distilling herbs

distilling herbs

Monday, 6 July 2015

Distillingday at De Levensboom 2: Melisse hydrosol

Madeleine asked for the afternoon session of the distillationday at DE LEVENSBOOM  whether it was possible to make lemon balm hydrosol. The levensboom has a nice medicinal botanical garden so no shortage of freshly picked lemon balm!
That seemed like a good idea to let the students also show how to make hydrosol from fresh plants. It was after all a distillingday. After lunch a number of participants went to picking lemon balm.  In the meanwhile I cleaned the copper distilling kettle and all necessary glassware, which was used in the morningsession for distilling bio lavandin.
Foto: Madeleine Kerkhof Knapp-Hayes
The two crates with lemon balm we have not weighed, but I think we had about approximately 1.5 - 2 kg fresh herb at our disposal to fill the boiler.
Foto: Madeleine Kerkhof Knapp-Haye
Foto: Madeleine Kerkhof Knapp-Hayes
After sealing  with aluminumtape the gas could again be lit under the boiler. After ten minutes a deliciously citrus-scented odeur was being noticed and hydrosol was dripping from the cool bucket.
The distillation should be carried out slowly when making hydrosols. So the hydrosolsol did not come in trickles but drips from the cooling bucket. To make the process continuous, without intervening draining hydrosol, expired we used the Florentine vase. The distillation of lemon balm was not new to me.
Uitleg over CO2 extracten door Madeleine
After distilling two hours we have collected more than 2.5 liters hydrosol. Enough for Madeleine to give a bottle to all participants of the distillingday. I wonder what their experiences and applications will be. As I mentioned in my blog last year, according to Jeanne Rose expert in the field of hydrosols lemon balm hydrosol is suitable for:
This wonderfull fresh, lemonscented water is used for sensitive or aging skin, or sprayed down the throat for many kinds of throat infections 
foto: Kees Kerkhof
Catherine and I found this day were we had performed two distillations more than successful. The participants' enthusiasm was contagious and inspiring. The evaluation found that we were not the only ones who thought so. The participants remain positive and appreciated Madeleine and me with a 8,5 - 9. 
To be repeated so!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Distilling workshop at De Levensboom 1: BIO LAVANDIN essential oil

Madeleine Knapp Hayes had asked me earlier this year to give a workshop on her distillingday.
Madeleine is running a Centre for Complementary Care, LEVENSBOOM which is based in Wernhout NB. She has a lot of experience and knowledge in the use of essential oils and hydrosols and has launched a handbook written for professionals working in complementary care.
The first part of the distillation day last Saturday, I have taken for of together with Catherina. During the second part Madeleine acquaint students (particularly smell) with essential oils made by CO2 extraction. We started distilling bio Lavandin from Mevouillon (France) and previously used a copper alembic 20 liters.
Explanation about distilling with the copper alambic
The alambic had a capacity for 900 grams of dried lavandin.
Foto: Madeleine Kerkhof Knapp-Hayes 

After sealing with aluminum tape, to shut the steam boiler, the distillation could begin. I had the water already heated in the distillation boiler so it was not long before the first drops of distillate came from the cooling bucket.
For collecting and separating oil and hydrosol I used a Florentine vase.
foto: Madeleine Kerkhof Knapp-Hayes

The distillation process was viewed and photographed with great interest by the students.
During the two-hour distillation Catharina has monitored the process, so I could finish the morning session with the students.
Recognising scents  foto: Madeleine Kerkhof Knapp-Hayes
In this session the students were able to smell through an odor session differences and similarities of different essential oils. That the participants in this distillingday were well acquainted with essential oils quickly proved because they immediately recognized the odor of synthetic lavender oil. The participants were owners of trained noses!
Yield of lavandin essential oil
Soon during the distillation, the oil was darker than the yellow color of normal lavandin. At the end of the distillation it resulted in an amber oil. Whether that has to do with distilling in copper I still have to figure out . I do know that if you are distilling thyme in a copper alambic the oil turns red.
The total yield was approx 70 mL so all the participants could take home  a bottle of fresh lavandin after the distillingday. The essential oil must still ripen a month before it is ready and delevoped its smell.