How to Make Essential Oils at Home. Not as Hard as You Think
It’s not as hard as you think, knowing how to make essential oils at home. In fact, it can be really quite simple, but there are some things to consider.
The marker of a high-quality essential oil is the degree of authenticity. The more it represents the plant that it comes from, the less it has been engineered. That’s where the quality comes from. A whole essential oil comes from the plant directly to you by distillation or cold-pressing.
Essential oils are extracted from various parts of a plant or tree: root, seed, leaf, flower, fruit or bark. The oils of peppermint, patchouli, basil, and geranium come from the leaves and stems, clove oil comes from flower buds, and oils of jasmine, rose, and tuberose come from the open flowers.
Oils are produced from the whole dried and crushed fruit of anise and coriander, the peels of citrus fruits, the seeds of cardamom, the wood of cedar, the bark of the cinnamon tree, the roots of vetiver grass, the needles of fir trees, the twigs of cypress trees, and the exuded resin of myrrh.
In short, just about every anatomical structure. Some plants produce more than one type of oil. The flowers of bitter orange produce neroli oil; its leaves produce petitgrain oil; and the fruit peel produces orange oil. Cinnamon is just as versatile, supplying different oils from its leaf, bark, and root.
Both cold-pressing and distillation are effective ways to extract essential oils from plants. No matter what method is used, the best oil extractions avoid harsh chemicals or the use of harmful additives in the bottling and storing process.
A Benefit of cold pressing is that in certain plants, high levels of heat cause the delicate and tiny molecules within the oils to break down and degrade, which can minimize the oil’s health benefits.
The essential oils that go through the cold pressing process come mainly from citrus fruits: grapefruit, lemon, lime, bergamot, and mandarin oranges.
Because of the time and technicality involved, however, cold pressing is not always the most practical method of extraction.
Plants and plant parts (such as the rinds of fruits) are placed in a spike-filled container and slowly punctured. Most modern-day cold press machines also utilize centrifugal force to help separate the oil from the rest of the plant pulp and liquid. This puncturing and spinning process releases the essential oils, which are then collected and bottled in its pure form.
The following is how to use cold pressing to make essential oils at home
- A temperature of no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit is used so as not to damage the aroma or chemical makeup of the oil.
- Peel a fruit such as an orange or lemon for pressing.
- Wash the peels and dry them.
- Grind or chop them and place them on a cookie sheet.
- Heat your oven to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and place the fruit rinds in the oven for 2 hours to ensure they are heated to 120 degrees.
- Using heat resistant gloves, remove the heated rinds from the oven. Then place each in a hand-held garlic press, holding the press over a clean cup to collect the oil as it’s extracted by the press, and press the oil from the rinds.
- Put in the refrigerator overnight. The next day you will see that a thin film of oil formed on the top and will be hard after cooling. This is the essential oil. Carefully lift the oil off of the water. Work fast because the essential oil will start melting quickly!
- Place in a dark colored container and label it. Keep away from direct sunlight and heat.
I was unable to find an actual cold press for home use, only industrial use like the picture above.
Traditionally, distillation has been used to derive essential oils from most plants, i.e.,flowers, trees, vegetables, petals, leaves, bark, and nuts. The distillation process, which involves high temperatures, typically involves steam, water or a combination of both.
The plants, nuts, vegetables, etc, are sealed in a specialized still, water and/or steam are forced inside. This increases the pressure and “squeezes” out the oils. These oils are then condensed and collected.
The resulting liquid contains both the essential oils of the plant and water, which are then separated.
It can take more than an acre of land to grow enough plants to produce one kilogram of essential oil.
Your average distillation kit will range from $150 to $600. It’s generally a 3 hour-process, and you should get around 3-4ml of essential oil and 1 quart of hydrosol per distillation.
So what is hydrosol? A hydrosol is the aromatic water that remains after distilling botanical material such as lavender. Hydrosols are much gentler than their essential oil counterparts and can generally be used directly on the skin without further dilution.
Hydrosols can be used in place of water in creating natural fragrances, lotions, creams, facial toners and other skin care products. They can also be added to the bath, and used on their own as a light cologne or body spray.
Examples of botanicals that are available as hydrosols are Rose, Roman Chamomile, Neroli and Lavender.
The following is a recipe for distilling essential oils without a distiller at home
- Place 3 to 4 cups of chopped plant material in the crock pot and cover with distilled water until its ¾ of the way full. Put the lid on upside down. This will allow the steam that forms on the lid to condense and fall back into the pot.
- Turn the crock pot on high to heat the water. Once the water is hot, turn down to low. Simmer on low for 3-4 hours.
- Next, turn the crock pot off and let it cool. When it has cooled down, place the inside of the crock pot into the refrigerator. Leave it in overnight.
- The next day, pull the crock pot out of the refrigerator. A thin film of oil will form on the top and will be hard after cooling. This is the essential oil. Carefully lift the oil off of the water. Work fast because the essential oil will start melting quickly!
- Place this into a container and cap. Label contents well. There may be a small amount of water-based liquid on the bottom. 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.
- Always store in a colored glass container away from light and heat.
And here’s a video showing how to use a distiller at home:
- It’s better to use fresh plants than dried ones. You can used dried plants, but fresh ones will result in more oil.
- Three to four cups of plant material will result in just a few tsp of essential oil.
Now you’re ready to make you’re own
Now you’ve got a pretty good idea on how to make essential oils at home. With time, you will be able to master your way into making essential oils.
Although you can see it’s possible to make your own essential oils, just know that the quality will most likely suffer in the beginning. Distillation is an art. The pressure and temperature levels have to be monitored perfectly in order to not destroy the value of the oil.
If you have any comments or suggestions regarding how to make essential oils, please do so below.