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Lavender Essential Oil Production

harvesting lavender flowers in wanaka

It all starts with growing our lavender plants on the farm in Wānaka, Central Otago. After harvesting the lavender at just-past their peak flowering, we put the fresh flowers into our custom-made still to create pure lavender essential oils.

What is Lavender Essential Oil?

Lavender essential oil captures the "essence" of the lavender plant through steam distillation. The oil is a concentrated extract that retains and magnifies the fragrance and effect of its floral source. Oil from different cultivars of lavender can vary with different chemical compositions, this changes the fragrance and effects on the body and mind.

Many guests love our 100% Pure Lavender Oil as it is a multi-purpose oil that can be utilised in the home, on the body or for the mind. From using it in homemade cleaning products to applying it on bug bites to dropping it on your pillow at night to sleep, lavender oil has a wonderful aroma and contains calming properties, as well as being anti-septic and anti-bacterial.

lavender flowers for steam distillation

How does the distillation process work?

We put our lavender flowers in a large stainless-steel pot above a body of water that is heated up. The steam that rises from the boiling water is then pulled through the lavender flowers by a vacuum (negative atmosphere), allowing oils in the flowers to vaporise. The subsequent vaporised oil and water then travels through the condensing chamber, allowing the vapour to cool and turn back into liquid.

The liquid enters the separator as a mix of essential oil and floral water (also known as hydrosol). As it settles, the oil rises to the top and can be tapped off as pure essential oil. While the heavier floral water sinks and can also be tapped off, giving us "lavender hydrosol". Any leftover floral water can be recycled back through the reflux as water to join the process all over again.

how do you make lavender oil? diagram to help explain the process of steam distillation

making lavender oil through vacuum distillery at wanaka lavender farm

Our essential oil is bottled in its purest form which is sold at the farm shop. We also use the oil in many of our hand-made lavender products and in some of the treats in the tearoom (like the ice creams!). The Grosso and Super varieties are amazing for a number of uses such as relaxing in a bath or enjoying their fragrance in a diffuser. The Pacific Blue and Violet Intrigue oils are great culinary oils that can be added to food as flavouring.

The fragrant floral water is also used as an ingredient in a number of goods that we make. And it's a wonderfully versatile product that we sell in a bottle to be used by our guests in many ways - as a mister, toner, fragrance, room spray, soft furnishing refresher.

If you want to see our distilling machine in action at the farm, you will be able to view Tim or Stef running it from January until March each year. They are always happy to chat if you want to learn more about the process.

lavender fields in wanaka


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