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Topic: Anyone tried making their own essential oil?  (Read 451 times)
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ThisChiq
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« on: March 05, 2007 11:48:09 PM »

Has anyone tried making their own essential oils? I tried doing it tonight with oranges but I got a lot of smelly distilled water.
I used oranges we grew in our back yard and I did it according to the directions on this site:
http://homecooking.about.com/library/archive/blherb1.html

It smelled like wet dog AND I didn't get the layer of oil that it says I should see. Can anyone let me know if I did something wrong?
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jayde420
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2007 07:14:45 PM »

Mad alchemist at'cher service!   Let's see, here...

I used oranges we grew in our back yard and I did it according to the directions on this site:

Unfortunately, the site's not loading for me, so I have no idea what technique you used... but usually, there are three major ones...

* steam distillation

Used in industry, this is the really nifty one that uses a lot of test tubes.

* solvent extraction

Make tincture, evaporate alcohol.  Simple!

* simple boiling.

'cause oil 'n water just don't mix... err, usually.

It smelled like wet dog AND I didn't get the layer of oil that it says I should see. Can anyone let me know if I did something wrong?

heh... well, *that* sure makes it sound like you used "simple boiling," which works... but I'm not sure.

Usually, there's a few simple things that can get in the way.

* how much orange peel did you use to how much water?  In a *lot* of oil extractions, it's a whoooole lot of source to make very little oil.

* what's the pH of the water?  Saponifiable (read : mildly acidic) oil + base (e.g. lye) = soap... which is *much* harder to isolate from water.

To fix the latter, try to dump in a little vinegar - it should crash the oil out of emulsion.

To fix the former... well, the *easy* solution is to use a *lot* more orange peels... but if you're still having difficulty, there's a few chemists' tricks that can help.

* transfer everything to a tall, thin column.  A layer of oil that's less than 1mm thick when it's floating on the top of your industrial-scale cookpot can become several inches thick when it's floating on top of a 8-foot-long, 1cm column.  For smaller jobs with higher yield, cylindrical flower vases work pretty well.  For that matter, so do the necks of wine bottles...

* ablation.  Ablation, ablation, ablation.  Favored (and invented) by ~12th century alchemists, the original involved brushing feathers across the top of the cauldron to wick up the oils by surface tension.  Currently, some cooking shops sell ablating wands for defatting which allow you to wring the fat out with a simple motion - probably requires higher yields than you're getting, but ya never know...

...soak the feathers in alcohol first (to get rid of any existing oils), wick up the product of a batch, stuff it in an empty, washed 'n dried wine bottle, preferably clear, 'n stick the cork on.  Repeat until full... and then pour your boiling water in the wine bottle to the bottom of the neck or so, and suck up 50 batches at once in your eyedropper, rather than the pittance from just one or two.

...and, last but not least, you could always cheat - just float a bit of vegetable oil on the top, and infuse *it* with your essential oils.  Not as good, and you'll have its residue left over if you try to use it as perfume or incense - but if you're cooking with oil of orange, it works pretty well, and it's still too easy to get it overconcentrated enough to be dangerous...

...the 'wet dog' smell you mention is probably due to short-chain, water-soluable organic acids (*most* things we recognize as "stench" are, in fact)... you can pull those out by taking your oil up in (dry) alcohol, running it over baking soda (which won't dissolve without water), filtering out the baking soda, and crashing out the oil from the alcohol with a little vinegar... stench-inducing organic acids bind to the baking soda (which is why it's used to deodorize), alcohol dissolves in the vinegar, and you're left with nice, clean oil, if you need it...

Hope this helped.
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cataway
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« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2007 01:37:48 PM »

Making essential oils are just too involved and time consuming to bother with on a small personal scale and most people are unaware of how much raw product is needed to produce a scant amount of essential oil.
  Maybe if you do several batches of orange peels in the same liquid, its possible that once you have enough oil to separate from the water you might find the bad smell is left behind in the water.  I have a cake recipe that calls for boiled oranges that warns of the same smell but it is in the water not the oranges.  I think I ran on a bit there but its not my fault, a temporary filling broke yesterday, my dentist and all others in my area have all gone to a conference until monday and things are feeling a bit sensitive in my mouth right now...I hate dental pain above all other pain Sad
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Hylas
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2007 06:37:52 PM »

Sounds like the mad alchemist covered the bases, but I did this experiment with a glass apparatus in Organic Chem once, and We used about 4 large orange peels to extract a very small amount of limonene. Also, I think our instructor had us get the Florida oranges rather than California. 

If you want chemistry equipment, you can usually find it dirt cheap at university sales.  I got a huge box of everything I need for oils for $10 at a college.  That sure beats the other ways of extracting. 
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ThisChiq
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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2007 10:06:29 PM »

Hope this helped.

Pfft. How could it not! Thank you for the background. I love answers like this. So... I did a lot wrong.   Wink  Ok, I used about 40 oranges and did the simple boil method. It was actually for 'Rose water and Rose essential oil' so In my infinite genious I tried it with oranges because we had the abundance.  Thanks to everyone. You've been quite helpful. I have to go try again and mad science my kitchen. Im determined to do it somehow. Thanks.
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Autumn indicates the death of beauty as we know
Keep on fighting one died from burning at his throat
Autumn swiftly stole the breath of body, mind and soul
 -10 Years "Autumn Effect"
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