How to Make Essential Oil: 2 Easy Ways

“Nah, I don’t use essential oils, they are high in chemicals and super expensive.” No! Stop over-analyzing and learn how to make essential oil at home now!

How to Make Essential Oil at Home?

Yes, you can make essential oil at home with different herbs and sources. There are about 700 different types of plants that have essential oils and can be used for extracting the essential oils.1

Extracting the essential oils is not so hard. But it has many methods by which you can extract the oil. Some still extract the oil with copper, and some by traditional methods. However, distillation is the most common method to extract your essential oils.

This article will tell you how to make essential oil from scratch.

What is an Essential oil?

The oils which are concentrated and have essence are known as essential oils. These oils are used in perfumes, licensed for decades, cosmetics, and aromatherapy. 2It is also a soothing oil to promote calmer and positive moods based on the smell.

The aromatic compounds found in plant extracts are used for aromatherapy and are known to have some medicinal properties. The other plants with the extracts of the essential oils can increase a person’s sense of calmness, but other people may even have an uplifting effect on the mind.

Is it Possible to Make Essential Oils at Home?

Making essential oils at home will save you a bit of money, and you can also know about the aromas you will get while extracting.

To make the essential oil extracts, you can go by any method. You can opt for the distillation process or the copper still extraction method. We will discuss both methods in the article below.

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1. How to Make Essential Oil?

We can make our essential oils at home using various recipes. However, most are infused oils, which are also very cheap.

The infused oils are typically made by soaking the herbs in a particular oil to extract the active compounds. Some of the botanicals create very strong infused healing oil. One such is the Calendula.

Steam distillation is the most common process to make essential oil,3 simmering the plant material to produce the steam. The steam then travels through the tube, running through the cold water. The liquid form from condensation has to be in two main parts.

They are a water compound and an oil compound, the floral waters from lavender and rose water come from the water compound. These oils rise to the top and are known as a DIY essential oil.

1.1. Traditional Oil Infusion

The oil infusion will give you a nice fragrance. Though it will not be as strong as a distilled essential oil, the strength can vary according to your requirements. However, to make the perfect essential oil, you must have the right materials.

Olive oil, almond oil, safflower oil, almond oil, canola, and jojoba oil will work very well. Use some pale-coloured coil, which will have a mild scent but will not overpower the flower, spices, or herbs you want to use.

You can even use enfleurage, this is an old perfume method of scent extraction from flowers used in the 18th century. The infused oils extracted by these methods could also be used for making solid perfumes, body butter, and lotions for a better floral aroma, this method was unique back then.

1.1.1 Choose the Herbs for Oil Infusion

Any garden herbs are capable of making your essential oil. However, make sure not to use the stems or branches of a plant. You should always make use of the leaves and flowers.

Also, you will have to chop the leaves to release the scent before adding them to the oil. The useful herbs for this process are rosemary, lavender, thyme, peppermint, and lemon balm.

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  • You will also need to find the best spice for your essential oils.

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    The common spices found in essential oils have the most aroma. It can be cinnamon, cumin, coriander, cloves, and nutmeg. Crush the spices to release the aroma before adding the oils, mortar, and pestle.

  • Flowers are the most important part of making essential oils. The scented flowers are the best addition to your essential oils. The combination of flowers in your oils depends on you. It would be best to use the petals since they have the most fragrance you require.

  • You will have to cut the flowers when they are not completely opened. Remove the petals by adding them externally to the oils. Fragnant flower that includes frangipani, lavender, roses, carnations, hyacinth, marigolds, violets are the best frargeant flower to use in your oil.

1.1.2 Procedure of Oil Infusion

For the process of oil infusion, we will use rose petals. By following the procedure given below, you can make your infusions.

  1. Make sure to pick up the buds when they are partially opened, this will help in better infusion. You will have to take only 1/4th cup of petals.

  2. Now, place the petals in a plastic zip-lock bag and then seal the bag. With the help of a wooden mallet, gently tap on the petals to bruise the flowers and release the oil and fragrance.

  3. Take a glass jar, and pour half a cup of base oil. Also, place the bruised flower petals in the glass jar. Seal the glass jar, shake it well till the oil from the flowers mixes with the base oil in the jar, and then leave it overnight.

  4. Strain the oil and extract the petals from the mixture right after 24 hours of mixing. You will have to repeat this process with a 1/4th cup of bruised rose petals and then keep it steep overnight.

  5. When the second batch of rose petals is discarded, you can taste the smell of your essential oils. So, if you want to make the fragrance much stronger, you will have to repeat the procedure. Repeating the process will make the smell stronger.

  6. Strain the oil from the glass jar and place it in a dark glass container. Make sure to seal the glass container tighter and store it away from the sunlight in a cooler place.

1.2. Make Essential Oil From Distillation Process

The distillation process is the most common method of extracting essential oils from the plant. It has a stronger fragrance than essential oils made from traditional styles.

