If you have ever relished the scent of mint, peppermint, or tea tree on a spa day, then you have experienced the aroma of essential oils. These natural fragrances found in plants have a distinct smell. Essential oils main purpose is for aromatherapy, beauty and cosmetics, health care and even food preparation.
You can purchase Essential oils in different pharmacies and wellness shops. However, if you are akin to the original country homesteaders, you can produce your own oils in your kitchen.
In this article, you will learn how to make essential oils in the comfort of your home and much more. Yes, it is possible, and it is not that difficult. After this workshop, you’ll be able to extract the essence of your favorite flowers and herbs and finally stop wasting money on buying commercialized oils!
Table of Contents
Essential Oils vs. Infused Oils
Many “essential oil” recipes on the internet are really infused oils and can be misleading. Infused oils are also as useful as essential oils, but it is good to know the difference.
What are infused oils? Infused oils come from saturating herbs in a carrier oil to extract the active fragrant compounds. Some plants do not have ample essential oil contained in them, so it would be hard to extract the essential oil for that plant species. Infusing the herb in a base oil is a sufficient way to still use it for aromatherapy oil, cooking and skin care purposes.
Some plants, like calendula, are more suited for infusion because there is almost no way to obtain 100 percent pure calendula oil. Some pair it with 10-20 percent sweet almond oil or grapeseed oil as carrier oils. Infused oils are less potent than essentials oils and are easier to make at home.
What are essential oils? Essential oils are the volatile oils extracted from plants through a process of steam distillation. Steam distillation involves heating the plant material to produce steam, which travels through a tube, then runs with cold water.
The condensed liquids then separate into two parts: a water compound and an oil compound. The water compound is known as floral waters while the oils that rise to the top are the essential oils.
With any essential oil process, it will take a lot of plant material for a small amount of yield
Volatile aromatic compounds change fast from liquid to gas state at room temp. When opening a sealed container of essential oil, the aroma is so strong that you can smell it even from far away! This property makes essential oils ideal for use as aromatherapy oils. Inhaling the essence of these herbs helps in calming the mind and body.
In this article, we will discuss three different processes and techniques you can follow at home: essential oil extraction via crockpot, extraction via vodka, and the traditional oil infusion process. The first two processes will give you essential oils with low yield, while the latter method will produce infused oils with more yields.
We will provide you with a thorough guide to make them, plus tips and techniques when working with your favorite plants.
If you cannot find the oils you want at the stores, do not be afraid to get creative. Hit the books (or the Internet in this era) and do-it-yourself. You also get to learn more about the health benefits from these natural wonders.
Essential Oil Extraction
Easy DIY version without the expensive distillery gear!
Distilling your oils may save you some money and you will be able to make your own combinations. However, be prepared for a high initial upfront cost! Extracting essential oils requires a distilling process, and this means purchasing/ building your own still.
While you can technically make your own still from various objects at home, it may be safer and cleaner to buy one. Buying an Alcohol Still such as this one will cost you over a hundred dollars, but you will be making an excellent investment.
If you use gallons of essential oils on a regular basis, it may be worth it to purchase a copper still and draft those oils at home. You can even save more if you grow your own herbs.
However, if you are a beginner or someone who merely took an interest in extracting oils, you have come to the right place! Do-it-yourself essential oils are now easier to make than you think. Instead of shelling out $400 for a copper still, watch how simple it is with a crock pot.
With this method, you can extract essential oils from any plant, especially plants you might not typically find an abundance of oils. Just remember, with any essential oil process, it will take a lot of plant material for a small amount of yield.
You Will Need:
- Distilled Water
- A Crock Pot with a Lid
- At least 3-4 cups of chopped, fresh plant material (Depending on the size of your crockpot, you would want to get it half full of plant material)
- Your Time
Let’s Get You Started:
- Fill the crockpot with your fresh herbs or plants then douse with water. The water should not reach more than ¾ of the crockpot.
- Put the lid on upside down. The concave shape will enable any steam that forms to condense back into liquid and slide right back into the pot. If you don’t have a lid that works, you can use a plate to cover.
- Turn the crockpot on high and heat to boil the water. Once the water is hot, turn the temperature down to low. Simmer on low for 3-4 hours.
- After simmering for 3-4 hours, turn it off and let cool.
- When cooled down, transfer the contents to another container and place in the refrigerator. Leave it in overnight.
- The next day, take the crock pot out of the refrigerator. A thin film of oil will harden at the top after cooling. That is the essential oil!
- Carefully scrape the oil from the water. Work fast and carefully as this will melt quickly!
- Place this in a separate bottle and cover.
