Introduction: Build Your Own Essential Oil Extractor Distiller

Picture of Build Your Own Essential Oil Extractor Distiller

OK Essential oil's has been extracted for 1000 years. Its done pretty easily but does take a lot of time and plant material to produce a small quantity of oil.
  But Pure 100% essential is very expensive. And making it yourself is not very hard.
   Pretty much steam it forced through plant material, breaking apart the oil molecules from the rest of the plant material.
The steam/oil's  are then carried through a condenser, were the water and oil are separated though a change in temperature.
  Then collected in a vessel, the oil settles on the top of the water now called Hydrosol. Then the oil is siphoned off the top of the water.



Turkey deep fryer Pot  with lid basket and propane stand burner and a long cooking thermometer 
tank of propane.
10 ft of 3/4 in Copper coil Type L  
Two 5 gal plastic bucket with lids
5 Feet 3/4 in. Copper Type M Rigid Pipe
TWO 3/4 in. Copper 90-Degree C x C Elbow
ONE 3/4 in. Copper Pressure Tee
ONE 1/2 in. x 3/4 in. Copper Pressure Cup x FIPT Female Adapter
Five or Six C- clamps
Four 1/2 in rubber Gaskets
ONE 1 in long 1/2  wide in. Conduit Nipple
TWO 1/2 in. Rigid or IMC Conduit Locknuts
Some plastic tubing or thin hose

a drill with a 1/2 hole bit
Soldering kit
# 16.92 oz. propane fuel tank
# 3 oz. lead-free solid-wire solder
# 1 oz. lead-free flux
some pliers
zip ties
Hot glue, or plumbers Caulk
garden hose
pipe cutter


Step 2: Step One: Building the Condenser

Picture of Step One: Building the Condenser

First take your copper coil and stretch it out until its a coil as deep as your five gallon bucket.

Next Cut your 6 feet of pipe in half, then cut about 4 inches off one of the half's.
At the bottom end of the coil solder the middle hole of the brass Tee so the you have a top & bottom hole.

Then solder the 4 inch pipe to the bottom and the rest of it to the top of the Tee this is your vent pipe so make sure the top of the pipe is above the top of the bucket. This is so the steam has someplace to go and your distiller does not explode.

Then at the top of your copper coil solder the Elbow vertical and pointing out.

At the other end of the elbow solder the other 3 feet of pipe.

Then at the other end of that solder the other elbow so it points down.

   Take your 5 gallon bucket drill a hole using the hole 3/4 in hole bit and stick the hole thing into the bucket.

   Use your plumbers chalk and seal the pipe to the bucket very very well.

Use The zip ties to secure the coil/pipe to the handle of the bucket at the top. 
 I drilled a small hole for the plastic tubing to be feed through, this will remove the hot water so it can be replaced with the cold water.

  Take your second  5 gallon bucket, with the lid drill the same size hole in the lid, this is where your "hyrosol" and essential oil will be collected.

  And your done this is your condenser it will be filled with continues supply of cold water from a garden hose and or ice/snow. 
  The Steam travels through the pipe cooling down and separation the water molecules from the essential oil. and is collected into the bottom bucket

Step 3: Step Two: Building the Boiler

Picture of Step Two: Building the Boiler

Ok First the turkey fryer has a small hole in the lid already this is a perfect place to drill your 1/2 inch hole.
 Next Thread the 1 inch long threaded nipple into the 1/2 inch 3/4 inch copper adapter then one of the 1/2 inch hex nuts make sure its tight.
 then the 1/2 inch gasket then this goes through the pot lid.
Then on the other side use the other 2 rubber gaskets and the last hex nut tighten this as much as you can.

Step 4: Step Three: Assembling Your Essential Oil Extractor Distiller

Picture of Step Three: Assembling Your Essential Oil Extractor Distiller

Now take your bucket lid that your not using and inside is a rubber gasket this is perfect and should fit around the top of the pot i used some masking tape to hold it there.

This will make a better seal to hold in the steam forcing through the small hole in the top.
Then take your 6 C clamps these will be used to hold the lid on.

Connect the propane to the burner, Set condenser on top the empty bucket.
put the elbow /pipe coming off the condenser to the boiler like shown.(don't solder these together you'll lose some steam but its much easier if this is in two parts.)

Step 5: Step Four: Using Your Essential Oil Distiller

Picture of Step Four: Using Your Essential Oil Distiller

OK now that you built it how you use it.

