Im trying to find out what the apparatus of this essential oil distillation set up is called (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBOaFV7BSfw&t=76s), it looks like some sort of backwards clevenger apparatus with a conical drip catchment connected to condensers. Could Anyone tell me what this is called? Ive searched far and wide but cannot find anything like it, is it custom glass?

The video is different from this picture but they are both similar. Any info would be fantastic, I have the copper pot and condensers, just need this piece.

enter image description here


2 Answers 2


The shape might be a bit particular, but by function, it is distillation separator, or specifically, an oil separator to perform a steam distillation.

enter image description here

Hot vapor (red arrow) travels up across the inner tube. Condensed, it drops as liquid (blue arrows), some aside to the inner tube where the vapors rise, travels to the arm on the left into the cylinder. Upon further cooling to room temperature, the components separate into inmiscible liquids e.g., water (colorless, higher density, lower layer) and oil/non-water soluble liquid (here darker, lower density, top layer). The more oil is captured by this receiver, the more condensed water enters back to the distillation (the tube from left bottom to centre/right, diagonally upward siphon).

There are distillation separators specifically designed to retain liquids less dense than water (e.g., the one your screen photo shows), or ones to collect liquids heavier/of higher density than water (Dean Stark receiver, same color scheme):

enter image description here

(a composite, reuses catalogue image by chemglass)

The distillation appears to be tilted, though this is neither necessary (the inner tube's wall for the uprising steam is higher than the tube to the left to divert the liquid to the left), nor helpful. The vapors should rise up freely, vertically. And instead of an Allihn condenser, using a Dimroth condenser were more efficient to retain the essential oil extracted.


When I watched your YouTube Clip, I realized the it is essentially a steam distillation setup. Again, Buttonwood has given good description for how it works. My intention here to make few suggestions:

Steam Distillation Setup

OP's main concern was:

it looks like some sort of backwards Clevenger apparatus with a conical drip catchment connected to condensers.

That conical drip catchment is called Heckman head in distillation in micro-scale. I have attached a micro-scale distillation setup with Heckman head in right side to your distillation setup for demonstration. In your apparatus, the Heckman head was made in a larger scale (macro-scale) with horizontal modification (a tube) to move the distillated collection in the "well" (see the dip in the conical part of the Heckman Head in micro-scale setup) to a Dean-Stark type separator, which separate two immiscible liquids such as essential oil (lower density; in top layer) and water (higher density; in bottom layer) by gravity. According to the steam distillation principle, steam (high volume) takes some immiscible essential oil (only a little amount) as a solution below its boiling point. When condensed at the condenser, these two layers separate and can be collected separately (essentially by using simple distillation setup). Here, you are using large scale separation so that may need the a little complicated set up like one in display. According to the sought YouTube clip, the angle tube take excess steam down to the bottom of the Dean-Stark type separator, pushing essential oil layer upward (I didn't see why it needed, but good reason would be to reduce excess pressure).

Credit for image on the right hand side: McMaster University

  • $\begingroup$ Is the line art on the right hand side an illustration of the Survival Manual by Zubrick? Just because of the style of the drawing and because the more recent the edition of the helpful primer, the more consideration of small / microscale equipment by the author. And for the tube diagonal currently labeled "Excess water vapors condensed by air", I still think it is a siphon for condensed, then separated liquid water returning back to the still's round bottom flask. $\endgroup$
    – Buttonwood
    Feb 3, 2023 at 7:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Buttonwood: I found the art online when checked for Heckman head. So, I'm sorry I didn't pay attention to where it came from. But I can try again and let you know. About diagonal air condenser, I don't understand why it is necessary to be there. The way it has designed, it didn't save extra extract. $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2023 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Buttonwood: It was from here. But didn't have relevant lab manual available. $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2023 at 15:14
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    $\begingroup$ With the distillation up and running, condensed liquid is going to enter the wider cylinder to the left where the inmiscible phases eventually split. The larger fraction will be water (which has to be drained automatically, as long as the distillation is running) carrying the smaller fraction of essential oil (here, the darker phase on top). This is why the diagonal siphon is needed, and why the separator (regardless if designed to retain liquids of higher, or lower density then the one of water/the carrier) have to be initially filled once with water/the carrier. $\endgroup$
    – Buttonwood
    Feb 3, 2023 at 18:00

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