Lavender oil can be used for aromatherapy, for scented sachets, potpourri or even a simple perfume. The essential oils of lavender (and other aromatic herbs and flowers) can be extracted using a distillation process with simple equipment at home. Lavender should be harvested on a sunny morning soon after the flowers start to colour.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Freshly harvested lavender
- Dutch oven or stockpot
- Clean brick
- Heat-proof (Pyrex) measuring cup
- Large stainless steel bowl with a rounded bottom
- Separating funnel (optional)
- Small dark glass bottles with lids
Harvest your lavender and cut the leaves, flowers, and stems (except woody stems) into one inch pieces or smaller.
Put the clean brick in the pot and put the measuring cup on the brick.
Put your lavender in the pan around the brick and cover with water up to the top of the brick.
Set the stainless steel bowl onto the top of the pot and fill the bowl with ice. During the distillation process, steam will condense on the outside bottom of the bowl and run down and drip into the measuring cup.
Heat the water to boiling and reduce the heat until it is simmering and just barely steaming. Let it steam for three to four hours. The steam should start condensing on the bowl and dripping into the measuring cup.
Replenish the ice and remove water from the bowl as necessary.
Turn off the heat, tap the bowl to get the last condensation into the cup and remove the bowl with the ice.
Carefully remove the measuring cup. It will contain a mixture of water and essential lavender oil. The essential lavender oil will be floating on the water.
Separate the oil from the water using a separating funnel. If you don't have a separating funnel, carefully freeze the liquid until it just reaches the point where the water is frozen but the oil is still liquid. At this point, you can pour off the oil from the frozen water.
Place your oil in glass bottles with lids and store in a dark place.
Processing the Oil
Tips and warnings
- This same process works with other aromatic herbs and flowers. You can also make a lavender-scented oil by soaking lavender in a light oil such as canola and placing it in the sun, straining the oil and adding fresh lavender every few days, until you achieve the desired scent.
- Make sure the pan has cooled down sufficiently before removing the measuring cup with the oil and water mixture.
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