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How Are Essential Oils Extracted From Plants?

By Brynne Chandler ; Updated August 14, 2017

Homemade essential oils are an excellent alternative to expensive commercial aromatherapy oils. Making essential oils is very simple, especially if you have a garden full of flowers and herbs. You can extract essential oils in several different ways, from the most basic sunlight infusion method to the purchase of a distillation kit. If you have never made essential oils, the infusion method is the first one you should try. Most essential oils are meant to be used to add fragrance to potpourri, cosmetics or ointments. They are not meant to be ingested, because many plant oils are toxic when concentrated.

Cut up the flowers and herbs you wish to use. Six tablespoons is a good amount to start with, but it doesn’t have to be exact.

Fill a small jar about half-way with whatever herbs, flowers and spices you prefer. You can also add spices like cinnamon and clove to add a little extra fragrance. Don’t be afraid to experiment with mixing and matching herbs and spices.

Cover the cut flowers with a light aromatic base oil such as almond oil, olive oil or sesame oil. Make sure that all of the flowers and herbs are covered. How much oil this will require depends on the size and shape of your jar and how much plant matter you used, so just eyeball it.

Put the lid on the jar and shake it gently to mix the flowers, herbs and oils. Place the jar in a sunny spot and leave it for at least 48 hours. Swirl the ingredients around gently every few hours.

Line a funnel with fine cheesecloth and pour the oil through the cloth and into your second jar, if you want to make the essential oil stronger. Add fresh flowers and herbs, put on the lid and let it sit for another 48 hours. Remember to swirl the jar occasionally.

Pour the essential oil into a dark-tinted bottle with a good stopper. Label the jar with the ingredients and the date, because essential oils lose their potency after six months.

Tips

Store your bottles in a cool place away from direct sunlight to help keep their potency. Aromatic flowers like roses, jasmine, lavender and honeysuckle produce very sweet essential oils. Mint, verbena, lemongrass and rosemary are among the more fragrant herbs to use.

Warnings

Never to try to rush the process by using the microwave because this will weaken the aromatic properties of the flowers and herbs.

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