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Steam Distillation

Steam distillation is a technique used to distill alcohol or extracting essential oils from organic materials, through the passage of the steam generated in the pot by organic material or liquid to be distilled.

Steam Distillation process

Steam distillation is a technique used to distill alcoholic beverages or to extract essential oils from organic materials, through the passage of steam generated in the pot by the organic materials or liquid to be distilled. Temperature-sensitive components are separated through simple distillation and evaporate at low temperatures when subjected to steam within the vapor chamber or within the column of the alembic. This circumstance allows the separation of essential oils (which tend to be less soluble in boiling water) from chemically complex matters.

Steam stripping or distillation is a widely used laboratory technique for obtaining and purifying compounds. Steam stripping or steam distillation is analogous to simple distillation, with the main difference being that steam is used in the distillation flask along with the material to be distilled.

Experimentally, the settings are more or less the same, with small differences in the way the steam is added to the flask: either indirectly if a steam line is available in the building, or directly by boiling water in an adjacent balloon.

Steam distillation is a separation process used to purify or isolate temperature-sensitive materials, such as natural aromatic compounds. Steam or water is added to the distillation apparatus, lowering the boiling points of the compounds. The goal is to heat and separate the components to temperatures below their decomposition point.

The advantage of steam distillation over simple distillation is that the lower boiling point reduces the decomposition of temperature-sensitive compounds. Steam distillation is useful for the purification of organic compounds, although vacuum distillation is more common. When organics are distilled, the vapor condenses. Since water and organic compounds tend to be immiscible, the resulting liquid generally consists of two phases: water and organic distillate. Decantation or separation can be used to separate the two layers to obtain purified organic material.

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