The one thing I have tried with some success is distilling essential oils from plants material. That's what Adrian Culpepper is up to in my latest release, Green Grass. She's a self-taught chemist. She brews huge batches of flowers and mixes up massage oils. OK, so here's my experience. I've done the easy stuff -- orange peels. I boiled down a pile of peels and collected the condensate. I got a tiny thimbleful of limonene. Smelled great. Then I tried a large flask full of lavender flowers and -- well I burned them and it stunk for days. I tried a flask full of simple green grass and got nothing more than a smear of oil. But that one did smell fresh.
Bottom line of this blog post? Distilling essential oils from plant material is tough. You need huge amounts of plant material to get a little bit of anything even remotely resembling an oil, and even then it's probably full of impurities.
I created Adrian to learn the art at her mother's knee, and a lot of trial and error. Read the book and see what her future holds! Essentially, it's a happy ending!
later - Gem