Monday, May 20, 2013

Herbal Oils & How to Extract Them

This may sound more complicated than it really is. Some of you may be picturing a scene out of your highschool chemistry class with beakers and white lab coats, but it's not that scary, really. It is not a huge endeavor in the least, but there are important steps that you need to follow carefully to do it right.



The oils of herbs and flowers have been cherished for millenia for their condensed scent of the plants we love. Even today, oils of certain plants are very valuable, because it takes many plants to excrete the potent oils we want. For example, one drop of herb oil is equal to a handful of fresh DRIED hebs.



There are many different methods for extracting these oils, I have listed a few below.



The Extraction



Oil by Evaporation



Take your herbs or flowers and boil them in a tea kettle. Strain out the liquid, and boil again. The idea is that you are separating out the oil because it boils at a higher temperature than water. So after the water has evaporated off, the oil is left behind.



Sun Extracted Oil



Gather as much as you can of the herb or flower of your choosing. Press them into a crock until they are slightly bruised. Pour distilled water or rain water over them until they are fully covered. Set the crock outside in full sun in a place where it will be undisturbed. If rain comes, bring your crock inside. After about a week in the sunshine, an oily residue or scum will start to develop on the surface of the water in the crock. Take some pieces of cotton and absorb all of the oil that you see in the crock. Squeeze the liquid into a dark colored glass bottle. Do not put a lid on this bottle, first cover with a cheescloth to keep dirt and dust from getting in, but will allow it to breathe, and any water in the bottle to evaporate, leaving only the essential oils. After about 3 days you can seal the bottle.



Cooked-Out Oil



Take the crushed herbs of your choice and put them into a bag. Put this bag into a kettle of water and slowly simmer this for about 24 hours over a very low flame or a slow fire. Cool the mixture slowly. Skim off the oil that rises to the top of the water. Squeeze the bag to help get all the oils out. You can even use a mop wringer to help squeeze as much out as possible of the essential oils.



Oil Into Oil



Since so little oil comes out of your herbs, and if you only have a small quantity at your disposal, you can use this method of mixing your herb directly with an oil of your choosing. Grind to a pulp your herbs in a mortar and place it in a small bottle. For a 1 cup bottle, you only need 2 Tbl. pulped herb. Pour a high quality cooking oil over the herb until the bottle is almost full. To this, add 1 tsp. distilled vinegar. Cover your bottle tightly and place it in an area that gets full sunshine daily. Shake this twice a day for 3 weeks. Strain out the herbs and your herb oil is ready to use.



Herb Oils For Cooking



Take any of the above mentioned extraction methods for herbal oils and make it for quantities in pints or quarts for delicious herbal oils for salad dressings and cooking.




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