My first still was a
very small one. The pot was an old steel can with a bolted lid.
The condenser was made of steel and aluminium piping and the oil separator
was a brandy bottle with holes drilled in it to let water in and out.
The kanuka leaf material sat just above the water which was then heated from
few extractions were a real eye opener.
I had expected our oil would be the same colour as the Australian oil, a
clear yellowish colour. When
reddish, golden, yellow droplets floated to the surface in the separator I
first thought it was scum or grease residue.
However, I learnt that this is the colour of our kanuka oil when it comes
into contact with iron or steel and a chemical reaction takes place.
When a stainless steel vessel is used the colour is light yellow to a golden
yellow. Manuka varies from
light green to dark green.
small amount of oil could be extracted with this small still, just 5 to 6
mls a day. I used this
unit for a number of years, extracting just enough oil for my own use and
The most widely used oil
is kanuka and that is what I extract now.
Steam is forced through a 350kg basket of
kanuka leaves to create and cool vapour, separate oil from water and produce
roughly two litres of oil at a time. The system is fired by an old generator
and driven by an equally antiquated diesel engine.