What are Essential Oils? How Do You Make Essential Oils from Herbs and Flowers?

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Have you ever wanted to bring the natural lifeblood of nature into your home?

If this has been your direction of thought, then incorporating essential oils into your daily living is a perfect way to bring that power into your space!

A simple smell like lavender has the power to improve a whole mood. That is why essential oils are popular across the world.

Even the common aromatherapy that is done to improve psychological and physical health uses essential oils as one of ingredients.

There are a lot of articles around about ways you can use store-bought essential oils, but we’re going to be doing something a bit different. We are going to teach you how you can actually make essential oils yourself. First, we will show you a simply way to make infused oils. Then we will talk about the more advanced way to to make true essential oils through distillation.

Even if you are not going to make your own essential oils, learning about the different ways essential oils are made will teach you what to look for when buying them. This will help to ensure that you are purchasing high quality, organic essential oils.

This article is going to cover the basics, but if you are serious about learning how to make your own essential oils, a more extensive guide like the The Essential Oil Maker’s Handbook is a great resource.

But before we get the information about how to make essential oils, let’s cover some basics for those of you who are new to the world of using essential oils.

So, what exactly is an essential oil?

Essential oils are the natural scent of a plant that is extracted for various uses, including medicinal purposes. They are usually extracted from different parts of a plant; the leaves, stems, bark, roots and rind from the fruits. They are processed and distilled differently to transform them into oils that can be added to vegetable oil, creams, lotions, bath gels, or hair and body oil.

They can also be burnt, like in candles, or used in diffusers for aromatherapy — choosing different essential oils depending upon the desired effect. Or you can rub them on your skin (not full strength for many) or add them to your favorite body butter for that fresh fragrance all day long.

Essential oils are not a new trend.

They may seem to be catching the wave right now, but they have been around for a long time. Plant extracts have been used since time immemorial for their medicinal value, personal care, religious practices, beauty routines and food preparation. Essential oils are part of many cultural practices, especially in most Asian homes.

One of the many reasons people turn to essential oils is because it is is believed that essential oils have the power to keep stress at bay. But even though they cannot completely erase your stress, they actually help you to calm down and relax. They also aid in a more positive thought process regarding the issue that could be weighing you down, so clearly, they help with stress. And they smell good!

Video: Essential Oils As Medicine: Essential Oils Guide

How to use essential oils to help combat common illnesses. | Dr. Josh Axe & Jordan Rubin

Related: Best Essential Oil Set Reviews

How to Make Essential Oils — DIY Essential Oils 2 Ways

If you are passionate about living naturally, you can choose to go the essential oils way and the beauty is that you can make your own essential oils at home.

Most of these oils are simply simmered to produce steam that is then condensed to produce a water compound and an oil compound. The water compound form waters like rose water while the oil compound becomes the essential oil. You can produce them in two ways: distillation or infusion.

If you don’t have access to the necessary plants, herbs, and flowers to make DIY essential oils from scratch — or if it’s too much work and you want get right to using them — you can purchase your favorites from a reputable essential oil seller.

Making Essential Oils Through Infusion

The process of making true, concentrated essential oils requires a distiller, which may sometimes be expensive (we talk about that next). For this reason, you can choose the inexpensive process of making infused olls and still come out with a product you desire.

This process is great for beginners and for people who only want to make smaller quantities, or just a few specific kinds of oils. Great beginner essential oils that work well with this method are lavender, rosemary, lemon, orange, grapefruit, lilac, rose and oregano, just to name a few. Not only are they simple, but the ingredients are easy to find — you may even be growing many in your own garden!

Do keep in mind that infused essential oils are not medicinal quality. Unless the plants you are using are completely edible in their natural state, you should not consume these oils.

Step One: Select your herbs, flowers or plants

Essential oils are made from different plant-based materials so pick your herbs depending on the fragrance that you need. You can use flowers like rose, lavender, or the bark, roots or rind of your favorite citrus fruit. That is where the essence will be extracted from.

Perhaps, you want to add spices to your essential oils. In this case, you can collect the spices you want like nutmeg, cinnamon or cloves. They have to be whole so they can be crushed to get the essence.

Step Two: Crush the herbs

When you are using flower petals, ensure you pluck petals that are nearer to the bud. because they make for a better infusion. Not to mention the fact that they are softer and easier to crush.

The easiest way to to crush your plant materials is to use a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one, you can place them inside a strong zip lock bag. Crush them gently. You don’t want to crush them completely, just a little to release the aroma.

You can use fresh or dried herbs and flowers. The benefit of dried is that there is less chance of moisture which can cause bacteria to grow. Additionally, some people skip this crushing step, but this speeds up the process, especially if you are using the cold infusion method.

Step Three: Start the infusion process

Video: How To Make An Infused Oil – Herbalism Basics

Cold and Hot Infusion Methods for Making DIY Infused Oils. | Courtesy of Rickvanman

Cold Method for Making Infused Oils

The cold infusion process is the easiest for beginners, so that’s what we are discuss first. All you will need is a jar and a pure, neutral carrier oil. You can use either be coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, moringa oil, argan oil, grapeseed oil, or any other oil of your choice. Unless you are looking to add the aroma of the particular oil to your mixture, for example almond oil, you will want to use something that is scentless.

Take the crushed petals, leaves, or roots and put them inside a glass jar with lid. Mason jars work great. Do not use plastic because the essence will seep into the container. Additionally, you don’t want to pull out anything from the plastic into your oil.

