Part 2: Harvesting


Harvesting the plant material needed to produce essential oils has historically required intensive manual labour. Plant parts are removed either by hand or with the use of tools such as clippers or knives. Manual harvesting is favourable because it causes minimal bruising or damage that could affect the plant’s fragile cells containing essential oils. It also allows for careful removal of only the plant material needed for distillation without damaging the rest of the plant. A careful harvest technique not only allows the maximum amount of essential oils to be distilled, but also ensures the non-harvested plant remains healthy and can regrow as quickly as possible for future use.

Although manual labour is still used today, mechanical harvesting is beginning to be used more widely. As technology improves, mechanical harvesting methods have the potential to minimise damage while also collecting plant material much more quickly and efficiently. Mechanical harvesting can work especially well when the essential oil comes from the root or the whole plant, or when the plant must be replanted each season.


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