  Connect your propane to the burner.
Put the fryer basket into the boiler and fill it with plant material that you want to extract oil from, i make mint oil, also can use pretty much any plant. lavender, Pine or any herb really. Pack it full make sure that it doesn't have any holes going through it . so the steam doesn't have a clear path and its forced to saturate the plant material.
  Then fill it half way with water, then clamp the lid on with the C clamps make sure there evenly spaced on the lid.
 Connect the boiler to the condenser. then take a garden hose and fill up the condenser bucket. (then turn it off and leave it in there) take the thermometer and stick it into the condenser bucket.
   The temp of the water in the condenser should not be over 50 Degrees the colder you keep the water the better.
   One the water temp starts to rise turn the hose on again, and use the plastic tubing to siphoning  our the hot water exchanging it with the cold water from the garden hose. 
 Keeping the water level at a constant is the hardest part. i tried using ice but it melted pretty fast, and you will use ALOT of water, the water i got is from a well so i wasn't worried about the cost, i would suggest using snow, if its available or fill the bucket with water and freeze the whole thing, but again this will melts pretty fast. the small plastic tube carried the water into the back yard where i waters some plants.

  FIRE IT UP!  light the burner keep it at a low burn,  it took about 3 hours to boil our all the water.
MAKE SURE IT doesn't start burning our the pot this will ruin the essential oil.
  Now the steam travels through the mint, Through the copper pipe condenser then cools down, and slowly drips into the bucket under the condenser.
   If you have a large glass just i suggest using that to collect the hydro sol (that's what the water is called after distilling this will smell like what ever your distilling and is great for all kinds of stuff)

 The essential oil will float on top of the hydro sol, you can separate the two in a couple of different ways how i did it was to remove the water from the bottom by siphoning it into another vessel.
 then once it was mostly  oil i poured that into a bottle, and froze it , only the water will freeze you can then pour out just the essential oil into something else.

This can be used for cooking, medicinal purposes, fragrances, soap making, or what i use it for lip balm.



nightsoilman (author)2017-12-10

Really good job, love this thank you, but sorry Colincolin30 is right, essential oils are highly flammable. It's why the Post Office won't touch them.

JamesM652 (author)2016-10-07

How bout a pressure cooker???

lukeuser (author)2016-09-23

I feel like Jean-Baptiste Grenouille...

SkylarS12 (author)2016-04-22

Now I need to see part 2. HOw to use this to make essential oils.

AripekaP (author)SkylarS122016-08-31

This instructable tells you all you need to know about how to make essential oil by steam distillation. It is a great place to learn the basics If your question is what to do with your essential oil produced, the answer is it depends your goal. If you want to add smell to soap you are making try mixing in a little before pouring in the soap mold. I like to add a few drops of peppermint oil to coconut oil as a temple rub for migraines. The list goes on and on. Post any specific questions.

MarisolHB (author)SkylarS122016-04-23

Same here. Any help out there??

AlishaK2 (author)2015-09-02

How big does the turkey fryer pot need to be? Also, is aluminum ok or should it be stainless steel? Thanks!

bcpetersjr (author)2013-03-13

Is there a reason you used 3/4" coils? The only reason I ask is I am having a hard time finding that at home depot but I can find 1/2" and I was wondering if that would work.

1/2" would be fine. 3/8" would be fine. Watch out though, Make sure you get SOFT copper tubing if you want to coil it, especially in a tight coil. I once bought HARD copper tubing and it was a b!tch & ½ to work with! They look exactly the same.

karo1039 (author)bcpetersjr2013-03-15

I would say that 1/2" would still work, the size difference shouldn't make any difference on such small tubing.

extractcraft (author)2015-03-13

This was the problem commonly encountered by people who wanted to extract essential oils. It takes a lot of work if you want to do it in a safe and clean manner. As makers and hackers at TinkerMill, the largest makerspace in Colorado, we created a solution to this problem by developing The Source, a kitchen appliance for extracting essential oils. If you are interested in learning more about our product or how it was built, visit our website at This was invented and being manufactured in a makerspace!

maggie.l.byers (author)2014-11-23

I like this.. really simple. My only questions are; Would I be able to make a slight upward bend in the crossover pipe as to keep things nice and steady? I think it shouldn't but from experience comes wisdom.. Also would you see any problem with putting a spigot on the bottom of the top 5gal bucket? That way I could drain the hot water into a bucket for other uses and refill with a hose. Finally what does this phrase mean, "MAKE SURE IT doesn't start burning our the pot this will ruin the essential oils."? I've never used a turkey fryer before, so if its a industry thing i wouldn't know.

ehall17 (author)2014-01-22

Wow, this is really, really cool. Almost makes me get over my phobia of anything "hardware" and try it out.

I think I'll beg and plead with one of the men in my life to help me build one. I use a lot of essential oils and the thought of making my own from my own roses is pretty cool.

