Steam distillation is the process of boiling water or another liquid to get it really hot and then letting the water vapor cool and condense into a clean liquid. The equipment may be found in many places, such as homes, because it can be used for cooking, cleansing, and sterilizing.
In this guide, I’ll teach you how to do steam distillation yourself, step by step and with two different methods: the stirring method or the continuous method.
Types of Steam Distillation
The first thing you need is steam to make your distillation. The Steam Distillation Lab for Beginners shows you how to make your own from a pressure cooker. You can also find ways to create your own steam in different ways. For example, if you have a hot tub, you could add the hot water and boil some water and let the steam condense into a liquid. If you have a steam sauna, hang a receiving jar from the ceiling and add your ingredients to it.
Okay, so you got your steam now. It is time to choose the method of distillation that works best for you. The Stirring Method and Continuous Method each have their advantages.
The Stirring Method
With this method, you will stir the water in your distillation equipment with a glass rod or other glass object until all of the water vapor has turned into liquid again. The definition of “all” is not clearly defined, as this is not a scientific process. In fact, some people like to remove undissolved particles left behind during the distillation.
The Continuous Method
In the continuous method, you will continuously stir your equipment with a glass rod or other glass object while boiling water in it. The definition of “continuously” is also subject to interpretation, as it can be done at a particular time or whenever the heat source is on.
This method is very similar to the stirring method, except that you will have a small electric fan blowing air over the hot water. This will make it easier for the water vapor to cool and condense into a liquid.
Just put your container onto a hot plate with an electric heating element, or use a stovetop and set your water to boil. Be sure to use a heat source that is appropriate for the type of container you are using. (Your equipment should be able to tolerate temperatures of at least 200 degrees Celsius).
When you are ready, place your glass container into the steam distillation apparatus. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the correct amount of distilled water for your equipment.
Next, turn on the heat source and adjust the time needed for distillation to occur. You will need to keep your equipment on a boil for at least four hours or as long as it takes for distillation to complete.
After that, remove your glass container from the heat source, and let it cool down by itself until it reaches room temperature. Clean your glass container and continue.
Examples of steam distillation
You can easily make steam distillation with your home equipment. Let’s look at some examples:
You have a large pot, and place it on the stove and fill it with water while boiling it. Steam will rise from the heated water, and you can see it bubbling up.
You can use this type of steam distillation for cooking. Place your ingredients in a receiving jar, and place it inside the hot water to boil and create steam. Be sure to boil your water for at least four hours, and remove it when the steam stops rising, being careful not to burn yourself.
You can use this method to make herbal steam distillation. Let’s look at an example: Take some sage, rosemary, bay leaves, thyme, and other herbs. In a coffee cup or other small container covered with aluminum foil, add some of your mixed herbs. Fill the rest of your container with boiling water and set it aside for a while.
History of steam distillation
Steam distillation is an ancient process that was used even before the Middle Ages. People in ancient times used it to remove the aromas from wine or perfumes.
In the Middle Ages, steam distillation was used in European households for cooking. It was also used for some medical and other chemical processes, such as alcohol production and metals purification. It wasn’t until after 1800 that steam distillation became popular again for creating distilled liquids such as water, ethanol, ether, and many others.
Steam distillation has recently become popular again, mainly for its home uses. As you can see in the examples above, it is easy to create your own steam distillation with your home equipment and ingredients.
Steam Distillation Lab for Beginners shows you how to make your own steam container and other items needed for steam distillation from a pressure cooker.
Cooking with Distilled Water
Distilled water has a much higher boiling temperature than conventional tap water, making it very effective for cooking because it is never hotter than 100 degrees Celsius. Distilled water also evaporates much faster than tap water, which allows you to cook with it more frequently and keep it cold with ice cubes.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Steam Distillation
There are many advantages to distilling your own water. For example, you can create water at room temperature and drink it as a more refreshing option than cold tap water. Distilled water is also odorless and tasteless, so you won’t need to add anything else to it for flavor. Distilled water is often used for cleaning, too.
Lately, there have been some concerns about the plastic leaching into the distilled water from the distillation containers. These chemicals are not absorbed into the distillation apparatus, but they may be into the distilled water. This means that using plastic containers and rinsing them out with water before you use them afterward may be a good idea.
Now that you know about the advantages of distilling your own distilled water, you can choose a method and begin learning how to distill water yourself. There are many ways you can make steam and still be able to use it for various purposes.
