A Portable Steam Distillation Unit for Essential Oil Crops

in HortTechnology
Authors: B.H. Alkire1 and J.E. Simon1
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  • 1 Deparment of Horticulture, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1165.

An experimental steam distillation unit has been designed, built, and tested for the extraction of essential oils from peppermint and spearmint. The unit, using a 130-gal (510-liter) distillation tank, is intermediate in size between laboratory-scale extractors and commercial-sized distilleries, yet provides oil in sufficient quantity for industrial evaluation. The entire apparatus-a diesel-fuel-fired boiler, extraction vessel, condenser, and oil collector-is trailer-mounted, making it transportable to commercial farms or research stations. Percentage yields of oil per dry weight from the unit were slightly less than from laboratory hydrodistillations, but oil quality and terpene composition were similar.

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