Location: Funke Essential Oils, Coburg, Oregon
Essential Oil: Separating the "essentials" from the crude material of an aromatic plant
In 1927 Alfred Funke took his knowledge of steam (from his former job of running a dry cleaning business) and constructed his first distillery. Then he made peppermint oil. After producing peppermint oil for several years, his son Leon helped him plant dill. Their business grew through the 60s as Oregon became one of the largest dill oil producers in the U.S. By the 70s most dill oil production had moved to Washington where the climate was more ideal, so Richard’s father explored other crops including parsley, tarragon, clary sage, caraway, coriander, fennel, anise and wormwood. What began with a one acre plot in the Mid-Seventies is now a family business cultivating over 100 acres annually.
1 acre of chamomile = 6 lbs of pure oil + 13 tons of plant material (returned to field to increase soil fertility)
How to create an essential oil (steam distillation is inexpensive, safe, and yields highly aromatic results):
1. Plant material is placed in a mobile container injected with steam
2. Steam distillation turns plant’s oil into vapor
3. Both oil and water vapor exit; they are then captured in a second container
4. They transform into liquid: oil, with a lower specific gravity than water, floats to the top
5. After further cooling it is filtered and placed into airtight containers.
Some uses for chamomile oil: aromatherapy, shampoo, perfume, tea, flavoring, beauty products
(The Funkes also distill clary sage, parsley, tarragon, caraway, dill, peppermint and fennel.)