Essential oils add spice and flavor to recipes. Cardamom in particular has properties that are not only culinary but also medicinal. People have used it since ancient times in incense, to whiten teeth and to calm stomachs. It is also a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine. Steam distillation turns the spice into liquid form. While purchasing the essential oil can be costly, you can easily make it at home with a few simple tools.

Grind the cardamom with a mortar and pestle until it is coarsely ground.

Fold the cheesecloth into three layers and place the cardamom in the middle. Tie it into a small sachet with the string holding the top closed.

Fill the pot with distilled water and place it on the stove on medium high. Place the sachet in the water and bring it to a boil.

Simmer the water for at least 24 hours, or until the water reduces to about a half-inch layer in the saucepan.

Skim any oil that rises to the top throughout the boiling process by swiping a cotton ball over the top and squeezing the moisture into the small glass bottle.

Cover the pot with cheesecloth and place it on a sunny windowsill to allow the water to completely evaporate.

Pour the remaining liquid, which should be only oil at this point, into the small jar.


Use for up to eight months, or until the oil smells off. You can also use this method for extracting the oil from other spices.

About the Author

Samantha Lowe

Based in Kingston, Canada, Samantha Lowe has been writing for publication since 2006. She has written articles for the "Mars' Hill" newspaper and copy for various design projects. Her design and copy for the "Mars' Hill" won the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker award in 2008. Lowe holds an Honors BA from Trinity Western University, and a MSc in Occupational Therapy from Queen's University where she is currently doing her PhD.