Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is an Essential Oil?

Essential oils are highly concentrated, aromatic, volatile and insoluble substances that may be extracted from leaves, flowers, stems or roots of plants.

What are Essential Oils used for?

Essential Oils have numerous therapeutic properties. Depending on the plant they are extracted from they may be anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, laxative, diuretic, relaxing, analgesic or reinvigorating. They also have various industrial purposes such as in the making of perfumes, cosmetic products, soaps, food products, toothpastes and medicinal products amongst others.

What is a Carrier Oil?

A Carrier Oil, also known as a base oil is a vegetable oil used to dilute the more volatile essential oils for massage or when applied directly to the skin.

Why do Essential Oils need to be diluted before being applied?

This is a safety issue. In fact most Essential Oils can cause allergies or burn if applied undiluted in their pure state. Besides that, the effects of essential oils such as lavender, are not heightened when applied undiluted. Consequently its dilution permits you to save on the quantity of essential oil used.

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the use of volatile substances with therapeutic properties extracted from plants with the intention of stimulating the body and mind to restore the natural balance between both.

What are Floral Waters (Hydrolats)?

Floral waters, also known as hydrolats or hydrosols, are a by-product from the distillation of plant materials to obtain the essential oils. As such these floral waters retain some of the therapeutic qualities of the essential oils and may be applied on the skin as a toner or used for cosmetics. They may be applied directly on the skin as they only contain minute quantities of the essential oils.

What is the best method to extract Essential Oils and Floral Waters (Hydrolats)?

Distillation is considered to be the best method to obtain the purest form of essential oils and hydrolats. During distillation the plant material is heated by means of steam vapour to release the essential oil molecules present. Other methods of essential oil extraction include cold pressing, infusion and solvent extraction.

Do Essential Oils and Floral Waters (Hydrolats) have a shelf life?

Your essential oils should be carefully preserved so they may remain in the best possible condition and retain their therapeutic properties for longer. In ideal conditions the essential oils may keep up to 6 years but generally last up to 2 years. Floral waters have a shorter shelf life, generally 6 months.

What is an Alembic?

An alembic is a distilling apparatus of Arabic origin which may be used to distill a great variety of alcoholic beverages and essential oils. It is made up of 3 parts, the alembic pot, the swan neck lid and the condensing unit. Other models may include a pre-heater such as the Charentais model or column such as in the rotating column alembics often used for extracting essential oils. The reflux alembic incorporates the traditional alembic pot with the more modern reflux column.

What is an Alquitar?

As opposed to the alembic which has 3 parts (pot, swan neck lid and condensing unit) the alquitar has 2 parts, the pot and lid which incorporates a vapour chamber and condensing unit. The lid has a concave interior to collect rising vapours and is bowl shaped on top to hold cold water. As the rising vapours come into contact with the cold bowl shaped surface of the condensing unit on top they condense and are drawn off. Due to its characteristic construction less space is needed for distillation than with an ordinary alembic. This unit may also be used for extracting essential oils.

Are your Alembics and Alquitars made of 100% copper?

With the exception of our welded joints which may be of copper, brass, tin or silver all our handcrafted units are made of 100% copper of the highest quality.

Do your Alembics come with a guarantee?

All our Alembics come with a guarantee. Generally the guarantee period is for two years. The guarantee for our professional systems is from 10 to 20 years. Our guarantee does not cover improper use of the alembics or systems that have been modified.

Is distilling dangerous?

All our alembics are manufactured in accordance with safety and security measures. The enticing art of distillation however may involve some risks which may be minimised by paying careful attention to the process and following basic distillation laws. The greatest risk is the danger of fire due to the proximity of flammable liquids to the heat source. Also if there is an obstruction in the tubing of the alembic there may be some pressure build-up. Don't overlook all these factors. For more information please consult »Basic Distillation Rules« and »Safety Precautions«./p>

Is distilling legal?

In some countries yes others not. Different countries may have different laws and some may allow the home-distiller to distil small quantities or require a commercial licence. It is the client's responsibility to be informed of the laws that apply in their own countries. Our company does not hold itself responsible for the improper use of our alembics.

What kind of materials may I distil?

There is an endless list of materials that may be distilled. You may distil excellent beverages from fruits, cereals or other botanicals. Essential oils and floral waters may be obtained from flowers, leaves and the stems from aromatic plants.

How may I know the alcoholic percentage or volume of a distillate?

You may use an alcoholmeter to measure the alcoholic volume of your distillate. The higher your alcoholic volume the less dense your distillate will be and the lower your alcoholmeter will float in the distillate, allowing for a reading at the surface of the liquid.

May I dilute an alcoholic distillate?

In fact most well known alcoholic drinks are distilled to a high alcoholic volume and diluted with distilled water prior to bottling. Often these drinks must be diluted because they have to be commercialised at a standard alcoholic volume. The opposite may also be true when the alcoholic distillate does not attain the required alcoholic volume necessary for its commercialisation. In this case more alcohol may be added for example vinic alcohol.

What is the column capacity on the split top column alembics?

The column capacity is approximately 60% to 70% of the alembics total capacity in Litres. We cannot state how many kilos of organic material will fit inside; each material is different in weight and volume.

How much water should I fill the pot with when beginning distillation?

The pot should have 40% of its total capacity filled with water for regular distillations. When distilling wine, or other liquids, the pot can be filled up to 80% of the total capacity.

Can I use the same alembic for making alcohol and essential oils?

We do not recommend the use of the same equipment for both making alcoholic beverages and extraction of essential oils. If you have used an alembic for essential oils, no matter how well the unit is cleaned afterwards, the oils always leave behind residue that can be harmful and prejudicial to humans. For this reason, we recommend the use of two different equipments, one for alcohol, and one for essential oils.

What type / amounts of results will I achieve from a distillation?

The results will vary depending on what you are distilling and what methods you are using but generally you will achieve between 8 – 22 % of the alembics capacity of essential oil and around 38 – 42% of alcohol.

Do you sell separate parts of the alembic like the condenser, column or just the pot?

All our alembics are custom made and no two are exactly alike. Each part of the set is built in proportion to the rest of the equipment. For this reason we cannot manufacture or sell separate parts or risk the parts not fitting perfectly together. This is why we only sell full sets.

How can I maintain the water in the condenser at an appropriate temperature without overflowing?

Water doesn't have to be cold in the condenser; it just needs to be between 18 and 22 degrees. You can use a regular hose or fish tank hose for this purpose, opening the water flow as you see fit and there doesn't need to be a constant flow in the condenser. If the temperature is getting too cold, stop the water flow and this should regulate the levels and the temperature of the water.