While lavender essential oil is easily accessible through on-line websites and whole food stores, it can be educational, fun and rewarding to make your own oil at home. It is not nearly as difficult as one may think and can quickly become a great hobby. Lavender plants are also incredibly easy to grow. If you do not have the outside climate to grow the plant, you can easily grow it inside. You may have to supplement with some store bought flowers as well though. However, you will always have lavender oil at your fingertips and can even give it away as a unique gift.
It is important to know that what you make at home will not have the same potency as what you can buy. This is because the essential oil that you purchase has been made through a steam distilling process, which cannot be imitated at home without the same complicated and expensive machinery. What you will have though is a great substitute that still possesses the same chemical compounds that give lavender oil its amazing healing and medical properties.
What You Will Need
- Fresh Lavender Flowers
Fresh lavender flowers will produce you with the best fragrance. These flowers can be straight from your garden or purchased. If you are a little low on fresh flowers, you can also use plant trimmings such as the leaves and stems. The entire plant contains the oil but it is mostly concentrated in the flowers alone. You will need about three cups of materials, give or take. Just be sure to not use any old growth of the plant, especially the wood. While you want to use fresh lavender, it is recommended to let them sit out and dry slightly, which can take anywhere from one day to two weeks. This is only to help avoid spoilage in the final product so if you know you will use the oil quickly, you can skip this step. Cut all of the pieces into smaller bits, about two inches long.
- Large Glass Container
This is what you will make the oil in so make sure that it is big enough to hold all of your lavender and other ingredients. It should also have a tight fitting lid. You can use an old food container as long as it has been cleaned thoroughly. A canning jar would be ideal.
- Carrier Oil
A carrier oil is an oil that is used to dilute essential oils so that they are safe to use. Organic oils are typically a higher quality. Some great options include sweet almond oil, jojoba oil and coconut oil. Choose one with a pale color. Use one with a mild scent so that it doesn’t overpower the lavender. You will need enough carrier oil to fill most of your glass container. There should only be enough to cover the plant material and leave about half an inch of free space above.
- Mesh Strainer
You can use a strainer that you already have in the kitchen, as long as the slots are not large enough to let any of the materials seep through. You can also use a cheesecloth or coffee filter.
- Dark Glass Bottle
This is what you will be storing your essential oil in. They store best in dark glass and will stay fresher longer this way. Try to use one with a eyedropper attached to the lid to make distribution easier. Be cautious if using a bottle that previously held a different essential oil. It can be difficult to completely clean the bottle and remove all the residue and fragrance from the previous oil, which can affect the new oil that will be placed in it.
Begin by placing your lavender into your glass jar. Cover the pieces with your carrier oil. If you are using a carrier oil that is not a liquid, such as coconut oil, place the oil in a double boiler and slowly melt it over low heat, stirring occasionally. While you want the oil to melt, you do not want it to become too hot because it can damage the flowers and alter your final product, especially the fragrance.
Once the flowers are completely covered in the carrier oil, put the top on, make sure it is secure and give it a good shake. Put the jar in a safe spot and let it sit for at least two full days. Longer is okay but shorter is not. Some may even suggest to let the mixture sit for up to a month. Try to keep the jar in a warm spot, like on a windowsill that gets plenty of sunlight, or your carrier oil may harden up again, which means that the lavender oil will be unable to infuse the carrier oil. If this does happen, run the jar under some hot water once or twice throughout the day to keep the infusion process going. Remember to shake the jar on occasion.
After two or more days have passed, open the jar and begin to strain the mixture. You will want to not only remove all of the flowers and other pieces of plant but also try and get all of the oil off of these pieces before discarding them. Once the straining has been completed, put the oil back into the jar and add another portion of lavender flowers. Repeat the process, which you will want to do a total of three times or more. You are finished making your essential oil when it has reached the desired fragrance level.
Transfer the oil to the dark glass bottle and store it in a cool and dark place. If properly stored, it should last up to a year, unless you use it all before then! If you would like to help extend the life of your lavender essential oil, you can add a few drops of vitamin E. You can get plain vitamin E oil or buy capsules and pour in the content.