While lemongrass 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. Lemongrass is easily grown in home herb gardens that make the process incredibly affordable as well.
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. While there are home steam distillers, it is often advised against as without proper training a high quality oil will not be produced. By using the following methods, you will have a great substitute that still possesses the same chemical compounds that give lemongrass oil its amazing healing and medical properties.
There are two options when making lemongrass oil. Not all listed materials are needed for both methods.
What You Will Need
- Fresh lemongrass stalks (4-5 or more depending on desired final results)
Fresh lemongrass stalks will produce you with the best fragrance. These stalks can be straight from your garden or purchased. The only part of the plant that contains the oil is the stalks so discard any other pieces.
- Mortar and Pestle
If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, just find something that will allow you to gently crush the stalks so that the oil will be able to escape. A rolling pin works nicely in a pinch. Just remember that you don’t want to destroy the stalks so don’t choose anything that will rip them up too much.
- Large Glass Container
If you chose the second method, this is what you will make the oil in so make sure that it is big enough to hold all of your lemongrass and carrier oil. 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 or coconut oil. Choose one with a pale color. Use one with a mild scent so that it doesn’t overpower the lemongrass. For lemongrass, grape seed or rice bran oil would be a great option.
- Wine Press
This is only needed for the first method.
- Double Boiler
Again, this is only needed for the first method. If you don’t have a double boiler you can imitate one by placing a bowl over a pot with water.
- Mesh Strainer/Cheesecloth
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. A cheesecloth is required for the first method.
- 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.
Method 1 (Hot Method)
If your lemongrass isn’t already separated, do so now. Remove any leaves since you will only need the stalks. Clean them well and roughly chop them into one inch sections. Place them in the top of the double boiler.
Heat the lemongrass and oil in the double boiler for about three hours. After this has been done, set up the wine press. It should be on an elevated surface and arranged so that the bottom part that is fitted with a clear plastic tube can easily strain into a jug. Fit the cheesecloth securely to the rim of the wine press. Begin straining the lemongrass oil through the wine press.
Once all the oil has been strained, bottle the oil in dark glass bottles and store in a cool, dark place.
Method 2 (Canning Jar)
If your lemongrass isn’t already separated, do so now. Remove any leaves since you will only need the stalks. Clean them well and roughly chop them into one inch sections. Place a few sections at a time in the mortar and pestle and slightly crush to release the oil. The scent should become stronger as you go along.
Place the stalks in the canning jar and cover with oil. You will not be able to fit all of the stalks in at once so simply put as many as you can. Once the stalks are completely covered, put the top on, make sure it is secure and give the bottle a good shake. Put the jar in a safe spot where it will receive sunlight and leave it for about two days. Remember to shake the jar on occasion.
After the two days have passed, open the jar and begin to strain the mixture. You will want to not only remove all of the stalks but also try and get all of the oil off of these pieces before discarding them. Once the straining has been completed, fill another can with stalks and oil. Repeat the process as many times as desired or as many times are needed for all of the lemongrass. You are finished making your essential oil when it has reached the desired fragrance level.
Transfer the oil to a dark glass bottle and store it in a cool, dark place. The oil should be used within twelve months. Try adding a few drops of vitamin E oil to extend the life of your lemongrass oil. If there is any concern that the oil has spoiled, do not use the oil and discard of it.