Essential Oil Distillation
Rotary Evaporators
Shipping Policy



If you are working on a tile sink or other hard surface, LINE IT WITH A TOWEL and also line your washing sink with some of that plastic liner availiable from the grocery store.You don't want to be amazed at how easy it is to break glassware!!!

It's Ok to use any consistancy of plant matter in the biomass flask™ with exception of powder. Powder may clump and cause the bottom opening to plug, or it may just "fall in" and get into the boiling flask. If you're distilling rosemary, for example, you'll be able to just cram the flask full and distill!, because it's big and bushy. But if you're using cut plant matter or finer consistancy material, you might want to insert the little stainless steel screen disk that we provide into the bottom of the flask, so the plant material doesn't clog the hole or fall down it.

Assembling the backplate/support rod holder/ hardware
The backplate is provided as a heat-shield to prevent line-of-sight infra-red heat from the hotplate from heating up the reciever as the distillation process continues. Screw the back plate on to the rear of the hotplate using the two #8 screws provided.

Clip the stainless steel rod provided into the spring clamp on the rear of the hotplate as shown, and then assemble the two clamps to the support rod and placing them high up on the rod. Leave the screws snug but not tight.

Place the square wire mesh pad centered on the stove heater-coils, ceramic side up.

Putting the Glassware together
Ground glass joints will freeze together if not properly lubricated!

3 small packets of Silicone joint grease compound have been provided. Before assembling any of the ground glass joints, it is recommended that you first put a tiny dab of grease on the male end and wipe it into a line using a toothpick or your finger. Then assemble the joint, twist it gently into it's socket, rotating it at least one rotation to spread the grease around. If you have the right amount, the joint connection will rotate smoothly and become slightly "clear" to the eye. Too much grease- it will spin with very little friction and you'll have grease mushing out everywhere; too little and the joint will not become "clear" as you press on it and rotate it, and it will feel sticky.  It actually takes very little grease to do the job. The amount in the vial may seem small, but it should last at least a month or two with daily use of the still.

Glass and clamps setup
Start by filling the boiling flask about 2/3 full with water (a little more is OK but no more than 2/3 maximum). Since you're distilling the water, tap water is OK, but you may want to use distilled or purified water so you don't get things like chlorine vapors coming into your biomass™ . Grease the biomass flask™ joints and assemble the biomass flask™ to the boiling flask (pre-loaded with plant material of course).

Place the biomass flask™ on top of the boiling flask, center the flasks on the burner, and secure the flasks using the 3 finger clamp, attached to the top neck of the biomass flask™.

NOW lightly grease both ends of the steam transfer tube and drop it into the top of the biomass flask™. Clip the condenser to the transfer tube using the provided red plastic "Keck" clamp.

Last, FILL the receiver™ (preload it) with distilled water- close the stopcock and pour in enough water to make it come out the drain tube.

As the distillation process begins and receiver™ fills up, the water level will pass the bottom level of the outlet pipe. You will likely have a small quantity of essential oil floating on the surface in the receiver™ by now, and you'll notice that a small "plug" of it gets caught in the receiver™'s outlet pipe. This oil will be lost into the hydrosol collection flask and will not be easy to recover

SO preload the receiver™ with water, and now using the green keck clamp, assemble it to the condenser. You may want to use the second mechanical clamp provided to hold it in place to the stand/support rod. If you've done it correctly it will look like the photos. The backplate should stand between the heater coils and the receiver™, so that heat radiating from the heater does not have a "line if sight" path to the receiver™. (this keeps your distilled oil cool)

Place the 500mL catch flask under the receiver™s' drip tip to catch the first hydrosol that comes off during distillation. It's best to position it so the drips hit the rim of the flask, so they don't splash as they drip into the water... OR if you are not interested in keeping the hydrosol, you can place the whole still on the edge of your sink so the hydrosol simply drips into the drain and goes away.

The best thing you can do is to use a bucket of ice water and a small "fountain" pump to pump chilled water through the condenser. Water goes IN THE BOTTOM and OUT THE TOP. Tap water will work just fine, but the experts say chilled water is better, and it conserves this precious resource. In any case, it only needs to be a trickle, but IT MUST ALWAYS BE MOVING. Once the distillation gets underway, ou will be able to tell if your flow is enough by feeling the temperature of the water coming out...if it is cold to luke warm, your flow is enough. If it's warm or hot, turn up the flow.