- There may be a tiny amount of water on the bottom. You can gently heat the oil to release the liquid into steam. However, this must be meticulous because if you heat the oil for too long, it can lose its potency.
- Store in a glass container away from light and heat.
- Fresh plant material is much better over dried. Dried herbs will still yield some oil, but fresh herbs will result in more volume
- The best time to harvest plant material is in the morning, right after the dew has dried. Do not include any diseased, dead or bug infested herbs
- 3-4 cups of plant material will result in just a few teaspoons of essential oil. That is why essential oils are so expensive
- Chop up your plants to increase the surface volume and allow more exits for the oils to escape
- Distilled water is vital since tap water can have bacteria or other sediments that may contaminate your concoction.
- You use these oils the same way as you do store bought ones. Depending on your herb quality and quantity, they may not be quite as potent as what you get with those you buy. Be prepared to use more oil than you usually would.
Extraction Via Vodka
This method is like the crockpot method, except you do not use heat to extract the essence of the plant.
You Will Need:
- Flowers or plant parts to extract
- 120 proof Vodka
- Clear quart glass jar with a lid
- Small dark-colored bottle
- Porcelain-coated strainer
- Small glass bowl
- Tight-weave chess cloth
- A spoon and medicine dropper
What To Do:
- Prepare your chosen herbs or flowers. Chop them up or pull apart the petals from the buds. Prepare Your choice of plant. The more homegrown plants you have, the better your odds of success is. You will need pounds and pounds of plant material to make a small amount of essence.
- Prepare the roses by using a dehydrator to evaporate its natural water content. You can also dry them under the sun if you do not have a dehydrator. You can use them when they start to wrinkle.
- Place the contents into a jar then fill with vodka. Shake well to blend everything. Place the jar in a dark corner away from sunlight where it can sit undisturbed at room temperature for full extraction.
- About three times a day, shake the content in the jar well to mix it thoroughly. Repeat this step until you see the roses losing color. Keep in mind that could take up to a week. When the roses have lost their color, take out the jar and prepare to strain. Be sure to wear protective gloves.
- Strain the plant material from the vodka while being careful not to spill any of the liquid. Use the cheesecloth to squeeze the roses to extract all the vodka. The vodka will smell bad, but that should be no surprise at this point.
- Using the same vodka, repeat the rose soaking method a couple more times with a fresh new batch of rose petals. Make sure to get every ounce of the vodka out. When needed, add a little more vodka to make sure the rose petals have immersed. The more you do this, the more you will be able to get essential oils.
- After 2-3 rounds of soaking and straining, discard the petals and return the vodka into the quart glass and seal it up.
- Place the jar in a dark corner, undisturbed at room temperature. Leave it there for around two days. That will allow the vodka to separate from the plant matter and essential oils.
- When you see a clear separation, place the jar in the freezer and let it freeze. Now here is the cool part: vodka does not freeze. Therefore, only the essential oils from the plant will solidify.
- Now, prepare all your materials for the harvesting of the essential oil. Have a spoon and dropper ready. You will also need a small dark glass bottle to hold the harvested essential oil.
- You will need a piece of cheesecloth laid inside a glass bowl. Use another piece of cheesecloth secured around a clear canning jar, so it dips inside the neck. Remove the jar from the freezer. You will need to move fast with extra care before the essential oils melt.
- Scrape the gunky solid chunk of oil off the vodka and place it on top of the cheesecloth laid inside the bowl. When these melts, the cheesecloth with strain any solid plant material and you can drain the oil into the dark glass bottle.
- Strain the vodka into another glass jar with a loose cheesecloth. Any frozen bits left on the cheesecloth are essential oil so move quickly to pick them with a dropper and place them in the dark colored bottle.
Store the bottle away from sunlight to preserve potency and use your oils as desired. Now you have got a pretty good idea about how to make essential oils on your own.
What You Need To Know About Making Essential Oils
- Everything in a plant reflects in its essential oil. Theorists call it the essence or soul of a plant. So, everything good in a plant you can find in its oil. Thus, the oils are for personal care, healing, and disinfection.
- Essential oils do not contain fatty acids like regular oils.
- Essential oils are different from fragrance oils. Fragrance oils come from chemicals and only mimic the scents of plants. They do not have the essential oil benefits.
- Essential oils are expensive and some are hard to find. That is a good reason why it is good to learn how to make these oils from dried herbs yourself.
- Essential oil examples are tea tree, peppermint, and roses. They are known for their antibacterial, healing, and soothing properties.
Traditional Oil Infusion Process
Let’s face it; distillery equipment is not something that you want to invest in if you are merely wanting to tamper with creating your own oils. Considering humans have been extracting oil for centuries, distillation is a reasonably modern method for making essential oils.
