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Zedo

Advice - DIY Essential Oils/Tinctures

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We recently cut back our overgrown herb garden and it got me thinking again - what can I do with all this extra herb. Yes I could dry it and use it in cooking but it’s always on hand for fresh stuff so drying seems a bit of a waste of time to me at this point. 

My partner loves essential oils and I want to get her something to start small with and see what becomes from that. Reading @Alchemica posts makes me want to try it even more with such benefits from plant extracts. So I’ve sorta narrowed my thoughts to two options but would really love any input, thoughts, suggestions etc to nudge me the right way. I know it’s not as simple as just doing it and a lot of refinement will be required to get desired results but hey, dunno till ya try.

 

First up I seen this:

https://magicalbutter.com.au

while not for making essential oils but more so infused butter/oil - I thought maybe a good starting point as it seems very simple and useful (maybe should just get one for the kitchen anyways).

 

and the other option:

https://www.ebay.com.au/i/162088208426?chn=ps&ul_ref=http%3A%2F%2Frover.ebay.com%2Frover%2F1%2F705-139619-5960-0%2F2%3Fmpre%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.ebay.com.au%252Fi%252F162088208426%253Fchn%253Dps%26itemid%3D162088208426%26targetid%3D402997076583%26device%3Dm%26adtype%3Dpla%26googleloc%3D9068947%26poi%3D%26campaignid%3D1034038926%26adgroupid%3D53578125569%26rlsatarget%3Dpla-402997076583%26abcId%3D1130316%26merchantid%3D116466630%26gclid%3DEAIaIQobChMI5a_jo8SX2QIVChSPCh3xOAEIEAQYASABEgJn7PD_BwE%26srcrot%3D705-139619-5960-0%26rvr_id%3D1436232255617&var=461049085269

 

or any other the other varieties on the bay of e.

 

this seems to be perhaps more useful in actually extracting essential oils (or making moonshine lol) but it’s probably a cheap piece of fecal matter that could be a waste of time/money. In which if it were a waste the first option would probably be better value. My other concern with this device is the heating cost. Wood fire is cheap but temperature control would be tedious, and using electrical heating would become expensive (until I get solar/battery) vs just buying the oils.

 

Anyone played with these things before and have any starting points to go from.

 

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Anything the MB can do you can get done in a slow cooker:wink:

 

There's also glycerine tinctures (cold and hot). Dont need anything fancy for cold glycerine or alcohol tinctures, or working with oils like coconut.

 

There usually is an optimum stage of growth for best results in obtaining a target. So quality of material affects yield.

 

If you go down the route of distilling you will need to know the target range of temperature of the desired fraction(s) you want. I'll presume you'll be interested in mostly "essential oils" which is less targeted, but still to be considered to avoid pulling anything undesirable.

 

Are you chasing fat or water-soluble things is a good starting question with any material? This will put you onto the path of the better approaches.

 

Propane may be an option for heat for you,works for me on a few jobs. Portable hotplates are not too power hungry though(there's other ways, did I mention slow cooker) ,and sometimes flame is a BIG no-no.

 

Can also reflux. A soxhlet or "coldfinger" may suit certain targets. You can ghetto a reflux setup

 

There's also macerated oils, may be worthy of a look and starting point of play. And vinegars.

 

A few thoughts.

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Making essential oils is really easy and doesnt really require much in the way of equipment.  If you can source a big bucket, a 44 gallon drum and some copper pipe you can make an essential oil still.

Use flour paste to seal everything on your hot side.  As steam hit it is cooks it into a bread and seals the join.  On the lid of your 44 gallon drum just put a snake of flour paste around it, will seal up well.

Make sure to keep a record of how much water you put in and how mucch you take out, you dont want to be letting it boil dry.  Collect all your distillate and put it in a big bucket and let it sit for a few days.  Oil will continue to crash out for a few days.

I drew a quick picture for you.  A few things to make it better is to have a another 44 gallon drum next to it that you heat water with to refill the herb boiler.  And insulation for the main boiler will speed things up immensely.  Insulation bats work and are usually flame retardant (and you can get them at the dump).  The water in the condenser barrel will get hot eventually but quicker than you think.  Have a way to drain water and top it up. 

Heat the drum using gas (youll need insultation for sure) or using wood.   Just hoist the boiler up on some bricks.
 

44 gallon drum essential oils.png

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On 09/02/2018 at 9:46 AM, Zedo said:

Wood fire is cheap but temperature control would be tedious,

A good trick is to heat up some old oil in a half drum or big pot. Put a thermomitor in the oil, when you get to your desired temp, wack in your still. The oil will help keep the temp more stable.

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Stainless steel keg if you can find a keg key. I remember Watertrade having some awesome stills back in the day.

 

Or a 20l paint tin are usually stainless steel comes with a clip on lid. That's a great start for the boiler. You can either insert an element inside but are pretty costly and have a double boiler. Or a gas element you need to be sure to plumb it right with no leaks and the cyclinder as far away as possible to the burner. There is a forum of homedistiller that has plans and info on how to build your own, everything from pot stills, reflux stills and a multitude of condensers.

Edited by Siggor
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Taking the top of a keg out is actually pretty easy.  Just google the type of keg and you'll be able to find a video describing how to do it.  Home distillers use them for boilers all the time so theres lots of info out there. To find out what type it is just look at the top and compare it against photos online.

The good thing about using a keg is that the hole connects directly to a 2 inch triclamp fitting which makes everything very easy.

If you arent going to be consuming your oils you can get away with using much shitter materials.  Those cheap steel 44 gallon drums work fine

Edited by Smiling
add more info
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Some great starting points there everyone. Thankyou. More research now and I’ll be keeping an eye out for some materials. Might be good to start this closer to winter. Then it’ll help heat the place up too. 

I think that’s the go though - make a cheap nasty still and see how it works, then upgrade from there.

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If you need a hand getting set up feel free to pm me.  My main experience is with making moonshine but Ive made a lot of essential oil as well

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