Be sure to plug the hoses on snugly... a hose popping off in the middle of a distillation is a good way to make a real mess! Small hose clamps may be used and are a good idea as long as they are tightened carefully so as not to break the glass. BASICALLY THAT'S IT

Turn on the condenser water, Make sure the stopcock on the receiver™ is CLOSED, Turn the hotplate on FULL HIGH and let it rip!

As the water heats up and starts to boil, you'll see steam starting to finally come out the top as the bionass flask heats up. This takes about half an hour. Eventually you'll finally see that first drip make it's way down the condenser and into the receiver™. Then you'll see a layer of oil starting to form... there it is!! You will likely find that with many plants, the bulk of the oil comes off in the first 10-20 minutes, and the remainder takes 2-4 hours.

As the process continues, the oil layer will grow, and when it's all done, you simply turn everything off and let it cool down, remove the receiver™, carefully drain off all the water you can by slowly opening the stopcock, and when the water's gone and the oil layer has just barely hit the bottom, quickly close the stopcock.

I then like to clamp the receiver™ to the support rod and let it hang there for 10 minutes or so, to allow any oil stuck on the sides to make it's way down and join the big puddle. Then finally, open the stopcock and drain the oil into a vial.

I usually just swirl a lot of soapy water around in the parts, and use a bristle brush to clean everything. It's all pyrex, so it can also be put in a dishwasher. It's a good idea to first wipe as much of the joint grease out as you can with a paper towel or kleenex. Otherwise just treat it as any other glass item and wash it as you will. BE CAREFUL to not clunk the glass against the sink... those plastic liners are nice for safety... most glassware is broken during cleaning!! If the flasks bump into a hard object like a tile counter or porclean sink, they may develop little tiny "star" cracks. These are dangerous- they can be repaired, but if left un-noticed, they can easily cause a flask to crack or break apart at the most inconvenient time, like when it's full of boiling water...BE CAREFUL WITH THE GLASSWARE!!

I've found that using a chopstick or a pair of medical Forceps is helpful in getting plant matter and stems out of the biomass flask™. Shaking it in a plastic trashcan also works well to remove finer plant material.

Guk in the boiling flask that builds up from the mineral deposits of your tap water can quickly be removed with a swirl of muriatic acid (pool acid) or dilute hydrochloric acid. BE CAREFUL with these acids, they are dangerous.

OPTIONAL COMPONENTS can be purchased for the following operations:

If you wish to do a "Hydrodistillation" instead of a steam distillation (the biomass is simply stuck right in there with the boiling water instead of in a separate flask) use the long hydrodistillation adapter (availiable as an optional component) in place of the biomass flask™, and then set the still up the same as you would for steam distillation. An insulating jacket is supplied to cover the adapter so it allows the steam to go all the way up to the top without condensing. Mix your biomass in with the water in the boiling flask and proceed as normal.

More "Classic" distillations
require the use of a thermometer in the process, and a slightly different setup using additional optional components.

In this case, put the liquid to be distilled into the boiling flask, put the optional thermometer stillhead™ in the top of the boiling flask, and set the condenser up diagonally, with the optional drip tip dripping into the 500mL flask.

The bioamss flask, steam transfer tube, and receiver™ are not used in these distillations.

ALWAYS USE BOILING CHIPS... turn the heat on and as things get going, turn it down until the rate of drip out the condenser is about a drip or two per second. Watch the thermometer as the distillate starts coming over, you'll see the thermometer shoot up to it's published boiling temperature. As long as the temperature stays there, you're collecting what you want. When all of what you are collecting is gone from the boiling brew, the temperature will often take a dip, distillation will stop for a moment as the temperature of the boiling pot increases, and then it will all resume at a higher temperature. This signals that it's time to stop at this point, or you'll now be diluting your prized catch with stuff you don't want!

If you're not well versed in the art of distillation, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO EVERYONE who is interested in venturing even the slighest amount beyond what's described in these is a book about basic chemistry laboratory practices and how not to blow yourself up in doing them. It's fun to read because the author is surprisingly funny as well as informative. You may not think you need to know anything about chemistry to distill essential oils and other things, but while this book is aimed at the college lab student, it's chock full of little tidbits that will help you understand what you are doing and how to do it safely. It's availiable from Clicking on the name of the book will take you to the appropriate Amazon webpage:

The Organic Chem Lab Survival Manual
By James W. Zubrick
$39.95...Click Here:

It's WELL worth every penny!!!

Last, in case you're interested in "boiling" and what it actually means, here's a little page of interesting info: Click Here:


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