Evolution equipped plants with lethal defenses against parasites and disease. Experimentation has enabled humans to use them for medicinal purposes long before our recorded history. Ravintsara branches and leaves are no exception. In their steam distilled, goodness lies, a powerful medicine for respiratory disease, muscle pain and stress.
In Madagascar eucalyptus, mimosa and pine trees are the traditional source of fuel to distill this precious plant. In order to produce 3.5L of oil, 1 cubic meter of wood must burn over a period of 6 hours. Fire should be continuously adjusted and precisely controlled in order to maintain the quality of the essential oil produced.
At the BeTsara alembic, harvest has just ended, dry leaves weigh on the air around with a sharp smell. Distillation will begin soon. First and foremost, the water inside the alembic must be heated up to 100ºc. Tahina, the director of BeTsara, oversees the process. His partners load the fireplace with pine cones and start the fire. «I was walking through the forest and suddenly realized that the ground is covered with half a meter of pine cones, we filled a bag and tested it» Tahina smiles «it works!». Today, BeTsara is substituting at least 30% of wood with pine cones for its essential oil production .
With more than 30 producers around the area, the potential impact rings the alarm. Tahina’s initiative is small but the effect is big because, respecting nature should be the essence of any oil.