Distilling Lavender in Colorado

distillation with Cindy

Cindy and Linda distilling Lavender

It’s the time of year for lavender harvest. The buds are just starting to open and release their scent, filling the air with their lavender perfume. The bees are busy buzzing around collecting nectar, but the relaxing chemistry of the plant is what I am after. When lavender is distilled it releases an odor that calms the mind so I often seek the opportunity to be around during a distillation.

I am fortunate to know a local farmer, Cindy Jones, who let me join in while she distilled Lavandula angustifolia. Cindy distills plants to use in her Colorado Aromatics cosmetic formulations that are sold in Boulder area farmers’ markets and her Longmont store. She combines several varieties of L. angustifolia that grow on her property and distills them until they no longer give off a sweet scent or taste. Her goal is to produce a hydrosol that smells nice while offering therapeutic value to her products.

The day started out overcast with rain looming in the distance, not very auspicious for lavender harvest time. But the buds on some of her flowers were opening and ready for the still. I diligently watched the process, as my important job was to make sure the collection vessels didn’t overflow. As the hours passed, the sun worked its way out of the clouds and added its warm presence to the event. Five gallon jugs later, the distillation came to an end. I did my job well, ensuring no hydrosol spilled, and I got to spend the morning outside inhaling freshly distilled lavender. Life is good.