Essential oils are oils extracted from the leaves, flowers, and stems of plants and distilled into a concentrated form that can be diluted and used in many different ways. If you love essential oils and want to give making your own a try, this is the article for you!
Be warned that this isn’t about saving money. There are many premium essential oils on the market you can acquire for less than $5. Still, sometimes we want to conquer a skill and do something for ourselves, and this definitely counts.
How is it done?
There are three main methods for making essential oils at home: steam distillation, expression, and solvent expression. Which one you choose is up to you, but we’ll give you the rundown of each to get you started.
To use the steam distillation method, you’ll need a crockpot or still. The quality of the still doesn’t have to be top-notch, and you can even build your own. Don’t feel you need to spend $200 on a luxury still for this method! Once you’ve chosen the plant, you want to boil it in water within the still or crockpot until the oils inside the plant have separated and risen to the top of the water. Be careful to read up on specific instructions for your chosen oil as far as the time frame. For instance, most lightly dried plants will require between 24-36 hours in a crockpot for maximum results. Once the oil rises, you can carefully use an eyedropper or skimmer to remove the oil and store it in a dark glass bottle. This method works well for peppermint, lavender, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and herbs.
The expression method involves squeezing the oils out of your chosen plant or fruit. Logic says this isn’t going to work well for peppermint, and that’s correct. This method will work best for citrus-based oils like lemon and orange. Remove the peels and then squeeze them within a commercial-grade press, collecting the oil as it drips out. Be sure to filter the oil before bottling it, or else you risk rot and mold. If you’re not interested in investing in a commercial press, don’t fret! There are plenty of citrus oils available in grocery and health stores. If you just happen to have a press or really want one, go for it. I won’t judge you. You can make your own olive oil on the side!
While this method is technically possible at home, it’s primarily used for commercial production. Solvents are chemicals, some of which are very harsh. Unless you’ve been making essential oils for a while or have spent a few years studying chemistry, you might want to steer clear. Still, this is one of the best ways to get the purest essential oils possible. Just be sure to do some serious research, work in a well-ventilated area, wear proper PPE, and keep everything safely stored when not in use.