How to extract essential oils without expensive equipment

Written by mike wallace
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How to extract essential oils without expensive equipment
The essence of a plant can be extracted with a little chemistry. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Essential oils are aromatic compounds found in many plants around the world. They have many uses, possessing medicinal properties and enticing aromas. Essential oils bought in a retail store will most likely be very expensive. You can extract the essential oils from plants at home. Essential oils are usually extracted from plants using expensive lab equipment, but the process is not very difficult and can be performed at home with a few household supplies and common solvents.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Glass bottle
  • Hydrocarbon solvent, such as naphtha
  • Ethanol, or very high proof alcohol
  • Funnel
  • Coffee filter
  • Grinder
  • Glass baking dish
  • Razor blades
  • Amber vial
  • Fan

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  1. 1

    Grind up the plant material, as finely as possible.

  2. 2

    Place the plant material into the glass bottle.

  3. 3

    Fill up the glass bottle with the hydrocarbon solvent, up to the level of plant material. All the plant material should be covered. Cap the bottle and let it sit for a day.

  4. 4

    Place a coffee filter in the funnel and hold it over the glass baking dish.

  5. 5

    Pour the hydrocarbon solvent into the funnel. Be careful not to let any plant material fall into the glass baking dish.

  6. 6

    Place the dish outside and allow the solvent to evaporate. This will take several hours, depending on the ambient temperature. You can speed up the process by directing a fan at the solvent, but this will introduce dust. Once the solvent has completely evaporated, proceed to the next step.

  7. 7

    Scrape up the resin with a razor blade. This resin contains the essential oils and plant waxes. Once you have scraped up all the resin, wash the dish, so you can reuse it later.

  8. 8

    Place the resin in a glass bottle. You can reuse the original bottle, if you clean it thoroughly.

  9. 9

    Fill the glass bottle with ethanol up to the level of resin.

  10. 10

    Wait for the resin to dissolve in the ethanol. Some of the resin will not dissolve. This is the plant wax. When it looks like the resin will not dissolve any longer, proceed to the next step.

  11. 11

    Place a filter in the funnel and place the funnel over the cleaned baking dish.

  12. 12

    Pour the ethanol into the funnel slowly: Do not allow any solids to get into the baking dish.

  13. 13

    Place the dish outside and let the ethanol evaporate. Once it has evaporated, the essential oils will be left behind and can be poured or scraped into an amber vial.

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