Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Distilling Lavender Essential Oil

When you get a bunch of lavender growers in a room and ask them about distilling you get as many passionate descriptions about the only way to distill as you have people in the room. At the International Lavender Conference in Cambridge earlier this month there were people from world famous lavender farms as well as much smaller entities, like ours. Henry Head, from Norfolk Lavender, showed off his distilling system that has been in use since 1933.

For those who are debating the issue of whether copper or stainless is the best, the vats are lined with copper. They are clearly very old and well used after having distilled their world class oil for over 75 years. Hanging is a top to one of the pots and a pusher that compacts the lavender in the pot. To Henry's left on the floor is the separator.

To get the lavender to the distilling room he showed us the harvester they have developed. The front part scoops up and cuts the lavender and it goes into the green bin behind. The unit is attached to a tractor, I believe, and harvesting goes quite quickly. Norfolk Lavender produces primarily an oil out of angustifolia lavenders, I don't think they do much with the hybrids (lavandins), but if you know differently, please comment to correct.

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