distilling herbs

distilling herbs

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

distilling pine and douglas fir

The first May week was also due to weather, an excellent opportunity to return to distill. In January I was started distilling pine.


On Thursday, May 5 biked to the  Chaamse bossen for cutting pine and Douglas fir.
Before that I got permission from the forester to do so.
 These were tiny little pine trees that had come up spontaneously along a bridle path. 
Of the saplings I have cut young inflorescence branches with needles and cut the stem and placed in the ditch next to it.

This I continued until I had collected a full folding crate
I also have the Douglas fir trees cut from a number of medium and low tree branches. Cut off small twigs with needles. Also from this species I have collected a folding crate.
I started distilling one day after on Friday.  
The branches of the pine were cut into smaller pieces.
And weighed an amount of 1.5 kg ..................
....................... which could fill the alembic completely.

I started the distilling. Soon came the first oil. With this distillation, after reading a few books by Jeanne Rose (http://www.jeannerose.net/), I also focused on making hydrosol. My starting point was to make from 1.5 kg of pine up to 3 liters hydrosol; the distillation process was run slower.
I used empty wine bottles with screw caps  to collect the hydrosol after I cleaned them thoroughly.
After this I distilled again 1.5 kg of  pine. Sunday, May 8, I continued to distill the Douglas fir.  I distilled twice an amount of 1,5 kg of  fine cut Douglas fir.
 I have filled 6  (properly cleaned) bottles with the hydrosol.

During the distillation the oil was not directly comming over  like the pine. But gradually during the distillation process. After filling three bottles (750 mL) with hydrosol. oil was still comming so I went over distilling for another hour to increase oil yield.


Scots pine, Pinus sylvestrus: 3 kg - 6 liters hydrosol and 6 mLessential oil  (0.2%)
Douglas fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii: 3 kg - 5.5 liters hydrosol and 12 mL essential oil (0.4%)
Regarding the literature data, I could only find pine:

Pinus sylvestrus: needle branch inflorescence from 0.1 to 0.8% pine needle from 0.5 to 3.0%
 Douglas fir after distilling
Therefore I consulted Robert Seidel of the Essential Oil Company (USA), how you can achieve a higher yield of oil.  Robert has been a distiller for quite a while now and has its own company and recently he is focusing on distilling coniferous trees.
Robert Seidel;  summerschool Syros Greece 2005
He mailed me tback hat he uses branches with a maximum diameter of 1 inch and chattered them with  a chopper.  This plantmaterial is distilled until no more oil comes on, and then after one night to leave in the alambic is being distilled again.
Robert Seidel http://guerilla-distiller.blogspot.com/ 
With this method, he ensures that the wax coating to the needles disappears and is thereby more oil can be released by distillation from the needles.  Resulting in a higher yield of oil. Something to try  myself!
I have measured the acidity(pH) of the hydrosol. According to Jeanne Rose is a good hydrosol has a pH of 5 (weak acid) or slightly lower. 
The pine hydrosol had a pH of 4.4 and when I measured the spar hydrosol  I found a pH of 4.2.
Now find a purchaser who needs some freshly made hydrosol!

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