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extracting essential oils

Posted by tapeworm (My Page) on
Tue, Sep 15, 09 at 0:19

I'm considering building my own still to extract the "essential oil" from a specific flower which will not work with steam distillation (due to the heat). I don't really want to use a solvent either because it can leave traces of harsh chemicals in the final product, which will eventually be used on skin so I'm going for an organic solution. A pure essential oil for this flower does not currently exist on the market, so I'm wondering if there isn't a problem with certain herbs which make extraction impossible...?

Currently I'm leaning towards a coldfinger extractor and using an organic alcohol as a solvent, which seems to be the only affordable option although I don't know if it will work, and I'm afraid it will leave traces of alcohol behind. I was reading up on super critical carbon dioxide extraction but the cost to get started with one of those would be in the range of $45k+ and also require training I don't have to operate.

Any suggestions, ideas, please?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: extracting essential oils

You seem to be enthralled with the use of the word organic. Ether is about as organic as one can get and ether contains no harsh chemicals-ether is ether. I strongly suggest that you refer to a publication relating to perfume production for guidance. Steam distillation has been used for hundreds of years with great success.And what in the world is organic alcohol?

RE: extracting essential oils

Dang Tax, he only used the word twice and did so to inform us that his goal was an organic product!

I have all kinds of problems with your ether sentence, but anyway.

Organic alcohol would be alcohol derived from plant material (and possibly certified organic plant material) as opposed to alcohol which is synthesized chemically from other sources.

My answer to Tapeworm is, "Sorry, dude, I have no ideas about this one."

RE: extracting essential oils

I believe that Brandon7 does'nt like me at all. His response to my answer on Latin( see the query on EC)sounded as tho he was miffed. I am an organic chemist and I believe my concept of organic is completely different from his. So Sorry Brandon7!

RE: extracting essential oils

tapeworm, my only suggestion is to persist with with your project. The fact that the product does not exist conveys to me that it must be impossible to extract with existing methods. Even if the process would have been frightfully expensive and/or complicated, it would have been discovered, documented and filed away somewhere. You may be at the same mental intersection where Friedrich Wohler was in 1828 before he synthesized urea. Thereafter, ordinary folk, scientists and fertilizer companies would use the term "organic" conveniently; to suit their own purpose.

RE: extracting essential oils

  • Posted by brandon7 6b (like 7b now) TN (My Page) on
    Fri, Oct 9, 09 at 11:56


I don't have a thing against you. I don't even know you! It seems to me that you were a little short (if not plain rude) to Tapeworm and for no good reason.

Maybe I just take you wrong, but, if I do, maybe others could also. Even if we skip over the "enthralled" comment, maybe you could at least explain your difficulty with Tapeworm's use of the term "organic alcohol" (a reasonably commonly used term).

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