Extraction with supercritical CO2
There are several methods of extracting the wealth of our flowers and plants: distillation, extraction by solvent and extraction with supercritical CO2. Essential oils, floral waters (or hydrosols) and other extracts resulting from these methods should not be confused with vegetable oils, obtained by cold pressure ...
How do we produce essential oil, floral water, extract, or even the absolute ...?
Small topo of different extraction methods. Very different techniques for variable qualitative results.
Alambic - Distillation of essential oils
Distillation is the most common method. It consists of placing the plant concerned in water, and heating it in an alembic. Depending on the essential oil, leaves, petals, etc. are placed. The essential oil, by nature lighter than water, will float on the liquid resulting from the boiling of the mixture. It will be harvested drop by drop. The residual liquid is called "hydrolat". The hydrolat is low in essential oil, it is nevertheless odorous and resumes the properties of the essential oil, but in much lower efficacy. Hydrolat or floral water (in the case of the distillation of a flower) is therefore a by-product of the distillation of the essential oil.
Note that, contrary to what its name might indicate, essential oil is not an oil. And so is not oily. It is a liquid highly concentrated in active ingredients, and must be used with caution. Excess hurts everything ...
Distillation of essential oil - drop by drop
The distillation of the essential oil of rose damascena
The distillation of the essential oil of Rose Damascena is the most exceptional. It is produced from Damascus Rose petals, harvested in the fields when the flowers are well opened, and still fresh. It takes between 3 and 4 tons of rose petals to produce a liter of damascena rose essential oil. This makes it the most expensive essential oil in the world, and also the most sought after due to its virtues ...
A distillation lasts about 3 hours. We put 300 kilos of rose petals in the still, with 1,500 liters of water. The precious liquid is then collected, drop by drop, and then undergo secondary physical treatments ...
The distillation of the damascena rose floral water
The floral water is the residue of the distillation of the essential oil. The essential oil, lighter than water, floats on the bath. The floral water, filtered from the rose petals, is then extracted from the still. If the essential oil generally has great bactericidal and anti-septic properties, and can therefore be stored without any special precaution (attention to light in spite of everything), the floral water, much less rich in essential oil, after opening the bottle , Should be used within a few months to avoid contamination.
Solvent extraction is carried out under cold conditions. The plants (we will take here Rose petals as an example) are put under pressure in a tank, a solvent (Hexane or Toluene) is introduced, which will take charge of all the odorous molecules. The solvent evaporates as soon as the tank is opened, it remains a dark paste (wax) called pink concrete, which is then washed with alcohol (Ethanol) to obtain the absolute of Rose.
The advantages of solvent extraction are firstly a high efficiency, and the low temperature (allowing not to damage the molecules). But the big drawback is the presence of traces of solvents, making this extraction process not really clean, not 100% natural, and even less organic. It is therefore a priori to be avoided in natural cosmetics or certified organic ...
Supercritical Co2 Extraction Column
Extraction with supercritical CO2
Supercritical CO2 extraction is a very modern and complex technique for extracting active and olfactory elements from flowers and plants, such as Rose Damascena or Lilac, for example. It responds to the two problems associated with the traditional methods of distillation and solvent extraction: cold extraction is carried out, thus without damaging the active elements when they are heated, and no solvent is used to deliver a pure result .
The principle is to use the CO2 gas put in a supercritical state (neither the liquid state nor the gaseous state), that is to say a high pressure (over 50 bar), low Temperature (30 degrees). The supercritical state leads to an increase in the diffusivity of the material, which makes it an excellent natural solvent. It allows, when immersed in the petals of Rose, to extract all the active elements, without heating, and without addition of chemical. Moreover, at the end of the process, the CO2 is recovered completely, making it a very ecological extraction method, because it is totally recyclable.
To produce supercritical rose damascena CO2 extract, petals are placed in a column, which will be inserted into a cylinder under high pressure, and in which the CO2 will be circulated in the state supercritical.
This is a very complex process, using modern technologies, where many parameters have to be adjusted, which still makes it a very rare extraction method today.
Supercritical CO2 Extraction - complex and rare
ECOMAAT is one of the few growers / producers to have this technology. He extracts:
- Extracts of rose damascena with supercritical CO2
- Extracts of Lilacs with supercritical CO2 - the Lilac not supporting the high temperatures, the
- Distillation is almost impossible ...
- Extracts of Zdravetz (Geranium) with supercritical CO2
- Extracts of Eglantier with supercritical CO2
- Extracts of Lime with supercritical CO2
- Extracts found in its Natural & Deluxe range of cosmetics.
Essential oils, floral waters and extracts: variable qualities!
In general, essential oils, floral waters and extracts are natural products. There are, however, major qualitative differences between producers. This is why Reflet Nature works mainly with ECOMAAT, whose methods of cultivation and production are exceptional:
Culture - organic fields Please!
The quality of the products depends first of all on the cultivation of plants and flowers. ECOMAAT has its own fields, which it manages without any chemicals. A 100% organic crop that guarantees Roses (Damascena, Alba), Lavender and other plants of superior quality.
Harvesting - a work of patience!
Harvesting is intense work, requiring the work of large teams of harvesters. The Rose Damascena must be harvested, to obtain a maximum of active ingredients, when the flower is well opened (and before it fades). It is therefore necessary to pass and to iron, every day, to reap only the beautiful petals. The economic optimization would want to be harvested all of a sudden. This patience is also a guarantee of quality for the essential oil, the floral water and the extracts that result.
Distillation - pure water!
The distillation of Rose Damascena, for example, is 1500L of water per 300 kg of petals. It is important to have pure water, healthy bacteriologically speaking, and tasteless / odorless. ECOMAAT installed its distillery in a particular place with 2 wells of water, so as not to depend on the water of "city" of questionable quality.
Floral water - a specific distillation
If the floral water is a residue of the distillation of the corresponding essential oil, it is also possible to carry out a specific distillation for floral water. By putting more water and fewer petals compared to the needs to produce the essential oil, but by expressly distilling it for floral water, a floral water of higher quality is obtained, much more fragrant, and much richer in principles assets. This is what ECOMAAT does, a 100% specific production dedicated to floral water.
Solvent extraction - avoid!
If you are looking for a superior product, avoid the extraction obtained by the use of solvent. Because there are always traces of solvent (Hexane, Toluene) which make the result mixed, kind of compromise between natural and chemical products!
Extraction by supercritical CO2 - the top for the consumer and the most environmentally friendly process!
This method of extraction is rare because it is technologically complex and very expensive. On the other hand, it guarantees a much better result, both at the olfactory level and at the active properties (more numerous, more intense, not deteriorated by the distillation temperature). ECOMAAT is one of the few global players to offer a complete range of extracts from Rose Damascena (but also from Lilas, Tilleul, Geranium, Zdravetz, Eglantier).
Adapted packaging - a necessity
Essential oil, floral water or extract products are products that must be stored at a cool temperature and in opaque glass containers to protect them from light. This is the case for bottles from the entire ECOMAAT range.