Steam distillation has been in use for essential oil extraction for many years, which is carried out by passing steam through the biomass(plant material) whereby the steam volatile compounds are vaporized, condensed and collected in the receiving flask. 


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How to choose the distillation kit?

Copper |  Glass | Stainless Steel 

The material a distiller is made of, must be inert to the compounds being distilled, must be able to sustain the distillation temperatures without altering its composition or releasing toxic chemicals and it must have a non-absorbing surface so it can be cleaned thoroughly.


Stainless steel distiller is inert to the compounds being distilled, and be able to sustain the distillation temperatures without altering the composition or releasing toxic chemicals. 

Why stainless steel is better for distillation

What's wrong with Copper | Glass Distillers?


Copper essential oil distiller danger harmful

Copper still

Copper distillers that are used sometimes in spirit industry are completely forbidden for essential oils since copper acts as a catalyst for many of their compounds, breaking them down and degrading the quality of the essential oil.

Another lack of oxidizing is rust. Copper turns black and develops a patina over time and it's quite difficult to clean.
Glass distiller

Glass still

Glass distillers are good for labs, but unfortunately extremely fragile for home use.

Glass breaks. If it is full of boiling explosive gas and sitting on a flame or other heat source when it does so - You are likely to be in the hospital (at best)

 By the way, volume would be quite an issue as easily obtainable glassware for a column is probably limited to about 0,5 L.

How to choose the right shape / volume?

Shape of the column for essential oil distiller


Steam distillation is carried out by passing steam through the plant material. The combination of heated steam and gentle pressure causes releasing the essential oil from herbs.
Contact area of plant and steam in the essential distillation process

The wider the column, the greater the area of contact with plants.

In the case of using wide columns you have to ensure enough pressure, the column can't be too high. Otherwise, you will receive the oil from the lower part of the column where is the largest pressure (max. on the "Tall & narrow column" image*), but, lose the oil from the rest plants at the top of the column.
Tall columns can be good for distillation alcohol by using a copper still, however, as I mentioned before, it's not an option for producing essential oil.

Volume | Capacity

Firstly, for the production of essential oils, it doesn't matter what's the size of your boiler. The volume of the column is much more important. The larger the column volume, the greater the oil yield. Usually, the size of the column is written in specification and measure in liters gallons. It gives nothing for calculation because we don't know the actual weight of herbs we are going to distill. To facilitate the process of choice, I will list some common herbs and approximate essential oil yield.