How to extract Rosemary oil

How to extract rosemary oil

This post will provide simple instructions on how to extract rosemary oil in the comfort of your own home.

Rosemary is one of those plants that seems to be bursting from the bottom with aroma. By squeezing a cluster of the narrow, dense pine like leaves, it releases a rush of the unique and refreshing fragrance. You’ll be glad to discover that this aromatic plant is sun-loving and very easy to cultivate in pots on a deck or balcony. So gathering enough Rosemary to extract the oils from is very simple.

How to extract rosemary oil
Rosemary grows everywhere so getting the freshest plant material is so easy

How to extract Rosemary oil

Plants’ essential oils are stored in their cells, in this case the majority are found in the quill-like leaves of the Rosemary plant. Rosemary oil can be extracted in a variety of ways, the common ones are steam distillation and water distillation.

But before we get started you should keep in mind that the oil required for cooking differs from that required for aromatherapy, in that they are very volatile concentrated products. Often the natural functions of essential oils are unknown; although the ones we do know of are often used to help the plant survive by repelling insects or enhancing the plants ability to reproduce.

The concentrated nature of essential oils means that there is a chance that if ingested, there may be harmful effects on human.

Extracting Rosemary oil using water distillation.

To make Rosemary oil using water distillation, the plant material should be soaked in water for up to 3 hours.

The wet plant material is then heated in order to boil of the water and with it the essential oils.

The steam and oils then separate from the plant material and can be cooled, resulting in a condensate that can then be collected.

If you had the right equipment water distillation could be carried out under reduced (vacuum) pressure, allowing the temperature to be kept below boiling. This would assist in the protection and preservation of some of the more sensitive plant materials, although water distillation remains the the most simple and straight forward way of collecting essential oils.

Extracting Rosemary oil using steam distillation.

Essential oils are produced in similar way to the water distillation method, except that instead of having the plant material soaked in hot water and heated, steam is passed through the rosemary, much like one would steam vegetables.

The steam opens the cells which contain the essential oils, and then the steam with the oils flow into the settling tank. There the two products cool and the condensate can be collected.

Like the water distillation method this condensate will contain essential oil and water-soluble plant material or hydrosols. The essential oil, like all oils should be found on the surface and can be physically separated from there.

Using a still makes distilling essential oils very easy as every still contains a heating element and a condensate collection area. We here at Besthomestills have reviewed affordable stills that are small enough to fit on the average kitchen stove, which means that you can save space, setup and cleaning time. All essential oils are so easy to make we encourage everyone to give it a go.

How to extract Rosemary oil
You’ll need about a cup of the freshest Rosemary you can find.

How to infuse Rosemary oil into a massage oil.

You can also extract Rosemary oils from the leaves by infusing it into a base oil. This is a great way to create your own massage oils.

 Here’s what you’ll need:

• 1 cup fresh rosemary leaves.

• 2 cups sunflower oil (or any other low odor neutral oils)

• Slow cooker

• Strainer

• Bowl (wooden would be best)

• Small airtight glass container-heat for 5 minutes to wash the jar and cover it, then leave to air-dry.

Measure out one cup of fresh Rosemary leaves picked from the stem. Your kitchen will smell lovely just by picking the quills from the stems. Dried Rosemary could be used, however, the aroma will not be as rich or pleasant.

Heat the rosemary leaves in the slow cooker on high.

Add in two cups of oil, while any oil can be used it is best to use one with a high-temperature boil with low-odor oil, like sunflower or safflower oil, as compared to the high aromatic oil like olive oil.

Mix the rosemary leaves gently with a wooden spoon a few times in the Rosemary leaves, and then let heat for six hours. Metal is very reactive and by using wooden spoon you remove the possibility of any impurities transferring into the oil. 

After six hours, turn down the heat. Using a strainer, pour the hot oil into a dish to cool for an hour. Ensure it is sufficiently cooled before transferring it to a new jar.

 If you want to preserve your new oil, cover the jar and keep it in a cool dark area.  The Rosemary-and-oil-filled glass jar can be rested for at least a week in direct sunlight. After which it can be removed.

Please be aware, that some essential oils should not be ingested or applied to the skin without being fully aware of the risks. Some essential oils are potentially toxic with very small amounts being able to cause sever distress on the human body, please leave essential oils for smelling. 

For more wonderful guides to making your own essential oils at home please see our guide here.