processing area, where a steam line is connected to it and a tight-fitting lid secured on top. The lid has an outlet pipe through which the steam and oil go to the condenser—a pipe surrounded by a jacket of cold water—where the steam and oil condense for collection in a receiving tank. Because the essential oil is lighter than water, it rises to the top of the receiver and is drawn off through a spout. A single tubful of clary sage produces about a gallon of oil, but yields vary with season and weather conditions.
Many other essential oils are produced by steam distillation of various plant parts. They are produced all over the world, wherever the plants grow naturally or can be cultivated—often in remote places and by primitive, labor-intensive methods. Lavender is now often mechanically harvested from large fields in France and Yugoslavia, but some farmers still harvest their lavender crop with sickles. Farmers may own their land, but the processing stills may belong to the community.
The epitome of a labor-intensive, steam-distilled crop is the Damascene rose. Bulgaria is the largest single area of rose oil production in the world, and during the 30-day blooming period, the flowers are picked individually, by hand. Collecting bags slung over their necks, whole families begin picking the flowers early in the day, before rising temperature causes oil to be lost. Distilling 2500 pounds of flowers produces about a pound of rose oil, which sells for about $2,300. At that price, I doubt whether much oil gets carelessly spilled!
Expression is another means of getting an essential oil out of plant material. This method is used exclusively for citrus oils—orange, lemon, lime, mandarin orange, grapefruit, and bergamot—because citrus oils are easily damaged by the heat of distilling essential oils. (Lime does produce a useful oil by distillation, but it is different from the expressed oil.)
The oil reservoirs of the citrus fruits are located in the outer, colored portion of the peel, called the flavedo. Expression is sometimes called cold-pressing because the oils are literally pressed out of the peel by hand or machine at ambient temperatures.
At one time, citrus oils were produced manually. In an early method called sponge-pressing, the ripe fruit was cut in half, a sharp-edged spoon was used to cut out the pulp, and the peel was soaked in water for several hours before pressing. The actual pressing required considerable and continued pressure. The peel was placed between two flat sponges and pressed against a wooden bar laid across the lip of a collecting bowl. Squeezing out the sponges every so often caused a mixture of oil and water to collect in the bowl. Sure sounds like a lot of work to me!
The labor-intensive and expensive sponge method has been supplanted by mechanical presses which remove the oil by squeezing the peels between rollers or abrading the flavedo, thus separating the oil from the rest of the fruit. When the fruit juice is desired, cleverly designed machines can be used that produce both juice and oil while keeping the two products separate.
The emulsion of oil, water, solids, and waxes that results from expression is centrifuged to separate the oil. A cold storage period then settles out the heavier, nonvolatile waxes.
As merely a by-product of a high-volume juice industry, orange and grapefruit oils are relatively cheap—about $15 a pound. Florida and California are major producers of these oils. The other citrus oils are only somewhat more expensive, except for bergamot oil, which costs about $100 a pound.
Essences Within an Essence
Gas chromatography is an analytical method of identifying the chemical components of an essential oil by separating them according to molecular weight. This gas chromatogram of thyme oil illustrates the relative proportions of the chemicals in the list below. (Only the major peaks are identified.) Determining which peak represents which chemical is the tricky part of the process, usually requiring comparison with chromatograms of other compounds of known composition.
The process of extraction with solvents is suitable for materials that contain only small quantities of volatile compounds, such as jasmine flowers, or those that contain a lot of compounds of high molecular weight, such as exuded resins.
Extraction works according to the principle of differential solubility. A plant is mostly water, in which oils are only sparingly soluble, so if the plant is exposed to an organic solvent in which oils are highly soluble, the oil will be drawn from the plant. The solvent is then evaporated, and the aromatic product remains. It is not an essential oil, which by definition is volatile; extraction removes not only volatile components but nonvolatile compounds, plant waxes, and pigments as well. The product that remains after the solvent is evaporated is called a concrète. When a resin, such as myrrh, is extracted, the product is called a resinoid. To obtain an alcohol-soluble product more useful in fragrance manufacture, the concrète is treated with warm alcohol, in which most waxes are not soluble. The alcohol is distilled off at reduced pressure to yield an absolute of the respective essential oil.
