Skip to main content

Big News! Research Project now underway to compare hydrosol samples of manuka and kanuka from around New Zealand- and you can help!

I am really excited to be getting this project under way which has been in my head for a few years now, since I completed my Doctorate exploring the therapeutic benefits of Manuka and Kanuka essential oils. Doing any sort of research is costly, and as one private individual who is not attached to an organisation, it is sadly beyond my means. However I believe passionate in trying to understand more about our NZ natives and the ability in people being able to perhaps use and produce their hydrosols. It is well known that chemical composition of essential oils of Manuka does vary around NZ, but to my knowledge there has been no comprehensive analysis of the hydrosols.

Below is my full research proposal-and it help fund this project I am having to put my cap out to the wider aromatic community to support it. Donations
(anything from $1) can be made via  Give-a-little page set up expressively for this. The full details are here

I would love if this can be shared -donations can be made from anywhere in the world!
Thank you for your support!

Research Project

Principle Researcher: Dr. Wendy Maddocks (RN, DHlthSc) From Nature Ltd
Title: Analysis of the chemical composition of Manuka and Kanuka hydrosols produced via hydro distillation in a copper alembic type still, from various geographical locations in New Zealand.
Note: due to the small volumes produced it is expected that small volumes of essential oil will be retained in the distillate and not be removed.

Background:  Manuka (Leptospermum scopiarum) and Kanuka (Kunzea ericoides) are wild grown, scrubby plants which are plentiful around NZ Craft or home distilling of plants and flowers using traditional copper alembic stills has become a popular pastime in NZ, especially since there is limited availability of genuine hydrosols, and imported stock is often prohibitively expensive due to freight. Whilst it is well accepted that manuka and kanuka essential oil is easily available, most commercially produced oils are from the North island, with one commercial South island producer known.  It is virtually impossible to buy manuka or kanuka hydrosol, and little known exploration has been undertaken as to the constituents of these for potential therapeutic benefits.

Method: samples of correctly identified leaf and small twig of manuka and kanuka are to be collected and either sent to the principle researcher, or distilled on site by a volunteer distiller. For consistency all samples are to be harvested and distilled through July/August (winter) in NZ. The leaves are to be stripped from woody branches and soaked in water with small branchlets for at least 4 hours if possible and removed from water and placed directly into a copper alembic still and covered with boiling water and sealed. The distillation process then commences. The first 200 ml of hydrosol is to be saved and sent for sampling. The remainder of the hydrosol can proceed and used for other reasons. A digital photo (JPEG) is requested of the harvested plant material prior to distilling for further visual identification and if possible a photo of the tree(s)

Sample Labeling: label bottle with date, plant, geographical location, weight of plant matter and volume of water and (if known) total distillate produce and how long distilled for.

It is the hope of the principle researcher that a minimum of 3 of each (manuka and kanuka)  samples will be funded.

Analysis: Once all samples are collected and sent to the principle researcher, they will be sent as a batch to the Callaghan Institute for analysis via GSMS and components compared with known constituents.

Due to the cost of analyses crowd funding has been requested for this research product via a Give a little Page NZaromatics (web
Interested parties are asked to donate anything from $1. it is hoped that at least $690.00 can be raised to analyses four samples. If 5-8 samples are supplied the cost is reduced significantly to $120 +GST per sample

If individual plant donors donate $75 + GST per sample they will receive the full copy of the analysis of their sample at the conclusion of the study for their own uses. They will also be acknowledged as a financial contributor in the study in all publications. Cash donors above $100 (without plant material) will also be acknowledged as a financial supporter if wished.

Once the analysis has been completed the results will be shared to the wider Australasian Aromatic community via a self funded presentation by the principle researcher at Aromatic Conference in Tweed heads in October 2015 ( The results will also be published via Aromatherapy today and may be submitted to other publications after the presentation. A summary will also be shared on the principle researchers blog after the conference ( 


Popular posts from this blog

Lemon Verbena Harvest & Distillation December 2013

Aloysia triphlla (Lemon verbena) in flower Lemon verbena (Lippia citriodora) or Aloysia triphylla is a precious essential oil which has a low yield and is quite hard to come by the genuine oil. Details as to its origins and habitat can be found here on Wikipedia.  It is believed many so called lemon verbena oils on the market are heavily adulterated with lemon thyme, Litsea cubeba (May chang) or synthetic citral. Previously I have used lemon verbena hydrosol my friend produced on his lavender farm ( ), with only a tiny amount of oil obtained. Most of his lemon verbena leaves are destined to be dried and sold as a herbal tea. On the 29 December 2013 I was able to take part in the harvest and distillation of his organic lemon verbena. The key difference this year is that it is the flowers and leaves which are being distilled, not just the leaves. Leaf only essential oil can produce a high (up to 35% citral) content which, being an aldehyde may irri

Geranium Distillation for Hydrosol

This is a the first run of my small scale back yard set up on various geraniums distilled for hydrosol, using a pump to reticulate water through the condenser to save water. It means I do not have to stay close by every second for two or more hours. (I am still in the vicinity though in case of mishaps!) Day 1: Harvest of lemon geranium ( Pelargonium crispum ) this morning, stripped leaves from branches (approx 500gm plant material) and added to 3 litres of commercially distilled lemon geranium hydrosol so I get double the benefit. I don't extract any essential oil out of it. . I achieved about 600 ml good quality hydrosol after 3 hours on the hot plate. (leaf 1 in picture below) Day 2: First up is rose geranium ( Pelargonium graveloans var. roseum ) with pure water (leaf 2 in picture below). Hydrosol appeared very quickly and prolifically, obtaining 200 ml within first 20 minutes of the distillation. This was distilled for about two hours  and

Harakeke-NZ Flax-An iconic Plant

Harakeke, Phormium tenax , isn't exactly an aromatic plant, but it does have plenty of healing properties. Nothing screams out 'New Zealand' more than an image of our native flax in flower! Further background about the plant can be found here Currently I am surrounded by a variety of them in my garden- planted as short a time as two years ago and they all have swung into a tremendous flowering action, some with spikes almost 3 metres tall. Like a triffid the spikes seem to appear almost over night.  My plants have a number of very practical uses- firstly to assist with drainage of a heavy clay soil with a high water table; secondly for shelter and privacy; thridly to attract more nativve birds (like our TUI ) who feast of the nectar; and lastly (but by no means least) I collect the seeds and use as a co distillation with lavender hydrosol to incorporate into products.   The uses of flax historically is entrenched in Maori culture and history, and early Maori could not be