Essential oils are typically distilled or pressed from plant and other natural materials; they are found in cooking blends, medicinal salves, beauty products and home fragrance products. Traditional techniques are cumbersome, but you can use your Crock-pot or other slow-cooker to extract some of the oils. You can also infuse carrier oils with herbs, fruit rinds and other natural ingredients.
Distilling Essential Oils
While steam distilling is generally the most effective way to extract oils, you can use water to distill them in your slow-cooker.
Things You'll Need
Place the herbs in the slow-cooker, and cover them with distilled water.
Heat the solution on low for 24 hours.
Turn off the heat and leave the cooker uncovered for seven days.
Skim the oil from the surface of the water and place it in a glass jar.
Set the jar in a cool, dark place, and leave it open for a week to allow any remaining water to evaporate.
Infusing Carrier Oils
Infused oils blend the essence of the plants with a neutral oil.
Things You'll Need
Glass canning jars with lids and rings
Fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth
Choose the oil based on how you plan to use it. For culinary or medicinal uses, extra-virgin olive oil is a great choice, while sweet almond, coconut or jojoba oils work well for lotions and other beauty products.
Place dried herbs into glass canning jars, filling the jars one-third to one-half full.
If you choose fresh herbs, be sure to dry the surfaces thoroughly. Using dried herbs helps prevent contamination that allows the growth of mold in your oils.
Cover the herbs with the carrier oil, leaving a 1-inch headspace at the top of the jar. Add the lids and secure them with the rings.
Place a kitchen towel in the bottom of the slow-cooker to cushion the glass and to diffuse the heat.
Add water to fill the cooker halfway before carefully placing the jars on the towel.
Set the slow-cooker to the warm, and allow the oils to heat for 8 to 12 hours. Check the temperature of the oil periodically to maintain a temperature between 100 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the cooker off for short periods if the temperature rises too high.
Allow the oil to cool to room temperature before straining it through a sieve or cheesecloth.