Traditional hydrodistillation (HD), supercritical fluid extraction (SFE), organic solvent extraction (SE), and water microwave assisted hydrodistillation (MAHD) techniques were compared and evaluated for their effectiveness in the isolation of rosemary essential oil. The microwave assisted hydrodistillation technique was optimized in terms of both delivered power and time duration. The extracts/distillates were analyzed by GC and GC-MS. Microwave distillation, which exploits the physical action of microwaves on plants, showed a series of advantages over the other approaches: low cost, use of water in sample pre-treatment step, greatly reduced isolation time, and attainment of high quality essential oil distillate. Moreover, the absence of environmental impact of this innovative technique was also emphasized.
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