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Information @ a Glance

General
  • The essential oil is distributed in all parts of the grass, viz., flower heads, leaves and stems, the flower heads containing the major portion. It is recommended to harvest the crop 7-10 days after opening of flowers. The number of harvest depends upon the climatic condition of the place of cultivation and method of crop management. During the first year, usually one crop is obtained in October-November, whereas 2-3 crops are obtained in the subsequent years in subtropical areas in the North Indian plains. Four harvests are taken in tropical areas of South and North-East.
  • Palmarosa plantation remains productive for about eight years. However, the yield of grass and oil starts decreasing from the fourth year onwards. It is, therefore, recommended that the plantation be kept only for four years.

Distillation

  • The grass is either distilled afresh or is allowed to wilt for 24 hours. Wilting reduces the moisture content and allows a larger quantity of grass to be packed into the still, thus economizing the fuel use. The current method of distillation adopted in Kerala is primitive and obsolete and gives oil of poor quality, as it is based on hydro-distillation or direct-fired still. For good quality oil, it is advisable to adopt steam-distillation. The equipment for distillation consists of a boiler to produce steam, a distillation tub, a condenser and one to three separators. The distillation tub is made of mild steel and has a perforated bottom over which the grass rests.
  • Small cultivators can use direct-fire stills, but in such cases, properly resigned stills should be used. These stills are provided with a boiler at the bottom of the tub. This is separated by a false bottom from the rest of the tub. Water is poured at the bottom of the tub and grass is charged in the top portion. In the still, the water does not come in contact with the grass. The oil is stored in containers, preferably of glass or well-tinned iron. Containers should completely be filled to exclude any air and protect from sunlight as they affect the oil content.

Uses

  • Palmarosa oil calms the mind, yet has an uplifting effect, while clearing muddled thinking. It is used to counter physical and nervous exhaustion, stress-related problems and nervousness. It is most useful during convalescence and cools the body of fever, while aiding the digestive system, helping to clear intestinal infection, digestive atonia and anorexia nervosa. It is effective in relieving sore, stiff muscles.
  • Palmarosa oil moisturizes the skin, while balancing the hydration levels and stimulating cell regeneration. It balances production of sebum, to keep the skin supple and elastic and is valuable for use with acne, dermatitis, preventing scarring, rejuvenating and regenerating the skin, as well as fighting minor skin infections, sore tired feet and athlete's foot.
  • Oil of Palmarosa is used in perfumery, particularly for flavoring tobacco and for blending of soaps due to the lasting rose-note it imparts to the blend. It also serves as a source for very high grade geraniol. Geraniol is highly valued as a perfume and as a starting material for large chemicals, viz., geranyl esters that have a permanent rose-like odour.

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