My Aromatic Distillation Gear

My Aromatic Distillation Gear

I’ve put a lot of effort into building a set of gear that allows me to distill comfortably anywhere I go. I’m happy to share it with you.

My gear list:

  • 10 l column alembic still;
  • Portable double burner gas stove and a 3 kg propane-butane gas cylinder;
  • 125 ml separatory funnel;
  • 10 l water container with a tap (I use it for cooling the condenser);
  • Several 1-3 l glass containers as hydrolat receivers;
  • Several 5-100 ml glass beakers for hydrolat testing and bottling;
  • Scale (5 kg, d=1 g) for plant material;
  • A bucket for collecting the warm water from the condenser.

Heating source gear

Camping or fishing equipment stores are a good place to look for a burner. If you have 10l alembic or smaller, I highly recommend getting a double burner stove. Both the alembic and the condenser will fit onto it comfortably. You won’t have to look for something to put under the condenser ever again. If, however, your alembic is 20 l or bigger – a single burner is a way to go.

Cooling system gear for effective aromatic distillation

Note that I do not use a water pump. I chose to have a water tank with a tap instead. Why?

I often distill away from home. Be it our camper, my friend’s place, retreat or educational event. Having a portable water container gives me the freedom to distill anywhere I want and not to depend on electricity or tap water. Also there are no other sounds except of the alembic. This allows me to fully immerse myself in the calmness of the distillation.

Another benefit of this system is you have a constant flow of cool water. If you are using a water pump that means your water runs in a closed system (condenser – water container -condenser) and it gets warmer and warmer. You need to take action to cool it by adding ice or replacing part of the water. I don’t like the idea of having a changing temperature of the cooling water. It can get too hot too quickly and suddenly you’re not converting the vapors into the liquid anymore.

Depending on the distillation length I need 7- 20 l of water for cooling. Most often I use it to water the plants afterwards. When it cools, of course. Sometimes I use it to wash things while it is still warm.

Felter cover to save the heat

Additional notes

In the featured picture you see a felted cover that I made for the top part of the alembic. I use it when I distill outdoors and it’s chilly. Copper is a very good heat conductor and it gets hot or cool very quickly. If it’s rather cold outside, the vapors at the top section of the alembic sometimes get too cool too quickly and the reflux may happen. That hurts the efficiency of the distillation and it also immensely slows the process. The solution is to insulate those top parts so the vapors get to the condenser without losing too much of the heat.

If you only distill indoors, you’ll probably never need it.

Happy aromatic distillation!

Have a question? Leave a comment below this post. I’ll be happy to answer or even write a blog post on the things you want to know.

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