Behind the Distillation
On our farm, we extract essential oils and hydrosols from nearly 15 different aromatic herbs, plants and trees using traditional steam distillation. Dating back to antiquity, the process itself is quite basic: plant material is placed in a hopper with boiling water underneath and as the steam travels up, the plant's oil is extracted. The steam is then cooled back down to its liquid form which now consists of two components: the essential oil and the hydrosol.
Essential oil: the natural substance extracted from the plant that contains its characteristic properties and the essence of its aroma
Hydrosol: the herbal solution extracted from the plant that contains the water-soluble plant components and trace amounts of essential oil
Hydrosols are often referred to as "floral waters" due to their watery consistency, and their aroma and potency is considerably more gentle than an essential oil.
We only distill the plants that we grow ourselves, and all of the distilling is done on-site in small batches to ensure we achieve the highest quality of oil and hydrosol.
As would be expected, lavender is front and centre on our farm, and most of our summer is dedicated to the distilling of more than 10 different lavender cultivars. That being said, we also distill roses, spearmint, thyme, oregano, sage, helichrysum, rose geranium, douglas fir, scotch pine, lemon grass, lemon balm, linden and rosemary. And it seems like each year the list grows a little longer!
We love using our small, portable still for experimental batches, but our industrial, 8' high still is used for plants with a larger harvest, like the lavender and roses.
Its capacity is significantly larger and the water temperature doesn't have to be manually monitored like it does with the small still. And when your day starts at dawn and continues until dusk, both of these features are gold.
There are a variety of factors that contribute to the overall yield of essential oil and hydrosol when extracted through steam distillation, but we have learned over the years that some plants just naturally give more than others.
For example: 1 kg of 'Grosso' lavender yields approximately 32 mL of essential oil and 3000 mL of hydrosol. In comparison, 1 kg of 'Damask' roses yields approximately 300 mL of hydrosol and only a few drops of essential oil.
All of the essential oils and hydrosols we distill are used to make our products. And while we have a collection of some incredible farm-grown oils (several of which have garnered international recognition!), we also love our range of hydrosols. They are lovely on their own or they can be blended to soothe, revive, ease, calm, balance or uplift the mind and body. They are becoming increasingly popular in aromatherapy, they excel as skin toners, and some hydrosols like rosewater are delicious in food!
In our gift shop, we have a custom Aromatherapy Bar where visitors are able to smell our essential oils and hydrosols, and at certain times of the year, have the opportunity to blend their own hydrosol spray. We love introducing our guests to the amazing power of plants, and for ourselves, taking the time to plant, grow, distill and discover everything they have to offer us.
Books of Reference
Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy by Suzanne Catty
Our Award-Winning Lavender Essential Oils
Gold: 'Angustifolia Blend', 2017 Australian Olfactory Oil Competition
Gold: 'Intermedia Blend', 2017 Australian Olfactory Oil Competition
Silver: 'Grosso', 2017 Australian Olfactory Oil Competition
Silver: 'Maillette', 2014 New Zealand Supreme Oil Awards
Hydrosols & Essential Oils in our Online Store