Distilling Lavender

The beautiful thing about home education is that the kids and I get to choose what goes on the curriculum. My daughter wants to sell oils when she grows up, so what better field trip than a lavender farm to watch how the oil is distilled?

Obviously it wasn't a doTERRA farm (flying her out to Bulgaria for the day would've been a little extreme, plus we went with friends; learning is always more fun with friends).
I was amazed at just how many different types of lavender there were on this farm, and how distinctly different each one smelled, and how varied the qualities were.

Did you know that some types of lavender can make you more alert, rather than relaxed?

We especially liked this pink lavender, but more for it's colour than the fragrance. It had a very light, barely there, scent.

The first step is obviously harvesting the lavender. It takes huge quantities of it to fill the still.

Next the worker uses a pitch fork to get all the raw material into the drum. He must have filled and packed down that drum at least 4 times. There was huge amounts of plant material in there.

Once the drum is loaded it's sealed and steam is added under low pressure to the bottom of the vessel. As it rise up through the plant material, it draws the volatile compounds out of the lavender and carries it with it down the large tube which has cool water running through it to condense the vapour back into a liquid.

In this flask, the water and the oil separate with the oil rising to the top and being drawn off into this flask and the water is separated off as hydrosol. The still is emptied and ready for a new batch of lavender, and the waste product (cooked lavender) is returned as compost to the farm to help the next crop grow healthy and strong.

It actually only make a really small amount of oil, and it does not smell at all like you would expect it to - I actually found it quite pleasant, although the owner said most people really don't enjoy it. It smells like compost, warm and earthy and grass like.

This lavender oil then goes into a barrel to age for two years before it comes out smelling like you would expect it to. This farm also produces a small amount of rosemary oil, which is what you see in the small jar.

If you want to learn more about where doTERRA's lavender comes from, check out the video below to learn all about Esseterre:

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