View Full Version : Essential oils without a chromatography reservoir...

07-22-2013, 07:16 AM

I wanted to extract an essential oil by steam distillation.
My main problem is the equipment.

The amazing chromatography reservoirs are NOT available in my country (it is easy to find chromatography columns, but for some reason ALL the glassware providers make the column without using a reservoir).

So I wanted to ask you for advice...

I thought of some options:
-Getting a "plain" fractional distillation column:

http://www.bimarloga.com.ar/site/components/com_virtuemart/show_image_in_imgtag.php?filename=50b34db14f3b3e5b 058e3f9b053c437d.gif

The biggest one I can get is 3,2 centimeters wide x 40 centimeters long... so it contains 128 cm2... I think this is probably too small. What do you think?

A second option I have would be this one:

I have some doubts about it... I am afraid of calcinating the plant in the second vessel. What do you think about this second option?

A third option would be this one:

since this vessel is easy to get: http://www.bimarloga.com.ar/site/components/com_virtuemart/show_image_in_imgtag.php?filename=741298bd26327aae e627e366db688688.gif

The FOURTH option would be to ask the glassware factory to make a chromatography reservoir for me... but I assume they will charge me with a huge amount of money. So I wanted to investigate if other "cheaper" options were possible.

The fifth option of buying one from abroad doesn't exist... mostly because the president of my country is an asshole... that's the short explanation.

If you have other options, please feel free to share them.

07-31-2013, 09:14 PM
Hello zoas23!

I looked up some pics of a chromatography reservoir and I'm wondering how you would use it to catch your oils. Could you show a pic of how you would set it up to do this?

Your 2nd option reminds me of this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDojS7PWWPY, minus the vessel on the left in your drawing and you would place the water or solvent in the same vessel as your plant material.

Another option would be a Soxhlet extractor.

08-01-2013, 01:41 AM
Hi zoas23 and Dr Zoidberg

The best oil extraction apparatus that I have used is the CLEVENGER.
Here is a pic of one and a link on how to use it.



08-01-2013, 02:03 AM
The Reservoir would be placed on top of the flask with the solvent.. So the plant is in the reservoir and the solvent is in a different flask.


Very similar to the video you have posted, except that the plant and the solvent don't share the same flask... so it's a steam distillation, which, I think, works better for essential oils.

08-01-2013, 05:37 PM
Hello Black! That is an interesting piece...never seen one before... the video mentions advantages and disadvantages, could you state a few for us?

zoas23, thanks for clarifying your set up. Can you list or link to the pieces you have available? Even though all your pics don't show ground joints, it looks as though you are trying to set up a sealed apparatus. Your set up here looks promising though we might make a few suggestions if your set up will be sealed:


We use a vacuum take off adapter right before our final receiving flask to prevent pressure build up. Here is what it looks like:


Also do not attach the receiving flask until a few drops have accumulated in your condenser. This prevents pressure build up from the initial heating of your solvent. We usually place a beaker as the receiving vessel just in case we don't catch the first few drops coming over then switch over the ground glass receiving vessel.

08-01-2013, 06:59 PM
Thank you.

I found something that may work... but I don't know what it is... I'll have to go to the shop and ask them to show it to me.

http://www.bimarloga.com.ar/site/components/com_virtuemart/show_image_in_imgtag.php?filename=b08ab17579780598 5914755bf4b37d14.gif

I think it's mostly the same thing than a chromatography reservoir, except that the vessel has some sort of thing inside it (I assume it has some holes). Hard to tell by looking at the photo... but I'll go to the shop and I'll see what it is.

08-01-2013, 07:10 PM
Hey hey! That looks promising! Post what it is once you find out what it is, if you don't mind.

Also where are you just out of curiosity? (If you are willing/able to share)

08-01-2013, 07:23 PM
I'm in Argentina.
So it's hard (or almost impossible) to import pieces because of the restrictions to imported items (a "protective economy" gone crazy).

In most cases this isn't a problem for the lab, because the same items are also produced here and they are actually cheaper... but when there isn't a factory producing a specific piece, it is quite a nightmare (specially because I know about the "cheap version" of most of the equipment pieces using "big" glass tubes... but for some reason, the "big" glass tubes are expensive in a surreal way here -100 dollars for a 10 cm x 15 cm tube... so the "home-made and cheap" version of most pieces of the equipment actually cost by far more than the "real" piece).

08-01-2013, 08:19 PM
Gotcha. It is always interesting to hear accounts of others' realities. Good luck with your essential oil distillation! Quick question, do you use dry or fresh ingredients and why?

08-01-2013, 09:34 PM
Gotcha. It is always interesting to hear accounts of others' realities. Good luck with your essential oil distillation! Quick question, do you use dry or fresh ingredients and why?

I've used both, but I always did it mostly like in the video you've posted (a bit different, but mostly the same thing -the big difference would be the equipment)... I haven't had the chance to test with steam distillation yet.
I should say that I haven't noticed a BIG difference yet (when it comes to essential oils).

08-03-2013, 12:50 AM
Hi Dr. Zoidberg

The main disadvantage is the cost of this apparatus but the advantage is that you are able to steam larger quantities of herb at one time using a large flask and you can tap off your oil as required. Sometimes it can be cheaper to have a laboratory glassblower make these for you. Take care.