Sunday, July 17, 2011

How to Make Lavender Essential Oil

The mix of crisp morning air with an end note of the mid day heat to come makes morning my favorite time of day during the summer.

When I can, I grab a cup of coffee and sip it while I watch the bees enjoy the lavender in my flowerbeds.


It feels so decadent to start my Saturdays this way.
I wish I could enjoy my fresh lavender in the dead of winter too.

I can if I use my  fresh lavender to make lavender essential oil!

The technique is similar I the directions I use to make orange essential oil from orange peels.

Lavender Essential Oil Recipe

Technically this tutorial makes a lavender tincture or extract which is a little less potent than a pure essential oil. I'm OK with it because I use my lavender extract to add a nice smell and an antiseptic oomph to my homemade cleaners. It works just as well as a pure essential oil but I have to use a little more of the lavender tincture since it is not as strong. No biggie since the tincture costs tons less to make than buying a teeny bottle of lavender essential oil.

To make a real essential oil you have to distill the lavender buds, capture the steam, and condense the steam into a liquid. I stay away from home distilling because it can get explody and I don't want anyone to think I am making illegal distilled goods (booze) when all I want is lavender essential oil.



You will need

  • Grain alcohol or vodka (a cheap grocery store brand such as Popov vodka is perfect for this project because it tastes wretched if you drink it in a yummy Cosmo.)
  • Bowl and spoon or a mortar and pestle if you have one.
  • Coffee filters
  • Two jars, one should have a tight fitting lid

Make it

  1. You can use either fresh or dry lavender buds for this project. I didn’t remove my lavender buds from the stalk. The stalks have some of the same fragrant oils as the flowers/buds but not as much.
  1. Pour the lavender into the bowl or mortar and use the back of a spoon or pestle to crush the buds to release the oil. Do not over process the buds until they are mushy or you will lose the oil in the flower.
  1. Add the crushed lavender buds to the jar with the tight fitting lid and cover the peels in grain alcohol or vodka. Warning: Do not try to isopropyl/rubbing alcohol for this project. It has an extra odor that will not evaporate. Your essential oil will smell like rubbing alcohol instead of essential oil. Guess how I know? Blurgh! 

  1. Shake the jar to release the oil several times a day for several days. The longer you let the lavender flowers steep the more lavender oil you will extract. I let mine sit in a sunny spot on my kitchen counter for a weekend. 
  1. Use a coffee filter to strain the liquid from the lavender buds and into the second jar. Congratulations! You made lavender flavored vodka!

  1. Place a clean coffee filter or cloth on top of the jar of liquid and let it sit undisturbed to allow the alcohol to evaporate from the jar and make lavender essential oil. I let my jar sit for one week.
  1. Optional: I had sediment in the bottom of my jar of lavender essential oil after one week. I strained the lavender essential oil a second time with a clean coffee filter into my lidded storage jar. A dark colored jar such as a repurposed yeast jar will keep sunlight from degrading the essential oil.
  1. What you have left is a jar of lavender essential oil!
Enjoy!

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