Monday, July 17, 2017

Gee your hydrosol smells terrific

Not much to show for the effort
So I broke out the distiller the other night, intending to extract some essential oil from about a trash bag full of mint leaves that I trimmed back from the sidewalk.  After 90 minutes of boiling, I poured a half liter of oil and hydrosol into my separatory funnel and got ready to recover my well-deserved bounty.

I got literally one drop of oil.  Oh, there was a little more, smeared down the inner curves of the funnel. But that thin yellow line is what I started with, and what I ended with was nothing.

After some research, I think I discovered the reason: I should have done the research first.

Basically, I just stuffed as many mint leaves as I could into the pot, added a gallon of water, and set to boiling. It made steam, sure, and hydrosol as well.*  But it didn't really extract the oil.  It just made a really nice mint leaf soup that I used to mulch some peppers.

And I suspect the reason for this is that I should have kept the leaves above the water, so rather than boiling water removing the oil, the steam would pick it up as it passed through the leaves. That's what they did in a video that I watched after receiving nothing but experience for my efforts.

So as soon as I find or make an insert that will keep the leaves above the water, we will give it a try again.  And if mint fails, we'll try oregano.

And if oregano fails, we may be done with this distilling stuff even before we really get going.

* My dishwasher smelled like a toothpaste factory.

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