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Today, most common essential oils, such as lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus, are distilled. Raw plant material, consisting of the flowers, leaves, wood, bark, roots, seeds, or peel, is put into an alembic (distillation apparatus) over water. As the water is heated the steam passes through the plant material, vaporizing the volatile compounds. The vapors flow through a coil where they condense back to liquid, which is then collected in the receiving vessel.
Most oils are distilled in a single process. One exception is Ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata), which takes 22 hours to complete through a fractional distillation.
The water recondensed from the distillation process is referred to as a hydrosol, hydrolat, herbal distillate or floral water. Popular hydrosols are rose otto water, lavender water, chamomile, lemon balm, clary sage, tea tree, peppermint and orange flower/blossom floral water.