This section is from the book "A Treatise On Beverages or The Complete Practical Bottler", by Charles Herman Sulz. Also available from Amazon: A Treatise On Beverages.
The sassafras-tree (sassafras officinale) grows abundantly in Maryland, North Carolina, and various other parts of the United States. The root of the shrub is dug and washed free of dirt, and after being chopped short and bruised, is ready for the still, and distilled with steam. The steam carries the oil over with its vapors, and on being condensed separates it. Oil of sassafras is either colorless or more frequently of various shades of yellow or brown-red, a difference which does not affect its quality. When carefully rectified it may be obtained colorless, but on exposure again becomes colored. It has the odor of sassafras in a high degree, a warm aromatic taste, and a neutral reaction. Its specific gravity is usually about 1.090, and increases somewhat by age. It dissolves small quantities of water, becoming lighter thereby. It is freely soluble in alcohol, dissolves in four or five parts of 80 per cent, alcohol.