Lavender essential oil - A plant's reincarnation into a therapeutic scent
Lavenders held a special place in my heart even before the birth of the brand. Its the end of July and like every year since planting them they gifted me with a sea of their iconic purple flowers. We started the lavender harvest and distillation in June and finished it not long ago, so by now every drop of essential oil and hydrosol has been bottled.
I would like to tell you about this special and transformational process. What happening from the picking of the flowers to the bottling of the essential oil. How the essential oil and the hydrosol is born, the two results of the distillation process that I use in my products.
Collecting the flowers of 4000 lavender plants requires time and effort. Luckily I get help from local labour. As it happens my flowers are part of a tender at the University of Pécs Department of Pharmacognosy too. They are following and studying the composition of the essential oil, and for their request we collect the plants in three stages (bud, bloom, and after-bloom). This makes the process a little easier as we have time between the stages.
Lets continue with the picking and collecting of the flowers. Everyone has their own sickle and box which they fill up fully before unloading it into big bag sacks at the end of the rows. At the end of the day if the distillery can not take on more flowers (the lavender season is very busy) I take them out from the sacks in a well ventilated, concrete floored space, so it will not get damp and musty. Usually they expecting us at the distillery at dawn the next morning so I get up very early to reload the sacks. Of course, I prefer to have them distilled the same day as we harvest. At times like this we load the sack onto the trailer and drive it to Szigetvár, to the distillery of Arura Illóolaj Manufaktúra.
Here competent and caring hands - with the guidance of Ildikó Amrein - doing the distillation. They have two distillers, a smaller copper and a large stainless steel. I like to use both as they can give a difference in scent and I like versatility. These are steam stills with external steam generators. At the bottom of the stills there is a perforated disc for the steam to come across. We compact the flowers as much and as even as possible then they close the top airtight (almost like a cooker). The invisible process begins, the steam is generated, passing through the plant material and carrying the essential oil and hydrosol with it.
It always couples with amazing scent, each batch is distinctively unique and full of surprises. I am always there doing the flower picking, the repacking of the bags, loading the trailer and helping during the distillation if needed. The essential oil and the hydrosol are arriving together in one large beaker, so naturally Ildikó separates and filters it for me.
Every and each bottle has its unique batch number and the date it was distilled on. Thats how they are waiting in the Studio to be rebottled, used in Mar Galliti products, unfold their amazing properties in custom aromatherapy synergies or botanical perfumes.
Dear reader, everyone has their own practice, let it be how to pick the lavender flowers, transport the plants, or distill them. Here I only shared my own experience.
The following Mar Galliti skin care & botanicals products contain my own lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil and/or hydrosol:
Product shoots & portrait of me walking in the lavender field: Szendeff Lőrinc