Essential oil is held in small balloon like structures at the base of the flowers where they meet the stem. We use a very simple system using rainwater to extract these oils. This is a system that was used by the Ancient Egyptians and Romans, and the same principles are still used today, Steam Distillation.
The crop is gathered and brought to the distillery in a purpose built trailer. In the distillery a lid is lowered onto the trailer and the trailer sealed. Rainwater that has been collected, heated and made into steam is fed into the trailer through pipes in the floor.
The lavender stems, although containing little oil, create a porous structure within the trailer to allow the steam to circulate. This heats the whole trailer load of around five tonnes of material up to 100 degreesC.
At this temperature the steam causes the oil glands to erupt, and the oil evaporates into the steam. This steam with the oil now entrained within it, rises through the trailer and is collected in the funnel shaped lid.
The mix of oil and steam is then piped to a condenser. Inside the condenser is a series of steel tubes set out in a honeycomb pattern. The steam / oil mixture passes down through the tubes. Cold rainwater is pumped between the tubes, which condenses the steam back to oil and water.
This water / oil mixture passes out of the condenser into the separator tank.
The cooling rainwater, which has been heated up as it leaves the condenser, is pumped to the boiler to be made into steam. This saves heating energy as it is already preheated as it passes through the condenser. Any unused water is returned to a large holding tank ready to be reused in the condenser
The oil and water mixture is piped into the separator tank. Here the two liquids are allowed to settle out, and the oil forms a layer on the top of the water. The level in the tank is maintained by a clever weir system that constantly takes water from the base of the tank, and stops it overflowing.
The precious oil is then collected from the separator.
Steam Distillation is a very simple system. No chemicals are used in the extraction of the oils as the rainwater is naturally softened. This allows us to guarantee that ours really are ‘Pure Essential Oils.’