Making Lavender Oil
Tap into the power of the essential oils lavender possesses. This beautiful herb packs a punch when it’s distilled to make essential oil. When making lavender oil, a true essential oil, the process involves distilling the flower buds, capturing the steam and condensing it into a liquid. It’s a procedure best left to professionals, unless you’re experienced with steam distillation. In your own kitchen, you can practice making lavender oil or a tincture.
Because both are made with lavender flowers and buds, you’ll still have the properties and benefits of the essential oils in lavender. With the lavender oil, you can apply it directly to skin, something that’s not always recommended with pure lavender essential oil. The tincture is alcohol-based, and it can last up to 5 years.
Making lavender oil requires simple ingredients: 1.5 cups olive oil, 7 Vitamin E oil capsules and 1.5 to 2 cups lavender buds or flowers. Heat the olive until it bubbles at pot edges. Add lavender and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature, and strain twice—once through a metal strainer and the second time through a coffee filter. Pierce the Vitamin E capsules, squeeze the oil into the lavender oil and stir.
Refrigerate in a sterilized, airtight glass jar. The oil becomes cloudy when cold, but clears upon warming to room temperature. Store in the fridge for up to six weeks and/or freeze a portion. Frozen lavender oil remains strongly fragrant for four to six months. Use this lavender oil in your bath, as a skin moisturizer, cologne or dry hair oil treatment.
To make an oil tincture, cover slightly crushed (don’t crush until mushy) lavender flowers and buds with grain alcohol or vodka in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Store the jar in a dark place (like a cupboard) for two weeks, shaking daily. The longer the lavender sits in the oil, the more essential oils you’ll extract into the alcohol. After a week, strain the lavender from the alcohol using a coffee filter. You might need to strain twice.
Store your tincture in a dark glass jar in a cupboard to prevent sunlight from breaking it down. Use this lavender tincture like lavender essential oil. You’ll need to use a little more because the oils are diluted in the tincture.
If you’re purchasing lavender essential oil, it’s worth knowing that most of the commercially available lavender oil is a blend of several lavenders. In the professional world of oils, it’s known as Lavender 40/42. It’s the go-to blend for candles and soaps and is consistent in its floral fragrance. Lavandins (Lavandula x intermedia) also yield an essential oil used in candles and soaps.
For aromatherapy, look for a lavender essential oil made from English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). It’s sometimes sold as French or Bulgarian lavender, referring to the region where it’s grown. Spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia) yields an essential oil that has a strong herbal scent with more camphor tones.