For fresh plants, add enough of your preferred base oil to cover the plant materials. If you are using dry, you want a little less oil as because they will expand.

All you need to do now is shake well to blend. Tighten the lid and let sit at least overnight, 24 hours is better. This allows the essence from the petals to seep into your oil. If you started with dried plant materials, you can allow this to steep for longer. However, you still want to check daily to ensure there is no mold or bacteria growing.

Hot Method for Making Infused Oils

To speed up the process, you can also heat the oil and plants over low heat using a double boiler before moving to a jar. You can also use a crockpot on low, but it will take longer. The heating process is not absolutely necessary, but for some plant materials, especially roots, it helps release the essence. The goal is NOT to cook the plants, just warm them slowly.

Video: How to Make Essential Oils from Fresh Flowers – Infused Oil Method

How to make own lilac essential oil – works with other flowers too. | HowToWithKeila

By the way, for herbs and edible flowers, you can either of these processes for making cooking oils, you would just use a much larger quantity of oil.

Step Four: Strain the oil

After 24 hours, it is now time to harvest your essential oil. To separate the plant materials from the oil, you will need either cheese cloth, coffee filters or an ultra fine sieve. Strain the oil into a clean jar, and discard the flower or plant materials.

At this point, you will have a mildly scented oil. You can repeat the process, this time using the oil you collected as the base along with fresh plant materials. Another option, if you are looking to make essential oil blends is to use a different, complementary plant or flower for the second infusion.

If after the second procedure, the oil scent is still not strong enough for you, repeat the same procedure a third time. Once it has reached your desired level of smell, strain it into a glass storage container, preferably a dark one because it will block out UV rays which will decrease the potency. Your essential oil is now ready to use.

Note: Plants vary in the amount of natural oils they contain naturally. Some flowers, such as lavender, can be used to make essential oils by using vodka.

Video: How To Make Homemade Lavender Essential Oil

Make DIY Lavender Oil with Dried Lavender Flower and Vodka. | Courtesy of Mollie Rose

Making DIY Essential Oils Through Distillation

You can extract your essential oil through steam distillation. This process creates true essential oils, as compared to infused oils. It is most often used by people who want to make essential oils as a business or to use in making their own DIY products.

Step One: Collect the raw plant materials

It is advisable to grow your own plants as you get control over the quality of your plants but if you don’t have a garden, you can still purchase them from a grocer. Choose the healthiest, especially those that have not been sprayed with pesticides.

You will need a lot of flower petals to get a little oil, so you may buy as many petals as you can. When harvesting your own plants, ensure you harvest the right parts of the plant; also avoid careless handling in order to get the most out of your plant material.

Step Two: Prepare the ingredients

The process here is the same as for making infused oils except you don’t want to chop or crush your flowers or herbs when distilling. Put them whole as they are.

Some people like drying their flowers, plants and herbs because it reduces the moisture content and concentrates the essence. It also allows you to add more to the still because when dried they take up less space. Additionally, you can purchase dried herbs and flowers in bulk, which is great if you don’t have your own source.

You can choose to either use dried ones or freshly picked. If you are drying plants yourself, avoid doing it in direct sunlight as this reduces the amount of essence/natural oils in the plants or flowers.

Step Three: Clean and load your still

Before, and even after use, always ensure than you clean your still thoroughly. Before you use it, clean all the parts of the still to ensure there is no residue from the previous distillation process that may affect the outcome of the essential oil you want to distill.

A still has two parts; the pot that acts as a boiler, which you fill with water and another pot that will hold the plant material. If this is the first time you are using a still, make sure you read the instruction manual thoroughly. We also recommend picking up a book that provides information specific to making essential oils and includes recipes.

Video: How to Distill Your Own Essential Oils

How to set up a still and distill homemade essential oils. | Courtesy of LifeHacks4Dummies

Step Four: Turn on the heat

Turn on the heat on the pot holding water and adjust the temperature once the water reaches boiling point. The steam from the boiling pot will go through a pipe and into the pot with plant material before finding its way into a condenser. The condenser usually has water that is at 65 degrees making it easy for essential oils to start flowing into the collection jar.

The entire process, which takes utmost 6 hours, is usually hands free once you load it with water and the plant material but you have to keep checking to ensure the still doesn’t run out of water before the entire process is complete.

Step Five: Collect your oil and hydrosol

Usually during the distillation process, the collection jar will have both oil and hydrosol, also known as floral waters, like rose water that is good for hair care. Allow this mixture to sit for at least 12 hours. This gives the oil time to collect at the top most part. After 12 hours, separate the oil from the floral waters, and keep each in different containers, then store in a cool place until you need to use it.

Once you are through with the distillation process, ensure you clean the still thoroughly before storage. By the way, when shopping for pre-made essential oils, look to see if there is a distillation date on the label. This will tell you how old the oil is.

Enjoy your homemade essential oil for as long as it lasts before you make a new batch of the same kind. Most homemade essential oils are good for a year, but are better if used within 6 months.

As you can see, it is easy to bring the beauty of nature into your home without breaking the bank. Whether you are making a small amount for your own use, or are considering starting a business making essential oils or health and beauty products, Amazon.com and Got Oil Supplies are both good places to get everything you need for great prices.

And of course they both sell already made essential oils to!