Skip to content
Top Essential Oils For Gardening >
Top Essential Oils For Gardening >

Distiller Instructions

Distiller Instructions

Download Distiller Instructions in PDF

The Essential Oil Company
5498 SE International Way
Milwaukie, Oregon 97222 USA

Please remember, that at all times you will be dealing with hot metal, and hot steam. The retort and the bird’s beak will become extremely hot during operation. BE CAREFUL! Be certain to wear gloves and eye protection at all times.

  • Make certain that the valves on the site glass are in the open position. This is done by turning the valves counter clock-wise. Stainless Table Top Distillers do not have valves on the site glass.
  • Be certain the clean-out valve on the bottom of the site glass is closed. Stainless Table Top Distillers do not have a clean-out valve on the bottom of the site glass
  • The water inlet valve is near the top of the retort. It is an "L" shaped pipe, with a plug in the top. Be certain the plug is in place and at least "hand tight".
  • Make certain that the clean out valve on the bottom of the retort is in the closed position. The valve should be perpendicular to the outlet pipe.
  • For electric units: It is recommended that the plugs for the retort heating element and the submersible pump both be plugged into a surge protector. This will provide an "on/off" switch. Never turn the heating element on, unless there is water visible in the site glass. Operating the distiller without water will cause the heating element to burn out. There are no electrical requirements for the propane models.
  • With the lid off and the basket, in place inside the retort, begin adding plant material. Pack the retort as tightly as possible. Once plant is inside the retort, begin to add water. Add enough water, slowly, to ensure that the water level is at least half way up the sight glass
  • After plant matter has been placed in the retort, set the lid of your distiller in place. The lid bolts should be in place. Do not tighten bolts yet.
  • The thermometer on the lid, should be facing you. Move condenser into place, making certain that the legs of the condenser line up, parallel to the legs of the retort. The spout of the condenser should be facing you.
  • Connect the bird’s beak and the condenser, by tightening the Bird’s beak connector to the fitting on top of the condenser. Your Table Top Distiller needs to be on a level surface, all legs touching the surface.
  • Place submersible pump in a bucket of water. Attach tube from the pump to the bottom fitting on the condenser. Attach another tube to the top fitting on the condenser, and place the open end of that tube in the bucket. Start filling the condenser, by turning on the pump. Add water to the bucket with the submersible pump in it. The water will circulate through the condenser and back into your bucket. Add water as needed.
  • If there are NOT two nipples on the side of your condenser, then you have the newer French style condenser. Simply add cooling water into the top of the condenser while draining the water slowly from the bottom of the condenser.
  • Tighten the lid. There is no need to over tighten the bolts. Hand tight is sufficient. If steam comes out of top during operation, gently tighten the bolt nearest to the steam.
  • Plug in the cord on the retort, to begin heating the water in the retort. It will take about a half an hour to get up to temperature.
  • The thermometer on the lid shows only the temperature at the top of you distiller. The function of the thermometer is to advise you of a problem within the still. If there is a sudden decrease of temperature, this means there could be a problem with your electrical source, with the heating element thermostat (located in a box at the bottom of your retort) or with the heating element itself. If this is the case, turn your distiller off, allow it to cool, and rectify the problem. If there is a rapid increase in the temperature on the thermometer, it could be an indication of a plug in your condenser. If this is the case, turn your distiller off, allow it to cool, and flush out the condenser.
  • Included in your distiller, is a 1 pound safety valve on the top of the thermometer. This valve will blow steam, if the pressure within your distiller gets too high. This is generally not a problem as your distiller works at nearly zero pressure
  • Never allow the water to get below a visible level in the sight glass.
  • Distillation will take between 2 and 4 hours, depending on the plant materials being distilled. Some plant materials required even longer periods of distillation. Experimentation is the key to discover the proper distilling times for your plant materials.

Propane Models

  • Follow set up instructions for the electric models.
  • Propane models have no electrical parts. Gas burner element needs to be in place below the retort. Attach gas cylinder to your heating element. To heat your retort, strike a match, hold it to the gas burner element and turn on the gas.
  • There is no circulating pump required for propane models. Fill your condenser by adding water into the top of the condenser. When the water gets too hot, drain out water from the bottom of the condenser and add cooler water to the top.

Cleaning Your Distiller

  • Allow your distiller to cool. Make certain the switch is off, or better yet unplug everything.
  • Always wear gloves as you will be dealing with hot metal and hot wet spent plant material.
  • Disconnect the Bird’s Beak from the condenser. Loosen the lid bolts and remove the Bird’s Beak lid.
  • Open the clean out valve at the bottom of the retort. Hot water will pour out from the valve BE CAREFUL!
  • Once the water is drained, start removing spent plant material by hand. Gently pull the handle on the basket, to expedite plant removal. Plant material will be very hot. BE CAREFUL! Always wear gloves.
  • If you plan to distill another batch immediately, no further clean out is necessary.
  • If you are finished distilling, or wish to distill another type of plant, add clean water to the retort. Put the lid in place and attach the Bird’s Beak to the condenser. DO NOT circulate water through your condenser. Turn on your distiller, and allow the steam it produces to clean out the retort and the condenser.
  • To clean out your Essential Oil Separator. Place your separator in a pot or bucket. Add very hot water (boiling if possible), until your separator is submerged. Allow the hot water to clean out the separator, agitating to shake the essential oils loose. Pour the water out and flush the separator with alcohol (denatured alcohol is available at home improvement and hardware stores) Pour the alcohol out and flush again with hot water.
  • Never leave your distiller to sit, without cleaning it first. Essential oils will resinify over time, and will taint your next batch.

The Essential Oil Company

5498 SE International Way - Milwaukie, Oregon 97222

Telephone: 800-729-5912 In Oregon 503-872-8772