So as a beginner, we suggest that you try the more traditional oil infusion process first. An oil infusion, though not as strong as essence, will give you very nice fragrant results with more yield content. You can also vary the potency according to your needs, and you will not need to dilute.
The vital element to making good oil infusions is picking the right materials
Choosing Oil – Professionals suggest using pale colored oil with a mild scent so that it will not overpower the herbs/flowers/ spices you intend to use. Almond oil, extra virgin olive oil, safflower oil, jojoba oil, or canola oil are the most common.
Choosing Herbs – You can use almost any garden herb or plant when you make your own essential oil. You can use leaves, seeds, and flowers, just be sure to avoid the stems and branches. Always chop the leaves to allow them to release their scent before adding them to the oil. The most popular scents are rosemary, lavender, thyme, peppermint, and lemon balm.
Choosing Spices – The most commonly used spices in essential oils are the most aromatic. The most popular seems to be nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, and cumin. You will need to crush the spices with a mortar and pestle first to release their aromas before adding them to your oils.
Choosing Flowers – Fragrant flowers are trendy for homemade essential oils and aromatherapy. You can choose to use one or a mix of flowers in your own oils. The petals hold much of the fragrance.
Young flowers that have not entirely opened have most of their fragrance intact. Cut them and use the petals in your oils. Most fragrant flowers such as roses, frangipani, lavender, marigolds, carnations, hyacinth, violets, and plenty of others are suitable for essential oils.
For this procedure, we will be making infusions from rose petals.
What You Will Need:
- ¼ Cup Rose Petals from Young Buds
- Wooden Mallet
- Ziplock bag
- Chosen base oil
Let’s Get You Started:
- For a nice infusion, make sure you pick only partially opened buds. You just need at least a ¼ cup of each.
- Seal the petals in a plastic zip-lock bag then use a wooden or rubber mallet to bruise the petals. Bruising the flowers opens them up a bit to release the oil and fragrance.
- Put the bruised flower petals into a glass jar and pour ½ cup of your chosen base oil over them.
- Seal the jar and shake well to help blend the petals with the carrier oil. Leave the jar aside overnight.
- After the flowers saturate in oil for more than 24 hours, strain the mixture and discard the petals.
- If you are seeking more fragrance, repeat the procedure using the same oil. Be sure to add another ¼ cup of newly bruised petals to achieve stronger results. Allow these to soak in the oil for one more night.
- After another 24 hours, strain and discard the petals and test the aroma. If you prefer stronger smelling oil, repeat the procedure for a third and fourth time.
- Once you have achieved the fragrance of your liking, strain the oil again into a dark glass container to protect it from sunlight.
- Seal tightly to preserve potency and store away from sunlight.
Now, you can use your infused homemade oils as you please.
Massage Aromatherapy Oil Infusion
Aromatherapy oil infusions are great for massage oil since they have both the aromatic essence of the plant and the quantity needed for massages. For this infusion, you will need
- ¼ Cup of Mixed Jasmine Flower
- Lavender Flowers
- Grated Vanilla Beans
- Glass Jar
- Wooden Mallet
- Place all the ingredients in a ziplock bag and seal. Bruise the flowers lightly with a wooden mallet to open them up and release their scents.
- Put the flowers into a glass jar and pour one cup of extra virgin olive oil covering them. Seal the jar and shake the contents thoroughly.
- Leave the oil aside for 48 hours for the flowers to soak and steep in the oil.
- After 48 hours, strain all the oil and discard the flowers. Next, pour the oil into a dark glass container and store it in a cool, dark place until needed.
- The aroma is quite subtle at first but will become more noticeable once the oil heats by the natural warmth of your skin during a massage. The experience will calm your mind and help you relax.
Uses of Essential Oils
Essential oils in perfumes, incense, and cosmetics have been around for decades. Recently, aromatherapy has revitalized people’s interest in these wonderfully fragrant, soothing oils as a way to promote calmer moods based on our sense of smell.
The compounds found in plant extracts are known to have medicinal properties. The smell of other plants may increase a person’s sense of peace and others may even have an uplifting influence on the mind.
A combination of oils like lavender, sage or lemon, peppermint and basil also help you focus and stay alert when driving or studying.
At home, essential oils help to deodorize foul odors. You can use essential oils like lemon, grape seed, or lime to add to baking soda inside your refrigerator or bathroom to knock out bad smells. You can even repel mites, rats, and spiders using peppermint and eucalyptus oil around the house.
We hope you enjoyed this post on how to make essential oils and infusions and we cannot wait for you to give them a try. Hopefully, we inspired you to derive a plan to create your own favorite mixes right at home. Who knows what you will be able to make out of this new homesteading skill!
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