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Stylized artistic representation in false colors of a Casalvento steam distillation room with stoneware floor and numerous steel stills; written in black: copyright Lavanda del Chianti

The Distillery

Distillation Workshop at Casalvento

The processing of officinal plants requires adequate technologies. Each plant has its own process and wants a dedicated plant. According to our experience it is not possible with the same distiller to require quality extracts and make it economically advantageous from anything that comes to mind.

We currently have 7 different extractors of various technology, size, shape, structure and operation, specially designed to fit the working process required for a particular flower, root, leaf, spring, wood or seed.

This distinguishes the professional distillation from the amateur one.

316L stainless, borosilicate glass, teflon, brass and copper are the noble components of the extractors, but they would be nothing but living elements if they were not managed by proper process software.

A sophisticated electronic control of the physical parameters of temperature, pressure, flow, stirring, … monitors every extraction and guarantees the best quality of production.

The Alchemies of the 3rd Millennium

Modern acronyms describe the new production processes: WD, HD, SD for what is well-known vapour extraction. But also: RPD, IPD, TD, HyD, DryD, SE, ASE, MAE, PLE, OHE, SWE, FD, SFE CO2 ….. Counting over 20 different processes created after the second half of ‘900 by chemical engineers and we are all convinced that there is still space for new inventions.

In the large Casalvento distillery we apply 9 of these modern green technology methods in order to offer 100% totally fine, natural, whole and pure extracts with the utmost respect for the environment, for energy saving and water consumption.

Organic certification guarantees the absence of pesticides.

In the extraction rooms, access is denied during the processing phases and forbidden any kind of cinematic shooting.

Dr. Lorenzo Domini with white coat and red tie behind a borosilicate glass coil connected to an evaporator flask while working in the laboratory on a vertical glass still

These are the phases of a “classic” extraction

1) a heat source brings at temperature the water to be the “solvent” of the extraction (water vapour).

2) the water vapour passes immediately through the vegetal material (direct steam distillation) or, passing through a closed circuit coil, warms the water at the bottom of the still (not shown in the picture); this kind of vapour, different from the previous one, passes through the plant extracting active ingredients (indirect steam distillation).

3) on the top of the distiller the emerging vapours are led to the refrigeration system from which they will exit condensed.

4) as the essences contained in the plants are in small or very small quantities, the nature of the condensed liquid is predominantly of an acqueous type (floral waters or hydrolats) with low oily component (essential oils). The separation of the essences from the floral waters is a spontaneous phenomenon even at room temperature and occurs due to their different specific weight. The oils float above the level of these waters, but some of their hydrophilic and lipofilic components may solubilize in the hydrolats despite the non-blending of the two products. The floral waters thus acquire strong aromatic properties and are a highly valuable product for the cosmetics industry.

5) the re-distillation of distillation water (coobation) can give some benefits in the transformation of some plants, but is harmful to others.

The simple and harmless water vapour is the only element that can drag features of the essential oils. The physical-chemical process of the hydrolysis is, however, our main enemy. In the presence of this large amount of water, excessive temperature and pressure fluctuations can damage the produced essences.

Scheme of the production of essential oils and Hyper Hydro: on the left a steam generator, in the center the extraction alembic and the vapor condenser, on the right the Florentine separation vase, green shadows and red writing

the small molecule with a huge power

with its 18 UMA of molecular weight and the weakly polar characteristics it is able to creep between enormously larger organic molecules. The vibratory motion it acquires during heating also separate the most liposoluble and most cohesive molecules. The result is an exceptional organic solvent with incredible physical/chemical properties: accumulates and gives up heat quickly, exists under 3 physical shapes, it is present everywhere and assures the life of the planet.

A very precious molecule, why waste it?

La più piccola molecola di solvente organico disponibile

Our “Classical” Plants

It would be more appropriate to name our production centre Extraction Workshop instead of Distillery: by definition, the plants we transform are called “Officinal Plants”.

The word “officinal” derives from the centuries-old use of plants in the ancient PHARMACEUTICAL WORKSHOPS for the production of active ingredients. The plants were useful because from them derived pharmacological remedies called simplicia or composita (if composed with ore or more essences) used in the treatment of human and animal diseases.

Some productions in our Extraction Workshop are mainly made by the use of simple water vapor. This is produced at controlled temperature and pressure and is distributed to vegetable plants with different techniques of application (direct steam, indirect steam, ambient pressure, increased pressure or vacuum). As we have said, the extraction process is not standard, but is adapted to any type of plant being processed.

In our plants the condensation of vapours occurs with different refrigeration systems using always cold water for heat exchange and adjusting if necessary the amount of reflux.

The harvest of the extracts is made in Florentine flasks suitably modified to guarantee the sealing in case of vacuum or positive pressure processing.

All the production of Organic certified Essential Oils, Hydrolats and Hyper Hydro is seasoned before analyzing and selling.

Two large white plastic cans with HACCP certified organic hydrolat on a gray surface and a white-brown background with a paper label describing the product
Blue tank with black cap for the wholesale sale of steam-produced essential oils, white label with lavender essential oil writing and danger symbols; White background
Laboratory flask in borosilicate containing absolute essence of Rosa damascena produced by Casalvento on a two-tone light gray and dark gray background

Our “Special” Plants

Specially designed for complex manufacturing, they allow to obtain Resinoids, Concretes and Absolute Essences intended for the high perfumery and cosmetics world.

Here, the water vapour is used only in the final stages and other necessary extraction techniques are required.

The Iris of Tuscany, the Damask Rose, the Lavender of the Chianti, the Helichrysum and the Broom at the end of this workmanship acquire the highest value that we are able to confer.

Three aluminum flasks with white plastic caps on a light gray background for storing absolutes and resinoids; labels with writings: Helichrysum absolute, Lavender absolute and Iris Pallida resinoid