Steam Distillation

Steam Distillation

Steam Distillation is a separation process for temperature sensitive substances. It is a particular type of distillation. Another way round it is a method for separating miscible liquid base depending upon their volatilities. For instance aromatic compounds. It plays a vital role in some industrial regions. Here no chemical reaction takes place. It is a physical process.

At a very high sustained temperature, few of organic compounds may decompose. It would be difficult to separate by a distillation process at a certain boiling point. Steam will be introduced into an apparatus (distillation).

Condensed liquid phase separates that are vaporized a water vapour carries compounds, and they are placed in a condensation flask that is placed nearby. Now distillation takes place at a lower temperature. Steam distillation can be applied in case if the substance is very sensitive to heat. Vapours are condensed after distillation process.


Miscibility is a characteristic of a mixture that would mix well in right proportion leading to the formation of homogeneous mixtures. When such immiscible mixtures are heated and it starts arousing the to unmask the surface to a phase that involves the conversion of liquid to vapour phase.

Here vapour pressure is extracted independently by an individual constituent on its own. Vapour pressure of the system increases consequently. The two immiscible liquids starts to boil when the vapour pressure of these liquids out place the atmospheric pressure. Many organic compounds are insoluble in water. They can purify at an absolute temperature that is below the point where decomposition occurs.


Steam distillation are widely used in the manufacturing of essential oils, for instance perfumes. This method uses a plant material that consists of essential oils. Mainly orange oil is extracted on a large scale in industries using this method.

Application of steam distillation can be found in the production of consumer food products and petroleum industries. They are used in separation of fatty acids from mixtures.


  1. Is Steam distillation is the final step of mineral oil production process?

    1. Mineral oils can be produced from the refined hydrocarbons that are obtained from crude oil via the process of distillation. Steam distillation is one of the methods used to obtain the required product.

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