German Chamomile Hydrosol
my name's ian montgomery. i founded blueridge aromatics in march 2015. we started with an indiegogo campaign. for thosethat are unfamiliar, that's crowdsourcing for start-up businesses. our goal was10,000. we only raised 5200 but with indiegogo, you take what is pledged. so ourfamily and friends and business school
German Chamomile Hydrosol, colleagues just really rallied togetherfor us and helped us put this together. so with that fifty two hundreddollars we built dante. we got a little bit of seed money to just kind of rollfor a while and get our bearings and get our systems worked out and for the last yearwe've just been distilling and
distilling and learning and just making ithappen. it's made of recycled materials for the most part. this was a stainlesssteel essential oil drum for a beverage maker. it contained cinnamon essentialoil when i got it. the water is about here. it's heated by anelectric heating element. the element boils the water. there's a basket insidehere that contains our plant material. the boiling water forces the steamthrough the plant material into this basket which is a second basket forplant material. they're gaskets that keep the steaminside not outside. ultimately the steam comes up throughthis plant material as well,
collects through our gooseneck here and comesinto the condenser. this condenser has internal tubes that the vapor comesthrough with the oil that's picked up by the steam and then this is cooling waterwhich we source from the creek, pump it down here. cooling water comes up through here andheats up as it goes up, in turn cooling the vapor and turning it into acondensed distillate. this distillate has hydrosol and essential oil. here we cansee it's separated: hydrosol on the bottom, oil floats on top. the unique design ofthe essencier allows the hydrosol to come out the bottom into this containerand the oil to come out the top into our
other container. well we can distill all kinds of things.we are currently limited because you can't dial back the temperature that much so fleshy plants like basil and mint aremore difficult to distill in this because they go faster, they'll cook, butconifers and other heavier-duty plants we do with these. a lot of our plants arecollected and harvested from fallen trees or pruned trees. so we go fresh, mulch it up... here's an example of what we're distilling right now. that's white pine that's been mulched. you can see theneedles and the woodchips and the bark. it all
goes together and so that is what fillsour two baskets. i found that a smaller particle size allows for bettercollection of the oil. it also allows me to put more in here so i can do a lotmore in one run which is more energy efficient than doing five runs for thesame amount because each time we run the still with conifers it takes anywherebetween three and six hours sometimes up to nine. so you can imagine with two or three runs you're looking at anextra well fifty cents an hour to run the still. so that will add up. well, in regards to how we collect thematerial, this particular batch was from
a third of a white pine tree that hadfallen off in the woods. we found it on the property and said, okay, we're going to distill that. we also will collect saplings for instance from ouragricultural field. when we are distilling a species that is growing atsomebody's house or is not a native like for instance we leyland cyprus or thuja also known as arborvitae, we'll do pruning at the base of the tree - just the bottom four tosix feet depending on how much the homeowner wants it trimmed. that helps keep vines out of the trees, keep a little bit of health because those branches aretending to die off anyway. we really make a point not to harm what we are harvesting.the point is not to just make oil.
the point is to use what we have inabundance and not have a negative effect on it. we also try to source waste material asmuch as we can, for instance we had 24 christmas trees recycled - they were inpeople's homes, they were thrown out on the curb. we collected them, mulched them and turned them into essential oil. another product we do a lot of isginger. we source this material from a local kombucha maker named buchikombucha. there're gracious enough to let us try it and now we purchase it for a lowprice and distill every little thing that can give us. so really waste products, somany businesses make waste. we really like to find businesses that are willingto let us into their waste stream and
follow the cradle to cradle model whichwould be instead of waste being waste, waste equals food for another process. in thiscase, distilling for essential oils and our ideal customer is somebody that's going totake those oils and put them into another process, make soap or salves, massage oil, medicinal blends. so really it's not about makingsomething, it's about being part of a bigger process and so that's why we'reso glad to be at this farm because we're not just going to grow things or harvestfrom the forest, we're going to cultivate. the bee balm thatwe find along our creeks, we are going to take cuttings and plant more and helpthe population, not devastated it. i started
my career in this after business school -sustainable business was the concentration and that's really where i come from fromthe beginning is just really trying to, it sounds clichã© but harmony with theworld around us. so hydrosol is a byproduct of thedistillation. some people distill in smaller quantities just for thehydrosol because it can be used as a skin toner. it can be used as deodorant for households, a spray - freshening spray, linen spray. it can also be used as a cleanerespecially if you put a little bit of alcohol in it. one of the issues withstoring, selling, marketing hydrosol is
the fact that it's perishable. so it'sgoing to need to be refrigerated or diluted with some alcohol to becomeshelf-stable therefore it's a somewhat difficult market for people to source itbecause it's perishable and it can also be difficult for the distiller tomaintain an inventory of it without a large storage room that's refrigerated. i think the most important caution aboutdistilling is is we've already touched on is the sustainability. the secondbeing safety. if you don't know what you're doing withwiring, building a still can be dangerous. if you don't know aboutpressure, one milliliter of water expands
to a liter of steam. when you boil thatwater, it has to go somewhere but if this isn't big enough, you can have a time bomb onyour hands. this whole thing could explode. so research - very important. anotherimportant thing would be to properly identify the plant material that's beingdistilled. there's the obvious concerns where you might get poison ivy thinkingit's something else. a lot of people know poison ivy but do weknow all the poisonous plants in the woods? no. do we know what could bepoisonous on the skin? not necessarily. it's important to do the research. it'simportant to properly identify the plant,
find out about the plant - research it before distilling it. that's something we take very seriously - properly identifying,researching, and then distilling while making sure there's a sustainable population beforeever harvesting.