How to make vanilla essential oil

Updated February 21, 2017

An essential oil is an oil from an herb, bean or flower that has been infused into a carrier oil. Essential oils can be expensive, so learning how to make them yourself can save time and money. Vanilla is a very popular fragrance that is extracted from the vanilla bean. Vanilla essential oil is used in aromatherapy to ease stress and anxiety. There are various methods for making essential oil. The commercial method is called steam distillation and requires a large distiller. The easiest method for personal use is called the enfleurage method and it involves soaking the herb in a cool carrier oil.

Select your carrier oil. The book "The Good Earth Bath, Beauty and Health Book" by Casey Kellar suggests making a 50/50 solution of jojoba and apricot kernel oils. Jojoba oil has a bit longer shelf life because it contains vitamin E while apricot kernel absorbs the plant "essence" better. Olive, sesame and safflower oils are alternatives to jojoba and can be used as carrier oils.

Wash and dry all of your beans before placing them into the jar. Don't leave any dirt or dead plant material on your beans or it could rot. Lightly bruise the material by pounding it or squishing it between your fingers in order to begin the bleeding process. Fill the jar as full as you can get it, you want as little carrier oil as possible to get the strongest infusion that you can.

Pour the carrier oil into the jar and shake it. Once the carrier oil fills the jar around your vanilla material close the lid and shake it vigorously for one to two minutes. There is no heat necessary, however, suggests cooking your herb in your oil for a period of time before placing into the jar. This kickstarts the process and speeds it up, but if you do this use a double boiler or crock pot and be sure not to boil, burn or damage your herb material; otherwise the scent will not be as pure.

Find a place to let the oil infuse; a sunny windowsill is suggested by Keep the jar in a sunny warm spot for two weeks. Once or twice a day you can shake it to mix all the ingredients further and ensure maximum infusion.

Strain your oil mixture through a cheesecloth. Let the oil drain through the cloth and let the material gather in the centre of it. Squeeze the cloth out to get as much oil as you can from your infusion and discard the plant material. Funnel the oil into a dark glass jar and store in a cool dark place for up to six months.


Repeat the process using the same oil and new plant material. If your first batch didn't turn out strong enough add more fresh vanilla and let it infuse again.


Wash all of your plant material before putting it in the jar. If any other substance like dead leaves or dirt gets into the jar, it can rot and ruin your batch. Do not eat essential oil unless you have used an edible carrier oil and a non-poisonous plant material.

Things You'll Need

  • Glass jar with lid
  • Carrier oil
  • Vanilla beans
  • Cheese cloth
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About the Author

Michaelyn Erickson has been writing since 2005 and has been published regularly in a variety of northwest publications. She has written a science fiction novel and is now working on a children's book series. Michaelyn attends Evergreen State College where she is pursuing a degree in sustainable living.