Home distillation of botanical materials for their essential oils and hydrosols is remarkably easy and extremely educational. It has helped me to appreciate the time, knowledge and experience that commercial distillers put into their enterprises.
In the photos below, you can see close-ups of the various components:
The steam generator flask, on its little electric burner, showing the safety tube, which allows water to escape in the event of the steam line becoming clogged. The black hose in the photo is the steam line.
In the middle photo, you can see the mother flask, in the insulation jacket I made for it, to keep all the heat in, and reduce condensation onto the plant material. At the top of this photo you can see the black steam hose which comes from the steam generator flask. And to the right of that, is the connection to the condenser unit. The condenser unit takes the steam and vaporized essential oils from the mother flask. The condenser unit has an outer water jacket, through which ice water is pumped to encourage condensation. You can see the ice water outlet in this middle photo too.
The right-hand photo shows the receiver flask, with the other end of the condenser unit attached. Here you can also see the inlet for the cooling water. In the green stopper of the receiver flask, you can see a little glass exhaust tube. From here you can smell the essential oil dripping into the receiver flask.
This photo to the left shows the high-tech bucket :-) with the cooling ice water and recirculating pump. I decided to use a pump, rather than have the tube connected to the water tap with the water constantly running.
I realised that the ice melts very quickly, and it's important to build up a good stock of ice, before starting distillation.
Home distillation of this amount of lavandin took about an hour in total.
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