C02 Extracts: Part 2
CO2 Extraction Part 2
CO2 Extraction Information
Yesterday I had the chance to meet with colleagues in India who have a nifty CO2 extraction facility in Maharastra State, India. These dedicated and kind people have done an incredible work in producing total and select extracts, some of which I have never encountered before. Select extracts of Patchouli, Spikenard and Spike Ginger produced superb olfactory experiences. The rounded and complete bouquet of the carefully extracted botanicals was wonderful to experience and this was greatly enhanced by meeting people who have worked wholeheartidly to refine the art and craft of CO2 extraction. As I talked with them I was once again reminded of the importance that the raw materials play in any distillation or extraction process. These gentleman realized very early in their work that there was no sense in using any but the finest raw materials for their work. A huge investment in research and development went into doing experimental extractions so they could see for the themselves which raw materials would produce the finest total and select extracts.
Having lived in India many times over the past 3O+ years I have become quite aware that certain regions of the country are famous for certain types of fruits, vegetables, grains, spices, etc. But in this type of work it can be even more specific. It can be that a certain type of ginger or a certain type of cardamon that is grown in a small area by a particular farmer possesses some unique aromatic attribute that may not be found anywhere else. Very few distillers and extractors devote so much time to locating these very particular resources. It takes a lot of research, travel, and commmittment to quality to understand this subject but for those who go into with determination, patience and dedication a wonderful experience awaits one. When I was talking with them I very clearly understood how much work they had done in the sourcing domain. I myself have traveled numerous times on the backgrounds of India in search of some particular aromatic crop or to meet with some distiller living in a remote area. It is not an easy work because in India there are often no road signs that tell you were you are going. One needs to ask the local people and hope that by some miracle the directions will be correctly provided. It is a very interesting way to discover the hidden wonders of India.
Along with their dedication to direct sourcing of the raw materials from which they extracted their precious essences, they had built their equipment for CO2 extraction from indigenous materials. CO2 extraction equipment is more elaborate than distilling units and so a lot of careful thought had to go into constructing their extraction units with materials available in India. This type of endeavor is always heartwarming because people who do their work from ground zero and know their equipment in such an intimate way truly learn what the strengths and weaknesses of the system they are using. But the equipment itself is only one part of the extraction equation. Everyone involved in distillation and extraction as a true art and craft knows that one has to learn the specific attributes and qualities of each material they are working with. One does not simply come up with a formula that works for every material the very same. One has to do many many experiments with even one type of material to begin to appreciate and understand how to bring out of it the maximum beauty and olfactory impact.
When these select raw materials are extracted with due regard for their special qualities and one makes every possible effort to refine ones extraction technique so as to capture the greatest range of sublime aromatic molecules possible then an oil comes forth which is really charged and radiant. In this regard I think it is important to remind ourselves that quantity of oil is sometimes of far less importance than quality. A potency of an oil is a reflection of the consciousness that went into it and if as many production factors as possible have been considered with care and devotion then at each step the final product is filled with a unique vibration that helps give it an added dimension of beauty and depth. Certainly there are techniques of quality control analysis that can ascertain the complexity of an oil but there is another side to the story which is a reflection of the consciousness that went into creating it. In other words a manifested oil is is both a distillation of physical realities and consciousness.
This is in fact a life long process but those who approach the subject with a lot of reverence and appreciation for the plants, the environments they come from and the people who tend and care for the aromatic crops definitely get inspiration and insight into the mysteries of the world. The plants to are conscious beings in their own right and respond to any heart that approaches them with sincere humility and love. And one should never forget the farming families who work so hard to care for the crops through all the stages of their life. They too are wonderful and great although we often forget them. It is sometimes difficult for many of us living in the West to conceive of true rural life styles where the day to day work ethic is concerned with caring for plants and animals. Yet this is the reality for much of India.
I very much remember when the first group of folks from abroad traveled with us into South India to exprience the aromatic traditions of that part of the world. One day we went to the Jasmin fields at sunrise and joined in the harvest there with the famiies engaged in that work. It was one of the truly precious experiences of the life-
"The wakeup call came early(5:30 AM) Everyone faithfully trudged downstairs to board the bus and proceed to one of the Jasmin grandiflorum farms selected by our hosts, Mr. Sivaramakrishna and Mr. K. C. Sethuraman. Proceeding toward our destination a beautiful quote came to mind.
