DIY: Drying your own herbs and making essential oils

Raised Garden Bed
Raised Garden Bed

So I got into herb gardening earlier this year when my boyfriend and I constructed a raised bed and planted some herbs. My first round was  rosemary and lavender (the essentials in a lot of cosmetic and culinary endeavors). I also got two pots and planted a variety of mint and chamomile just for kicks later that month.

My main motivation for herb gardening is not to do a great rosemary chicken rub (even though that sounds delightful), I actually wanted to capture the essential oils so I can use them in my hair concoctions (moisturizing spray) and soap making. Rosemary especially makes a great preservative/antioxidant for those DIY projects. Why go through all that hassle of obtaining some essential oil? Well I like them to be organic to boot, so we are talking about $35 for 2oz or less and that is when it's on sale!

So my attempt at successfully trying to capture essential oil has been difficult in terms of collecting knowledge of how to do it. There is no de facto book to turn too and the ones I have checked out from the library are very chemical property/science-y based. I just wanna learn how to distill some oils! Granted the home processes without the heavy equipment is not going to be pure essential oils but close enough and I'm fine with that.

In the end I turned to the internet to get most of my information in my attempt at making an essential oil and I found the best route was drying fresh herbs and letting them sit in high proof alcohol (aka Everclear). Today however I am going to try doing it with fresh herbs, not dried and pouring the alcohol over it to see if maybe I get a better yield. I don't plan on collecting the oils until after a month or so. At that point I was reading you should freeze it (since alcohol doesn't freeze, and whatever is frozen is the essential oil). We shall see. I'm expecting to literally get a fingernail full of essential judging from the amount of herbs used to get a drop of extract.

Below is my process of drying to canning. I dried the herbs upside down in some twine on a hanger and hung it up in my garage (dark, with some air circulation). The herbs dry pretty quick in like a week. I then canned them until I have collected enough dried enough herbs for distilling. I am hoping the results will be worth something, I am always experimenting hoping for the best.

How to make essential oils
How to make essential oils