distilling herbs

distilling herbs

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Pine needles from the Chaamse bossen

To get enough needles and twigs of coniferous trees I had in October / November contacted the management forestry unit Langstraat / Chaam (Staatsbosbeheer). I was allowed on a small scale saplings, which arise spontaneously in places where it ultimately is not desirable, to use to distill.

The huge forest under the Forestry Management Unit is approximately 8 square kilometers and lies south and west of Gilze. It stretches from Ulvenhout / Breda in the west to in the east the village Alphen.
wandelroute Chaamse bossen
This continuous forest was created in the sixteenth century with the construction of the Mastbos by Count Hendrik III of Nassau. At the end of the nineteenth century, the government gave the order to reforestation of large tracts of sandy heathland and  the Chaamse forests arose.
Last januari I had time to hit the woods and cut sprigs of pine trees  for distilling afterwards.
The request was for the Scots pine, Pinus Sylvestrus, this specie is find a lot in Dutch forests.
 I needed a saw and a pruner to cut the branches and trunk into smaller pieces. What remained was a small stump of a young pine tree.
It was not possible to distill the cut twigs the same day
The day after I have filled the column and the top of the alembic with the fresh leaves.
The distillation took a little longer because of the low (outside) temperature. It was about 6 degrees Celsius. This temperature is not suitable for distilling. This appeared in the beginning.
Becaus of the low outside temperature, the steam and the oil particles were rapidly cooled.
The cooling water in the bucket was at the time the distillation started about 5 degrees Celsius.
In the steam distillation of essential oil it is particularly important that you cool down steam and oil particles gradually  to about 40-50 degrees Celsius.
The result is the 'shock' of the oil. The oil forms a greasy film on the wall of the funnel and can no longer be proper separated of the hydrosol (water layer). This was as you call it a learning moment! It was only possible to separate 1 mL in a bottle.


The pine oil smelled nice but still different than the spruce oil I had made in October.
Fir needle oil contains more L-limonene  than pinene which makes it smell like citrus. Pine Needle Oil is the opposite, it is dominated by the increased concentration of the odor pinene.
Pine oil has a lot of medicinal effects, if you want to know more about it click on :
For me at least enough to distill pine needles once more at higher temperatures in spring!

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