Distillation Equipment


We can design and manufacture a complete unit for the production of essential oils. The one shown here contains a 450 litre capacity perforated stainless steel basket to hold the charge of product for extraction. The basket is usually lined with fine muslin to prevent small particles falling into the water; the raw material for extraction (e.g. lavender) is then placed within, and the muslin folded over the top. The basket is then lowered into the vessel, the stainless cone etc. attached and the heating applied. As the water boils, the steam then passes through the product which is suspended above the liquid and then passes up the cone. The vapour then travels through the stainless steel water-cooled condenser where liquification occurs and the essential oils separate from the distillate.

A special glass cylinder is fitted with take-off taps to allow removal of the essential oil during the distillation, whilst the aqueous part of the distillate returns to the still for further processing. The distillate may also be removed here so that it can be used as 'hydrosol' e.g. Lavender water. 

The Still works efficiently to produce many highly valuable Essential Oils that are then able to be sold directly in the farm shop. Of course the oils can also be incorporated into many other products that contain these home-produced oils - soaps, shampoos, toiletries etc.... 

The heating can be provided by incorporating either single or 3-phase electric heating elements, or by using gas burners; in this latter case, the base of the still is increased to a heavier gauge of stainless steel to withstand prolonged heating without distortion..

A highly insulated Still was supplied to an essential oil producer located on a remote off-shore island, where 3-phase electricity is not available. It was therefore designed to operate on 4 x 3kWatt single phase elements: it carried a 450 litre basket and has been found to need just 3 or 6kWatts of power to keep it operating smoothly once boiling point has been achieved. A tremendous range of essential oils has already been produced, including some that are definitely new to the perfumery scene (hStill productionow about samphire oil for starters!).

Other Stills that we have produced have become an integral part of the Tourist Trade, especially as many such farms are open to the public. If the Still is to be an integral part of a conducted tour, then we can construct it from highly polished stainless steel to give it an impressive appearance!.

Here is another still was commissioned for a farm in the South West and was supplied with smart Lavender-coloured cone and vessel insulation jackets.

This one has two 500 litre baskets with solid walls and a perforated stainless steel base. It is equipped with a central lifting eye to enable it to be raised and lowered into the steam vessel and the second charge basket is there to aid continuous production. This means that as soon one distillation is completed and the basket has been removed, the second charge-basket is ready to be lowered into the vessel - and the water will be able to start re-boiling in just a few minutes.


 Pilot Plant Glass Stills 

We are pleased to announce the arrival of our new Small-Scale Commercial Distillation Units, designed exclusively for the production of the highest quality Essential Oils. It operates by a very different system to the usual extraction methods that are normally used when dealing with limited quantities of plant material and copies the extraction method used in our full-sized Stainless Steel Stills shown above.

For most small-scale production, the process normally involves immersing plant material in water and then bringing it to the boil: this means that there is a possibility of creating off-notes in the essential oil, caused by hydrolysis during the prolonged boiling process.

These Pilot-Plant Stills only use dry steam to extract the Essential oils, producing the finest quality and the highest yields. At no time does the plant material come into contact with the boiling water and the entire distillation takes place within a Pyrex glass environment.

The plant material is fitted into the charge column through the 100mm (4 inch) diameter flange opening at the top (big enough for the largest hand!). A stainless steel perforated disc is fitted at the base to hold the charge and prevent any of the crop falling into the water. The charge column itself is a massive 180mm (7 inches) diameter x 1200mm (48 inches) long and this means that it will hold 30 litres of plant material - perfect for small production runs or pilot-plant trials. Naturally other sizes can be produced to suit exact customer requirements.

The 100mm (4 inch) flange at the base of the column allows the charge column to mate onto the flange of a standard 20 litre round-bottom Pyrex flask that is seated within an appropriate heating mantle. Both flanges (flask and column) are held together with the special stainless steel clips. The heating mantle has its temperature controller mounted on its outer bodywork so that a steady rolling boil is easily achieved pilotplant2using a fill of approximately 8-10 litres of water.

A standard 100mm (4 inch) flange top, equipped with a single B34 socket fits on to the top flange on the column; once again again both flanges are clipped together with stainless spring clips. Into this socket is fitted a custom-designed Dean & Stark Apparatus, where the Essential Oil separates from the condensate and is then collected and removed.

This 'Dean and Stark' has been designed so that it can hold up to 100ml of Essential Oil and the receiving arm is calibrated so that the distiller knows exactly how much Essential Oil is being produced. If this capacity is not enough, the Essential Oil can be removed in stages using the 'Rotoflow' tap situated at the base of the equipment: this tap also allows removal of both Essential Oil and Hydrosol during, or at the end of, the distillation process.

Finally a twin-coil high-efficiency condenser fits into the top cone of the Dean & Stark and this ensures that all of the steam plus the essential Oil condenses and is returned to the boiling flask via the Dean & Stark and the charge column.

Being a large piece of equipment, it naturally requires support in various sections: this is provided by a custom-built aluminium welded scaffold, fitted with a sturdy base plate and strengthening ribs. It has extra bars fitted so that standard laboratory boss and clamps can be used to hold the cones and flanges in place. However, the front is entirely open so that the Charge column can be easily accessed, enabling discharge and refilling to take place without delay.

For all of the above, finance is available; please contact GN Ltd for further details.

 In addition, we are now supplying inexpensive laboratory sized distillation equipment to enable the grower to determine the exact time to harvest his crop to therefore optimise the yield and/or quality. This small set-up comprises a heating mantle and the glassware necessary to measure accurately the oil extracted, all supported with a stand and clamps etc. 

Please enquire for further information - or check out our book "Making Sense of Making Scents" that covers all aspects of Essential Oil distillation.