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Making Eucalyptus Essential Oil

I love to recycle, upcycle and repurpose; an area where homecrafts is well suited, and far more rewarding to make something than buy it.

One litre of homemade eucalyptus essential oil

One litre of homemade eucalyptus essential oil

Source and Purpose

Although the eucalyptus tree is native to Australia (over 700 species), according to Wikipedia, about eight species 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 for 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.

Filling jars with eucalyptus leaves

Filling jars with eucalyptus leaves

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.

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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, 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.

Adding olive oil to eucalyptus leaves as base oil for making eucalyptus essential oil

Adding olive oil to eucalyptus leaves as base oil for making eucalyptus essential 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 it's 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.

Just behind the kitchen utensils that we keep on the window sill are all the jars filled with eucalyptus leaves and olive oil. We keep them in the sunshine while the eucalyptus oils infuse into the base olive oil.

Just behind the kitchen utensils that we keep on the window sill are all the jars filled with eucalyptus leaves and olive oil. We keep them in the sunshine while the eucalyptus oils infuse into the base olive oil.

Step 5: Straining the Leaves

After a month, strain the leaves and bottle your essential eucalyptus oil.

I used a steamer to strain the leaves, pressed the leaves down with a fork, and left them to drain. By this time, the oil was thick and oily and sticking to the surface of the leaves; you can get more oil out by pressing the leaves, or 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 enough; 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.

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

Your Comments

Arthur Russ (author) from England on June 15, 2020:

Thanks Sneha, I agree; My philosophy is "look after mother nature and mother nature will look after you". Our wildlife pond is part of the eco system in our back garden that helps me to grow our own organic vegetables e.g. working with nature so that I can grow vegetables without the need of chemicals.

Sneha Bhat from India on June 15, 2020:

Thank you Mr.Russ sir for sharing such a nice article about eucalyptus essential oil. I can feel the fresh natural fragrance now. It's always good to adopt gifts of mother nature and enjoy it to the core. Care and share is the policy I always adopt.

Arthur Russ (author) from England on April 30, 2020:

Thanks Jo.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on April 30, 2020:

I don't have a eucalyptus tree and probably won't try this, but I am very impressed with your industriousness.

Arthur Russ (author) from England on April 24, 2020:

Yes I like anything that’s environmentally friendly. You are right, it could be developed into a business venture quite easily; it is a thought that had crossed my mind, and in some ways is tempting.

However, I am not money orientated, and when I took early retirement I did so that I could use my leisure time for pleasure rather than work. So I’m not that keen on creating something that could end up as a job (work); if that makes sense.

Albeit, once the Covid-19 crisis is over it wouldn’t be too much effort to offer to sale fresh eucalyptus leave to anyone who’s interested; something I can bear in mind.

In fact when we collected the leaves from the branches my son did ask on his Facebook if any of his friends wanted any, with the intention of giving them away free, and a friend of his insisted on paying for them; a nominal fee, which was rather nice of her.

Liz Westwood from UK on April 23, 2020:

This sounds like a very environmentally friendly practice. Essential oils are increasing in popularity. You could develop this into a business venture.

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