It's been slow going with the lavender distillation. My mum was put into the hospital for heart-related issues and will probably be there for a few days yet. It goes without saying that getting this lavender distilled isn't in the forefront of my mind at the moment, but I am doing it for the few hours in the evenings when I am home and "present". The first go-round went belly up -- I burned the batch and had to toss it and the 32 or so ounces of hydrosol into the garden mulch pile -- this happens when your mind isn't really on your work. And the circulating water issue has had me in knots since I started distillation a few years ago. Checking the cooling chamber every five minutes to see if the water needs draining or icing isn't exactly the most efficient way to create nice hydrosols. Completely by accident, while strolling the aisles of the massive hardware store down the street, I found a small immersible table top fountain pump. I was at the massive hardware store down the street to buy new hosing for the al -embic -- after a half dozen go 'rounds the hose becomes so saturated with the scent of one or another of the oils/hydrosols running through it that it is impossible to get clean again, so frequent replacement of the hose is required. It was just a happy accident that I happened to be poking around in the garden area of the store and saw the little "on sale" sign for the pump. I've been mulling the idea of setting up a recirculating water system for the al -embic for years but never got around to doing it. Finding the right kind of pump was the most difficult part -- if I did manage to locate a pump sufficient for the job, it often came with a very large price tag and extra equipment I didn't want or need, and an old style fish tank pump would have been perfect for the job, but they're becoming a rarity as the newer style running water immersible pumps are the "in" thing with fish lovers. That definitely wouldn't have worked with water spilling into and around the cooling coils . . .
So I got my pump and tubing home and spent the next two hours trying to figure out the best way to get a consistent flow running, and voila! cool recirculating water is in the house. Every so often I have to add a bit of ice into the water pot from which the cooling water is taken, but not nearly as often as before without the pump set-up. I can literally walk away from this and allow the distillation to continue for an hour or two at a time without having to babysit it.
Even with mum not well and sitting alone most of the time in the hospital I am determined to get this distillation business done and done well (so long as mum's got a deck of cards, a pencil and a crossword puzzle book, and some people to watch, she's pretty well entertained for days on end. The only thing missing from her day that would be considered a part of her normal routine is pulling weeds in her gorgeous food garden, which, by the way, is throwing tomatoes like Cy Young, making my big salad bowls verrrry happy). Doctor's orders, once mum's released she is not to be allowed to work the garden for at least a month, no more daily walks, and definitely no more cigs. And the funny thing about mum is this; she isn't worried about dying (it is a definite possibility at this point in time), she's more worried that if she lives, will she be able to dance again. You just gotta love her for that.
Distillation at this point in time is more like meditation than ever before. On the line-up for distillation after the lavender are organic blackberries. That is, if they last without being eaten first.