How to obtain essential oils from the source

The quantity of volatile oil yielded by a plant will depend upon the part employed, the season, and the period of growth. The drier the season and the warmer the climate, the richer are the plants in oils. They should be gathered, as a general rule, immediately after blossoming, and distilled, if possible, while fresh.

It is better to macerate the plants for one day before distilling. Roots, barks, etc., should be coarsely powdered. Parts which yield no oil, as the stems of mint, sage, etc., should be detached.

The larger the quantity operated on the better; the quantity of water should be sufficient to thoroughly cover the plant; too much water causes loss by dissolving a portion of the oil. When the plants are abundant the distillate should be returned to a fresh portion of the plant in a retort. It is a good plan to use the water of a previous distillation for the same plant, as it is already saturated with the oil.

If the oil is heavier than water, use a saturated solution of salt. If lighter, the Florentine receiver.

_Solutions for the Water-bath._

Various salts dissolved in water materially raise the boiling point, and thus afford the means of obtaining a steady temperature at different degrees above 212. The following are some of the most useful: A saturated solution of nitrate of soda boils at 246; Rochelle salts at 240; nitre at 238; muriate of soda at 224; sulphate of magnesia at 222.

_Oil of Aniseed._

One lb. of the seeds will yield 2 drs. It is congealed, except in warm weather; this oil is carmative and poisonous to pigeons, if rubbed on their bills or head.

_Oil of Ben, or Behen,_

Is obtained by expression from the seeds of Mohringa aptera. It is insipid, inodorous, and does not become rancid. It is used in perfumery. Hazel-nut oil is sometimes substituted for it.

_Birch Oil._

Obtained by distilling 20 parts of birch bark and 1 of ledum palustre, crammed in layers into an earthen pot, with a handful of tripoli between each layer; the mouth of the pot is closed with a perforated oak plug, and being inverted, it is luted to the mouth of another pot sunk in the ground, the pot being then surrounded with fire, a brown empyreumatic oil distills per descensum into the lower jar; an 8 gall. pot, properly filled, yields about 2 lbs. or 2 1/2 lbs. of oil. In Siberia it is prepared without the ledum. This oil is liquid when fresh, but grows thick in time. It is used in Russia for currying leather, to which it gives a very peculiar smell, much disliked by insects.

_Oil of Gum-benzoin._

Obtained by distilling the residuum left after making flowers of benjamin, by a strong fire. It is used instead of birch oil in making an imitation of Russia leather.

_Cajeput Oil._

This is obtained from the leaves, which are imported from the East Indies, generally in large copper flasks; it is cooler than that of peppermint, but smells of turpentine. It is used externally in rheumatism.

_Oil of Caraway._

This is obtained from the seeds; it is carminative; 2 lbs. will yield more than 1 oz. and 4 cwt. 83 oz.

_Oil of Cloves._

This is obtained from a spice of that name; it is very heavy, acrimonious, and supposed to contain some part of the resin of the clove. One lb. of cloves will yield from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 oz.; 7 1/2 lbs. will yield 1 lb. of oil. It is also expressed from the cloves when ripe. Muller, by digesting 1/2 oz. of cloves in ether, and then mixing it with water, obtained 7 scruples of oil, greenish yellow, swimming upon water. Oil of cloves is imported from the spice islands; it is stimulant, and added to purgative pills to prevent griping; it is externally applied to aching teeth.

_Oil of Cassia._

This is a common oil of cinnamon, and is obtained from the bark of inferior cinnamon, imported under the name of cassia. One lb. will yield from 1 to 1 1/2 drs. It is stimulant and stomachic. Another oil is obtained from cassia buds.

_Oil of Chamomile._

This is obtained from the flowers, and is stomachic. One lb. will yield a dr.; 82 lbs. will yield from 13 to 18 drs. It is of a fine blue, even if distilled in glass vessels.

_Oil of Cinnamon._

This is obtained from the fresh bark, which is imported from Ceylon. De Guignes says the cinnamon from Cochin China is so full of essential oil that it may be pressed out by the fingers.

_Essence of Cedrat._

This is obtained from the flowers of the citron tree; it is amber-colored and slightly fragrant; 60 lbs. yield 1 oz. It is also obtained from the yellow part of citron-peel; it is colorless, very thin and fragrant. The second oil is obtained by the distillation of the yellow part of citronpeel, and is greenish; 100 citrons will yield 1 oz. of the white essence, and 1/2 oz. of this. It is likewise obtained from the yellow part of citron-peel by expression between two glass plates; also, from the cake left on squeezing citronpeel, by distillation with water. It is thick.

