Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pictures from a distillation

A while back we did a distillation at Radiance in downtown Lancaster. Lori Stahl of Stahl Gallery was there, and brought her camera. Lori has come to a few different classes, and her camera is always unobtrusive. I'd pretty much forgotten about it until Sarah gave me a dvd full of pictures last week. There are probably about 100 photos, and without going through each and every one yet, I thought it would be fun to share a few. They are so gorgeous.
For this distillation, we used hyssop. The hydrosol will be used in a syrup for respiratory problems. It was amazingly fragrant. A bit of a surprise, actually. Pleasantly so. Above, I am adjusting the clamp that will hold the condenser during the process.
The bottom flask has begun to boil and steam is just beginning to build in the bottom of the bioflask.

Sarah and I look intently at the separater from opposite sides of the table. The ball shaped collection flask is nearly full of distillate, cloudy with the particles of essential oil that will remain emulsified in the water.
We catch a drop to taste.
Below, a single drop falls into the collection flask.
In the bowl, a pump runs icy water through the condenser and returns it to the bowl warmed from the steam in the center of the tube. I've learned to fill the bowl mostly with ice. Usually the distillation is nearly done by the time the ice melts. I'm answering questions and explaining the process while it occurs.
The pale yellow layer on the top is essential oil. There isn't a lot, but considering that many times we get no oil, this is a good bit for this size still. My still is mostly good for the hydrosol.
The valve at the bottom lets me release the hydrosol while trapping the essential oil. It isn't perfect, and I usually get a drop or two of the water. Here you get an idea of the quantity of essential oil that was produced.
The hydrosol is poured into sterilized bottles for later use.
I'm not sure how instructional this is, but I just love the way Lori captures the light and colors.


girlwithasword said...

Tina, that is GORGEOUS!!! thank you SO much for sharing. I'll be linking to this from my blog.

Bitten by Books said...

That is awesome Tina!

Cindy said...

Nice pics. Was that hyssop officinalis (as opposed to anise?). I've never distilled either, I'm surprised there is that much essential oil. Thanks for sharing.

Gail said...

Very interesting Tina, I would love to see more about this. The pictures are wonderful, for sure.

Anonymous said...

That is awesome! I didn't know that distillation contraptions could be that small. Now I want one.

Tina Sams said...

Cindy - yep, officinalis. The plant smells medicinal to me, but this was wonderful.

StarCherub, mine came from but I've heard Ebay is a good source too,

Regina said...

Stunning pictures! Science and nature in the same moment. These shots are fabulous! This gal captured your anticipation even! I've read about how this process is supposed to go and been confused, not after these pictures! I would love to link to this post too if you don't mind, Tina.


Tina Sams said...

Sure! Link away :-).

Deb said...

This looks like the distiller I've been dreaming of owning for several years now.

Now that I'm re-inspired, thanks for the Ebay tip.

Is it really as easy as it looks in the pictures? ;>


Tina Sams said...

The first time or two were a little nerve-wracking, trying to figure out where everything went. After that it is nothing but a fascination!

Carol said...

Where did you get your still and how did you learn to use it? Self-taught? Photos are awesome!

Carrie Burns said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Herrells said...

I really love this sequence of photos. It puts the whole process in a whole lot more perspective for me. And people wonder why certain oils are so expensive - a lot of effort for a few drops.

Can I link to this too?

P4m3L4j0 said...

Emma, thanks for this post. I have been considering doing my own distilation of the lavender and calendula I grow as well as several other herbs I wildcraft. I wasn't sure it would really work. I couldn't picture the set-up in my mind, but I get it from the pictures. I am excited to get my own distillation equipment and give it a try.

Patricia said...

Uh oh, you may have started a whole tribe of mad scientists! This is so fascinating, I was always afraid to try. Maybe not so much after this. You never know!
Patricia Rose-A Potpourri of Fabric, Fragrance and Findings

Majhada said...

What an interesting process to watch! The photos are well done indeed. I need one of those one of these days so I can make my own hydrosol and essential oil.