The production of clary sage by R. J. Reynolds also provides an example of the extraction process on a commercial scale. After clary sage oil has been distilled, the plant material is dumped into a pit, from which it is fed up a conveyor and into a rotocell, a countercurrent extractor as tall as a two-story building. Inside the rotocell are a series of baskets filled with plant material. Solvent is poured into each basket and allowed to percolate through the sage as through a giant drip coffee maker. Successive solvent washes ensure efficient extraction. Rather than evaporate the solvent to produce clary sage concrète, a second solvent is introduced which draws out sclareol. This aromatic compound has been used as a tobacco flavorant, but Reynolds now uses it as the starting material in the synthesis of a botanically derived substitute for ambergris, a rare fragrance product from the sperm whale.
An extraction process of primarily historical interest is enfleurage—extraction with lard. Still used on a limited basis in southern France for the extraction of jasmine and tuberose flowers, this labor-intensive process is impractical for large-scale use. In enfleurage, a glass plate mounted on a wooden frame is covered with a layer of lard, and the flower petals are pressed into the lard. Several such frames are stacked to form an airtight seal. After two days, the spent flowers are replaced with fresh ones. The process continues until the lard is saturated with the extracted oils. This aromatic fat, called a pomade, is further extracted in alcohol to produce an absolute.
Making Essential Oils at Home
Essential oil production methods don’t easily lend themselves to experimentation at home. Solvents are flammable or explosive, and distilling off the solvent can be dangerous, too. If you had a large and steady supply of flowers such as roses, you might try making a pomade, but I’m not sure what you’d do with it then—perhaps scent your hair as was once fashionable. After pumping iron at the gym for several months to get your arms and back in shape, and then buying up all the oranges at every supermarket for miles around (plus a couple of sponges), you might be able to express a thimbleful of oil—and be awash in orange juice.
Steam distillation offers the only really feasible means of small-scale essential oil production. If you’re willing to invest some money to set up a small still, you can produce a small vial of oil from material collected in your herb garden. Unless you want to distill oils regularly, I suggest that you first try to borrow equipment from a college chemistry lab; some of the pieces are in general use. Glassware is not cheap, and you may not want to buy it for just a few trial runs.
What You Need for Essential Oil Production
The distillation setup consists of a one-liter, two-neck, round-bottom distillation flask and a 300-mm Allihn or Liebig condenser. Oil is collected in a Clevenger trap that is designed for oils lighter than water. A heating mantle and variable voltage transformer provide a safe way to heat the flask, and a ring stand and three clamps provide support. Two 5-foot lengths of 3/8-inch plastic tubing circulate water through the condenser. Unless you’re in a chemistry lab, you’ll probably need an adapter to connect the small tubing to your household water supply. A large rubber or glass stopper is needed to plug the larger neck of the flask. The total investment in all this could be as much as $500. You’ll also need a source of cold water and electricity.
Flowering leafy herbs such as basil, thyme, or mint, or perhaps lavender flower spikes, are good for a start. Cut up the plant—scissors will do—and stuff the pieces into the larger neck of the flask. You’ll need about 200 grams of plant material. Fill the flask about half full of water and mash the plant bits down so that they are completely submerged. Set the flask in the heating mantle, supporting it with a clamp on the ring stand. Plug the larger neck of the flask and connect the heating mantle to the transformer. Fit the lower end of the Clevenger trap into the smaller neck of the flask, and support the upper end with a clamp. Fit the condenser into the top of the trap and clamp it in place so that it’s perpendicular to the work surface. Cold water goes into the lower inlet arm on the condenser, and another piece of tubing connected to the upper arm allows water to drain back to the sink.
