So lets look at some of the methods of distilling essential oils. There are 3 basic ways in which essential oils are extracted from plants: Steam distillation, cold pressing, and resin tapping. I have had the pleasure to visit the Mona, Utah farm 3 times now and see and tour the distillation area. Some day I hope to visit other of our farms. How about you – let me know in the comments if you have visited any of our farms and which ones?
So now lets read more from our Young Living Training and Education people regarding the 3 different methods of distilling essential oils:
Where do essential oils come from?
A lot of people think that essentials oils are just some new fad, when in reality, essential oils have been around for thousands of years! Essential oils are stored in plants, and within the plant, they play a special role in keeping it healthy and thriving. To gain access to the many benefits essential oils offer, we have to extract the essential oil from the plant. There are three main ways this can be done: steam distillation, cold pressing, and resin tapping.
The most common method of extraction is steam distillation, and it has been practiced for over 5,000 years! In steam distillation, freshly picked plants are suspended over boiling water. The steam from the hot water rises through the plant material and subsequently pulls the oil from the plant. As the steam and oil mixture rises, it gets captured in a vessel; it then travels through tubes and is rapidly cooled. This causes the steam/oil mixture to condense back into water. Since water and essential oil do not mix, the two separate, and the essential oil is then collected. If you visit our farms, you can see this process firsthand! It’s incredible and fun to witness!
Cold pressing, also known as expression, is a method of extraction specific to our citrus essential oils such as Tangerine, Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, and Lime. Historically, cold pressing was done by hand. Back then, people would press down with their bare hands on presoaked citrus rinds until a mixture of water and oils was obtained. Thankfully, a more modern method of extraction (and less labor-intensive!) allows us to obtain our beloved citrus oils. During cold pressing, the rind of the citrus fruit is placed in a container with spikes that puncture the peels while the device is rotated. The puncturing of the rinds allows the release of essential oil, which is then collected and separated from the natural juices.
Some of our favorite essential oils—Frankincense, Copaiba, and Myrrh, for example—must be extracted through a process known as resin tapping. In these cases, the essential oil is stored in the resin that the tree creates to protect itself. To obtain essential oils from resins, a process called tapping has to occur. This method involves wounding the tree, which causes the tree to react by secreting a resin. Once the resin hardens, it is collected by hand and then steam distilled to extract the essential oil. If done properly, tapping trees causes no harm to nature, and with our Seed to Seal® promise, we make sure to comply with the most responsible and scalable sourcing practices available.
Have you had the opportunity to see one of these extraction methods in person? What did you think? Tell us below in the comments!