distilling herbs

distilling herbs

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Distilling workshop at De Levensboom 1: BIO LAVANDIN essential oil

Madeleine Knapp Hayes had asked me earlier this year to give a workshop on her distillingday.
Madeleine is running a Centre for Complementary Care, LEVENSBOOM which is based in Wernhout NB. She has a lot of experience and knowledge in the use of essential oils and hydrosols and has launched a handbook written for professionals working in complementary care.
The first part of the distillation day last Saturday, I have taken for of together with Catherina. During the second part Madeleine acquaint students (particularly smell) with essential oils made by CO2 extraction. We started distilling bio Lavandin from Mevouillon (France) and previously used a copper alembic 20 liters.
Explanation about distilling with the copper alambic
The alambic had a capacity for 900 grams of dried lavandin.
Foto: Madeleine Kerkhof Knapp-Hayes 

After sealing with aluminum tape, to shut the steam boiler, the distillation could begin. I had the water already heated in the distillation boiler so it was not long before the first drops of distillate came from the cooling bucket.
For collecting and separating oil and hydrosol I used a Florentine vase.
foto: Madeleine Kerkhof Knapp-Hayes

The distillation process was viewed and photographed with great interest by the students.
During the two-hour distillation Catharina has monitored the process, so I could finish the morning session with the students.
Recognising scents  foto: Madeleine Kerkhof Knapp-Hayes
In this session the students were able to smell through an odor session differences and similarities of different essential oils. That the participants in this distillingday were well acquainted with essential oils quickly proved because they immediately recognized the odor of synthetic lavender oil. The participants were owners of trained noses!
Yield of lavandin essential oil
Soon during the distillation, the oil was darker than the yellow color of normal lavandin. At the end of the distillation it resulted in an amber oil. Whether that has to do with distilling in copper I still have to figure out . I do know that if you are distilling thyme in a copper alambic the oil turns red.
The total yield was approx 70 mL so all the participants could take home  a bottle of fresh lavandin after the distillingday. The essential oil must still ripen a month before it is ready and delevoped its smell.

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