How to Use Steam Distillation
If you want to use steam distillation for cleaning purposes, you will need to leave the water in the container overnight. Once this is done, filter it and fill up your containers with sterilized water.
Steam distillation can also be used to make herbal tinctures. You will first need to boil the flowers or other parts of any herbs that you have on hand to do this. Be sure that they are fresh because dried herbs will create a yeasty smell and liquid during steaming. After boiling the herbs, add them to a metal container and steam them with your distilled water. The water will evaporate, and the herb can then be extracted into a liquid. You will need to strain it out of the distillation vessel.
You can also use this method for extracting essential oils from plants. Boil your plants and place them in your glass distillation vessel. Then, use your steam distillation apparatus as usual to complete the process. Now you can enjoy the benefits of essential oils in your home!
Instructions for Making a Medicine Using Steam Distillation
There are many different ways that you can use steam distillation for making herbal tinctures and essential oils. However, if you want to take an extra step and create a medicine you can take at home, be sure to follow the directions below.
Find or make your medicine from a plant whose properties you are looking for. The components of this medicine will need to be mixed well before steam distillation will begin. Be sure to mix all of the herbs to be completely submerged in the distilled water before starting steaming.
Steam distilled water is highly effective for cleaning purposes because it seems to kill microorganisms on contact. You will need to make a mixture of the herbs you are looking for and then use some distilled water to submerge them within a glass container. Be sure to let it work for at least 10 minutes for the herb mixture to absorb the steam from the water. After this, you can strain off all of your water and any remaining herb particles and place them into a medicine bottle.
Where to Use Steam Distillation
Steam distillation can be used for several different purposes. You will find that there are many different ways to use this technology. The uses that we have listed below may not be the only ones that you will experience when you begin using this process in your home. We encourage you to explore the possibilities and create other uses for your steam distilled water as well!
It is important to note that steam distillation may pose some risks to health if used carelessly. It is also important that you do not inhale the steam from any of your steam distilled water. Doing so could be dangerous, and we do not recommend it at all.
Although there may be some risks to steam distillation, it is a great way to enhance your home’s health. If you have never used this technology before, we encourage you to try it out for yourself and experience the many benefits. You will soon notice why this is such a popular process and method for people around the world.
Common Problems that May Occur in a Steam Distillation Process
When you begin using steam distillation, there are a few things that you will need to keep in mind. You will find that some common problems can occur when using steam distillation for your personal home use. We have listed these problems below to learn more about them and how to prevent them from occurring.
One of the most common problems associated with steam distillation is the appearance of residue on the glassware. This residue is filled with compounds that are not healthy for the body. It is not aesthetically pleasing either. You can prevent the residue from forming by first ensuring no water droplets in the steam and then using distilled water to produce your steam.
Another common problem that may arise is over-heating the steam. If you let the steam heat up for too long, it can turn brown and burn the plants you are trying to distill.
Things You Must Be Aware of When Operating a Steam Distillation
When operating a steam distillation, it is important to know the water’s specific gravity and how to collect the distilled alcohol. If you do not have proper knowledge of specific gravity, you can easily end up with too strong alcohol. It would be like using a weak tea bag and then trying to make a strong pot of tea.
The best part about steam distillation is that you can use it in areas where direct electricity access might be uncertain or hard to find. Many places in the world (for example, remote villages in developing countries) lack proper electrical infrastructure. Using a solar still, it is possible to distill clean drinking water from seawater or any other kind of impure water source. It can also be useful in disaster situations.
Steps for Making a Medicine Using Steam Distillation
You will first need to find a plant whose components you would like to make the medicine out of. This medicine’s components will need to be mixed to become a substance that is both a liquid and an extract.
Once the herbs have been steamed, you can then use some distilled water to submerge them to work as intended. Be sure that there are no water droplets left behind in your steam distillation apparatus after the process and that you have also not over-heated your steam.
The process of steam distillation was refined by the
Ottoman Empire in the late 14th century and early 15th century. Avicenna described the process of distillation in his treatise, “On Canon of Medicine.” He recommended using either glass or earthenware still due to their apparent ability to produce higher-quality distilled water and greater yields than pottery stills.
In 1441, Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (later Pope Pius II) published his book on medicine “De re medica,” a compendium of medieval medicinal techniques.
References, Other Sources, and Extra Information