Friday, May 4, 2012

Make Your Own Essential Oils

     Gather: A common stock pot, lid, steamer, and glass bowl can be used to produce quality essential oils at home.

Essential oils are herbal oils of the highest purity and quality. Essential oils are created by steaming fresh plants to produce vapors. These vapors carry the oil from the fresh plant up into the air. A condenser catches the plant oil and cools it, releasing it from the vapor. The plant oil then drips back into a receptacle or collector. Specialized equipment for making essential oil is available, but can be very expensive. A common stock pot, lid, steamer, and glass bowl can be used to produce quality essential oils from fresh herbs at home.

How to Make Essential Oil at Home

  1. Begin by placing five ounces of plant material and one quart of water into a stock pot.
  2. Place a steamer insert over the water and plant material. The steamer insert should rest just above the top of the water.
  3. Place a glass bowl for collecting the essential oil on top of the steamer. The glass bowl should not be submersed in the water, or be jostled around from the water.
  4. Place the stock pot on the stove and begin heating the water and plant at a very low setting. The lowest setting possible, while still producing steam, should be used. Using a low temperature setting prevents the plant from scorching.
  5. When the steam begins to rise, place the lid upside down on the stock pot. The handle of the lid should be directly over the top of the glass bowl. As the essential oil collects on the lid, it will drip down into the bowl from the handle of the lid, or collector. Place a plastic bag full of ice or very cold water on top of the lid. This will cool the essential oil and facilitate its separation from the steam as it collects on the lid.
  6. To check the progress of the essential oil distillation, carefully remove the lid using a pot holder. Ensure that the essential oil is dripping into the glass bowl, or collector.
  7. When enough essential oil has been produced, it should be stored in the refrigerator in a dark glass bottle between uses. Cover the essential oil with a tight fitting lid and label it with the contents and date of preparation.
Because this method allows some of the steam and oil to escape from the pot, it will take more plant material to make essential oil than commercial equipment which seals in the vapors and essential oil.

Plants for Making Essential Oil at Home
Freshly harvested plant material works best for making essential oils. Some wonderful plants to use at home for making essential oils are peppermint, lavender, lemon balm, sage and rosemary.

 Essential oils can be incorporated into literally any part of life, from bathing to medicinal uses. For those new to using essential oils, the methods can be confusing. Below are 5 common uses for essential oils.

Massage Oils and Lotions

Massage oils are created by selecting an essential oil that is best for a specific ailment, mood, or other desired effect. Please see, " 11 Common Essential Oils " for more information on selecting an essential oil. For massage, essential oils are mixed with base or carrier oils, at the following ratio: 20 drops (¼ tsp.) essential oil for 3.5 ounces (approximately 5 Tablespoons) of carrier oil.
There are many varieties of carrier oils including almond, apricot kernel, coconut, jojoba, grapeseed, sesame, sunflower, and olive oil. You can use standard oils such as olive and sunflower oil purchased from a grocery store as they are usually more economical. However, oils applied to the skin are absorbed into your body and blood stream, so it is best to use high quality oil.
To create a lotion, a few drops of essential oil can be added to any unscented lotion, or can be made using the following recipe:
  • 6 oz water
  • 1/2 oz Cocoa or Shea Butter)
  • 1/2 oz Beeswax
  • 1 oz Carrier Oil of Choice (from list above)
  • 1/8 tsp Citric Acid
  • 6 ml Essential Oil of Choice
Heat the beeswax, butter and carrier oil over low heat, stirring frequently. In another container, heat the water over low heat. When the beeswax, butter and oil are mixed, add them very slowly to the water. When they are well mixed turn off the heat. Add the citric acid to the mixture. Allow the mixture to cool stirring each half an hour. When it is completely cooled add the essential oils.


When someone has a fever, headache, swelling, or other type of localized pain a hot or cold compress can frequently help. Adding essential oils to the compress can further the benefit. Hot compresses are typically used for aches or arthritis. Cold compresses are helpful for headaches or swelling. Use a cotton cloth and dip it in hot or cold water with a few drops of added essential oil. Wring the excess water from the cloth and apply as needed.

Hair, Skin and Personal Care

Essential oils can be added to shampoos and conditioners to enhance the hair’s health and shine. People with fine hair may benefit from adding the oils to the ends of hair rather than directly to the scalp, as the oils tend to leave hair a little greasy. The book "

Baths & Vaporizers

Adding 5 to 10 drops of essential oil to bath water is one of the most enjoyable ways to use essential oils. The fragrance from the oils is carried by the steam from the bath water allowing it to be inhaled as well as well dispersed over the skin. Another type of steam inhalation is to add a few drops of essential oil to a pan of steaming water. Inhale the steam for maximum benefit. Finally, essential oils can be added directly to the water of a vaporizer to assist breathing during times of colds and flu.

Direct Application

Direct application of essential oils is called "neat" application. Most essential oils are too potent to be applied this way. There are some exceptions, but beginners should avoid this type of application.