The traditional methods of terpene (essential oil) extraction are steam distillation and hydrodistillation. Steam distillation involves hanging a basket of herbs over a pot of boiling water. The steam passes through the perforated basket and penetrates the plant material. Only lighter oils, such as monoterpenes, are soluble in the steam. As the terpene steam passes from the top of the still, it comes into contact with a cooled condenser which liquefies the water and oils. The lighter oils float on the water surface and are easily collected. Usually there is a water-soluble fraction of the oil that remains dissolved and gives the water a milky appearance. This is called a hydrosol and is generally a type of herbal extract that is used in shampoos and cosmetic products when the herb is listed on the ingredients. Hydrodistillation is similar to the steam distillation process, except that the herb is put directly into boiling water.
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