Start the distillation by turning on the water to the condenser. Otherwise, the volatile oil will escape out of the top of the still. A steady trickle of water running back into the sink is evidence of water flow sufficient to keep the condenser cool. Heat the water in the flask to boiling, then reduce the heat to maintain a rate of flow into the trap of no more than two drops per second. Check the amount of oil in the trap periodically. When it appears that no more oil is accumulating, turn off the heat and let the system cool. Carefully drain the water out of the stopcock on the condenser, then collect the oil in a small glass vial, preferably one with a screw cap. After all this work, you may be a little disappointed to find you have scarcely a milliliter of oil, but you will certainly feel a kinship with those Bulgarian rose pickers.
Up to this point, I haven’t mentioned synthetic aroma chemicals. Many people today feel that oils from natural sources are better than those that have been synthesized. For an aromatherapist who believes that the life force of the plant is extracted in the essential oil, synthetic oils may have no value. To a perfumer, however, natural and synthetic fragrance chemicals are equally valid raw materials from which to build a fragrance. Nearly all fragrance compounds and many flavor compounds are blends of natural essential oils and synthetic aroma chemicals. This is a necessity: the supply of natural materials can satisfy only about one-third of the world’s demand, and climate, economics, and politics can greatly influence the availability of natural oils. For example, Yugoslavia is a major producer of lavender, rosemary, and caraway oils, so civil war there is bound to affect the supply of those oils.
Synthetic aroma chemicals were first used as inexpensive extenders of natural oils and are still used to stretch the limited supply of an essential oil. Produced from coal tar or petroleum, many synthetics are modeled after natural compounds and are identical in chemical structure (nature-identical). Organic synthesis has also produced fragrant compounds that do not exist in nature, such as hydroxycitronellal, which has an odor reminiscent of lily-of-the-valley and lilac.
Aroma chemicals are not always entirely synthetic. Natural essential oils are sometimes used as the source of a single chemical which is produced by physical and chemical separation methods. Eugenol is isolated from clove leaf oil or cinnamon leaf oil, anethole from anise oil, menthol and menthone from peppermint oil, and thujone from cedarleaf oil. These chemicals might be used to extend another natural oil, as part of a flavor blend, or as the starting point for organic synthesis of other nature-identical or novel aroma chemicals.
Despite their widespread use, synthetic aroma chemicals will never completely replace essential oils. Some oils such as wintergreen and bergamot are relatively easy to copy synthetically, but others such as patchouli and sandalwood have no satisfactory extender. Essential oils are complex mixtures of many chemicals, and compounds present in the highest proportion never totally represent an essential oil. It’s the diversity of compounds, some present only in trace amounts, that gives certain essential oils a unique richness and character that can’t be duplicated.
Fragrance in our Lives
Commercially produced essential oils and aroma chemicals bombard us every day in the flavors and fragrances we mostly take for granted. We start the day with a shower—first the soap, some shampoo, maybe a little cream rinse. Dry off and reach for some body lotion or powder, then apply deodorant. Next comes a shave, followed by a little skin toner, or maybe a multistep make-up routine. Now for some mousse or setting gel and a touch of hair spray. Finally, just a dab of a favorite cologne. We might easily be exposed to a dozen fragrances before breakfast!
Personal care products are the beginning of our daily contact with essential oils. In this age of microwave dinners, frozen yogurt in dozens of exotic flavors, canned spaghetti sauce (“just like homemade”), Cool Ranch Doritos, Cherry Coke, Fruity Pebbles, Bavarian Mint coffee, Starburst candy, Juicy Juice, Flintstones vitamins, and cool mint toothpaste, it’s impossible not to ingest a wide array of essential oils. An extraordinary amount of food advertising and packaging proclaims that the products contain “no artificial flavors” because marketers have discovered the sales potential of appealing to our appreciation of naturally derived essential oils.
Air fresheners and light rings appeal directly to our appreciation of fragrances, but there is hardly a dish soap, floor polish, laundry detergent, furniture polish, rug shampoo, oven cleaner, fabric softener, or spray starch that doesn’t have a fragrance. Even if consumer publications say that Brand X is better or cheaper to use, I won’t buy it unless I like its scent. And I’m not the only one who buys by smell: I’ve seen other shoppers surreptitiously smelling the box of dishwashing powder, unscrewing the cap on liquid detergent, scratching open a corner of the plastic packaging around a triple-pack of bar soap, even spraying a touch of air freshener and then quickly sniffing the aerosol.