_Common Essence of Cedrat._

This is obtained from the faeces left in the casks of citron-juice; clear, fragrant, greenish, 50 lbs. of faeces will yield, by distillation, 3 lbs. of essence.

_Oil of Calamus._

The rhizome of the acorus calamus, or swell flag, yields about 1 per cent. of oil. It is carminative, but little used. It is also employed in perfumery.

_Oil of Cedar._

Obtained by distillation; is sometimes used in perfumery.


This is obtained from the roots and shoots of the laurus camphora and laurus cinnamomum, as also the capura curundu, by distillation with water. This crude camphor is refined by sublimation with one-sixteenth of its weight of lime in a very gentle heat.

_Camphor from Essential Oils._

Obtained from the oils of the labiate plants by a careful distillation, without addition of 1/3 of the oil; the residuum will be found to contain crystals of camphor, on separating which and re-distilling the remaining oil 2 or 3 times, the whole of the camphor may be obtained. Oil of rosemary or of sweet marjoram yields about 1 oz. of camphor from 10 of oil; of the sage 1 oz. from 8, and of lavender 1 oz. from 4, or even less of oil; that from oil of marjoram is not volatile, and although it takes fire, it soon goes out. This resin, like the others from essential oils, may be obtained in a larger proportion if the oil is kept in slightly stopped bottles in a cool place.

_Dippel's Oil._

Obtained from hatshorn, distilled without addition, rectifying the oil, either by a slow distillation in a retort, etc., no bigger than is necessary and saving only the first portion that comes over, or with water in a common still; it is very fine and thin, and must be kept in an opaque vessel or in a drawer, or dark place, as it is quickly discolored by light. It is antispasmodic, anodyne, and diaphoretic, taken in doses from 10 to 30 drops, in water.

_Oil of Bitter Almonds_

Is obtained by the distillation of the crushed kernels, at the same time hydrocyanic acid is formed and passes over with the oil. The crude oil is therefore poisonous. It is sometimes used in medecine for the bydrocyanic acid which it contains but is uncertain. It is used in perfumery and confectionery. When cakes are flavored with it the hydrocyanic acid can do little or no mischief, as it is driven off by the heat employed.

_Artificial Oil of Bitter Almonds_

Is made by action on true benzole (not that distilled from petroleum) of fuming nitric acid or a mixture of equal parts of ordinary nitric and sulphuric acids. It is of a yellowish color; is poisonous; is used for making aniline (see COAL TAR COLORS), and in perfumery. Its chemical name is nitro-benzole; it is sold as "Essence of Mirban." By heating benzoate of ammonia, an oily liquid having exactly the bitter almond smell, is obtained. It is not used. It is known in chemistry as benzonitrile.

_Oil of Geranium,_

From the leaves of the Pelargonium odoratissimum, is used in perfumery. It is adulterated with ginger-grass oil. It is used to adulterate attar of roses.

_Artificial Oil of Geranium_

May be obtained by distilling benzoate of copper. It has not come into practical use. Its chemical name is benzoxyl.

_Krumholz' Oil._

Obtained by distillation from Hungarian balsam. It is distinguished from oil of turpentine, which is commonly sold for it, by its golden color, agreeable odor, and acid oiliness of taste.

_Foreign Oil of Lavender._

This is the true oil of spike, and is obtained from the flowers and seeds of broad leaved lavender, and more commonly those of French lavender, stoechas, with a quick fire. It is sweet-scented but the oil of the narrow-leaved lavender, or English oil, is by far the finest.

_Essence of Lavender._

The oil of the flowers of lavender is rendered more delicate in its odor by age, but to prevent its becoming glutinous by keeping, which it is very apt to do, draw it over in a water-bath, with a small quantity of alcohol, which is termed the essence, and which, after being kept closely corked for about 7 years, possesses a peculiarly fine delicate odor of lavender, entirely free from empyreuma.

_Oil of Lemon_

Is obtained by expression and distillation. It is used in confectionery and perfumery. When old it acquires the taste and smell of turpentine.

_Oil of lemon-grass._

Antropogon nargus, is a grass which grows in India, Ceylon, and the Moluccas. The oil is extensively used in perfumery.

