How is Essential Oils Produced

There are 3 main methods of producing Essential oils:

Steam Distillation

The raw plant material (which could include the flowers, leaves, bark, roots and seeds of the plant) are placed into distillation apparatus and placed over water. The water is heated so that it produces steam. The steam runs through the plant material and in doing so breaks down the cells of the plant. The volatile compounds within the plant material become vaporised and this vapour is directed through a coil towards a cooling chamber. As the vapour cools it turns back into its liquid form.

The liquid in the cooling chamber is known as a hydrosol, also known as Floral Waters. This is a combination of the water used in the process and the actual essential oil. Some hydrosols are sold as separate products. Popular hydrosols include Rose water, Lavender water and Orange blossom (flower) water.

Every plant produces a different amount of oil. Plants that produce relatively large quantities of essential oil from a single distillation process are cheaper to buy than essential oils produced from plant material that has a low yield of oil. Lavender typically will produce 4 litres of essential oil per tonne of plant materials whereas the yield from something like Roses is much smaller.
Expression

With expression the oil is pressed from the material, this method is normally used to extract oil from things like Lemon and Orange peel.

Absolute
The Absolute method of producing oils uses solvent extraction, this is used when the material from which the oil is produced is adversely affected by steam. A good example is Jasmine Flowers where the Absolute method produces oil with a truer fragrance than other methods.

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