How to make an essential oil still at home-A distillation workshop at The Apothecary’s garden.

Gratitude to Christianne L’Esperance for shooting, editing and posting this video. It shows how easy it is to distill essential oils at home. In it I share some of the basic principles, terminology, dos and don’ts, easy to access parts and where to get them. Though by no means a step by step walk through, I hope my approach and philosophy are just as helpful as the practical instructions. Recording was cut short by a dying phone battery, but the outcome of a distillation demonstration is no mystery. Attendees received the hydrosol of Frankincense Serrata with a healthy layer of essential oil. My thanks to everyone who came to the workshop and made it so enjoyable for me.




  1. Hi Dan, I’m looking to isolate citrus essential oils. Do you have any recommendations for resources or classes in Northern California? Really enjoying reading your blog

    1. Hi Moyra.
      I don’t, however if you post your question in the Facebook group, “Artisan Essential oil distillers” you are bound to find someone with the information you need. If you are not in the group, I highly recommend you join.

  2. Thanks you Dan for the informative Video, Got a few questions

    1) You mentioned 8 hours are required to distill? can i distill for 4 hours and then re-distill it again next day again for another 4 hours or it has to be continues to extract all the oil at once
    2) What is the yield for those resins if distilled 4 and 8 hours for B. Carterii, Myrrh and B. frereana?
    3) Why do you use couscousierre instead of Copper pot? i heard copper gives a nice color and amazing smell?
    4) is it safe to distill inside a home with a hot plate? if yes, does the on and off or the heat recycling of the hot plate effects the final result? since i have a feeling that heat should be consistent.
    5) Do you prefer steam or hydro distillation for the resins?

    Thank you in advance, Sorry to to end up with lots of questions not few 🙂

    1. Hi Abdi.
      – Letting the water cool in the middle of a distillation leads to many problems. In the case of resins, they will sink to the bottom and are more likely to burn once the still is reheated.
      -I don’t know what yield a shortened distillation will give you. Usually with a long enough distillation you will get 2% to 6% essential oil yield depending on the resin.
      – The Couscousierre is an educational tool. It allows anyone to learn the principles of distillation at home and distill their own essential oils without buying expensive equipment. I distill in it to show beginners how it is done.
      Some hotplates offer a consistent heat, others dont. What is more important is having a thick or conductive bottom to the pot that spreads the heat evenly
      and material doesn’t burn.
      -In my opinion hydro distillation is the most efficient way to distill resins.

  3. The video is informative but the sound isn’t so good!
    Can you tell us where to the name of the distributor for the distillation equipment pls.

    1. Hi Lyla.
      I don’t mention the brand of the couscousierre in the video. However this is the one I used. You can find them on Ebay for about $100.00-$150.00 US.
      Cuisinox Gourmet 16 Quart Cous Cous Pot

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