People no longer risk life and limb to acquire the plants that contain essential oils, as Columbus did when setting out to find a new route to the Spice Islands, but a lot of effort and expense goes into getting essential oils out of plants and into products. From all parts of the globe, with back-breaking manual labor or modern machinery, using ancient arts or high-tech instrumentation, these fragrant, flavorful oils continue to find their way to the skilled hands of the perfumer, flavorist, and aromatherapist.
Harriet Flannery Phillips likes her home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, enough to travel back and forth to work in North Carolina, where she breeds essential oil plants for R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.
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It’s surprisingly easy to extract homemade essential oils at from home-grown herbs. The health benefits of aromatherapy have long been documented in peer-reviewed studies, and they’re now being used in hospitals by nurses as complementary alternative medicine. Essential oils also have been shown to have antibacterial properties, and are being studied for their uses in creating food-safe disinfectants for fruits and vegetables. Other oils, such as rose geranium, have been shown to be especially effective at deterring ticks. Commercially produced essential oils are inexpensive and readily available, but it’s easy to imagine an emergency scenario where you might have a need for a safe and effective oil. The properties of essential oils vary based on the type of plant. Choosing which type of essential oil to extract depends both on what you have on hand and how you’d like to use the oil. Good plants to start with include rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, cedar and geranium. To learn more about using essential oils once you’ve made them, try this beginners guide to essential oils. Steam Distillation of Essential Oils on the Stove While there are plenty of places online to find complicated instructions for creating a homemade essential oil still using a pressure canner and copper tubing, you can accomplish basic steam distillation with just a steamer basket, mason jar and a pot with a glass or metal lid. Just 30 Grams Of This Superfood Provides More Nutrition Than An Entire Meal! Add about an inch of water to the bottom of a deep pot and place a steamer basket over the water. Place a mason jar inside the pot on top of the steamer basket. A wide mouth pint tends to work well. Chop your herb material and place it on top of the steamer basket, all around the mason jar. Put a lid on the pot upside down. Inside the top of the lid, add some ice or cold water if available (optional). Turn on the pot and simmer the water. The steam will come up through the herb material and collect inside the lid. It’ll then re-condense on the lid and flow down to the middle of the inverted pot lid, where it will drip down into the mason jar. Cook at a low simmer until almost all the water has boiled off and re-condensed into the mason jar. Place the mason jar into the refrigerator overnight. When the water is cold, you’ll notice a small layer of oil on top of the water. This is your steam distilled essential oil. Carefully scoop the essential oil off the water into a tall and narrow container. Place it back into the refrigerator to re-settle. The oil will again come to the top, and a small amount of water will settle below. Use an eye dropper to carefully extract the oil off the remaining water. Leave a little bit of the oil on top of the water, and this remaining oil/water is now a hydrosol, or mix of water and essential oil. Hydrosols can be used diluted further and used as cleansers or perfumes, or preserved by adding a small amount of alcohol. The oil you extracted off your hydrosol is your finished essential oil. Leave the container open on the counter for 24 hours to allow it to off gas a bit, which will remove any harsh off smell that developed in the extraction process. Afterwards, cap tightly and use as you would any essential oil, depending on what plant type it is. Steam Distillation of Essential Oils in a Crockpot Essential oils can be extracted from plant material in a crock pot using a similar method. Start with 3-4 cups of chopped plant material, and place it in a crock pot. Fill the crock pot with enough water to cover the plant material. Place the crockpot lid on, upside down, so that the evaporating water collects and drips back into the pot. Be sure the water level is low enough that the inverted lid is below the water level. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, and then turn the crock pot off and allow it to cool. Place the crockpot in the refrigerator and allow the essential oil to collect on the surface of the water. Carefully scoop off the essential oil using the same process outlined above for the stovetop method. Have you ever made essential oil? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below: