From the time of the ancient Egyptians to modern day man, people use essential oils in religious rituals, for medicinal purposes and in cosmetics. Highly valued for their holistic properties, the oils are the essence of plant matter that is very concentrated.
Methods of Extracting the Essence Oils of Plants
There are many different methods and processes used to extract oil essences from plants. These methods include
- Steam distillation
- Cold pressing
- Centrifugal method of separation
- Solvent extraction
- Turbo distillation extraction
- Hydro diffusion extraction
- Carbon dioxide diffusion extraction
Naturally, most of these methods are not suitable for the average person making essential oils at home. The most popular methods used by people making essential oils at home are:
- The crock pot method
Supplies for Making Essential Oils
You need the following items for any of the methods of making essential oils:
- Fresh flowers, herbs, spices or citrus of your choice
- Carrier oil - The following are the most popular choices of these light scented oils:
- Olive oil
- Sweet almond oil
- Jojoba oil
- Peanut oil
- Sunflower oil
- Coconut oil
- Unbleached cheesecloth, muslin or fine gauze
- Plastic food storage bags that zip shut
- A mortar and pestle or wooden mallet
- Wide mouthed jar, such as Mason jar
- Dark colored storage bottles - Cobalt blue, dark amber or dark green are good choices
How to Make Essential Oils
Although some recipes may vary, the basic rule of carrier oil to herbs or flowers is one cup of carrier oil to every 1/4 ounce of dried herbs or flowers. If you are using fresh flowers or herbs, place them in a plastic bag and gently hit them with the wooden mallet and gently bruise the plant matter. The ratio for using fresh flowers or herbs is one cup of carrier oil to 1/4 cup of flowers, leaves or other plant materials.
- Choose one of the following methods to blend your essential oil:
- Crock Pot Method - Place the oil and the herbs in the crock pot on its keep warm setting, approximately 140 degrees Fahrenheit, for six to eight hours.
- Oven method - Place the oils and herbs in the oven set on very low, 150 degrees Fahrenheit, for two hours.
- Sunlight method - Place the oils and the herbs in a mason jar and place the closed jar in full sunlight for a minimum of 14 days. The Mason jar must have a rubber ring as using a metal ring contaminates the essential oil.
- Strain the mixture - Using unbleached cheesecloth, muslin or gauze, strain into a dark colored glass storage jar or bottle.
- Label and date the container
- Store the essential oil in a place that is cool, dark and dry - Most homemade essential oils have a shelf life of six to nine months depending on the specific blends.
Resources and Supplies for Making Essential Oils
- The website Aroma Web is filled with information on essential oils and aromatherapy including:
- Essential oil profiles
- Recipes including
- Essential oil safety information
- Included in Aromatherapy at Home are:
- Recommendations for flowers and herbs
- Blending mixtures such as lavender and chamomile
- Instructions for the enfleurage and maceration methods
- Mountain Rose Herbs
A Few Words of Caution
- Never ingest an essential oil.
- Most essential oils should never be used on the skin in an undiluted form.
- Essential oil is flammable
Although there are more than 700 types of aromatic plants used to make essential oils today, only about 40 of them are commonly used. There are also countless combinations of various blends of flowers, herbs and spices. There are several processing methods that are simple, fun and produce wonderfully scented oils to create harmony and balance in your home. Once you learn how to make essential oils you will find yourself enjoying the process and benefitting from the results.