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How to Make Essential Oils at Home

Have you wondered how to make essential oils? 

Well, you can make DIY essential oil at home, but the process isn't efficient or cost effective. It can take many pounds of plant material to make only a few drops of oil. You also need an essential oil distiller.

Note: Some internet sources claim to tell you how to make essential oils but give instructions for an infused oil. An infused oil involves letting herbs soak in a vegetable oil. Infused oils are sometimes used for cooking and can also make good aromatherapy carrier oils. However, an infused oil is not an essential oil and does not have its benefits.

How to Make Essential Oils Using a Homemade Still

Here are instructions for how to make essential oils using a homemade still that will extract some oil but mostly produces aromatherapy hydrosol (scented water).

You need these supplies:

  • Pressure cooker (stainless steel*)
  • Vegetable steamer (stainless steel)
  • Hose clamp
  • 1-quart (or larger) glass jar (sanitized)
  • 10 feet of 1/4-inch diameter copper** or food-grade vinyl plastic tubing
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Dried or fresh herbs from which you want to extract essential oil

*Use stainless steel because aluminum may react with the essential oils.

**If you use copper tubing, tape off one end and fill the tube with fine sand to prevent it from kinking. Slowly wrap the tubing around a small bucket or something else with a cylindrical shape so that the tubing spirals in a way that fits into a 5-gallon bucket.

Follow these instructions for making essential oils:

  1. Put the pressure cooker on a stove burner. Fill the cooker half-full of water. 
  2. Place a vegetable steamer inside the cooker, propping the streamer up, if needed, so that its bottom is above the water line.
  3. Place the herbs you want to distill on the steamer.
  4. Put the lid on the pressure cooker, but do not place the regulator vent on top of the cooker. Instead, put a 10-foot length of food-grade tubing over the outlet, using a hose clamp to ensure a tight fit.
  5. Drop the other end of the tubing over the edge of the counter. 
  6. Place a 5-gallon bucket on a chair.
  7. Coil the suspended end of the tubing inside the bucket so that the tubing wraps around at least four times.
  8. Put enough cold water and ice in the bucket to cover the coiled tubing.
  9. Drop the end of the tubing that is in the bucket over the edge toward the floor.
  10. Place a sanitized small-mouth jar (at least 1-quart) on the floor.
  11. Insert the end of the tubing into the jar, positioning the tubing so it falls straight into the jar.
  12. Turn the burner on medium-high.

The water will start to boil, creating steam inside the pressure cooker that rises through the herbs and removes the essential oil, which flows out of the cooker through the tubing.

When the steam inside the tubing reaches the cold water in the bucket, the steam condenses and converts back to water, literally dropping the essential oil.

Some oil will float on the surface of the water as it goes into the jar, but the product will be mostly hydrosol.

Source: Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art

Two books with instructions on making essential oils at home: The Essential Oil Maker's Handbook and Tabletop Distilling.

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