Tip

You can use these techniques to extract essential oils out of other herbs as well. Try filling a glass jar with lemon blossoms or rose blossoms and cover with oil or vodka. Try distilling rosemary or lemongrass or any other fragrant herb that you can harvest in large enough quantities.

Warning

Do not take cedarwood oil, hydrosol, massage oil or tincture internally. Keep your product out of the reach of children. Do a patch test before using your product on large areas of skin. Put a dab of the essential oil, hydrosol, massage oil or tincture on your inner arm. Cover with a bandage. After 24 hours, check the area to see whether there are any adverse reactions such as rash, itching or swelling that would indicate you are allergic to the product and should not use it.

ancient cedar tree image by PHOTOFLY from Fotolia.com

Cedarwood oil is the essential oil from cedar. It has a pleasing scent somewhere between fresh pencil shavings and sandalwood. Cedarwood oil is used for perfumes and for muscle pain, headaches and other illnesses. Commercially it is produced either by steam distillation or by distilling the wood under pressure with carbon dioxide. The equipment for CO2 distillation is expensive and it is difficult to purchase a still to use at home due to federal regulations. However there is a way to extract small amounts at home. There are two methods: using steam or using an oil base.

Steam Distillation

Fill the bottom of the stainless steel pot with a 1-inch level layer of cedar leaves, berries and bark. Place the clean empty can in the center and then pack more cedar around the can almost to the top of the can. Pour 4 cups of distilled water carefully around the outside of the can, over the cedar.

Put the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down low so that the water is gently simmering and you can see steam. Put the lid on the pot upside down so the handle in the center hangs down into the can in the middle. Fill the lid with ice cubes.

Empty the melted ice as needed and quickly check the amount of liquid in the can. Replace the lid and add more ice to the top. When there are about 3 cups of fluid, called hydrosol, in the can, turn off the heat. Discard the cedar leaves, bark and berries. Strain any remaining water in the bottom of the pan and add it to the liquid in the can.

Pour the hydrosol into the gravy separator measuring cup and allow it to cool. The oily fluid that floats to the top is the pure cedarwood essential oil. Pour off as much hydrosol as you can into another container. Use the eyedropper or cotton balls to pick up the essential oil and squeeze it into a small dark glass bottle.

Use the hydrosol in a spray bottle as a room deodorizer, spray on fabrics to freshen them, use as a body mist after showering. Store the hydrosol and the essential oil in the refrigerator. Use the essential oil in lotions, creams and massage oil or in a diffuser.

Oil or Alcohol Base

Wash the glass jar and lid thoroughly in hot soapy water, rinse and dry thoroughly. Fill the jar full with cedar leaves, berries and bark. Pour almond or grapeseed oil or vodka over the cedar until the jar is full. Screw the lid on and store in a cool dark place for a week.

Pour the oil or vodka and cedar through a strainer into a bowl. Discard the cedar. Wash and dry the jar and pour the cedar-scented oil or vodka back into the jar.

Use the cedar-scented oil in lotions, creams and massage oil. Use the cedar-scented vodka tincture as a base for perfume, as a body spray, spray on sore muscles and joints.

About the Author

Ramona French

Ramona French owned a massage school and taught massage for 28 years. In that time she wrote textbooks on Swedish, acupressure, deep tissue and lymph drainage massage. She is the author of "Introduction to Lymph Drainage Massage" and "Milady's Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage." Her book, "The Complete Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage," published by Milady, was released in October 2011.