Passion for the Art of Essential Oil Distillation

Gary Young: Art of DistillationI often think about our distillation process and my journey of building my first distiller.

When I was growing up, I learned the skills of farming and living off of what Mother Nature offered, So when I was introduced to essential oils many years after my accident, I instinctively wanted to know about the plants and how they were distilled.

I met Jean-Noel Landel in Los Angeles at a trade show and later visited him in France, and a whole new would began to open for me. I found myself traveling to France at least twice a year with an ever-growing passion to learn more. Jean-Noel introduced me to Marcel Espieu, the president of the Lavender Grower’s Association in France, who eventually became a dear friend and mentor. Five years later I met Henri Viaud, then considered to be the “father of distillation” and spent months in France learning from him.

The more I learned about operating a distillery, the more I wanted to build my own. So in 1990 I began by welding two pressure cookers together and distilling the lavender that grew in my backyard from seed I had brought home from France and planted in 1988. Lavender normally takes three years to mature, but I was so excited that I decided to distill it the second year.

I drilled holes in the bottom of the top cooker, so I could pour water into the bottom to make steam that would travel up through the plants that I put in the top part of the cooker. To condense the oil vapor into a liquid state, I added a copper pipe for the swan-neck, which went into the sink filled with cold water, where the essential oil separated from the water and floated to the top.

This was the beginning the launched Young Living into what has become a gigantic operation in our farms around the world. Every time I see the oil drops bubble up in a separator, I relive the excitement from that first distillation that I made on the top of the kitchen stove.

After more than 34 years of researching plants around the world, perfecting the distillation that varies with different plant material, and nearly 29 years of learning the art of blending oils for their greatest benefits, I still very much enjoy teaching and sharing what I have discovered. I often think about my journey and our vision of seeing our essential oils in every home, making a difference in the lives of millions of people around the globe.

Gary Young
The Essential Edge, September 2016


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