Though essential oils are very expensive when you purchase them directly, if you try to make them at home, it’s very cheap to distill some oils at home.

You have to perform three steps for processing the essential oils through the distillation process. The first is setting up your essential oil still, then you need to prepare the plant material, and the third is distilling the essential oil.

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1.2.1. Set up to Make Essential Oil Still

You need to purchase essential oil still. It will be hard to find in offline shops, but you can get one of them easily in any online store.

But, this equipment can be very expensive. You should purchase only if you wish to make essential oil in large quantities and for investment purposes.

You can try building a still to make essential oil at home. There are lots of designs that you can make, and most of the types of equipment are available at everyone’s home. The equipment that you will need are:

  • A pressure cooker

  • A heat source – direct fire

  • A 10mm glass pipe

  • An essential (this will be used to separate the essential oil from the materials you don’t want in your final product.)

  • A tub filled with chilled water for cooling down the condensed steam, which will flow through the pipe.

When you get all this equipment, make sure you use stainless steel and glass parts. Plastic tubing is not recommended since it can degrade the quality of the final produced oil.

Most plants tend to react with copper, so you can use aluminum materials but make sure they are not used with clove and wintergreen. Essential oils from these plants have phenols, which can again degrade the quality of the oil.

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To make the apparatus, you must bend the pipe through the cooling tube, then:

  • Heat the plant material in the pressure cooker and the steam emitted, and pass it through the pipe. The aim is to cool the steam back down to liquid by immersing it in cold water or an ice bath. The shape of the pipe will depend on the type of cooling vessel you are using.

  • Now connect the pipe to the valve of the pressure cooker. The size of the pipe should be around 10mm. It would help if you used a small flexible hose that can fit both openings.

  • Cut the pipe long enough to allow the air to bend.

  • Now run the pipe through the cooling vessel. If using a bucket, then you will have to coil the pipe and place it at the bottom of the bucket. Make a small hole, which should be about the size of the pipe, and then seal the hole with some silicone sealer or epoxy. It is to avoid water leakage.

  • Now, position the open end of the pipe on top of the essence. When the distillate drips the essence, it will start working independently. The oil gets separated from the rest of the matter, which you do not want in your final product.

  • The last thing that you need to do is check if all the apparatus are in some stable positions. Please put on the lid of the pressure cooker, with the pipe attached to it. Now, put the open end of the pipe into the essence. The pipe should be at a safe angle so it can be safely collected.

1.2.2 Prepare the Plant Material to Make Essential Oil 

You have to be very sure when to harvest the plant material that you want to use. The essential oil amount in a plant depends solely on its life cycle.

So, you should know the perfect time to harvest the plant species. Do some research to find the time to harvest. If you wish to use the lavender plant for distilling, you should harvest the plant when most of the flowers have been withered.

However, if you make rosemary essential oil 5with steam distillation6, you should harvest this plant when the plants are in their peak bloom.

Furthermore, you should also know the perfect way to harvest plants. Any mistakes during the harvesting can reduce the number of essential oils in the plant.

Most plants hold essential oils in the plant oil glands, hairs, and very fragile veins. If any breaks by mistake, the plants may lose some of their oil content. So, you should always handle the plants carefully, especially when harvesting.

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But, if you think of purchasing readymade plant materials, you must know that you will not have much control over the harvesting. It would be better to look for fresh plant materials that are healthy and undamaged.

Typically, plants harvested in the complete form are best for extracting essential oils. The distillation process often removes the impurities, herbicides, and pesticides contaminating the oil. So, when choosing your plant parts, use organically grown plants.

  • You will have to dry the plant matter, reducing the amount of oil in the plant material. The dried herbs will increase the essential oil content per batch.

  • Make sure to dry the material slowly, and you should do it away from the sunlight. The drying method can vary but make your oils. Do not overheat the plant. Drying the plant in a dark shade will lose a very small amount of essential oils.

  • When the plants die, distill them with water as soon as possible. But be sure not to make it again before distillation. However, you can even skip this step if you want to.

1.2.3. Distilling Essential Oil

How to distill oil when trying to make essential oil at home?

You have to be very careful while distilling the material. The distilled water used for distillation should be ideally filtered or distilled and as soft as possible, you can even use tap water. You should have enough water to complete the distillation process.

The time of the process will depend on the amount of material used. It can even take a few hours after the water boils.

Once everything is ready, what you have to do is:

  1. You should fill the tank with the matter used. Add the matter to the water. The material should be fine till there is enough water till the boiling is off. However, ensure that the material does not block the steam outlet through the lid of the pressure cooker. Do not chop any part of the material to make some room, or it will lose some essential oils.

  2. Now, you will have to bring the pressure cooker to a boil and seal the lid so that only the steam can escape. It should travel through the pipe which is attached to the steam valve. The plants mostly release their essential oils when the water is at 100 degrees Celcius at the normal boiling point of the water.

  3. You should keep an eye on the still. After some time, the distill will begin to come from the condenser to the separator. The process will be very slow, but make sure you don’t run off with water in the still.

