Author : Girdhar Shendre 1
Date of Publication :17th March 2021
Abstract: Steam distillation is a separation process which consist of distilling water together with other volatile and non-volatile components. The steam from the boiling water carries the vapour of the volatiles to a condenser, where both are cooled and return to the liquid or solid state; while the non-volatile residues remain behind in the boiling container. If the volatiles are liquids not miscible with water, they will spontaneously form a distinct phase after condensation, allowing them to be separated by decantation or with a separator funnel. In that case, a Clevenger apparatus may be used to return the condensed water to the boiling flask, while the distillation is in progress. Alternatively, the condensed mixture can be processed with fractional distillation or some other separation technique. Steam distillation can be used when the boiling point of the substance to be extracted is higher than that of water, and the starting material cannot be heated to that temperature because of decomposition or other unwanted reactions. It may also be useful when the amount of the desired substance is small compared to that of the non-volatile residues. It is often used to separate volatile essential oils from plant material. It is however much simpler and economical than those alternatives, and remains important in certain industrial sectors.
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