Stone Rise Farm - Growers & Distillers of pure essential oils & hydrosols
A view of the lavender field
  • Frequently Asked Questions


  • Why is Lavender essential oil more expensive than Lavandin essential oil?
  • There are two main reasons:
  • Volume - Lavandins produce around five to six times the amount of flower than Lavenders do
  • Composition - the presence of camphor mainly negates the use of Lavandin in high-end perfumery.
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  • If I purchase the more expensive Lavender essential oil, how can I be sure it is truly Lavender, not something else?
  • This single question can open a hornet's nest of issues; the following points represent our position:
  • Firstly, an important basic fact - "Lavender" and "Lavandin" are common names, not botanical names. We have seen many essential oils marketed as "Lavender" when they are really "Lavandin". In fact, nearly all people we come across are not even aware that there is such a thing as "Lavandin" - they think it is all "Lavender". This lack of information opens a door for the less scrupulous operator to take advantage of this by marketing "Lavandin" at an inflated price.
  • Look at the labelling - a reputable operator will list the botanical name. To eliminate any confusion or deception, an essential oil bottle labelled "Lavender" should also list "Lavandula angustifolia", the botanical name, as the entire contents of the bottle. Similarly, "Lavandin" should be entirely "Lavandula x intermedia". Any adulteration of the oil, including mixing of the two, can be passed off as "Lavender" - it really means nothing without the botanical name.
  • Ensure an enforceable commitment from your supplier - a reputable operator will label their product with botanical names. This establishes an expectation in consumer law - that you are getting what you paid for. Redress can then be sought if that promise is broken.
  • The information above should protect you adequately. If there is still some doubt, the only resolution would be scientific analysis to determine purity. This may prove more expensive that the product itself. Ultimately, you may decide never to purchase from that supplier again. A reputable supplier will not want this damage to their reputation, as repeat business is based on reputation and trust. The quality of your supplier will be determined by their willingness to resolve any issues you have.
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  • What is "organic"?
  • The Australian Standard AS6000-2009 "Organic and biodynamic products" defines "organic" as:
  • "The application of agricultural and processing practices that emphasize -
  • (a) the use of renewable resources;
  • (b) conservation of energy, soil and water;
  • (c) recognition of livestock welfare needs; and
  • (d) environmental maintenance and enhancement, while producing optimum quantities of products without the use of artificial fertiliser or synthetic chemicals and non-essential food additives and/or processing aids."
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  • What is "certified organic"?
  • Organic Certification is achieved when an external certifying body audits the enterprise as to its conformance with the organic standard it administers. Within Australia, the base organic standard is AS6000-2009 (For import / export of organic produce, there is also the "National Standard for Organic and Bio-Dynamic Produce", administered by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS)).
  • The certifying bodies are private organisations who either certify to either of the above mentioned standards, or take the "National Standard for Organic and Bio-Dynamic Produce" as a subset of their standards. Meeting the requirements of a certifying body then allows the enterprise to use that certifying body's logos on product labels etc.
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  • Where can I get a copy of the Australian standard AS6000-2009: "Organic and biodynamic products"?
  • You can purchase a licence for the use of AS6000-2009 from SAI Global. You can go straight to the standard (in a new window / tab) from here
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  • What is Lavandin?
  • "Lavandin" is the traditional name given to the lavender-like plant which has an abbreviated botanical name of "Lavandula x intermedia". This plant is not a true lavender; rather, it is a hydrid of two Lavandula species. These are Lavandula angustifolia Mill.(True Lavender) and Lavandula latifolia Medik.(Spike Lavender).
  • Interestingly, Lavandula x intermedia are sterile; their seed cannot be used to grow new plants. The most common way to grow them is by propagation of cuttings.
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  • What is the difference between Lavender and Lavandin?
  • There are a few differences:
  • Lavender is a smaller bush which grows less flowers
  • Lavender oil contains very little, if any, camphor. Camphor has a "nose-clearing" effect.
  • Lavender, because of its lack of camphor is used by some for culinary applications
  • The lack of camphor also makes Lavender very suitable for the perfumier.
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  • Why do you purchase tubestock instead of growing plants from seed or cuttings?
  • Firstly, seed: at Stone Rise Farm, we offer particular varieties (cultivars) of Lavender and Lavandin. Plants grown from seed, because of cross-pollination, will eventually deviate from true-to-type cultivars. For example, the only way to ensure that you are purchasing Lavandula angustifolia "Bee" is to grow or purchase cuttings from true-to-type parent stock. Some distillers offer no particular variety, only "Lavandula angustifolia". This covers them from having to concern themselves with true-to-type plants. Our approach offers you much more choice than this, as the various cultivars we offer all have different aroma.
