Essential oils are a combination of aromatic chemicals from trees and plants. Traditional cultures have used essential oils and herbs as medicine for thousands of years.
Essential oils are aromatic substances that can be extracted from plants using distillation. It’s possible to obtain essential oils from many different parts of a plant, including, but not limited to the leaves, flowers, and roots.
In addition to being used as scents for a variety of consumer and natural products, some essential oils may be used for various health applications. When essential oils are used to promote well-being, it’s referred to as aromatherapy.
Some of the possible uses of essential oils in aromatherapy include things like managing pain, helping with digestion, and reducing stress and anxiety.
The steam distillation process works on the principlethat when a mixture of 2 or more undissolved liquids is heated. While ensuring that the surfaces ofboth liquids are in contact with the atmosphere, the vapor pressure exerted by the structureincreases.
The oil is extracted from the whole plant using a distillation unit consisting of a distillation tank, acondenser, and a separator. After closing the lid tightly, steam is passed into thedistillation tank.
A large container called a Still,which is generally made of stainless steel, containing the plantmaterial has steam added to it. Through an inlet, steam is injected through the plant materialcontaining the desired oils, releasing the plant’s aromatic molecules & turning them into vapor.
The vaporized plant compounds go to the condensation flask or the Condenser. Here, twoseparate pipes make it possible for hot water to exit & for cold water to enter the Condenser. Thisprocess makes the vapor cool back into liquid form.
The aromatic liquid by-product drops from the condenser & collects inside a receptacleunderneath it, which is called a Separator. Because water & oil do not mix, the essential oil floats ontop of the water. Now, it is siphoned off. (Some essential oils are heavier than water, such as cloveessential oil, so they are found at the base of the separator.)
Steam and the oil vapor condense into liquid in condenser & are collected in the separator. Thereceived oil is taken out, cleaned and stored either in aluminium containers or amber colouredbottles. The recovery of oil from grass ranges from 0.3 to 0.6 percent. It takes about four hours forthe complete recovery of the oil.
The amount of steam & the quality of the steam can be controlled.
Lower risk of thermal degradation as temperature normally not above 100°C.
Most generally used process for the extraction of essential oils on a large scale.
If water is used as one of the immiscible liquids the process iscalled steam distillation. It is used for purifying liquids which decompose at their normal boilingpoints. Steam distillation is used for separating organic compounds from plant elements.Steam Distillation is the most popular method used to extract & isolate essential oils from plantsfor use in natural products. This happens when the steam vaporizes the plant material’s volatilecompounds, which eventually go through a condensation & collection process.