The flip-flop column model employs a steam distillation technique to distil alcohol or extract essential oils and hydrolats from organics. The batch is placed in the column and the copper pot only functions as a water vapour generator. The perforated copper tray mounted in the interior of the column makes this still appropriate for steam distillation. This model is especially indicated for the distillation of temperature sensitive compounds which would normally decompose through simple distillation methods. Organics are subjected to steam in the vapour chamber or column of the still.
This allows the separation of essential oils, which tend to be less soluble in boiling water, from chemically complex materials. When the steam passes through the organic material tiny pockets that hold the essential oils open to release the essential oil molecules without damaging or burning these delicate components. The column may be flipped to its side to discard the spent batch and reloaded with a fresh batch to continue the distillation process in a matter of minutes. A second rectifying distillation may be carried out with the same unit. For this purpose, the first results are placed in the copper pot, the column is flipped to its side and the swan neck lid is attached directly on the pot to proceed with the rectifying or refining distillation.