The Carmel Lavender distillery offers clients a place to distill essential oils from their own plants and flowers. Integrate aromatic herbs in your garden, and we can process them into essential oils with a multitude of benefits. These flowers and herbs are typically very drought tolerant, helping you reduce your water footprint and your monthly bills. And what’s more, they are beautiful and smell great.
When planning your garden or farm, why not include aromatic flowers and herbs that can be distilled into essential oils? Such planning is a time-honored tradition. As far back as the 14th century, kitchen gardens have grown herbs and flowers that had culinary, medicinal, and aesthetic uses in the household. While this tradition has faded, it remains a good idea that you can easily bring home.
Plants to Consider
There are many different aromatic herbs that make quality essential oils. Lavender is a very beautiful and useful plant to have in the garden. There are many different types and you must choose the one that best suits your needs.
Lavender is of course just one of many. But if you are to choose lavender, you must choose a variety that will be productive. Not all lavender produce the same quality and quantity of oils. For small gardens, use a lavendin variety like grosso or provence. These grow quite large, and bloom from June to August. They are some of the highest producing plants for essential oils. English lavenders, or Lavendula Angustifolia have some of the highest quality scents. These plants are a little smaller, and may be suitable for some gardens. However, be prepared for smaller quantities of oil. The English lavenders produce about one-tenth the oil of the lavendin types mentioned above. And avoid the Spanish varieties, dentata, and landscape grade goodwin creek and the like. These bloom more regularly, but the oil volume and quality make them unsuitable for essential oil production.
There’s a good chance you are growing Rosemary already!
Rosemary is another excellent essential oil producing plant. Essential oil is produced from the leaves. The ideal time to harvest and distill is in January to February during the heavy bloom. But oil can be rendered throughout the year. Rosemary is a hardy plant, and you can use it for culinary purposes in the kitchen as well. So it is a common favorite.
If you’d like a different look, try planting lemon verbena. Essential oil aside, lemon verbena makes an excellent herbal tea. Just pour hot water over a handful of leaves, and make a relaxing tea for unwinding in the evening before bed. While the oil yield will be substantially less than lavender or rosemary, it still produces usable quantities of oil from modest volume of leaves. It is therefore a nice compliment to work into your garden.
Scented geranium has a very floral, rose-like scent.
Scented geranium is another good plant to grow. The leaves smell simply wonderful. Much like a concentrated rose. The bright green feathery foliage is also an attractive alternative to the dryer rosemary or the sparse lemon verbena. Scented geranium is not the more common geranium found in gardens. Those have no scent and are mainly visual. The flowers on the scented geranium are much less showy, petite little pink flowers. But the quality of the scent more than compensates. A beautiful essential oil can be rendered from the leaves, but prepare yourself. You are going to need a much larger quantity of plant material to get any significant amounts. But even small amounts can be used in your essential oil diffusers to provide hours of scented pleasure.
While mints can produce some wonderfully useful essential oils, the quantity of oil related to volume of plant is relatively low. It is impractical to get substantial quantities of oil from a small scale garden. However the hydrosol is wonderful. Unlike the lavender hydrosols, mint hydrosol is true to its scent. Put it in a spray bottle and you can use it as an all-natural room deodorizer. It, of course, also makes a nice culinary herb. However it requires much more water than the herbs mentioned previously and it can sometimes become an invasive nuisance.
Preparation for Distilling
Prepare for the distillery by harvesting your flowers or plants at the appropriate time, as close to your scheduled distilling date as possible. Never use plastic bags, as this will trap moisture and cause your plants to begin to compost, destroying the oils inside. Rather keep them dry, and let them air out. If you must cut early, then spread out your plants or flowers on a tarp and let them dry. Use cardboard boxes or straw baskets. And follow these guidelines:
- Schedule your distilling date. Don’t wait until you harvest to schedule your time in the distiller. Call Carmel Lavender as early as possible to get on the books.
- Harvest your plants. Here is a table of important differences when harvesting plants for distilling essential oils.
Plant Harvest time What to harvest Lavender July through September Flower buds at the ends of the spikes Rosemary February/Year-round Leaves Lemon Verbena October Leaves Scented Geranium September through October Leaves
- Store plant material for transport. Use cloth tarps or bedsheets tied on the corners, cardboard boxes, or straw baskets.
- Deliver your plants to Carmel Lavender.
- Pick-up your essential oils and hydrosols!
Using your Essential Oil
There are many ways to use your essential oil. You can purchase essential oil vials for filling and then gift your essential oil to your friends and family. Maybe even start your own essential oil business. You can also make many wonderful products, like soaps, balms, lotions, and cremes. Carmel Lavender offers classes in soap making and other manufacturing techniques. Check our website for upcoming events.
Schedule your Time Today
If you have lavender or other aromatic plant that you would like to process into essential oils. Contact us via phone at (800) 949-2645 or send us a message with the contact form below.