distilling herbs

distilling herbs

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Making hydrosols

After having distilled herbs in glass for a couple of years, I decided in 2010 to purchase a copper alembic stil. The alembic with rotating column and a capacity of 20 liters, was large enough for distilling a reasonable amount of essential oil.

Demonstration distilling Eucalyptus: clogging the alembic with rye dough
The first year I have distilled lavandin, eucalytus and douglas fir. Sufficient for one or two small bottles of homemade essential oil to fill.

To separate the essential oil and hydrosol (condensed steam) I made use of a separating funnel of 500 mL. I saved all the hydrosols I had distilled.

                                                                   Cool bucket

The lavender hydrosol, made ​​of Lavandula angustifolia, appeared during the summer perfectly suited to deal with insect bites. I decided to contact aromatherapists to ask if they where interested in the hydrosols I had made    
Draining the hydrosol using a separating funnel
Then I searched and read a lot of information about hydrosols and their making.
An aromatherapist was interested in hydrosol of Scots Pine (Pinus Sylvestris).
Chopped pine in the column
To make a good quality hydrosol, the following issues are important:

Use fresh plant material
Distil slowly
Distil in a copper distillation unit
The ratio between the amount of plants and
the hydrosol has a maximum of 1:2
Disinfect the bottles which will be retained the hydrosol
Refrigerated hydrosol has a shelf life up to 2 years.

Used wine bottles for storage of hydrosols

The use of a copper distillation device is rather important to make a good quality hydrosol. The copper will be sure of eliminating the fungi, which benefits the sustainability of the hydrosol. And copper strikes sulfides down, which can cause an unpleasant odor in the hydrosol.
Distilling Scots Pine
Where do you use the Scots pine hydrosol for?
The hydrosol is refreshing in the bath or sauna. It is used in skin care for men: the hydrosol refreshes and soothes skin especially after shaving. Use the hydrosol in a poultice to alleviate joint or muscle pain. Gives the space to breathe and is therefore good for lung patients.