Making Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Source and Purpose
Although the eucalyptus tree is native to Australia (over 700 species), according to Wikipedia about eight thrive in the warmer climates in Europe, and a couple of them will even quite happily grow in southern England.
I don’t know which species of eucalyptus tree we have; we bought it from a ‘Garden Centre’ about 15 years ago and planted it in our front garden, from where it’s thrived.
It’s a lovely tree, but it is a vigorous grower, so each year I have to prune it back hard to keep the branches away from the old telephone wires above. Most of the branches I end up burning to add potash to our vegetable garden, but occasionally I’ll use some of the leaves to make eucalyptus oil.
Some of the eucalyptus essential oil my wife uses, and the rest I use various home crafts, such as scented candles (from recycled candle wax) and handmade scented soaps (from recycled soap).
Below are five simple steps for making eucalyptus essential oil.
Harvesting Fresh Leaves
You can buy dried leaves on the Internet, but I’m not sure how easy it is to buy fresh leaves for making your own essential oils. However, if you have a eucalyptus tree in your garden, or you know someone who does, then with the tree being evergreen you’ll have ample supply all year round.
I prune back our eucalyptus tree every March when I’m tidying up the winter garden and preparing it for spring and summer, and this is when I collect any eucalyptus leaves I want for making the essential oil.
Step 1: Fill Jars with Eucalyptus Leaves
Fill jam jars and or any other glass jars with eucalyptus Leaves.
I used an assortment of ten glass jars on this occasion (with lids), from small mustard jars to large pickled union jars; and this was enough to make over 1 litre (1 ½ pints) of essential eucalyptus oil.
Step 2: Gently Crush the Leaves With a Wooden Spoon
Press the leaves down in the jar and bruise them with a wooden spoon.
You don’t need to get too vigorous with this, or spend too much time doing it; less than a minute on each jar is more than sufficient. It just helps with the infusion process of getting the oil out of the leaves.
Once the leaves are pressed down each jar should be about half full.
Step 3: Add Olive Oil as the Base Oil
Half fill each jar with olive oil; this should cover most or all of the leaves, and allow the eucalyptus oil to leach from the leaves and infuse with the olive oil.
The olive oil makes an excellent base oil for the eucalyptus oil; especially as the olive oil is quite odourless and isn’t going to mask the eucalyptus scent.
I used 1 ½ litres of olive oil, and ended up with just over 1 litre (1 ½ pints) of eucalyptus oil
Step 4: Leave for a Month in the Sun to Infuse
Once you’ve half-filled the jars with olive oil, seal them with their lids and place on a sunny window sill for a month; the sun and heat help with the oil infusion.
I used our kitchen window sill as its west facing and gets lots of sunshine on sunny days.
To further assist with the infusion vigorously shake each jar once a day, but be mindful that if the lids are not watertight you may get some slight leakage of oil when shaking. So make the lids as tight as you can, and if need be just wipe the window sill over with a damp cloth as necessary.
Step 5: Straining the Leaves
After a month strain the leave and bottle your essential eucalyptus oil.
I used a steamer to strain the leaves, pressing the leave down with a fork, and left to drain. Although by this time the oil is thick and oily and sticking to the surface of the leaves. So you can get more oil out by pressing the leaves, maybe evening straining them through a muslin cloth. I was a little tempted, as I use a muslin cloth for winemaking, and I could have used that. However, with over 1 litre of essential eucalyptus oil, I had more than sufficient. So I just wrung the leaves in my hands, before adding them to my compost bin, just for good measure. Squeezing them didn’t get much of the surplus oil off the leaves (just a couple of tablespoons full), but I was more than satisfied with what I had.
Making Your Own Essential Oils
Do you are would you be interested in making your own essential oils?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Arthur Russ