_Oil of Marjoram,_

Origeat marjorana, is used in perfumery. The dried herb yields about 10 per cent. of oil.

_Oil of Meadow Sweet._

The Spiraea ulmaria is sometimes used as a stimulant and in perfumery.

_Artificial Oil of Meadow Sweet_

Is made by distilling salicin, a crystalline, bitter principle, obtained from the leaves and young bark of the willow, with bichromate of potassa.

_Oil of Mint._

Obtained from the dried plant. Six lbs. of fresh leaves will yield 3 1/2 drs.; and 4 lbs. dried will yield 1 1/2 oz. It is stimulant, carminative, and antispasmodic.

_Essence of Neroli._

Obtained from the flowers of the orange tree. Six cwt. of flowers will yield only 1 oz. of oil. Petits grains is an inferior oil of neroli obtained in the same manner, but less care being taken in the selection of the flowers. Another essence is obtained from orange-peel, and is very fragrant. A third essence is obtained from unripe oranges, and is of a gold color.

_Oil of Nutmegs._

Obtained from that spice; it is liquid, and of a pale yellow, a sebaceous insipid matter swims upon the water in the still.

_Oil of Patchouly._

Obtained by distillation from the Pogastemon patchouli, a plant grown extensively in India and China. One cwt. of the herb yields about 28 oz. of essential oil. It is used in perfumery.

_Oil of Peppermint._

Obtained from the dried plant. Four lbs. of the fresh herb will yield 3 drs. In general it requires rectification to render it bright and fine It is stimulant and carminative.

_Oil of Pennyroyal._

Obtained from the herb when in flower. Three lbs. will yield 6 drs. Emmenagogue.

_Oil of Pimento._

Obtained from allspice. One oz. will yield 30 drops. It is stimulant.

_Oil of Rhodium._

Obtained from the true lignum rhodium. Eighty lbs. will yield 9 drs., and in very resinous old wood 80 lbs. will yield 2 oz. It is light yellowish but grows red by keeping. Another oil is obtained from the root of rose-wort, rhodiola rosea; it is yellowish, and has the smell and taste of that from the true lignum rhodium. One lb. will yield a drachm.

_The True Riga Balsam._

Obtained from the shoots of the Aphernousti pine, pinus cembra, previously bruised and macerated for a month in water. It is pellucid, very liquid, whitish, and has the smell and taste of oil of juniper.

_Butter of Roses._

Obtained from the flowers of damask roses; white, solid, separating slowly from the rosewater. It has little scent of its own, and is used to dilute the scent of musk, civet and ambergris. One cwt. of roses will yield from 1/2 an oz. to an oz.

_Oil of Rosemary._

Obtained from the flowering tops; it is sweet scented. One cwt. will yield 8 oz.; 1 lb. of dry leaves will yield from 1 to 3 drs.; 70 lbs. of fresh leaves will yield 5 oz.

_Oil of Rue._

Obtained from the dried plant; it is carminative and antispasmodic. Ten lbs. of leaves will yield from 2 to 4 drs.; 4 lbs. in flower will yield 1 dr.; and 60 lbs. will yield 2 1/2 oz.; 72 lbs. with the seeds, will yield 3 oz.

_Oil of Sassafras._

Obtained from the sassafras root. Twenty-four lbs. will yield 9 oz.; 30 lbs. will yield 7 oz. and 1 dr.; and 3 lbs. will yield 2 oz.

_Oil of Sandal Wood._

There are three kinds of sandal or santal wood, the white, yellow and red. The yellow is most used in perfumery. One cwt. of the wood will yield nearly 30 oz. of otto.

_Oil of Spearmint._

Mentha viridis, is used in medicine as a carminative, and in perfumery.

_Oil of Tar._

Obtained by distilling tar. It is highly valued by painters, varnishers, etc., on account of its drying qualities; it soon thickens of itself, almost to a balsam. The pyroligneous acid that comes over with it is useful for many purposes.

_Oil of Thyme._

Obtained from the plant; 2 cwt. fresh will yield 5 1/2 oz.; 3 1/2 lbs., dried, will yield 1/2 a dr. It is stimulant and caustic; and used in toothache, applied to the tooth.

_Oil of Tongua._

Obtained from the tongua, or tonka bean. Dipterix odorata is sometimes used in perfumery. The bean contains also a camphor-like body and benzoic acid.

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