To recover a high percentage of light oil from organic materials, such as crude oil, shale, and the like, the raw material, as crude oil, is vaporized in a still. The vapors are passed into a converter constructed of zinc, nickel, and lead, or sherardized steel, and contain lime and zinc chloride or zinc oxide and are agitated by paddles. The gases react under pressure which is maintained therein and gradually increased, as the temperatures in the still and converter are both gradually increased, so that after the gases have been condensed an odorless high grade light oil is produced. A pressure of from 2 to 10 lb per square inch is maintained in the converter by means of an expansion valve of the needle type, which is located in the vapor outlet pipe between the converter and the condenser. In a modified form of apparatus, a dephlegmator is located between the converter and the condenser.