" Blog da Horta Biológica: How To Make Hydrosol with an Alembic

How To Make Hydrosol with an Alembic

Hydrosols are delicate floral waters and, in addition to their aroma, they contain the medicinal properties of the plants. In our post How to Make Hydrosol | Floral Water we explained what hydrosols are and how to make them at home, in a simple way using not much more than a pot. In this post we will show you how to make hydrosol using an alembic, which allows for a more efficient distillation and a higher yield.

At the end of the post you can also watch our educational video where we show you how to do it step by step. If you already make hydrosols at home and want to know how to preserve them, please visit our post How To Preserve Hydrosols and Prolong Their Shelf Life.




The alembic we used for this post and video is a small 10L alembic that does not have a column for steam distillation, so the plants were placed inside the boiler in contact with the water to do a hydro-distillation.

The plant we chose was lavender (Lavandula stoechas), but you can use other plants you are interested in. 



The Alembic


For those who want to start using the alembic, here are the names of its components:




How To Make It


All flowers, stems and leaves can be used. However, because most of the aromatic molecules are found in the flowers of this plant, and because our alembic is small, we have used only the flowers.

The stems and leaves can be used, for example, to make natural incense.


Here’s how we make our lavender hydrosol.

  1. We place the flowers inside the boiler and take note of the weight of the flowers.
  2. Then we put distilled water in, using a ratio of 3 parts of water to 1 part of plant. With the plant and water inside, the boiler is ready to go on the stove.
  3. We cover and join the helmet and condenser tubes. The joints of these tubes can also be sealed with Teflon tape.
  4. We turn on the stove and wait for the water to start boiling.

 


The Distillation Process


This is what happens during the distillation process.

  1. As the water boils, steam will rise, pass through the condenser tube (also known as the gooseneck) and descend to the condenser coil. The condenser is filled with cold water. During the whole process, the water in the condenser is kept cold by circulation through a pump, which can be an aquarium pump. This pump must be placed in a tank where the water can be kept cold. This can be a bucket, bowl or sink. To keep the water cold throughout the process, cold accumulators or ice cubes can be used.
  2. The water comes out from the top of the condenser, goes to the pump tank and is pumped back to the condenser. It is advisable that this pipe has a flow regulating valve, so that the water slowly flows back in from the bottom of the condenser.
  3. The cold water will condense the vapors that are inside the coil, and the hydrosol will start coming out.
  4. The floral water must come out into a jar, preferably made of glass. This jar must have a funnel and a coffee filter to prevent plant residues from getting into the hydrosol.
  5. After about 1h30 we turn off the stove and wait until no more hydrosol comes out.
  6. Then we wait for the alembic to cool down, remove the plant and rinse the alembic  with alcohol. The alembic must be kept very clean and dry until the next use.

 

When doing all this process it is important to record some data such as the weight of the plant and the final yield of the hydrosol. In this process we used 337g of plant and obtained about 700ml of hydrosol.

To learn how to store the hydrosol correctly so that it lasts for a long period of time, read our post How to Store Hydrosols and Prolong Their Shelf Life.


For a better understanding, here’s our video where we show this process step by step. If you like our videos and haven't subscribed to our YouTube channel yet, take the opportunity to do so if you don't want to miss a thing!


VIDEO: How To Make Hydrosol with an Alembic






 








 




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