Extraction is the process of removal. The main goal of many plant extractions is to remove aromatic essences or oils from organic materials. Once extracted, the fragrant oils can then be used to scent lotions, candles and soaps, or they can be applied directly to the skin for aromatherapy or therapeutic purposes. Any type of plant can be used for extraction, from the smallest herb to the tallest tree. Some popular tree oils include pine, cedar, eucalyptus and tea tree.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Large bowl
- Mild dishwashing soap
- Paper towels
- Cutting board
- Wooden mallet
- Clear jar with lid
- Vodka or vegetable oil
- Dark bottle
Gather 2 cups of plant materials. According to the Perdue University Horticulture Department, the most fragrant molecules are located in different parts of each plant. For example, pine oil is extracted from fresh pine needles, while cedar oil is extracted from tree bark. If you're not sure which portion of the tree is the most fragrant, gather a combination of petals, leaves, needles, roots, seeds, fruits, berries and bark. Oil can be sucessully extracted from any part of the plant.
Place the plant materials in a large bowl. Add warm water and 1 tsp of mild dishwashing soap. Swish gently to remove any dirt or unwanted residue. Drain the wash water and run the materials under cool water to rinse away the soap.
Spread the plant materials out on paper towels and allow them to dry. Blot with additional paper towels if necessary, removing all excess moisture.
Transfer the plant materials to a cutting board. Use a wooden mallet to slightly crush the leaves, needles, petals and berries.
Wash a large glass jar and lid in hot, soapy water. Invert the clean jar and lid on a fresh towel and allow them to dry completely. Pack the jar tightly with plant materials.
Pour vodka or vegetable oil over the plant materials until the jar is completely full. Place the lid on the jar and seal it tightly. Shake well, ensuring all of the plant materials are completely submerged in either oil or vodka.
Put the jar in sunny window for two weeks. Shake the jar at least once each day to agitate the ingredients as this will help to release the oils from the plant materials.
Pour the oil or vodka through a layer of cheesecloth to remove all solid organic matter from the extract. Squeeze the cheesecloth gently to remove as much oil as possible, then discard the plant materials.
Pour the scented oil or vodka into a dark bottle, cap it tightly and store it out of direct sunlight.
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