Distillation Process Lavender Oil Steam Extraction Separation Pressure Cooker Still for £10 Part 2


Introduction: Distillation Process Lavender Oil Steam Extraction Separation Pressure Cooker Still for £10 Part 2

About: Lateral thinker, Originator of Inclined Bed Therapy (IBT) Originator of Pocket Full Of Acorns Project. Originator of Operation OASIS.

Part 2
Extraction of Lavender / Plant Oil Using an Inexpensive / Cheap Modified Pressure Cooker for Steam Distillation. Mine cost £7.50 for copper pipe and brass coupling. The pressure cooker was free from a friend. See Part 1 here: http://youtu.be/r8-zxWKAVK8 The video explains and shows how you can change a pressure cooker into a DIY still to make home made essential oils Essential oils are highly concentrated, volatile oils that can be extracted from aromatic plants. Their use dates back to ancient times, and their wide variety of therapeutic, medicinal and culinary uses has ensured their continued popularity. About 700 different kinds of plants contain useful essential oils. Essential oils can be very expensive, but they are cheap to distil at home. This guide provides full instructions on how to extract the oils using a simple inexpensive and effective water-and-steam distillation process. The still can also be used to produce your own distilled water for home use. Some people claim that drinking distilled water has improved their health. This still can also make alcohol from wines and beers, but a word of warning if you use it for alcohol, remember to discard the first 100 ml or so to remove methanol esters and ether, It is also recommended to let distilled spirits stand for a few hours without a lid fitted, so that these lighter spirits can evaporate away similarly to letting a good wine breathe. Remember also that it is illegal to distil spirits and sell them without a license in the U.S.A. and other countries.

Step 1: You Will Need a Source of Plant Material

Either locate a source of plant material that you intend to extract the essential oil from or grow your own.
Be observant when driving around and look for gardens filled with lavender and other herbs. Knock on their door and politely ask then if they would allow you to harvest their plants when they have come to the end of their cycle and will require tidying.
Here is a wonderful community spirited opportunity to help someone with a little pruning in return for keeping the flower heads for oil extraction.

You could also reward them with a sample of your oil.

Step 2: Obtain a Pressure Cooker, a Friend Might Have on They No Longer Use

Pressure cooker should have a valve in the top that can accommodate a connection. See video.

I used a straight 10mm pipe connector / union to fix a copper tube coil to the pressure cooker lid.

Step 3: Make a Copper Washer to Seal Your Joint on the Pressure Cooker

Cut a 1.5 inch / 44mm length of 22mm copper pipe, hammer it flat and drill a hole in the centre to match a 10 mm straight pipe compression coupling. These cost around £1.50 on Ebay including postage.

Seal washer with silicone and using the coupling nut secure to the lid of your pressure cooker with copper washer on outside.

Step 4: Wrap a 3 Meter or Longer, Length of 10mm Tubing Around a Cylinder Shape to Form the Coil

Obtain a length of approx 3 meters or longer 10 mm copper tubing.Fill with kiln dried sand and hammer both ends closed.
This will prevent the pipe from buckling / kinking when you wrap it around the cylinder / chosen object to form your copper distillation coil. You coil will need to be shaped to locate into the pressure cooker with the coil submerged in a bowl filled with cold water, with the other open end in your collecting vessel.

Cut the closed ends off and empty the sand out once your coil is formed. Yes I know that was "Bloody obvious"

Step 5: Tighten Connections and Seal Any Other Valves With Ptfe Tape

Other valves need to be sealed, unless you have the weights, which act as a pressure seal.

Mine didn't have weights so I sealed it with a nail, wrapping ptfe tape around it and pushed firmly into the open valve. Worked a treat.

Pressure won't build up so long as you don't have the gas turned up too high, because the fitted coil is open ended.

Step 6: Your Set Up Should Look Like This

The copper coil connected to the pressure cooker should be submerged in a bowl filled with cold water. It is important to keep this water cold so regularly exchange 3-4 jugs of heated water from the bowl, with cold water from the tap. Failure to do this will result in your hydrosol becoming tainted and brown

Keep the gas down low too as too hot and the plant material will be forced into the tube, which again will taint the distillate.

Watch the video to learn more:




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    11 Discussions

    I've been making, umm, fragrant oil essence distillers for years. If you put a copper column packed with glass beads at least a foot high and 2 inches in diameter, you can kick up the potency. Good starting point, though essence of fermented corn squeezings is the best. There's a great forum for people to learn more about distilling. Good Instructable. Thanks

    1 reply

    Thanks Fred, the first still I made was around 30 years ago, for the essence of fermented wheat and grape juice versions. A good time was had by all.

    Here by Red Nile is how to extract cinnamon oil please see below by steam distillation.


    Here some info on youtube on how to distill the leaves of similar plants.


    Pure acetone with boiling chips allows boiling at 54 degrees C with 99.99% pure acetone. As Red nile metions you want as little water as possible.

    A slightly better way may be to use solvents like acetone with the flowers and set up not a regular distillation but a special distillation called soxhlet extractor. A 500 ml kit on amazon cost 249 dollars CAN. Expensive but you could do this with water or water plus rubbing alcohol to extract the oil (Possibly) with this. See this red nile instruction.

    @BARKing Thank you for your comment. I have used this coil shape for
    many years and while I agree that traditional stills do coil downwards.
    Having the coil upright in a bowl of water also works very well and
    slows down the through flow to allow better cooling. The oil separates
    very easily from the distilled water and the upright coil affords a
    slight increase in pressure to aid the seal in the pressure cooker and
    I'm sure increases the temperature of the water.

    Here is the adpter for the device that I am talking about.

    Improved vacume design.jpg

    I want to use my distiller to produce a device that produces low pressure through the vacume adapter. Boyles law indicates that the volume under low pressure should work to.

    Vacume set up for distillation.jpg

    I have wanted to make my own oils for some time now and am getting closer to being set up. I think it is important that your condenser is all "down hill". Having the steam condense, sit in a low spot and block the flow is going to affect your product and how it comes off. Try making a Liebig condenser, they are easy with a few copper pipe fittings. Good luck with your next harvest.