And to add my dog to the "liquor" argument.... I've been around both types of still. An essential oil still has a pretty distinctive scent. Lol

acuchetto (author)2013-07-01

Yes, I KNOW this isn't, but--what would be so wrong with making a liquor still (I wonder)?

aroser (author)2013-06-21

If I may, some people might not know that most hoses contain lead. It would be a shame to go to so much trouble and use so much plant material only to contaminate it with lead. Some hoses will say if they don't contain it though. I got one that was a coiled hose specifically for having on a boat. It was lead free. If you read the labels on most hoses, they have a lead warning and advise not to drink from the hose. Just thought I'd mention it.

LoganMackey (author)aroser2013-06-22

The water brought in with the hose is not consumed. The water from the hose is there only to cool the copper coil condenser then its flushed out.

edx111 (author)2013-05-19

Am seriously looking at something along the lines of what is in the above link, and maybe I build something like it to extract the herbs I am continuing to plant

Wrecksness (author)2012-06-21

Interesting. I have a home water distiller setup. Can it be used for extracting oil?

LoganMackey (author)Wrecksness2012-06-27

i am going to say no, i would think that using something just made for distilling water, would not be able to separate the oil, but i have never seen one of these machines so i don't know. You should try, let me know.

plantbabe1 (author)2012-06-02

amazing...I want to do this too...but do you have anything smaller & for a beginner. I have lots of plant material to use...but not sure how to make a smaller one...please direct me if you have a smaller scale.

LoganMackey (author)plantbabe12012-06-02

yes i made another instructables about how to do this on your stove top,
but in the world of essential oil extraction this is a small distiller.
The amount of oil produced from plants is very little. Filling this may yield a once or two of oil.

LoganMackey (author)plantbabe12012-06-02

yes i made another instructables about hoe to do this on your stove top,
but in the world of essential oil extraction this is a small distiller.
The amount of oil produced from plants is very little. Filling this may yield a once or two of oil.

kz1 (author)2011-05-15

Interesting instruct able. Really valuable info on the volume of raw material necessary to produce such a small amount! Thanks and congrats on a job well done.

nmcmullen (author)2011-03-25

Really fantastic job, Mad! I'd love to have both the money and the place to have one of these! It looks amazing! Well done!!!!

bricabracwizard (author)2011-03-07

I love your instructable. I know it takes a lot of plant material to make a small amount of oil. I have a friend who distills tea tree oil and his tank is enormous and he can only get just under one gallon of oil for three days work for low grade oil which does not make him much money.

But I've always wanted to know how to do this on a small scale, so thanks!

Soon i will make a lager one that will be 100% electric and use no ALOT less water
so stay tuned

colincolin30 (author)2011-02-20

The better method is to use an electric element.

If you get a leak with this still and you have an open flame it will explode.

Strongly suggest this heating method be changed.

LoganMackey (author)colincolin302011-02-20

Colincolin30 apparently did not even read this, if he had he would have realized that THIS IS NOT a Liquor still!
And essential oil IS NOT flammable. Nor would anything flammable "leak" out of this, causing anything to EXPLODE!
You could use a electric burner but would take twice as long.
If anything water would leak out and put out the flame on the burner, then you would be leaking propane so just for colincolin30 here is a warning


colincolin30 (author)LoganMackey2011-02-20

There is no need to be caustic! I was only offered some help .
Try and have a good day

dwhole (author)2011-02-20

Wow! You must make a lot of scented things. Even though it's made for essential oils, you might want to be careful on the size of the unit. Depending where you live, there's a blurry line for what the authorities consider an alcohol still. Most home essential oil distillers are very small (tea kettle, or smaller), this one is a monster. Just be careful - if for any reason a law enforcement officer were to come into your home, and see this, you might have to do some explaining to the ATF or other authority. Liquor manufacturing (especially in the U.S.) can land you in a lot of trouble, even if you didn't make liquor, but possessed the equipment. Possession is 9/10 of the law... Just be careful, and check local laws.

LoganMackey (author)dwhole2011-02-20

yes i make soap, and i am not afraid since again this is NOT FOR MAKING LIQUOR!
and i will be posting a smaller stove top essential oil maker .in another instructable.
But you also have to understand it TAKES ALOT of plant material to make essential oil one full pot makes about 2 fluid ounces of essential oil.

dwhole (author)LoganMackey2011-02-20

Very cool though. I've only experimented with using an old coffee carafe as an extractor. I never realized how much material it takes to make essential oil. I wasn't trying to insinuate it for any illicit use, but some jurisdictions don't see it that way. Some areas require that you register your distiller, even though it's only for essential oils (or for example, alcohol fuel). It may seem innocent to those in the know, but if they seize your equipment and investigate, at the very least it will be a nuisance. It's the same how it may be a 'water pipe' to one person, but seen as drug paraphernalia to someone else. I'm just saying be careful to those who want to try this at such a scale. By the way, I really liked your compost barrel - I'm trying to source one through freecycle and make my own.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am currently taking over my grandparents farm, and working towards getting off the grid, and a sustainable life.
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