What are essential oils?
In recent years, the beauty and food and beverage industries have been extensively making use of essential oils. Essential oils are plant-based volatile oil with strong aromatic components made up of different chemical compounds. These essential oils, apart from its aromatic properties are known to have effective uses as well. The effectiveness of these oils is attributed mainly to the presence of phytochemicals or bioactive compounds in plants. Given the extraction process of these oils is direct from its source, it is regarded as safe and natural compared to other industrial chemicals.
So how does one extract essential oils from its organic source?
Laboratories make use of the Clevenger apparatus for this purpose. The name of this apparatus was derived from its inventor, Joseph Franklin Clevenger in 1928. The Clevenger apparatus has three main parts- a round bottom flask in which the organic material is placed, a separator for automatically separating the distilled solution and a condenser. The apparatus is available in varied sizes to facilitate organic material. It looks similar to a glass double boiler having several valves to adjust the temperature. The cost of the Clevenger apparatus depends on the size you choose.
Looking at the popularity of essential oils in perfumery, aromatherapy, cosmetics, incense, medicine, household cleaning products, and as a flavouring in the food and beverage industry, the Clevenger apparatus has become an integral part of laboratories.
The process of extracting oil from an organic source involves the use of steam. The steam helps in avoiding the degradation of the essential oils. The organic material along with water is placed in the round bottom flask at the base for boiling. The steam produced rises and is collected into a small burette. However, the process is not as simple as it sounds. To extract the oils, one has to follow boiling, condensing and decantation. These levels of extraction are crucial to ensure the quality control of essential oils.
Since the process does not make use of organic solvents and just water or steam instead, the process is known as hydrodistillation.
Understanding hydrodistillation with the use of a Clevenger apparatus in detail:
In the process of hydrodistillation, the hot water and steam act as the main medium to extract bioactive compounds from the plant matrix and carry them till the end. A disadvantage of using the Clevenger apparatus is that the essential oil must be less dense than water in order to float over it. But this can be altered by repositioning the condenser and the beaker in which the liquid is collected. Clevenger apparatus is also known for extracting more oil quantity compared to other extraction methods.
All-in-all, the Claventer apparatus is an extremely important component for the extraction of essential oils. If you too are looking for one to become a part of your lab supplies, we are here to help you. Our team of laboratory experts can guide you through the process of selecting the right size of Clevenger Apparatus and other laboratory equipment. Reach out to us today to know more.