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The first step in the production of Eucalyptus oil is harvesting. Harvesting can be done by hand or by a machine. Naturally if the area to be harvested is large a machine would be more efficient then harvesting by hand. Mechanical harvesting is generally only able to be used in coppice regrowth plantations. In these cases the trees are little more then one metre tall and are planted in rows. When in a wild situation the trees are several metres tall and randomly spaced. In a hand operation knives are used to harvest the leaves (Boland, et al, 1991).

The leaves once moved to the distillation point must be loaded into the vat. The method of loading is critical for efficiency. It must be packed evenly throughout and very tightly. This will reduce the chance of leaves remaining unsteamed. It is ideal that the vat be completely filled to reduce the amount of air in the vat and thus reduce efficiency (Boland, et al, 1991).

The way the oil is removed from the leaves is via a process of distillation. This requires the 5 main components for a still.

  1. Vat
  2. Water Supply
  3. Condenser
  4. Receiver/seperator
  5. Firebox

(Boland, et al, 1991).

The arrangement of a basic, simplified still can be seen here(Boland et al, 1991). The leaves must start off by being put in the vat (mentioned above). As the leaves are steamed the oil ducts expand releasing the oil and it is converted to vapour. The mixed oil and water vapour passes through the condenser where they are cooled and flow on to the receiver. As the water and oil are now cooled they seperate like normal olive oil and water. It is then possible to removed the oil from the water. This leaves us with pure Eucalyptus oil. The water is then recycled through the still. This has many advantages. Firstly it saves water, also the water has a certain amount of dissolved oil with in it. By using this water again it increases the quantity and quality of the oil being extracted. This is due to the water being saturated with oil before the process recommences. If this water is discarded there is also a loss of oil (Boland, et al, 1991).

This is a basic method of producing the oil. Once all the above methods have been carried out then it is possible to market it. And the results come out like this.



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