Attention
You are using an outdated web browser which is not supported by this website. We recommend updating your browser to the latest available version.

Distillation of spruce needles

posted on 01.08.2015 23:53 hour

 Spruce Needle Oil & Hydrosol 

 
  Learn about the versatility of this remarkable essential oil! Whether as room scent or unique bath salt. I will show you how to extract this precious oil and on top of that teach you how to make your very own bath salt mixture to enjoy relaxing moments.

 
   First of all, the spruce needles need to be harvested. The best time to do so is during springtime when the colour is still bright green and the needles are young and soft. Harvesting the needles is even easier when you find trees that have been felled and the spruce needles and branches had the time to dry a little bit as this will result in a higher oil yields. I will explain why in just a moment!
DISTILLATION OF SPRUCE NEEDLES: SPRUCE NEEDLE OIL & HYDROSOL

 Harvest and dry the spruce needles!

  

   As already mentioned the oil yield increases when using dried needles. That’s because the oils are slightly more concentrated in dried material than in fresh needles and wood. Give them between 3 to 7 days to dry a little bit before distilling them and thus expect a better outcome. More oil is extracted this way and the same concept also applies for other plants such as lavender and mint – only to name a few. In the next step we will chop up the needles to fit more material into the still to facilitate the oil extraction during the distilling process.

Chop them up!


   You can expect a higher oil yield by using young needles as opposed to older specimens or the wood of the branches. The wood will release only little amounts of oil compared to the needles. Therefore, it is important to chop up the wood very finely.

   Note: The smaller your still is, the finer you need to chop up the wood and needles to extract as much oil as possible. 

 

Preparing and filling the still!


   Now it is time to prepare the still! Fill the boiler up to ¾ with water und heat it up slowly. Place the chopped up spruce needles in the column. The more material you can fit, the higher the oil yield will be. But please keep in mind to not clog the still (the ghost pipe) which could result in build-up of excess pressure. Safety first! If you are unsure how much material you can fill into the column, please use our copper mesh to place on top of the plants. This way they cannot enter the ghost pipe and clog it.

Distilling Spruce Needles

   To protect the essential oils I first heat up the boiler and then I place the column with the spruce needles on top as well as connecting all the other still parts. This way the oil cannot be damaged by the heat prior to the actual distillation. It therefore increases the quality of the oil and hydrosol.
 
Please always act with caution here as you might burn your fingers while touching the hot copper parts. Use potholders or a little cloth to protect yourself!
 

The Equipment that I used!

  I have used the Rommelsbacher travelling hotplate and the cooling set with pump from our range of products for this little experiment. Due to the superb cooling qualities of the pump, I was able to collect around 300 ml of hydrosol and 1 ml of essential oil that floats on top of the hydrosol after the distillation.
 

   The Equipment that I used!

  I have used the Rommelsbacher travelling hotplate and the cooling set with pump from our range of products for this little experiment. Due to the superb cooling qualities of the pump, I was able to collect around 300 ml of hydrosol and 1 ml of essential oil that floats on top of the hydrosol after the distillation.
 

Important:

   It is crucial to know how your equipment functions before proceeding with more advanced distillations.  Therefore, try experimenting by distilling water first to learn how your still works. You also need to learn to adjust the pumping speed to ensure efficient cooling during the distillation. The pump in our set is relatively strong and therefore I had to place the still in a higher position to improve the performance. Generally, the cooling water should enter the condenser faster than the warm water flows out of it. By placing the still in a higher position you can fit larger glass bottles underneath which makes the collection of oils and hydrosols so much easier. This is definitely a plus!
 
 
 
 
 

Secure the still! 

 
   This is very important in order to avoid injuries during distillation! You should also never let the still run dry or heat without content as this will lead to material damages that are mostly irreparable. By filling your still with 400 ml you can safely distill up to 300 ml. Over time you will know by instinct when to stop the distillation as you will get used to the overall process!
 
   If steam escapes from you copper still, please have some teflon tape ready. Copper stills are usually sealed with a mixture of rye flour and water. A thick paste is formed and attached to the connecting parts of the copper still. Today we simply use teflon tape in order to prevent the steam from escaping the still. 
  SPRUCE NEEDLE BATH SALT

 

  The oils and the hydrosol are versatilely usable. The scent has a positive effect on the lungs and helps with basic illnesses like coughs as well as lifting up our mood. So how about taking a bath and inhale the fresh scent of spruce needles? Simply close your eyes and feel the spirit of the forest in your bathroom! That’s exactly why I used the oil & hydrosol to create my very own mixture! Allow your creativity to run free!
 
   The recipe is remarkably easy! Pour the hydrosol along with the floating oil on top of it in a little container and dissolve as much salt as possible. Maybe along with some drops of green food colouring and some spruce needles? That’s entirely up to you! Add the ingredients you like the most to create your unique bath salt.
 
   When you have dissolved enough salt, store it away at a warm place and let it dry off. The salt will turn green and disperses a nice scent. You can now grind it and fill it into little glass jars. Bath salts make perfect gifts, especially when self-made!
 
I hope you will enjoy the relaxing moments. Have a nice weekend!
 
Kind regards
Your Kai Möller