The quality of essential oils is affected by the distillation process and how the oil is extracted and used. Our oils are as pure and natural as you can find and our distillation process plays a key role in this.
Steam distillation is the most effective and most used way of extracting the aromatic compounds or essential oils from any plant. The steam distillation process sees steam passing through the plant material in a gentle way. The combination of the heated steam and a little gentle pressure sees the essential oils released from the protective sacs within the plant. The vapour mixture is then passed through a condenser where it cools down, yielding oil and water. The oil rises to the top, forming a layer on top of the water and can then be collected.
The temperature for the steam distillation process is usually between 140 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit, this will vary from plant to plant. Different plans require different pressures, times and temperatures and this is something you get to know as you practice oil distilling.
What Effects the Quality of the Oil
The equipment used in the distillation process can play a role in the quality of the oil. The size and material of the cooking chamber, the type of condenser and the separator can all affect the end result and the quality of the oil. It is usually recommended you use a cooking chamber made from non-reactive metal, for example, as this stops the oil from being affected as can happen when reactive metals are used.
The quality of the oil can also be affected by too high temperatures and too high pressure. The ph. level of an oil can be changed completely should it be overheated and in most instances, it is recommended both low temperature and low pressure are used when distilling oils.
Reliable companies ensure they only use reputable distillation methods to ensure the quality of their oils. You will find some companies use non-organic plant materials, add solvents into their oils or cut out stages within the distillation process.
At Jersey Lavender we are only too happy to show our guests and customers exactly how the distillation process works. When you visit the farm between early June and late August you can visit our distillery and see it in action. There are also regular talks in the distillery for a more in depth understanding of the whole process.