Steam Distillation, How We Get the Essence of Plants
So how do we actually get essential oil from our favourite plants like lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus? It's not as simple as squeezing them but modern science has allowed us to capture a plant's essence and bring it into your home.
The most popular method is called steam distillation and it yields the cleanest and purest oil. It starts by suspending the plants above boiling water and allowing the hot steam to rise and penetrate the plants. As the plant's essence is released into the steam, it continues upwards through a tube where it is cooled and condenses back into a liquid. This liquid mix of essential oil and water then sits in a tank and separates as the oil is lighter than water.
Steam distillation is an extremely delicate process requiring the right temperature and time that's different for each and every plant. It also involves pressurizing the entire process to allow the oils to be extracted at lower temperatures which protects their profile. Distillation for each plant is unique depending on what it's made up of and can take up to two days to distill. Wood oils like sandalwood and cedar take the longest whereas oils from fresh plants like lavender and peppermint are extracted fairly quickly. And the whole process smells amazing by the way!
After the initial extraction, the oil then goes through several filtration processes to leave us with as pure of a product as possible. What we have in our essential oil bottles is pretty much the fragrant soul of the incredible plants we have around the world.