Steam distillation as an essential oil production process has been around for hundreds of years. For many reasons, this is one of the most favorable method of drawing essential oils out of plants.
Essential oils are 100% pure therapeutic grade oils that are used for various medicinal and healing purposes. There are many different varieties, such as lavender, peppermint. Lemongrass, tea tree, chamomile, and jasmine oils. Each have their own unique properties that make them a unique and 100% natural method to reduce stress, heal digestive problems, induce calm and relaxation, stimulate the appetite, and for skin and hair health.
The steam distillation process is 1 of only 2 essential oil extraction models, which creates a product that is able to carry the Therapeutic Grade label. (Cold expression is the other.)
How Steam Distillation Works to Produce Essential Oils
Steam distillation works using boiling water, steam and water, or steam alone. In those 3 separate but similar steam-distilling processes, essential oil is produced by the effect of high temperature steam or water on plant material. The steam actually ruptures the membranes of oil located inside the plant. This releases the essential oil inside. That oil is then carried to a condenser.
The resulting substance is converted back to liquid form, with the essential oil floating on top. Oil and water are separated, with the water portion of the steam distillation process referred to as flower, hydrosol, or hydrolat water. That water is removed, and the remaining liquid is 100% essential oil.
What Equipment Is Used in the Steam Distillation Essential Oil Process?
Anything that interacts with the oil extracted from the plant has an effect on its efficacy. This includes the condenser type, separator, and cooking chamber, which are used in the steam distillation process. That is why cooking chambers, which are constructed, of safe, nonreactive metal are preferred. The preferred choice here is common stainless steel.
In addition, the type of steam distillation used will definitely affect the quality of your essential oil. For instance, a vertical steam dissolution procedure is widely regarded as producing the highest quality oils.
What to Look for When Purchasing Steam Distilled Essential Oils
Check with the manufacturer of your essential oil and find out just exactly what goes on in the steam distillation process. Whether using steam only, steam and water or boiling water, steam distilling plant material to extract essential oil results in a quality product. However, within this process different types of equipment can be used which will affect the end product.
A low temperature combined with low pressure has proven to be an excellent recipe for developing quality essential oils that receive the Therapeutic Grade label. This is how ancient civilizations slowly and methodically created essential oils that were extremely high in potency.
One other thing to look out for concerns how essential oil distributors can cut corners to lower their costs. Steam distillation, performed properly, can take up to 24 hours.
In addition, in many cases 1 ton (2,000 pounds) of raw materials produces just 1 pound of oil! Ask your essential oil manufacturer if they shorten the distillation time or add solvents to their essential oil distraction process. Both of these procedures lower the quality of your oil, thereby lessening its effectiveness in treating your physical and mental conditions.