Separating ethanol (diluted or no) from essential oils ?

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Separating ethanol (diluted or no) from essential oils ?

Postby khourygeo78 » Tue Jan 03, 2017 8:56 am


I have been trying for some time to separate essential oils from ethanol to no avail. After following procedures, I can get essential oils with some volatile salts dissolved in ethanol, however I cannot separate them from the ethanol

I tried a few methods. I added salt water to try and separate to no avail, and then tried to fraction distillate, but it seems like the essential oils will stick to the ethanol no matter what. Tried to use alkalis, nothing. Ammonia, nothing

If I really saturate the alcohol with essential oils, I sometimes diluted water to get a milky white solution then by heating below boiling point, the oil will float on top. However, this method isnt practical because it needs a lot of time to saturate the ethanol, and only a small fraction of the oil floats

The only way that has worked in separating the 2 is by leaving the mixture on atmospheric temperature, in which the oil would fall to the bottom and the alcohol evaporate. If I heat the mixture to around 40 deg C, the oil will vaporize with the alcohol. Any help?

I was thinking maybe mixing ethanol with an azeotrope may make it separable from the essential oil?

Thank you for your time
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Re: Separating ethanol (diluted or no) from essential oils ?

Postby still_stirrin » Tue Jan 03, 2017 12:21 pm

Hey mr. K,

Since this question deals with essential oils exclusively, why don't you take it to the "Essential Oils" forum. You probably will get more/better response there. In this forum, it gets views but most here are concerned with drinking spirits, not making essential oils. But there is a special forum on the website which deals specifically with them. You'll have more luck there.
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Re: Separating ethanol (diluted or no) from essential oils ?

Postby Bushman » Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:19 pm

Sorry I didn't see this post earlier, here are the most common methods for separating hydrosol and the oil.
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Re: Separating ethanol (diluted or no) from essential oils ?

Postby manu de hanoi » Fri Feb 24, 2017 6:49 am

here's a random thing i'd try: add water. I would hope that water and ethanol have more affinity for each other than water and oil or ethanol and oil.
Freezing distillation could help too
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Re: Separating ethanol (diluted or no) from essential oils ?

Postby Forest Beekeeper » Fri Jun 23, 2017 4:56 pm

I would think that sitting in a freezer for a week should help.
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Re: Separating ethanol (diluted or no) from essential oils ?

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun Sep 10, 2017 10:44 am

OK, so, you say you added salt water? How much salt water and how much salt? If you have a ethanolic solution of essential oils you'll have to dilute it WAY down with water to really bring the polarity up. The amount of salt you add and the TYPE will affect things greatly as well. When selecting salt for flocculation and precipitation you should always try to use one that has an anti caking agent such as sodium silicoaluminate or something of that same ilk. That anti caking salt will induce much better flocculation. The amount you add is big too, I'd swamp the water solution first before adding the ethanol/essential oil mix. Put more salt than will dissolve in the water. You'll need to mix and stir once the etoh/essential oil solution is added to increase molecule interaction. In terms of ph adjustment, using a base isn't always appropriate, sometimes making the solution acidic will work better, the chemistry of essential oils and solubility will vary from plant to plant, it's not universal. Once you've diluted with excess salt water put it in the fridge for a day. You should start getting good separation though as to whether the oil floats or sinks will depend on the oil in question. To separate it you'll probably need a seperatory funnel. If it's still not falling out of solution in one form or another you may be s.o.l. but based on my experience this would be a highly unlikely scenario.....
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