Essential Oil Yields
Although botanicals including rosemary, spearmint, tea tree, citronella, sandalwood and roman chamomile are quite aromatic, it takes a significant amount of plant material to produce even a small quantity of essential oil.
We should be mindful and refrain from utilizing essential oils in an excessive, careless or wasteful manner. We often emphasize the important less is more approach when it comes to essential oil safety and efficacy. However, the less is more approach can and should also be applied to the conscientious use of essential oils due to the significant amount of botanical material required to produce essential oils. Sustainability is a very real concern, especially given the growing demand for essential oils.
Aromatherapy educator Andrea Butje emphasizes the point by explaining that it takes all of the petals from 30-50 roses to produce a single drop of Rose Otto Essential Oil. [Source: Andrea Butje, The Heart of Aromatherapy (Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc., 2017), 6.]
Distilling rose petals (Rosa damascena) results in a yield of only 0.02-0.03% Rose Otto Essential Oil, and potentially much less if the petals are not harvested and distilled at the most opportune time. [Betinna Malle and Helge Schmickl, The Essential Oil Maker's Handbook (Austin, TX: Spikehorn Press, 2015), 85-86.] If I am doing my math correctly, that translates into a yield of only 1 kg of Rose Otto per 3,500-5,000 kg of rose petals.
For some botanicals, it's optimal to first dry or partially dry the botanical prior to distillation. For others, it's best to work with freshly harvested botanical material. Not all botanicals produce enough essential oil to make it cost effective to extract the botanical's precious essential oil.
The cost to plant, grow, harvest, sort and dry (when needed) the botanical material combined with the costs to distill and resulting yield all impact the final pricing of the essential oil.
The Essential Oil Maker's Handbook provides an enlightening overview of the optimal way to distill over 100 botanicals and includes the typical yield range for each. The book Aromatica also provides yield information within the 30 detailed essential oil profiles that it features.
Essential Oil Yields for 26 Essential Oils
|Common Oil Name / Botanial Name||Yields from
|0.02-0.04% (Page 68)|
|0.3-0.6% (Page 69)||.4-.5% (Page 135)|
|0.05-0.1% (Page 72)||.2-.3% (Page 193)|
|0.8-1.0% (Page 72)||.1-1% (Page 304)|
|0.5-0.8% (Page 72)|
|0.4-3% (Page 80)|
|0.1-1% (Page 72)||.6-1% (Page 164)|
|3-4% (Page 75)||1.25-3.3% (Page 173)|
|0.7-1% (Page 76)|
|0.40% (Page 76)|
|0.1-1% (Page 76)||.1-.2% (Page 185)|
|1.9-2.6% (Page 77)||3.3-5% (Page 200)|
|2.5-3% (Page 80)|
|0.3-0.9% (Page 81)||.5-.6% (Page 257)|
|2-10% (Page 82)|
|0.07-0.1% (Page 69)|
|1.5-4% (Page 84)||2-3.3% (Page 280)|
|1-2% (Page 85)|
|0.1-1.5% (Page 82)||1-1.4% (Page 288)|
|0.2-0.4% (Page 69)|
|0.02-0.03% (Page 86)|
Salvia rosmarinus / Rosmarinus officinalis
|1-2% (Page 86)||1-2% (Page 311)|
|0.8-1.2% (Page 86)|
|3-5% (Page 87)|
|1-2% (Page 89)||1.60% (Page 334)|
|1.5-2.5% (Page 92)||1.25-2.5% (Page 363)|
Betinna Malle and Helge Schmickl, The Essential Oil Maker's Handbook (Austin, TX: Spikehorn Press, 2015).
Peter Holmes LAc, MH, Aromatica: A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics (London and Philadelphia: Singing Dragon, 2016).