Essential Oil Yield
People often wonder why essential oils are usually so expensive. The simple answer is: low-yield. The amount and quality of essential oil that can be extracted from plants varies by species, cultivar, plant stress factors, terroir (location, topography, geology, growing conditions, weather/climate, soil) and a host of other subtle variations. But in general, we are talking about essential oil content of less than about 1% of the mass of the plants.
Since 2015, we have distilled a large and growing variety of plants with dramatically varying essential oil yields. Excluding plants that have yielded trace or miniscule amounts of essential oil, our distillations have yielded between 0.03% (Lemon Balm) to 1.3% (juiced fresh Ginger root). That translates to 0.15ml per lb (Lemon Balm) and 6.8ml per lb (juiced Ginger).
Another way to look at this is to consider the amount of plant material that was distilled for each 5ml bottle of pure essential oil: Lemon Balm would be around 40 lbs while Ginger would be around 0.75 lbs (note that in juiced Ginger root, up to 75% of the weight is removed as juice/water so not-juiced roots yield about 1/4 of the oil that juiced roots do for the same weight). These examples represent the extreme bottom and top of our yields. Our average yield across all of our batches is 0.55% (2.8ml per lb).
In order to advance transparency in pricing, we provide the yield information for that species on each of our 5ml or larger bottles. If you think about the cost of 40 lbs of fresh, local, organic Lemon Balm, you would be looking at a minimum material cost of about $400, just for that little bottle (1/6th ounce). That cost doesn’t include the cost to heat the still, labor or company overhead. This is why we only sell Lemon Balm essential oil that is diluted in a carrier oil.
If you would like to explore this topic further, we invite you to read our article on: Why Buy Artisan Essential Oils?