Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about the EssenEx-100 essential oil distillation kit in our FAQ section! If you don’t see an answer to your question, feel free to contact us.
If you are worried about microwave radiation, please click here
The EssenEx uses an ice core you freeze with a special mold in your freezer to condense the vapors produced when the plant material is place in the microwave. It is also specially designed to protect the condensate from overheating, protecting the overall quality of your oil.
Microwave extraction is similar to steam distillation in the fact that they both use steam to extract the essential oils. The difference is the EssenEx utilizes the water in the plant material to create the steam instead of adding additional steam created from a fuel or electric boiler.
Some people are turned off by the word “radiation” linking it to dangerous materials or hazardous energy. All visible light we can see, radio waves, wifi, and the sun are all forms of radiation that we live our lives without giving second thought. Radiation just refers to how the energy is transferred from one place to another; similar to convection and conduction however it does not require materials to be in contact or air to be in contact with the heating element. Radiation refers to energy transfer through the air or vacuum of space without losing energy until it “hits” a specific materiel that can absorb the energy (in this case it is the water molecules).
The microwave radiation specifically targets the water molecules in the plant material. When they “hit” the water molecules they cause them to spin faster and this causes the water to heat. This does not change the water in any way except that it will start to boil and turn into steam when it reaches a high enough temperature (the same as on your stove). The microwave energy does not target the oil; only the steam will heat the oil. The way our system is designed the oil will be heated less than traditional steam distillation resulting in less heat damage to the oil and a higher quality final product!
Microwave extraction is proven to be more efficient and can yield higher oil extracts than conventional steam distillation. This process allows for scientists to extract oil in small batches rather than running large batches of material when only a small sample is needed.
The metal shields in the EssenEx protect the ice from melting due to the microwaves; the ice will only melt due to the condensation of the steam and oil vapor.
Normally this is true, however the patent pending design allows for safe microwave use without any worry of arcing or damage to your microwave.
Steam Distillation vs Microwave Extraction
Steam Distillation uses either a diesel or natural gas boiler to produce steam. The steam then travels through a large sealed container packed with plant material. As it heats up the plant and passes through it extracts the oil. The oil then travels with the steam into a condenser where cold water is passed over it as it as the steam travels through small tubes. Now the oil and water are liquids again and the oil is separated by removing it from the top of the water because it is not as dense (like ice cubes!).
- Very easy to process large quantities
- Has been in use for 150+ years
- Long extraction times
- Inefficient (hard to insulate very large and hot equipment)
- Hard to use with small quantities
- Dangerous open flame or boiler
- Carbon emissions due to fossil fuel
Microwave extraction uses microwave energy to heat the water in the plant material to create steam. When the steam is formed from the water in the plant material it does a greater job of breaking up the oil nodules on the plant. The steam then travels with the oil vapor and condenses on the frozen ice core. As the ice melts both the water and oil drop into the condensate cup positioned below the ice. After about 6 minutes in the microwave the oil floats to the top and is ready to be separated.
- Fast! (6-8 minutes in the microwave)
- Not Dangerous
- Sustainable (electricity uses renewable energy)
- Higher quality of oil due to better temperature control
- No large scale process developed yet