What Experience Teaches About Distillation

Harvest time for the melissa crop grown at the Young Living St. Maries, Idaho, farm. After harvest it will be shade-dried for up to 12 hours before distillation.
Harvest time for the melissa crop grown at the Young Living St. Maries, Idaho, farm. After harvest it will be shade-dried for up to 12 hours before distillation.

We constantly test our plants to determine when they have the highest level of oil for distillation. How much time do you leave the plants on the ground? Do you leave them in the sun or in the shade? Do you let them dry 10 hours or 24? Three days, five days, or seven days? Because the climate in Ecuador is so different, this was a whole new learning curve. During the same time, I traveled, prepared for and attended the convention, and taught seminars. So you know why it took a while.

Here is a sample of what I have learned:

St. Marie’s lavender (Idaho): shade dried for 62 hours; Brix at 24 before we distill.

Mona lavender (Utah): shade dried for 48 hours. Why? Because the temperatures in Mona are hotter. Brix will hit 28—we’ve had Brix score as high as 30 with lavender in Mona before we distill.   

Simiane-la-Rotonde lavender (France): Cut before flowers go to seed; dried for 60 to 76 hours, lying in the field. In the old days when I worked in the field with Jean Noël Landel, my partner in France, the cutters would come and would spit the bundles out right on top of the cut plant. And then three days later, we’d come with wagons and pitch forks and pitch them into the wagon to go to the distillery. They were pitch forking lavender out of the field that had been cut and laid in the field for four weeks before it got to the distillery. Now that wasn’t a traditional practice, it was because they got rained on that year. It took weeks before the lavender finally dried enough to get it to the distillery, and it still produced good oil. But the normal test time is what I’m sharing with you. 

Melissa (Utah, Idaho): cut at mid-bloom and shade dried for 12 hours maximum. Brix at 14.

Oregano (Ecuador): shade dried 120 hours. Brix at 24.

Dorado azul (Ecuador): cut and distilled immediately. Brix at 16.

Frankincense (Oman): cut resin, matured 125 days before distillation.

Peppermint (Utah): cut in full bloom; sun dried for three days. Brix at 28.