  • Secondly, cuttings: there is no reason we could not do this. However, Stone Rise Farm has a planned capacity of 160,000 plants. The infrastructure to support this quantity would mean that we would effectively become a private nursery. Apart from the enormous capital cost, we are just not interested in that - we are primarily interested in the distillation of our essential oils and hydrosols.
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  • What is steam distillation?
  • Simply defined, steam distillation is the process of vapourising by heat, then condensing by cold, then re-collecting. With regard to our essential oils then, this means:
  • Steam from boiling water is passed through a container of plant material (called a "Charge"). The steam ruptures the oil glands of the calyx of the flower which creates patches of oil on the calyx. The steam then boils away the oil patches and the oil is carried by the steam as vapour to a condenser.
  • The condenser has cold water running through it, separately from the vapour entering it. It is usually cooling water around tubes which the vapour passes through. When this happens, the vapour is cooled back into a liquid. The liquid, containing the oil and condensed steam (water) is then sent to a receiver / separator for collection.
  • The receiver / separator is built in such a way as to allow the oil to be tapped off separately from the water. Particles of oil that are too small for efficient separation go along with the water, which is at this stage called "hydrosol".
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  • What is the difference between wet and dry steam?
  • A still using wet steam has the boiling water creating steam directly under the charge. Such steam is saturated with water particles so, for Lavender and Lavandin, which have very absorptive flowers, this wet steam can be used on both fresh and dried flowers. This is the kind of steam we use at Stone Rise Farm.
  • A still using dry steam has a remote method of generating steam - a "boiler". It is connected to the charge pot via piping. Often, the steam is delivered at greater than atmospheric pressure. The higher it is, the less water particles are in the steam. Also, as the charge pot is usually at atmospheric pressure, the steam looses pressure entering the charge pot. This pressure loss dries the steam more. The pipes connecting the boiler to the charge pot will also suffer some heat loss, this will condense some steam and make it loose more water particles.
  • When distilling freshly harvested Lavender and Lavandin, the dry steam works perfectly well as needed "wetness" is supplied by the moisture in the flowers. It usually cannot efficiently extract oil from dry Lavender or Lavandin because there is often not enough water in the steam to boil away all of the oil patches.
  • Which is better? Neither! Wet steam stills cannot get enough energy to boil huge amounts of water - they are small and cost less. The cost though, goes into the labour required to distill a harvest - it takes longer. Dry steam stills can be huge - it is governed by the amount of steam you can generate. They cost a huge amount of money but they process an entire harvest quickly - usually, the flowers are both harvested and distilled on the same day. Unfortunately, unless the farm has other kinds of essential oil plants, the distillery remains idle for almost the entire year.
  • No large distiller wants idle equipment. They often contract to other growers to distill their crops. In this case though, the grower is giving up process ownership and potentially, quality - we refuse to do this.
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  • What is "dryness testing" of essential oil?
  • When the oil is separated from the hydrosol, there will always be some water particles still remaining in the oil. Chemical and non-chemical methods exist for removing the water particles, effectively "drying" the oil.
  • One reliable way to test the oil for dryness is to agitate some in chloroform. At Stone Rise Farm, after every distillation and before bottling, the production process is paused. A sample from that distillation is removed and tested for dryness. If not dry, the oil from that distillation is non-chemically dried until it passes dryness testing. Only then can the oil from that distillation continue the production process into bottling.
  • All of this is important because any free water in the oil will break down some of its components, causing unpleasant odours to occur. in addition, the oxygenated nature of free water in the oil greatly decreases the "shelf life" of the oil, because unlike surface oxidation, the oxygenated free water is dispersed evenly throughout the oil. This means much more contact between oil and oxygen, thus accelerating oxidation.
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  • Where can I get a copy of the ISO standards for Lavender & Lavandin?
  • You can purchase a licence for the use of ISO 3515: "Oil of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia Mill.)" from SAI Global. You can go straight to the standard (in a new window / tab) from here
  • You can purchase a licence for the use of ISO 8902: "Oil of lavandin Grosso (Lavandula angustifolia Mill. x Lavandula latifolia Medik.), French type" from SAI Global. You can go straight to the standard (in a new window / tab) from here
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Growers & Distillers of pure essential oils & hydrosols: Lavender, Lavandin, Rosemary, Myrtle & Immortelle