The Life of Christ:
"There is an hour of the Indian night, a little before the glimmer of the dawn, when the stars arer unbelievably clear and closer, shining with the radiance beyond our belief in this foggy land. The trees stand silent wround one with a friendly presence. As yet there is no sound from the awakening birds, but the whole world seems to be intent, alive, listening, eager. At such a moment the veil between the things that are seen and the things that are unseen becomes so thin as to interpose scarcely any barrier at all between the eternal beauty and truth and the soul which would comprehend
As we proceeded toward the Nilgri Hills and entered into the countryside proper the scenery became more and more beautiful. This region of India is again another unique type of environment different than any we had yet encountered. It is a bit drier, less humid than the coastal region we had passed through on our journey to Tanjore and Madurai and totally different than the high mountain regions of Kodikannal. India is a land with an incredible diveristy of micro climates, soil types, and topographies and on this short tour we can only explore a few of them. Our bus came to a halt under some tall shade trees where a dirt road diverged from the paved country lane upon which we were traveling. Guided by our hosts, we walked up into another world which could just have well existed centuries ago.
The sun had been up for a short time when we entered the grounds of the immaculately kept Jasmin grandiflorum plantation owned by our hosts. I think we were all stunned by this scene of eternal beauty. The angelic petals of the delicate Jasmin grandiflorum buds had quietly opened in the early morning hours and the perfume floating across the fields was of an etheric odor. It is true that a well made absolute can catch a little of this essence but it can never substitute for the living experience of being in the presence of the plants and the environments in which they grow. All nature seemed to
welcome us with gladness and as we roamed through the fields we not only inhaled the intoxicating beauty of this etheric essence but our eyes feasted on hummingbirds, butterflies, coconut palms, hillocks, and many other scenes of exquisite beauty. Soon we had our baskets in hand and were participating in the morning harvest. Plucking each delicate blossom one by one, we were initiated into the astounding reality that it takes 8 million blossoms to produce one kilo of absolute. I do not thing any of us will ever use an absolute with anything but the greatest of respect after seeing what a real
jasmin harvest entails.
Here we were able to see a truly organic gardening operation. Mr. Sivaramakrishna and his family were the pioneers of organic gardening practices in their region and have achieved astounding success by using green manure crops, natural compost, neem sprays, and other neem products. Both in the field and in a more formal presentation given while we had a light breakfast in the fields, he explained to us how they had been able to successfully bring organic gardening practices into the cultivation of Jasmin grandiflorum and Jasmin sambac. I think that this work that they have done will become a model for many other farms in India as it is practical, cost effective, and draws upon locally available resources.
Each day has been one of increasing happiness and beauty for us and somehow visiting the Jasmin grandiflorum fields took that experience to another plane. It was like being a child again in the most wonderful sense of the word. If one has any doubt about the true value of fragrance they should just stand in a jasmin field at dawn surrounded by the grand beauty of nature, absorbing the energy of an ancient land through every pore of their body and they will certainly know that there can be no more perfect window into a world of gentle peace and happiness. There can be no doubt that one has then to hold that window open through their own personal aspiration but first one's heart must be touched
by this type of experience to remember that beyond all dark shadows and difficulties is a life of true innocense, purity and delight. Our morning adventure continued on with visits to two more small farms where Jasmin grandiflorum and Jasmin sambac were being cultivated. At each place our lives touched and intermingled with the farming people. The bright smiles and glowing eyes of these people of the earth and sky spoke volumns. In their company ones pride fades away. One cannot think they are somehow superior to these simple folk, rather one becomes humbled before them because in their lives is written a nobility and dignity that one seldom encounters in the western world. "
In sharing these things it is only to give some insight into the side of the aromatic world we may not be aware of. There are many of you working on the application side of things and that too is a heartwarming story. It is all interlinked and the more we all envision the big picture while still attending to the part that we are given to do, the more wonderful things will come to pass.