can you do 'homemade' lavender oil?....

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by betty modin, Feb 19, 2004.

  1. betty modin

    betty modin Well-Known Member

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    At a church breakfast last weekend several women were talking about things we can do for our next bazaar....at Christmas but we plan ahead...one lady has a lot of lavender and that brought up lavender oils. How are these made? Are they extracts? cold pressings of some part of the plant? made by infusions? We'd like to know...I checked by essence of lavender bottle but of course all it said for ingredients was lavender essence! Anyone here do something special with lavender that we could maybe do to earn a little money for our parish? thanks, betty
     
  2. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

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    Unless you have special (expensive!) equipment, it's virtually impossible to extract the essential oils from lavender or any other plant. And you'd need acres and acres of lavender to make it worth you while anyway.

    If you cram as many flowers and leaves into saucepan as you can squeeze in, add some water and simmer with the lid on, you might be lucky enough to see a few droplets of the oil appearing on top of the water. These can be sucked off with an eyedropper and bottled, but if you get a teaspoonful you'd be doing remarkably well.

    You could, of course, make a tea of the flowers, and bottle it as Lavender Water. Some preservative would need to be added, such as Vitamin C or benzoin. You could also infuse the flowers in a carrier oil and keep it for external use only for a couple of months. Or make lavender vinegar for culinary or external use, which would keep indefinitely.

    Frankly, I think you'd be better off drying the lavender to make smudge bundles, or turning it into incense, or drying the flowers in little sachets. The English lavender is the one preferred for all purposes.
     

  3. Dchall_San_Anto

    Dchall_San_Anto Active Member

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    Fortunately there is an easier way. Search the Internet for distillation supplies and equipment. Of course you'll find the basic stuff for making alcohol but keep looking. You'll also find the apparatus needed for distilling essential oils. The equipment is basic high school chemistry stuff - which is shockingly expensive :eek: If you buy the equipment from a chemistry supply place it will cost you several hundred to a thousand dollars. If you look at the equipment and realize that you already have pots around the house, you don't have to buy a new pot. You will have to modify the ones you have, though.

    Some of the equipment you find will be "field" equipment. That stuff is rustic to say the least and is meant for taking out into the field where the plants are growing so you don't have to haul all the weight back. You can bring back only the oils.

    Here's how the distillation equipment works. You heat (not boil) the lavender in water at probably something like 170 degrees. The essential oils will vaporize at a lower temp than boiling. The oil vapors escape out through a tube which is cooled either by air or water where the oils condense and drip out into a bucket. Some of the water vapor will condense at the same time so the distillate you get will have water with oil floating on top. The oil can be separated with a simple turkey baster, but don't throw away the fragrant water. Sell that too. You will have nearly 10 times as much water as oil. The oils are the most valuable because the essence is pretty much locked into the oils. But as long as the waters are aromatic, you can sell them for less. Some people make more money off the water by selling it for less. Many people won't want to pay for the oil but the water smells almost the same, so they'll buy that.

    The people who sell the equipment can help you set it up and get the most out of your lavender. Keep in mind you will have to sell considerable amounts to pay for new equipment. Maybe among the church friends, you can find enough spare parts and talent to make the equipment for much less. You might have fun explaining to the church elders what you intend to do with the equipment because it looks very much like a moonshine still :haha:
     
  4. healing herbals

    healing herbals Pam in OK

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    I agree with Culpepper, dry the flowers, either on the stem, or off or make "wands" any of these would sell well, especially if you put just the flowers in pretty pockets of material, for sachet or sleep pillows
     
  5. betty modin

    betty modin Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your help....I think the dried version is probably going to be easier to do with the materials at hand..thought the lavender water does sound nice...maybe I'll do some for me? Thanks again...betty
    p.s. I think more than the elders would worry about the 'still' equipment! The church sits right in plain view of the town's only grocery store and onthe main route to the town's school!