  4. Observe the distillation properly since you may need to change the water in the cold-water tub used for cooling. When the pipes get hot and the water in the bucket gets warmed up, you will have to replace it with fresh cold water, or you can even use ice. The cooling process should continue till the end.

  5. Now you will have to filter the collected oil. Once the distillation process gets complete, you have to filter the oil through cheesecloth or cotton fabric cloth. The cloth should be dry and clean, and free from other contaminants. You may get a small number of essential oils from a large amount of material, but remember, the percentage yields vary.

  6. The last step in the distillation process is to pour the oil into a container for storing it as soon as it is extracted from the main material. Though most essential oils can be kept outside for at least two years, due to the shorter life span of the oils, you must store them in a container for long-lasting.

Pour the oils into a dark glass container or stainless steel container. You should use a clean funnel to pour the oil into the container. Once it is stored, place the container in a dark and cool place.

The remaining material in the essence will be the hydrosol. 7You can do whatever with the hydrosol. The water is distilled and then infused with the fragrance of the material.

Hydrosols of coconut oil, jojoba oil, and rose oil are useable themselves. You can pour the remaining hydrosol for the next big ole patch of the steam distillation process. Or else, if you want to use fresh plant material, then you can throw the hydrosol.

DIY Essential Oil Extraction

If you want to make essential oil yourself, you need to remember certain important things.

With this method, you can get the essential oils from those plants where generally you will not get any essential oils. You can make several blends that cannot be found naturally. The DIY essential oils from lavender, oakmoss, and patchouli are possible with different other oils.

To make the oils from this process, you will use a crock pot with a lid, some distilled water, enough fresh plant materials, and, most importantly, time.

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Procedure

  1. You must place the material in the crockpot and then cover it with water. The water should be 3/4th of the crockpot. Now put the lid on upside down.

  2. Heat the water. When the water is hot, you have to lower the heat and simmer it on low heat for at least three- to four hours.

  3. When all the plants are cooked down, give some time to let it cool down, and place then place the crockpot in the refrigerator. It should be in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.

  4. Take out the vessel the next day, and you will find a thin film of oil formed on the top, and it will be hard after it is cooled down. The thin film is the essential oil, so you should carefully lift the oil from the water.

  5. Place the essential oil into a bottle with a cap. However, a small amount of water-based liquid can be transferred with the oil in the bottom. So, you can withdraw the water-based liquid by heating it gently. But you should not heat it for long since it can lose its potency.

  6. Once it is free from other liquids, store the oils in a coloured glass container, and it should be away from light and heat.

DIY essential oils are similar to the others available at markets but are not as strong as they used to be.

Bottom-Line

If you want to make essential oil at home, remember that you need patience and focus.

Though making essential oils are very easy, you should be very careful. You must not apply undiluted essential oils directly to your skin.

The essential oils must always be diluted first in a carrier oil before they are used for many purposes. To make your essential oil, you can follow the DIY essential oils methods listed above since these are the cheap and fastest method.

Try it out yourselves and let us know your experience in the comments!

  1. El Asbahani, A., et al. “Essential oils: From extraction to encapsulation.” International journal of pharmaceutics 483.1-2 (2015): 220-243. ↩︎
  2. Cooke, Brian, and Edzard Ernst. “Aromatherapy: a systematic review.” British journal of general practice 50.455 (2000): 493-496. ↩︎
  3. Tisserand, Robert, and Rodney Young. Essential oil safety: a guide for health care professionals. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2013. ↩︎
  4. Janardhanan, Minija. Herb and spice essential oils. Discovery Publishing House, 2004. ↩︎
  5. Jiang, Yang, et al. “Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of the essential oil of Rosemary.” Environmental toxicology and pharmacology 32.1 (2011): 63-68. ↩︎
  6. Masango, Phineas. “Cleaner production of essential oils by steam distillation.” Journal of Cleaner Production 13.8 (2005): 833-839. ↩︎
  7. Duff, Daniel G., Alfons Baiker, and Peter P. Edwards. “A new hydrosol of gold clusters. 1. Formation and particle size variation.” Langmuir 9.9 (1993): 2301-2309. ↩︎

Last Updated on by ayeshayusuf

Author

Annanya Chakraborty
  1. I was searching for an article which can genuinely explain me proper points of making essential oils. As I prefer oils made at home and I love to make essential oils and serve it to people, and yes, as you mentioned it’s not easy to prepare essential oils as we need to have mindfulness and patience for the end result,so thank you for this information it is really helpful for me!

  2. Your level of research deserves an appreciative applause. Someone has finally written about those long-forgotten methods, which I couldn’t find in an online search. Accept my gratitude for helping to keep our rich tradition alive by educating the next generation about these extremely valuable oiling methods.

  3. I was looking for how to make essential oils at home and this article was extremely helpful. It provided a lot of useful information which will definitely make it easier when I try making them.

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